Ramona Fradon

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Ramona Fradon
Fradon smiling
Fradon at the 2013 New York Comic Con
BornRamona Dom
(1926-10-02)October 2, 1926
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedFebruary 24, 2024(2024-02-24) (aged 97)
Ulster County, New York, U.S.
Notable works
Super Friends
Brenda Starr, Reporter
AwardsInkpot Award, 1995[1]
Women Cartoonists Hall of Fame, 1999[2]
Eisner Award Hall of Fame, 2006
(m. 1948; div. 1982)

Ramona Dom Fradon (/ˈfrdən/;[3] October 2, 1926 – February 24, 2024) was an American comics artist known for her work illustrating Aquaman and Brenda Starr, Reporter, and co-creating the superhero Metamorpho. Her career began in 1950 and lasted until her retirement in January 2024.

Early life[edit]

Ramona Dom was born on October 2, 1926,[4] in Chicago to Irma H. Dom and Peter Dom and moved to New York when she was five. She grew up on the outskirts of New York City in Westchester County. Her father, Peter Dom (born as Peter Dombrezian), was a well known commercial lettering man and designed logos for Elizabeth Arden, Camel, and Lord & Taylor as well as the typeface Dom Casual. Fradon also had an older brother and uncle in the lettering business. Her brother worked as a technician for the Air Corps overseas and eventually died of alcoholism.[5] Her mother fell ill and died in 1952.[6] She never read comic books growing up but she had a love for newspaper strips.[7] Fradon's father was the one that encouraged her to go to art school.[8]



Ramona Fradon broke into the industry just after graduating from the Parsons School of Design.[9] Soon after she left art school, she married her husband, New Yorker cartoonist Dana Fradon, who encouraged her to try cartooning. Comic-book letterer George Ward, a friend of her husband,[9] asked her for samples of her artwork to pitch for job openings. She landed her first assignment on the DC Comics with work on Shining Knight.[10] Her first regular assignment was illustrating an Adventure Comics backup feature starring Aquaman.[11] This included a revamping of the character for the Silver Age of Comics in Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959).[12] Alongside said revamp, she and writer Robert Bernstein co-created the sidekick Aqualad in Adventure Comics #269 (February 1960).[13][14]

Following her time with Aquaman, Fradon returned to co-create Metamorpho.[14][15] She drew the characters to try-out appearances in The Brave and the Bold and the first four issues of the eponymous series[16] and returned briefly to design a few covers for the title. She later commented, "I think [writer Bob Haney and I] both felt that Metamorpho was our baby. I never had an experience like I had working with Bob Haney on Metamorpho. It was like our minds were in perfect synch ... it was one of those wonderful collaborations that doesn't happen very often."[17] Fradon drew The Brave and the Bold #59 (April–May 1965), a Batman/Green Lantern team-up, the first time that series featured Batman teaming with another DC superhero.[18]

Bob Haney and Metamorpho[edit]

Based on an idea by DC editor George Kashdan and co-created by Bob Haney and Fradon,[19] the character Metamorpho first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #57 and 58 in January and March 1965 before headlining a 17-issue run of the character's self-titled series from August 1965 through March 1968. Kashdan's concept involved a character made up of four elements who could change into different chemical compounds. Haney fleshed out the idea with a "deliciously overdrawn" cast.[19] Kashdan, Haney, and Fradon worked together to create Metamorpho's look:

He wasn't your average superhero so capes and masks didn't suit him. I tried a lot of those and finally decided that since he was always changing his shape, clothes would get in his way. So I drew him in tights, with a body made up of four different colors and textures that were supposed to indicate the four elements.[19]


Fradon enjoyed her collaboration with Haney because "his goofy stories gave me ideas about how the characters should look and act, and my goofy pictures gave him new ideas." Metamorpho allowed Fradon to use an exaggerated drawing style which suited her better than the traditional approach to superhero illustration.[19]

From 1965 to 1972, Fradon left comics to raise her daughter.[20] In 1972, she returned to DC where later in the decade she would draw Plastic Man, Freedom Fighters, and Super Friends which she penciled for almost its entire run.[10] She also worked for Marvel Comics during this period, but left after only two assignments: a fill-in issue of Fantastic Four and the never-published fifth issue of The Cat.[21] Fradon recounted:

First of all, I was really rusty. And [on The Cat #5] I was totally confounded by not drawing from a script. They gave me this one paragraph and said go draw this 17-page story. I don't think I did my best work by any means. I think I had a script on Fantastic Four, but I just don't think they were satisfied with my work. Then I went back to DC and started doing mysteries with Joe Orlando. I really had a lot of fun doing that. It suited my style, I think.[20]

In 1980, Dale Messick retired from drawing the newspaper strip Brenda Starr, Reporter, and Fradon became the artist for it until her own retirement in 1995.[9][14] She went back to college in 1980 at New York University where she studied psychology and ancient religions.[14]

For the SpongeBob Comics, Fradon contributed to the Mermaidman stories due to her work for Aquaman.[7]

Fradon contributed pencils to the 2010 graphic novel The Adventures of Unemployed Man, the 2012 graphic novel The Dinosaur That Got Tired of Being Extinct, and the collection The Art of Ramona Fradon.

Retirement and death[edit]

Fradon announced her retirement from comics and illustrations on January 5, 2024.[22]

Fradon died of heart failure at her home in Ulster County, New York, on February 24, at the age of 97.[23][24][25]

Style and industry equality[edit]

Feeling "like a fish out of water" in the male-dominated superhero field, she reflected on her style in a 1988 interview:

[Trina Robbins] made the observation that most women tend to have a more open style, use less shadow, and work in bigger open patterns. I think that's probably true—at least I always did (work in that style). I thought that was a big failing of mine, that I couldn't emulate that kind of photographic reproduction style. When I read that this seemed to be a characteristic of women cartoonists, it made me feel a bit better about it. ... Something that always jarred my eyes is to see the kind of heaviness and ugliness about most comic art. There's not much sweetness to it. It's the tradition, and I don't think it has anything to do with the individual artists. It's just the tradition ... the look. That always troubled me.[26]


Fradon was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2006.[27]


Angry Isis Press[edit]

  • Choices #1 (1990)

Archie Comics[edit]

Bongo Comics[edit]

DC Comics[edit]

Marvel Comics[edit]

Nemo Publishing[edit]

  • Sea Ghost #1 (2010)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inkpot Award
  2. ^ "Lulu Award". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on January 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "Interview with Comic Book Artist Ramona Fradon"
  4. ^ Horn, Maurice (1996). 100 Years of American Newspaper Comics. New York, New York: Gramercy Books. p. 64. ISBN 978-0517124475.
  5. ^ Cooke, Jon B. (Fall 2016). "The Amazing Ramona Fradon: A Career-Spanning Interview". Comic Book Creator (13). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 18–19.
  6. ^ Cooke p. 19
  7. ^ a b Cereno, Benito (September 30, 2016). "Ramona Forever: A Birthday Tribute to Ramona Fradon". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on May 3, 2019.
  8. ^ Origen, Erich (n.d.). "Ramona Fradon: A Woman's Life in Comics". Graphic Novel Reporter. Archived from the original on December 2, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Bails, Jerry (2006). "Fradon, Ramona". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Ramona Fradon at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Levitz, Paul (2010). "The Silver Age 1956–1970". 75 Years of DC Comics The Art of Modern Mythmaking. Cologne, Germany: Taschen. p. 347. ISBN 9783836519816. She drew the strip from 1951 to 1961, the longest unbroken tenure any artist has had on the character.
  12. ^ Bernstein, Robert (w), Fradon, Ramona (p), Fradon, Ramona (i). "How Aquaman Got His Powers" Adventure Comics, no. 260 (May 1959).
  13. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, eds. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Writer Robert Bernstein and artist Ramona Fradon provided a lifelong pal for Aquaman in a backup tale in this issue.
  14. ^ a b c d Keller, Katherine (May 2000). "The Real Ramona". Sequential Tart. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  15. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 114: "Scribe Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon were truly in their element ... Haney and Fradon's collaborative chemistry resulted in [Rex] Mason becoming Metamorpho."
  16. ^ Stroud, Bryan (May 2013). "Metamorpho in Action Comics". Back Issue! (64). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 23–24.
  17. ^ Abramowitz, Jack (April 2014). "1st Issue Special: It Was No Showcase (But It Was Never Meant To Be)". Back Issue! (71). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 42.
  18. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 115: "By issue #50, The Brave and the Bold developed into the ultimate team-up book. The Brave and the Bold #59 added one final element to the team-up theme, when writer Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon partnered Batman with Green Lantern."
  19. ^ a b c d Dueben, Alex (September 24, 2013). "Ramona Fradon Reflects on Metamorpho, "Brenda Starr," Creates A "Fairy Tale"". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on July 13, 2017.
  20. ^ a b Cassell, Dewey (August 2006). "Talking About Tigra: From the Cat to Were-Woman". Back Issue! (17). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 26–33.
  21. ^ Cassell, Dewey (February 2011). "The Lady and the Cat: The Story Behind the Unpublished Fifth Issue of Marvel Comics' The Cat". Back Issue! (46). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 3–7.
  22. ^ Bolling, Ruben (2024-01-05). "Aquaman, Metamorpho, and Brenda Starr cartoonist Ramona Fradon retires". BoingBoing. Retrieved 2024-01-05.
  23. ^ Johnston, Rich. "Comic Book Creator Ramona Fradon Has Died, Aged 97". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved February 24, 2024.
  24. ^ https://www.thewrap.com/ramona-fradon-dc-comics-metamorpho-cocreator-and-aquaman-artist-dies-at-97/
  25. ^ Gustines, George Gene. "Ramona Fradon, Longtime Force in the World of Comic Books, Dies at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  26. ^ Mangels, Andy (May 15, 1988). "Profiles: Ramona Fradon, Artist". Amazing Heroes (141): 42–43.
  27. ^ "2000s Eisner Award Recipients". San Diego Comic-Con International. 2 December 2012. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Art of Ramona Fradon (February 2014), Dynamite Entertainment, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1606901403
  • Career Retrospective, Gold & Silver: Overstreet's Comic Book Quarterly #6 (December 1994). p. 114. Overstreet Publications.
  • Interview, Comics Forum #20 (Autumn 1999), pp. 17–22. Comics Creators Guild.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
John Daly
"Aquaman" feature
in Adventure Comics artist

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Metamorpho artist
Succeeded by
Preceded by Freedom Fighters artist
Succeeded by
Preceded by Super Friends artist
Succeeded by
Preceded by Brenda Starr, Reporter artist
Succeeded by