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 Reed Crandall  (1917 - 1982)

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Lived/Active: New York/Kansas/Indiana      Known for: comic book and magazine illustration, penciller

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E. Lectron is primarily known as Reed Crandall

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Reed Crandall
from Auction House Records.
Modern Comics #78 Blackhawk Cover Original Art (Quality, 1948).
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Reed Crandall was an American illustrator and penciller of comic books and magazines.  He was best known for the Quality Comics character Blackhawk and for stories in the critically acclaimed EC Comics of the 1950s.

Crandall was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2009.

Reed Crandall was born in Winslow, Indiana.  He graduated from Newton High School in Newton, Kansas in 1935, and from the Cleveland School of Art in Cleveland, Ohio, graduating in 1939.  His father died in the spring of Crandall's freshman year at art school, which he attended on a scholarship, and Crandall left school temporarily to return to Kansas.

His mother and sister moved to Cleveland during Crandall's junior year.  With his schoolmate Frank Borth, Crandall found some of his earliest paying work painting signs on storefront windows.  Crandall's art influences included the painters and commercial illustrators N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, and James Montgomery Flagg.

Another classmate, the son of the president of the Cleveland-based Newspaper Enterprise Association syndicate, recommended Crandall for a job at NEA as a general art assistant, where Crandall drew maps and other supporting material.  Following his desire to be a magazine illustrator, Crandall unsuccessfully made the rounds of glossy magazines in New York City and Philadelphia, and at some point did a small amount of work for a children's-book publisher.

Moving to New York with his mother and sister, Crandall found work in the fledgling medium of comic books, joining the Manhattan studio Eisner & Iger, an early comic-book "packager" that supplied complete, outsourced comics for publishers.

Crandall drew for comic books from 1939 until 1973.  His first work appears in comics from publisher Quality Comics, for which he drew stories starring such superheroes as The Ray (in Smash Comics, beginning in 1941 and initially under the playful pseudonym "E. Lectron", and Doll Man (first in Feature Comics in 1941, then in the character's own solo title).

His earliest confirmed cover art is for Fiction House's Fight Comics #12 (April 1941).  Other early work includes inking the pencil art of future industry legend Jack Kirby on two of the earliest Captain America stories, The Ageless Orientals That Wouldn't Die in Captain America Comics #2 (April 1941), and The Queer Case of the Murdering Butterfly and the Ancient Mummies in #3 (May 1941).

With S.M. "Jerry" Iger credited as writer, Crandall co-created the superhero The Firebrand in Quality's Police Comics #1 (Aug. 1941), and began his long run as artist of his signature series, the World War II aviator-team strip Blackhawk, in Military Comics #12-22 (Oct. 1942 - Sept. 1943) and, after his WWII service in the Army Air Force, in Blackhawk and in Modern Comics.  During this time he also drew the adventures of Captain Triumph in Quality's Crack Comics.  His final Blackhawk work was a seven-page story, plus the cover, for Blackhawk #67 (Aug. 1953).

Crandall went on to become a mainstay of EC Comics, whose line of hit horror and science fiction titles would become as influential to future generations of comics creators as they were controversial in their own time due to their often graphic nature and mature themes.  Joining a pantheon that included such luminaries as the artists as Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Will Elder, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, Wally Wood and others, Crandall made his debut there with the six-page story Bloody Sure, written by Al Feldstein, in Haunt of Fear #20 (Aug. 1953).

He drew dozens of stories across a variety of genres for the EC anthologies Crime SuspenStories, Shock SuspenStories, Tales from the Crypt, Two-Fisted Tales, The Vault of Horror, Extra!, Impact, Piracy, Weird Fantasy and its sequel series, Weird Science-Fantasy.

Following the demise of EC in the wake of the 1954 U.S. Senate hearings on juvenile delinquency and a wave of anti-comics sentiment, Reed freelanced for Atlas Comics, the 1950s iteration of Marvel Comics, as well as for the Gilberton Company's Classics Illustrated.

In 1960, he went under contract with the publisher of Treasure Chest, a comic-book distributed exclusively through parochial schools.  Crandall illustrated many covers and countless stories for Treasure Chest through 1972.  From the mid-1960s through the early 1970s, he also drew frequently for Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror-comics magazines Creepy and Eerie, and the military fiction title Blazing Combat. I n the mid-to-late 1960s, he also drew superhero-espionage stories for Tower Comics and space opera science fiction in King Features Syndicate's King Comics comic-book version of the syndicate's long-running hero Flash Gordon.

Crandall, who had left New York City in the previous decade in order to care for his ailing mother in Wichita, Kansas, had developed alcoholism.  Recovering by the time of his mother's death, he nonetheless suffered debilitated health, and left art in 1974 to work as a night watchman and janitor for a Pizza Hut restaurant.  After suffering a stroke that year, he spent his remaining life in a nursing home, and died in 1982 of a heart attack.

Crandall was inducted posthumously into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2009.
He is referenced in Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. The fictional character Joe Kavalier refers to Crandall as the "top" comic-book artist of his era.

Crandall, who had been married and divorced, had children including Reed "Spike" Crandall, who owned a metal-working shop until his death in circa 2001-2002.

Source:
Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed_Crandall


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