Bright yellow hats, swirling red capes, skin tight blue body suits, bulging muscles…

Comic book artists gave conservative, Great Depression-burdened America a kick in the art pants in the late 1930’s!

Many a fine artist today owes their extraordinary use of color and dynamic composition to the influence of comic book artists. Check out Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

"Superman 260" (1981)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Color screenprint with diamond dust on
Lenox museum board

Superman! From the planet Krypton? Or from the imaginations of two Jewish teenage boys in Cleveland, Ohio in 1936. World War II was on the horizon and the boys were horrified by reports of the evils of Hitler.

Superman was born! The mild mannered Clark Kent transformed into a captain of truth who defended the weak and battled to save the world from destruction. Superman’s young creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster designed his costume bright blue with a red cape to show the illusion of flying. (Artists, take note!)

After years of rejections by comic book publishers, DC Comics bought the rights to Superman for a modest $130.

America entered World War II.  Jerry Siegel was drafted and served in the US Army, came home and found that Superman was the comic hero of America!

In 1970, after years of litigation, Siegel and Shuster were acknowledged by DC Comics as Superman’s creators and were each awarded $20,000 a year in royalties for the rest of their lives as compensation.

Vintage Superman video… It’s REALLY super!
Click this link if unable to view the video.


"Popeye" (2003)
Jeff Koons (born 1955)
Oil on canvas

It’s 1938.  The Great Depression is raging.  Americans are desperate.

E.C. Segar, Illinois cartoonist, creates Popeye!  Popeye flexes his muscles and eats spinach.  There are no obstacles that can not be overcome.  He is strong and sympathetic.  He is funny.

America’s gloom is lifted.

American children’s spinach consumption increases by 33%.


"KA-POW! - Dick Tracy" (2011)
Kirby Kendrick (alive and kickin')
Spray paint, markers, stencil, acrylic on canvas

Chicago, 1930.  Violence ran amuck.  Al Capone, arch gangster was terrorizing Chicago.  Something had to be done.

Dick Tracy was created by cartoonist Chester Gould.  Dick Tracy fought crime with his wits and advanced gadgetry.  Right was right and wrong was wrong.

And America loved the colors of his costume…yellow hat, red and white striped tie, and jet black suit.

Art could be colorful again.

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