I keep forgetting to mention I updated the archive the other day. What do you think, should I post a link to it in each column? I imagine that would be helpful, as Google currently doesn’t want to give even me a direct link to it. Onwards.
Bob Week moseys along with a look at a fantastic artist of days gone by.
144. Bob Oksner
Earlier this year, Bob Oksner passed away at the age of 90, and comics lost a fine artist. In the Golden Age, he worked on a variety of funnybooks before being scooped up by Timely. DC soon scooped him up, and he began drawing all sorts of works that featured pretty ladies before he started working on humor books again.
His genre spread was pretty varied. A large part of his career was spent on licensed humor titles, like The Adventures of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, The Adventures of Bob Hope, the Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Sgt. Bilko, Pat Boone, and, much later, Welcome Back, Kotter. His fantastic skills as a caricaturist enabled him to produce a lot of beautiful cartooning on these comics.
He also worked on romance books and teen humor mags for quite a while, including such illustrious material as Leave it to Binky, Windy and Willy, and my personal fave, Swing with Scooter. It’s here where he got a chance to draw quite a few pretty ladies.
When the big companies started cutting back on genre work, Mr. Oksner found himself working on titles on the fringe, co-creating and drawing such favorites of this column like Angel and the Ape and Super-Hip, the latter with Arnold Drake. He’d re-team with Drake on Stanley and his Monster, a cool little feature and short-lived title about a young boy and his “imaginary” monster friend.
Eventually, he ended up on the superhero books, drawing PSA strips in just about everything, but also working on quite a few covers, especially in the Superman line of titles, as well as the 70’s Shazam! series. Again, his best efforts were when female characters like Lois Lane and Supergirl were involved. It was during this time that he also inked over Curt Swan’s work. He also inked one of the greatest superhero humor books of all time, Ambush Bug.
Bob later worked with Irwin Hansen on the comic strip Dondi before finally retiring in the late 80’s. And when he retired, he really retired, selling or giving away all his drawing materials and barely doodling a thing after that. He did attend one or two conventions, though.
Bob Oksner was an artist who never got enough accolades for his work before his unfortunate passing, but I hope he’d be happy that we remember him and his work so fondly. There is an issue of Alter Ego out dedicated to him, which is nice to see. The man was a pretty brilliant cartoonist with excellent comedic skills. He gave us a lot of great material, and he’ll be missed.
For further details and another (and surely better) tribute, read the obituary written by Mark Evanier.