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U.S. Army photo, taken July 1944
|Born||Irving Sam Kweskin
February 24, 1924
Chicago, Illinois, US
|Died||June 23, 2005(aged 81)|
Early life and career
Growing up in Chicago, Kweskin drew as a child, and at 16 won a scholarship to a local academy, the Studio School of Art. He enrolled for a summer course at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where one classmate was the future celebrated military cartoonist Bill Mauldin. After high school, Kweskin worked as a copyboy for Chicago Tribune newspaper, and then entered the U.S. Army.
From February 1943 to September 1944, during World War II, Private Kweskin served with the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion. Afterward, through December 1945, he was the wartime artist for the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion. After his discharge, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in early 1949. He worked for year[clarification needed] with former Walt Disney Pictures animator Sam Singer, doing two children's cartoon series for the local ABC-TV station. Kweskin then left to develop his own local children's-TV programs.
He later drew comic-book bible stories for David C. Cook Publishing in Elgin, Illinois. A friend put Kweskin in touch with New York City's Atlas Comics, the 1950s precursor of Marvel Comics, and Kweskin "flew into NYC in August or September 1952" to meet with Atlas editor-in-chief Stan Lee. Kweskin did well on a sample story, and continued to freelance comic-book art for the company from back home in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, Kweskin, his wife and their two small children moved to New York City.
Atlas and advertising
Kweskin's earliest confirmed credits include penciling and self-inking stories in three Atlas comics cover-dated February 1953: The horror/mystery books Strange Tales #15 and Adventures Into Terror #16, and the war comic Battlefront #9. He continued drawing stories for such Atlas horror anthologies as Journey into Mystery, Marvel Tales, and Uncanny Tales, Western titles including Kid Colt, Outlaw and Wild Western, and even Bible Tales for Young Folk.
After about a year, during a downturn in the comics industry, Kweskin returned to the Midwest. He worked as a studio artist, then became an art director for a maker of industrial films. All the while he freelanced book-cover art and other illustrations. He then become an art director for an advertising agency that specialized in the Latin American market. He later art directed on TV commercials at a different agency while continuing freelance, doing medical illustrations for the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. He later began a small agency of his own.
In the early 1970s, Kweskin briefly returned to freelancing for what was now formally Marvel Comics. He both wrote and penciled a six-page horror tale, "Revenge from the Rhine", in Journey into Mystery vol. 2, #3 (Feb. 1973), and then succeeded Sub-Mariner creator Bill Everett on that character's comic-book title following Everett's death; Kweskin and Everett together penciled issue #58 (Feb. 1973), with Everett inking and Kweskin penciled or laid out #59-60 and 62-63.
As Kweskin wrote in a 2002 e-mail excerpted in an article by comics historian Ken Quattro:
I did have lunch with Bill [Everett] one day after he had had a heart attack somewhat earlier that month, and [Marvel publisher] Stan Lee suggested we get together for me to get the 'feel' of Bill's approach to a strip that he had developed. And so I began doing Sub-Mariner. ... Whether [editor-in-chief] Roy Thomas or Stan or I decided it was not in the cards to continue it after a few issues, I can't remember, since at the time I was also president of my own small ad/art agency and responsible to several employees. Much of my time there had to be spent doing ad layouts and — on occasion — writing copy".
Afterward he spent three years as an art director at Ziff-Davis magazines, and then freelanced for 10 years as an ad-agency storyboard artist. Kweskin also painted, and exhibited at art galleries. In 1993, he moved to Boca Raton, Florida, and until his death continued to freelance, including doing the cover of the Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine, and to paint, doing a commissioned canvas for a military museum in Louisiana.
- "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VM7P-4Z9 : accessed 01 Mar 2013), Samuel Kweskin, 23 June 2005.
- Quattro, Ken. "Behind the Lines — Untold Tales of Comic Art: Finding Sam Kweskin", Comicartville Library, 2002: "I was involved in my small agency, and ... I thought it best not to have possible clients (who looked down on comic magazines) associate my name with the books; I used Irv Wesley because Irving is my actual first name, and Wesley is the 'Anglicization' of our otherwise Lithuanian name that some earlier family settlers used in their business". WebCitation archive.
- Date per Military.com: Sam Kweskin (WebCitation archive), the source for this article's data on his World War II service. However, Kweskin, in the 2002 article cited below, says he attended the Art Institute of Chicago from January 1945 to early 1949, earning a four-year degree.