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The Only Artist to Draw Captain America in the 1940s and as Sam Wilson

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

I like to make sure that CBR covers comic book greats when they pass away, but sometimes, there are those passings that I miss. One of these was Ken Bald, a Golden Age comic book artist who passed away in March (with his death not being reported until April). He was a remarkable 98 years old. Since it is too late to do an obituary, per se, I thought the next best thing was to do a tribute to his career in comics.

Ken Bald's connection to comic books started about as early as it possibly could, with a piece of his fan mail winning a contest in More Fun Comics #9 in 1936 when he was just 14 years old!

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Five years later, Bald graduated from the Pratt Institute and began his long, long career in comics. He first went to work for Jack Binder's comic book packaging studio. A comic book packager was a group that would sell completed comic books to publishers so that all the publisher had to do was, well, you know, publish the comic book.

In the early days of Timely Comics, Martin Goodman still used some comic book packagers along with the people that he had on staff (which he hired FROM the comic book packagers). Bald worked on a story for a character named Hurricane, which appeared in Captain America Comics #9 in late 1941...

Comic book packaging was soon an outdated concern, as comic book publishers would just cut out the middle man and hire the artists directly. However, some of the packagers hung around for a little while and Binder was one of them. He would send stories by Bald to other companies, like Fawcett Comics, where Bald did some Bulletman stories around that time...

Bald then went into the military, as well, serving with the Marines during World War II, including seeing combat in a number of different battles. He continued his art career even while in the Marines, including his debut on Captain America Comics in 1943...

During this same time, Bald also launched Miss America Comics...

After the war, Bald became one of Timely Comics' most prolific artists, drawing all sorts of comics for them, from superhero to humor titles.

He drew the first appearance of Namora in Marvel Mystery Comics #82...

He also wrote and drew a number of early Millie the Model comics...

He freelanced for other comic book companies, as well, but when the work began to dry up a bit in the late 1940s (as superhero comics were dying down a bit), he went to work in advertising. He specialized in advertisements that were done in a comic strip style...

In the late 1950s, he left advertising to work in the world of comic strips. His most successful strip, Doctor Kildare, launched in 1962...

He would continue drawing the strip for the rest of his career. It outlasted the Doctor Kildare TV show that it was based on by over 18 years!

While working on Kildare, he also did another TV spinoff strip, with a Dark Shadows strip, based on the horror-themed soap opera...

Bald retired when Dr. Kildare ended in 1984, but he remained active. He set a world record when he drew a variant cover for Marvel Comics in 2015, making him (at the age of 95) the oldest person to draw a comic book cover. He got to draw the classic versions of three heroes he drew in the 1940s (Captain America, Human Torch and Namora) and their modern equivalents, meaning he got to draw Sam Wilson as Captain America!

That's a great cover, right?

Bald passed away on Saint Patrick's Day. He will be missed.

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