Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WHM 2012 Ramona Fradon

Ramona Fradon started out drawing for various horror and adventures comic books for DC in the early 1950s. She happened upon the AQUAMAN strip in ADVENTURE COMICS in 1951 and stayed with that character until he was about to get his own book in 1961. This means she was the first artist to draw the character AQUALAD, among other firsts. She retired from comics for several years to raise her daughter, and a full-book commitment was too much for her at the time.

In mid-1965 she came back temporarily to help design and launch METAMORPHO, The Element Man. In mid-1973 she was coaxed out of retirement again by Roy Thomas at MARVEL COMICS, but after doing only a few things there she returned to DC.

During the Seventies she drew FREEDOM FIGHTERS, PLASTIC MAN, and THE SUPER FRIENDS. It was in SUPER FRIENDS that I became aware of her distinctive style and grew to love it. When I saw it in FREEDOM FIGHTERS (one of my wacky favorites) and in AQUAMAN reprints, I could recognize it.

She was on SUPER FRIENDS from the second issue through to nearly the end, when she left DC in 1980 to take over the newspaper strip BRENDA STARR. She retired from that in 1996.

When I was a kid and I first came across her name in the credits I thought, "What kind of name is Ramona?" I thought it was some different spelling of Ramone! It didn't even occur to me that artists were women!! Once I realized that she was a lady, obviously it didn't make any difference, haha. Those comics illustrated by her and (usually) inked by Bob Smith were just beautiful. According to interviews, she did not like being inked by Vince Colletta, and when he was not taken off of her work, she was convinced to leave.

These comics are still some of my favorites, not only for the nostalgia but because of the beauty of the art. For several years SUPER FRIENDS was my favorite comic, as AQUAMAN had been cancelled and JUSTICE LEAGUE was stagnant. I have the AQUAMAN ARCHIVE where her art is reprinted on good paper in lush full color, and man! is it beautiful.

I'll let her art mostly speak for itself....

Metamorpho, a character Fradon 
helped design in 1965

ZAN & JAYNA push out original "Friends"
Marvin, Wendy, and Wonder Dog

Aqualad guest-stars in SUPER FRIENDS 27, the first
time she drew the character in more than 15 years.

Two of her best known works team-up in 1978

In May THE ART OF RAMONA FRADON will be released. I can't wait for it, and if you like what you see here, I would recommend picking it up.

Here's to you, Ramona Fradon, for many hours of entertainment!

Scheduled to be published May 8, 2012

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