Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sheldon Moldoff, 1920-2012, R.I.P. -- A "Comical Wednesday" Post



If someone were to hold a gun to my head -- which in and of itself wouldn't surprise me, given my checkered past -- and say "I don't care how many freakin' comic books you own, Foxy... I want you to get rid of all of them, except your top ten favorites!" I would agonize over the decision, certainly. But I know one of the books I'd save would be a comic from my youth, Batman #156, from 1963.


Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when I was learning to read, comic books were my main choice of reading material. (Well, those and the Whitman Little Golden Book series.) Anyway, two of my favorite titles were DC's Batman and Detective Comics, both of which featured Batman & Robin.


In those days -- in fact, all the way back to 1939 -- every Batman story was signed by Bob Kane. Kane was the only credited creator, writer, and artist on the feature due to a long, convoluted story which would fascinate you if you're a comic book fan (well, one who doesn't know it already), and bore you to tears if you're not a comic book fan.

If you want to know this "long. convoluted story," click here. As for those of you who don't really care, suffice it to say that what little artwork Kane ever did on Batman was mostly confined to the late 1930s and early 1940s, although he received sole credit for every Batman story written (never by Kane) and drawn (rarely by Kane) until DC Comics finally started giving all their creators credit in the mid-1960s! Kane never wanted anyone to receive credit for Batman, other than himself.

From 1953 to 1967, the vast majority of Batman stories were actually drawn by a comic book veteran named Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff. Please note that the period from 1953-1967 very neatly includes the years "in the late 1950s and early 1960s" which I mentioned earlier... my formative years as a comic book fan, and my earliest years as a voracious reader.

In other words, it was Shelly Moldoff, and not Bob Kane, who drew the stories -- the writers varied -- which hooked me on reading in general. Therefore, Shelly Moldoff was "my" Batman artist, although I didn't know it until many years later.

I referred to Moldoff as a comic book veteran. Here are just some of his claims to fame, taken from Sheldon Moldoff's website:

Sheldon “Shelly” Moldoff of Lauderhill got his start in the comic industry more than 60 years ago drawing “believe it or not” filler items. In the 1940′s, the so-called Golden Age of comics, he drew such strips as Hawkman, Kid Eternity and The Black Pirate. he also drew covers for the first appearances of Green Lantern and The Flash.
But Moldoff is best known for a 14-year run with Batman from 1953 to 1967. He drew some of the goofiest but most beloved Batman episodes ever, including Zebra Batman and the Merman Batman, and he introduced Batwoman and the original Bat-Girl.
And while we're talking about "goofiest but most beloved," fellow babies... They left out one of my favorite Moldoff-drawn characters from my faraway youth: Bat-Mite, the ultimate Batman fan from another dimension! (Yep, back then, Batman was far from the so-called "Dark Knight" he was in the 1930s and early 1940s, and as he is today.)


Unfortunately, two weeks ago, Shelly Moldoff passed away at the age of 91. And his loss affects me one hell of a lot more than the 1998 death of glory-hogging Bob Kane.

The following illustration is a Moldoff "re-creation" of the cover to Batman #156, pictured above.


And this is a Moldoff illustration of none other than Bat-Mite!


Both prints are currently up for sale on Moldoff's website. Sure wish I could afford them!

Thanks for your time.


29 comments:

  1. Aw, what a talented man!

    I've never heard of Bat-Mite! (I almost called him Bat-Twit and had to look back and double-check the name. Oh dear. haha)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They ditched all the really goofy, unrealistic elements in the Batman stories -- such as Bat-Mite, alien visitors, a Bat-Hound, time travel -- when you were just a little tyke. Only comic book historians (like myself) and/or really old people (also like myself) know about these things, doll!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I don't care for the goofy elements. My favorite is that one Batman..you know the one...with the mysterious side, enormous flowing cape and huge sex appeal. ha.

      Delete
    3. haha..AND before you can even say it..I did NOT mean you in that avatar. lol...

      Delete
    4. Ha! I didn't think you meant "me!" I'm sure there's a much sexier version enshrined somewhere in your mind. :)

      Delete
    5. haha..yeah, and you know which one I'm talking about. Is it from a particular comic book?

      Delete
    6. Yes, it is. Would you like me to find you a copy?

      Delete
    7. well, sure. But I'm sure they are scarce. All the women want that one, I'm thinking. :)

      Delete
    8. I'm sure I can find one for you. And in the meantime, you can always look on the internet.

      Delete
    9. Well, ok.... can you tell me the name of the comic book...that would make a search easier.

      Delete
    10. Blackest Night Wonder Woman #2, doll.

      Delete
    11. Awww, I can just see you now, haunting the comic shops or searching eBay, looking for that book. Should be pretty easy, really.

      Delete
    12. You could snag it on eBay for about $6.00, including shipping!

      Delete
    13. I actually think I can afford that! I'll take a look. :)

      Delete
    14. I found it! His muscles have muscles. :) And Wonder Woman doesn't look too bad, herself!

      Delete
    15. Wonder Woman? She rarely does look bad, I must admit! I wouldn't mind opening my door to see her waiting for me!

      Delete
  2. I guess I missed the Moldoff period, except I probably saw his work when it was all still being attributed to Kane. My own personal favorite is Frank Miller's Dark Knight era. I know, I know, but I can't help it; Miller brought out that noir feeling of the original Batman and put it on steroids. Unfortunately I can't stand Miller himself; he's a racist, homophobic, misogynistic scumbag who insists on spewing his filth in public. It's too bad that such talent has to come out of such a goniff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I agree. I definitely prefer the serious Batman treatments. But when I was a little brat, I didn't know the character's rich history. To my younger self, the stories of that era were exciting, and what more does one need at the ages of 4-7, more or less?

      Delete
  3. Whyen I was a child my favorite reading books was comical too, especially Batman and Superman, I remember we read a lot in this time, and looking these drwas remember me this time, like a DEja Vu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were fun back then, weren't they?

      Delete
    2. Yeah Silver they were really fun and great!

      Delete
  4. Never heard of bat-mite either. Batman and aliens too you say? Geez, guess I missed out haha. But then the Justice League deals with aliens all the time so technically he still does. I read he passed at another blog earlier, you got one upped Fox..haha. I hate glory hogging idiots that take credit for what they didn't do to, morons the whole lot of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we're just too young to remember these!, Pat. lol...

      Delete
    2. That's okay, I said it was two weeks ago... but I wasn't back to blogging yet! And I was very disappointed when I learned all about how Bob Kane took credit for everything.

      Delete
  5. dude...i totally wish i had the money...i def know who he is...batman being my fav of course...it was kinda cool seeing bat mite in the brave and the bold cartoon the last couple years....they even used bat mite in the comic not too long back when bruce was psychologically broken...nice trib man...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yep, I love the serious Batman treatments, but I still have a fondness for the goofy crap like Bat-Mite!

    ReplyDelete
  7. For what it may be worth, you have manged to instill in me a whole new respect for the comic genre...with the exception of Jughead and horror comics I never ventured much further, but your posts have opened ME up to the artistry of the form (how pretentious does that sound!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's nice to get comments from my readers who are comic fans, but it's just as nice to get comments like yours from people who don't regularly read them! Makes me feel like I'm "spreading the word."

      Delete

I strongly urge you to sign up for follow-up comments, because I (usually) reply to your comment!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails