Al Plastino (1921-2013 ) is best known as one of the most prolific Superman artists of the 1950’s. Working alongside fellow Superman artist Wayne Boring, Plastino also wrote, edited, lettered, and colored for DC Comics.
Plastino began working as an illustrator when he was just 17 and soon moved on to work for Funnies Inc., where he assisted Bill Everett on the Sub-Mariner. His earliest known credited comic-book work is as penciler-inker of the February, 1943 cover of Blue Bolt Comics Vol. 3, #9 for Novelty Press.
Drafted during World War II, Plastino was assigned to the graphic arts office in the Pentagon. There he drew war posters before his assignment to the Adjutant General’s Office where he illustrated U.S. Army training manuals. He continued producing these manuals after the war but began taking on comic book art and commercial graphics.
In 1948, while working out of a studio in New York City, Plastino submitted sample art of Superman to DC Comics. He was “hired” (offered $35 per completed page) but Plastino held out for what he heard other Superman artists received – $55 a page. DC and Plastino eventually agreed on $50 per page. Though not the full rate of other long-standing Superman artists, it was still high for a newcomer to the industry.
Though he successfully received the higher pay rate, DC was still uncertain about their new artist. During his initial period drawing Superman, they required him to copy Wayne Boring’s style. He soon proved himself, however, and DC allowed him to use his own style. All told, Plastino drew 48 Superman covers and countless stories for Action Comics, Superman, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, Superboy, and the Superman newspaper strip. He also co-created Supergirl with writer Otto Binder in Action Comics 252 (1959) and drew the story that introduced the Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics 247 (1958).
Plastino even found time to illustrate DC’s second most popular character of the period, Batman, for the Dark Knight’s syndicated comic strip.
In 1968, when he and other older creators were ousted from DC Comics, Plastino, who continued to work on the DC comic strips, additionally took over the syndicated strip Ferd’nand, which he drew until his retirement in 1989.
Underrated compared to fellow Superman artists Wayne Boring and Curt Swan, Plastino is nevertheless one of the truly great Superman artists. Indeed, some collectors hold the opinion that Plastino’s comic art has been seen by more people on earth than any other comics’ artist.
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