Bob Brown (comics)

Bob Brown
Born William Robert Brown
(1915-08-22)August 22, 1915
Died January 1977 (aged 61)
Nationality American
Area(s) Penciller
Notable works
Avengers, Challengers of the Unknown
Daredevil, Detective Comics, "Space Ranger", Superboy, Tomahawk

William Robert "Bob" Brown[1] (August 22, 1915 – January 1977)[2] was an American comic book artist with an extensive career from the early 1940s through the 1970s. With writers Edmond Hamilton and Gardner Fox, Brown co-created the DC Comics hero Space Ranger, drawing the character's complete run from his debut in the try-out comic Showcase #15 (Aug. 1958) through Mystery in Space #103 (July 1965).

Brown also penciled the DC title Challengers of the Unknown, taking over from Jack Kirby, from 1959 to 1968.

Early life

Brown was born in Syracuse, New York, to a father who managed a vaudeville theater and a mother who worked as a pianist.[3] He attended the Hartford Art School and the Rhode Island School of Design.[4] Following his parents into show business, he performed as youth in a song-and-dance act with his sister and younger brother, starting around 1927. They worked together into the early 1930s. After graduating from high school, Brown and his sister worked in night clubs and theater as a duo. By the latter 1930s, Brown was a solo dancer while his sister worked with the Tommy Dorsey Band.[3]

In 1940, he was drafted and served in the Army Air Corps as an aircraft radio operator at Scott Field, Illinois. Later, Brown became an aviation cadet at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas. After washing out as a pilot, Brown, a commissioned officer, trained in Hondo, Texas, as a bombardier and a navigator, serving on a B-29 bomber in the Pacific theater of World War II. He flew 35 missions over Japan in the 877th Squadron of General Curtis LeMay's 20th Bomber Command. Brown earned six Air Medals and a Distinguished Flying Cross.[3]


Brown began his career in comics began during the 1940s, with his earliest known credit as both writer and artist of the "Criss Cross" backup feature in Fox Comics' teen-humor title Meet Corliss Archer.[5] After some early work on titles from Marvel Comics precursor Timely Comics as it was transitioning into the 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, he became regular artist of the feature "Vigilante" in DC Comics' Action Comics, drawing it in issues #152–185 (cover-dated Jan. 1951 – Oct. 1953).[5]

In addition to his work on DC Comics' "Vigilante" feature during this time, Brown drew sporadic stories for Atlas Comics at St. John Publications, as well as for such DC supernatural titles as House of Mystery and The Phantom Stranger.[5] He began working exclusively for Atlas sometime in 1954, with the supernatural story "The Time Is Now" in Mystery Tales #25 (Jan. 1955), signed W. R. Brown, the first of many he would draw in genres including Westerns and jungle adventures.[5] With an unknown writer, tentatively identified as Atlas editor-in-chief Stan Lee, Brown produced the first version of the Rawhide Kid (related in name only to the more long-running character Lee and artist Jack Kirby created in 1960) in Rawhide Kid #1 (March 1955). Because another artist, Joe Maneely, drew the cover, often done before a comic's interior art, it is unclear whether Brown or Maneely created the character design.[6] Brown continued on the title through issue #7 (March 1956), then freelanced for both Atlas and DC before becoming regular artist on the latter's American Revolutionary War series Tomahawk with issues #39 (March 1956). He would continue on that title, also doing other work for DC, through #52 (Dec. 1959).[5]

With plotter Gardner Fox and scripter Edmond Hamilton, Brown co-created the feature "Space Ranger" in Showcase #15 (Aug. 1958).[7][8][9] He would continue drawing that science-fiction adventure after it became a feature in Tales of the Unexpected and Mystery in Space, through issue #103 (July 1965) of the latter.[5] He took over Challengers of the Unknown from that adventuring team's co-creator, artist Jack Kirby, beginning with issue #9 (Sept. 1959). He would continue on it through #63 (Sept. 1968), with the comic becoming his best-known, signature work. He and writer Arnold Drake created the Beast Boy character in Doom Patrol #99 (Nov. 1965).[10] Brown drew stories as well for DC's The Brave and the Bold, House of Secrets, and World's Finest Comics. He drew a run of Superboy adventures. With writer Dennis O'Neil, he crafted Batman's first encounter with the League of Assassins in Detective Comics #405 (Nov. 1970)[11] and co-created the character Talia al Ghul in Detective Comics #411 (May 1971) as a recurring romantic interest for Batman.[12]

Brown first drew for the modern Marvel Comics as co-penciler of the feature "The Beast" in Amazing Adventures vol. 2, #16 (Jan. 1973). After a little more work for DC, he penciled issues #6–8 (June–Oct. 1973) of the short-lived superhero title Warlock, and became regular penciler of long-running superhero-team series The Avengers, penciling most issues between #113–126 (July 1973 – Aug. 1974). He and Sal Buscema drew the "Avengers-Defenders Clash" storyline in 1973.[13][14] Brown's last few years were devoted to a run on Marvel Comics' Daredevil from 1974–77. New adversaries for the title character introduced during his tenure include the Silver Samurai in issue #111 (July 1974)[15] and Bullseye in #131 (March 1976).[16] His series collaborator, writer Tony Isabella, said Brown "was very much underappreciated" by comic-book fans,[17] In addition, comics historian Mark Evanier recounted that by this point, Brown

...found his work regarded as "old-fashioned". It wasn't so much that Brown couldn't take a more modern approach to his work as that he just plain didn't understand what that meant. Editors kept showing him the work of new artists, he told me. They'd say, "This is what we want now," but Brown couldn't grasp just what it was he was supposed to learn from the examples, which often struck him as displaying weak anatomy, poor perspective and other fundamental errors. It was almost like they were telling him that, "Kids relate to crude artwork," and he knew it wasn't that.[18]

One of Brown's last published pieces, a fill-in story written by Bill Mantlo and drawn a couple of years earlier,[19] was published posthumously in Uncanny X-Men #106 (Aug. 1977).

Personal life

Brown married a student nurse, Dot, from the St. Louis area when he was posted at Scott Field. Sometime after returning from World War II in September 1945, Brown and Dot married and had three daughters, Marilyn Kay, Constance and Virginia Lou.[3]

Brown was living in Manhattan[2] at the time of his death in 1977 at age 61 from leukemia.[20] He had just signed on as the new artist on Wonder Woman with #231 but completed only a single issue, released two weeks after his death.[21] He was eulogized in August 1977 cover dated issues of Marvel titles, with special mention given to his fostering ". . . better communication between American and European cartoonists."[20]


Brown's comics work (interior pencil art) includes:




  1. "Bob Brown". Lambiek Comiclopedia. September 11, 2009. Archived from the original on May 6, 2012.
  2. 1 2 Bob Brown at the Social Security Death Index via Gives only "January 1977" for death date.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Brown autobiography in "Smallville Mailsack" (text page) Superboy #158 (July 1969).
  4. Bails, Jerry; Hames Ware. "Brown, Bob (2)". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bob Brown at the Grand Comics Database
  6. Rawhide Kid #1 (March 1955) at the Grand Comics Database.
  7. Showcase #15 at the Grand Comics Database.
  8. Irvine, Alex; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1950s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Space Ranger...debuted in Showcase #15 in stories by writer Edmond Hamilton and artist Bob Brown.
  9. Markstein, Don (2008). "Space Ranger". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2012. Editor Jack Schiff took charge of the character, and handed him over to writers Edmond Hamilton and Gardner Fox for development. Bob Brown illustrated their script.
  10. McAvennie, Michael "1960s" in Dolan, p. 115: "Garfield Logan didn't impress the Doom Patrol...[but] writer Arnold Drake and artist Bob Brown saw something in the green-skinned delinquent who could take the form of animals."
  11. Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1970s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 109. ISBN 978-1465424563. Batman had his first brush with the mysterious League of Assassins in this issue written by Dennis O'Neil and illustrated by Bob Brown.
  12. McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 145: "Before Batman first encountered one of his greatest adversaries, Ra's al Ghul, he met his daughter, the lovely but lethal Talia [in a story by] writer Denny O'Neil and artist Bob Brown."
  13. Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 160. ISBN 978-0756641238.
  14. Englehart, Steve (n.d.). "The Avengers-Defenders Clash". Archived from the original on April 8, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  15. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 166
  16. Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 175: "In March [1976], writer Marv Wolfman and artist Bob Brown co-created one of the Man Without Fear's greatest nemeses, Bullseye."
  17. Isabella in Mithra, Kuljit (May 1997). "Interview with Tony Isabella". Archived from the original on December 10, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  18. Evanier, Mark (December 7, 2004). "On the Passing of Bob Haney". News from Me (Evanier official site). Archived from the original on November 17, 2013. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  19. Claremont, Chris. "X-Mail," Uncanny X-Men #106 (Aug. 1977).
  20. 1 2 "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Two-in-One #30 (Aug. 1977).
  21. Wells, John (November 2009). "Stop a Bullet Cold, Make the Axis Fold – Wonder Woman's Return to WWII". Back Issue!. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (37).

External links

Preceded by
Fred Ray
Tomahawk artist
Succeeded by
Frank Thorne
Preceded by
Jack Kirby
Challengers of the Unknown artist
Succeeded by
Jack Sparling
Preceded by
Frank Springer
Detective Comics artist
Succeeded by
Jim Aparo
Preceded by
Al Plastino
Superboy artist
Succeeded by
Dave Cockrum
Preceded by
Don Heck
The Avengers artist
Succeeded by
Sal Buscema
Preceded by
Don Heck
Daredevil artist
Succeeded by
Lee Elias
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