Tuesday, December 12, 2006

R.I.P. Green Lantern Creator Martin Nodell 1915-2006

Hello fair readers. On Sunday it was reported that veteran Golden Age Comic Book artist and creator of the original Green Lantern Martin Nodell has passed away at the age of 91.

FanBoyWonder was only vaguely familiar with who Mr. Nodell was, but we shared a deep and long-running affection with his creation, The Green Lantern, since we were a wee-lad.

Green Lantern Alan Scott is one of the greatest heroes of the Golden Age and Nodell’s creation will not only live on far beyond him, but his character is the source of a solid one-quarter all the characters in the DC Comics pantheon of heroes.

From Hal Jordan to the Green Lantern Corps to Jade and Obsidian and Sinestro, there are few corners of the DC universe that are untouched by Nodell’s brainstorm in 1940.

Green Lantern, like his Golden Age brethren in the Justice Society of America, has never received the proper amount of respect. When comic books received their second act during the late 1950s and early ‘60s, in what came to be known as the Silver Age, writer John Broome and Artist Gil Kane successfully revived the Green Lantern character via a Battlestar Galactica-like “re-imagining” in which the name and the basic powers were the same but everything else was different.

Mind you we say the Silver Age GL was a successful revision, but not a superior one. Unfortunately, as Baby Boomers often inclined to do, anything that preceded their generation was automatically deemed no good and thus Alan Scott, the (most) original Green Lantern has forever since been relegated to understudy or supporting player.

Yet the fact that GL Alan Scott is still an active and viable character today—despite numerous attempts to kill, banish or otherwise remove him from the field—is a testament to the strength of a cartoonist’s idea—inspired while waiting for the train.

As FanBoyWonder offers our humble condolences to Mr. Nodell’s family, we submit that even as he rests in peace, the Green Lantern’s light will continue to burn brightly for fanboys and girls for many more generations to come.

Posted below are two obit pieces about Mr. Nodell—one from Comic Book Resources and the other, a local story by the Palm Beach Post.


by Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer
Posted: December 10, 2006

Comics writer and historian Mark Evanier posted some sad news to his web site yesterday, noting that comics creator Martin Nodell has died. He was 91.

Born 11/15/15 in Philadelphia, Nodell got his start in comics as a freelance artist around 1938, but it was when he began working for editor Sheldon Mayer at All-American Comics that his career took off.

According to Evanier, when Nodell asked Mayer what he needed to do to get regular assignments from the company, Mayer suggested he pitch a new character for their flag ship title, "All-American Comics." That character was the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. All-American Comics was later absorbed by DC Comics.

Nodell left DC Comics in 1947 to work for Timely (later Marvel Comics) where he drew Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner. Nodell left comics in the 1950s to work in advertising. He's likely best known to the public at large as part of the team that developed the design of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

At the time of his death, Nodell resided in West Palm Beach, Florida.
CBR offers its condolences to the family and friends of Nodell.

Find this article at:


'Green Lantern' creator Nodell dies at 91

By Kevin Deutsch
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 11, 2006

In 1940, comic-book artist Martin Nodell was awaiting the subway home to Brooklyn when he saw a trainman waving a lantern. It was a common sight, but to an artist desperate for fresh ideas, it was inspiration.

"It was green, which meant things were safe," said Nodell, then 25. "I wrote down `Green Lantern.' I added elements of everything I liked - Chinese folklore, Greek mythology, Wagner's opera (The Ring of the Nibelungen).'' Nodell, who soon created the legendary superhero Green Lantern and later helped create the Pillsbury Doughboy, died in Wisconsin Saturday. The West Palm Beach resident was 91.

Hours before he saw the lantern in the subway, Nodell had been challenged to create a new comic book hero - with hope of employment with a fledgling comics publisher. Days later, he brought some art and story lines to National Periodicals, which later became DC Comics.

"I thought the publisher would let me down easy," Nodell said. "He said, `We like it. Get to work.' '' In his Aladdin's Lamp fable, Nodell describes a young engineer who is the sole survivor of a train crash. Staggering from the wreckage, Alan Scott discovers the eerie light of an ancient lantern forged from a green meteor. The lantern is a conscious entity that tells Scott to construct a ring from the lamp itself.

The ring makes Scott nearly omnipotent, bestowing the power to fly, materialize through walls, and make him impervious to bullets. Donning a vivid costume of green, red, purple, brown, black and gold, the hero recharges his superpowers by touching the ring to the lantern every 24 hours and reciting a special oath.

Nodell drew the superhero until 1947. At first, he didn't sign his real name to the product because comic books were then "a forbidden literature, culturally unacceptable," he said. Instead, he signed it Mart Dellon, transposing the letters of his last name.

In 1950, after seven years with DC Comics and four with rival Marvel Comics(where he did penciling work on Captain America, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner), Nodell left the industry and turned to advertising.

Using his Chicago art-school training as an art director at Leo Burnett Agency in 1965, he was a member of the design team that created the Pillsbury Doughboy. Nodell later moved to newspaper advertising, working in Chicago from 1970-78, and for The Palm Beach Post from 1979-83.

Nodell is survived by sons Spencer and Mitchell; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife, Caroline, died in 2004.

Staff researcher Sammy Alzofon contributed to this story.


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