MART NODELL

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One of the founders of the comics biz, Mart Nodell (1915 – 2006) is best know as the co-creator and first artist to draw the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, in 1940. He also drew the JSA and the Golden Age Flash, among others, and later went on to design for Pillsbury their trademark Pillsbury Doughboy.

Born in Philadelphia, Nodell was the son of Jewish immigrants. He attended both the Art Institute of Chicago and, after moving to New York City in the 1930’s, the Pratt Institute. In 1938 he started freelancing and, in 1940, he provided illustrations for All-American Publications (one of the three companies that ultimately merged to from the company that would become DC Comics).

Seeking steadier employment, Nodell sought to create a new super hero that would step into the rapidly expanding ranks of costumed crime fighters in the wake of Superman’s debut two years earlier. Taking inspiration from Greek mythology and the image of the train station lantern bearer (green signaling “go”), Nodell submitted his idea and, after waiting two weeks, received the call to come to All-American and discuss his idea. Publisher Max Gaines approved the character and Nodell, after producing five pages of an eight page story, then teamed with writer Bill Finger (of Batman fame) to complete the story. They worked on the comic for the next seven years.

While Nodell is best known for Green Lantern, his other work includes Timely characters such as Captain America, The Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner. He also worked on horror comics for Timely.

Nodell left comics in 1950 to pursue a career in advertising but, over thirty years later, he briefly returned to provide a few more illustrations for DC, including a 13-page puzzle and activity section in the Super Friends Special #1, Harlequin for DC’s Who’s Who, and an Alan Scott pinup in Green Lantern issue 19 (1991) for the 50th anniversary of the character.  His last published Green Lantern appeared in Superman: The Man of Steel Gallery #1 with Superman and Alan Scott.

In 2011, Nodell was posthumously nominated as a Judges’ Choice for the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.

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