R.I.P. Ramona Fradon (2 October 1926 - 24 February 2024)

Started by Hepcat, February 26, 2024, 06:59:24 AM

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Hepcat

Ramona Fradon passed away a couple of days ago only weeks after announcing her retirement on 5 January 2024 from a long career illustrating comic magazines and comic strips.

She got her start in comics shortly after graduating from the Parsons School of Design in Greenwich Village, New York when she started landing assignments at DC Comics in 1949 illustrating the occasional backup story in Gangbusters and Mr. District Attorney plus a couple of "Shining Knight" stories in Adventure Comics. It wasn't until 1951 though when she got the regular assignment of illustrating "Aquaman" stories in Adventure Comics for which she's probably still best known. Her run on these "Aquaman" stories lasted from Adventure Comics 167 cover dated August 1951 to Adventure Comics 282 cover dated March 1961. Along the way she illustrated the story in Adventure Comics 260 which came to serve as Aquaman's Silver Age origin:



She was also the co-creator of Aqualad in Adventure Comics 269:



Aqualad of course immediately became Aquaman's regular sidekick. Here's a great splash page from Adventure Comics 270:



She also did the interior artwork for Showcase 30 cover dated February 1961 which was the first comic with Aquaman as the title character:



She then took a few months of maternity leave for the birth of her daughter before returning to illustrate another run of "Aquaman" stories in World's Finest Comics from issue #127 cover dated August 1962 to issue #139 cover dated February 1964 when the "Aquaman" series ended.

In 1965 she finally got to do her first cover for Brave and the Bold 55:



Shortly thereafter she and writer Bob Haney fleshed out editor George Kashdan's idea for a new superhero, Metamorpho, in Brave and the Bold 57 cover dated January 1965. Here's her cover:



She illustrated one more Metamorpho feature appearance in Brave and the Bold and then the first four issues of Metamorpho's own title covers and all:



Evidently Ramona Fradon really enjoyed illustrating "Metamorpho" stories because Haney's scripts were in her own words "goofy" which allowed her to use her imagination and give full flower to her exaggerated style. But I personally had very mixed feelings about Metamorpho at the time since I was serious about my superheroes and didn't like the campy way in which Metamorpho was portrayed. That actually proved to be the beginning of the end of my two and a half year fascination with DC superhero comics. I migrated to Mad, Drag Cartoons, Creepy and Eerie magazines shortly thereafter.

After taking seven years off to look after her daughter, she returned to comics by illustrating Fantastic Four 133 for Marvel in 1973:



But she'd gotten used to working from a detailed script at DC and found it difficult to work from the brief one paragraph story outline Marvel had given her. She was back at DC in short order where she worked on titles such as House of Secrets, House of Mystery and even Star Spangled War Stories! She then illustrated these runs:

Plastic Man from #11(March 1976) to #20(November 1977)
Freedom Fighters from #3(August 1976) to #6(February 1977)
Super Friends almost all from #3(February 1977) to #41(February 1981)

Though I wasn't buying those comics then, her style was actually very well suited to the Plastic Man and Super Friends titles. Here are a couple of the covers (not mine):





In 1980 she moved over to drawing the Brenda Starr, Reporter newspaper strip when Dale Messick retired and continued with the strip until 1995. More money for less work may have been her motivation. Once again, Ramona Fradon's style is fully reflected in Brenda Starr's appearance:



I met Ramona Fradon at a Toronto comic con in 2007 or so. She was a pioneer in her field and she'll be missed by her many fans.

:(
Collecting! It's what I do!

Rex fury

I really enjoyed her work, mostly on Aquaman. I'm pleased that she received the recognition  that many female artists don't seem to get. Nice overview of her career Hepcat.
RF

michblk

"There is something wrong with us, very, very wrong with us"
Bill Murray - Stripes

Hepcat

Quote from: Rex fury on February 26, 2024, 03:28:32 PMI'm pleased that she received the recognition that many female artists don't seem to get.

I decided that Ramona Fradon's gender was an irrelevant detail and therefore focused on only her characters and artwork.  ;)

Here's a book on her artwork:



Plus she was also the cover story feature of AlterEgo 69:



:)
Collecting! It's what I do!