Every day this month I will share with you the first (at least as far as I know) U.S. professional work by a notable comic book creator. Here is an archive of the creators who have been featured so far.
Today’s featured creator is John Romita Sr.!
Since John Buscema retired from comics, John Romita has officially become THE face of Marvel Comics (and he was right up there with Buscema before that for the role post-Jack Kirby). The veteran artist re-defined Spider-Man following Steve Ditko’s departure and came up with more or less “the” look for Marvel’s most famous character (especially the definitive design for Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson). Romita served as art director for Marvel for many years. Even today, while he is ostensibly retired, Romita can always seemingly be counted on to do a cover here, a page there. And he still delivers with great work every time!
Romita’s debut is a bit of a tricky subject. As I featured in a Comic Book Legends Revealed years ago, Romita broke in to comics as a ghost penciler for another artist, Lester Zakarin. The problem for me is that I don’t know exactly what comics “Zakarin” drew at this point (and nor do I have access to many of them), so I am going to follow Marvel’s example when they did the Best of John Romita hardcover collection. They went with the first story that they KNEW that Romita was the artist (as Romita eventually just went to Stan Lee and basically said, “Hey, I’ve been working for you for a year or so, could you maybe just hire me on my own?”), and that was this story from 1951’s Strange Tales #4….
You can barely tell it is Romita! And he inked the story himself, so it is not like he had a dominant inker changing the look. Still, even then, with this different style, he was an excellent artist.