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 Frederick E. Ray, Jr.  (1920 - 2001)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: comic-book illustrator-Superman

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Ad Code: 3
Fred Ray
from Auction House Records.
Batman #11 Cover Original Art (DC, 1942).
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography, submitted November 2006, is from Noel F. Marks, Art Consultant Art Association of Harrisburg.

Frederic E. Ray, Jr., American Illustrator, Comic Book Artist, Author, & Art Director, was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on February 4, 1920.  He started his career while still in high school by copying illustrations of Howard Pyle, W.H.D. Koerner, Frederick Gruger, and N. C. Wyeth from magazines and newspapers.  He authored and illustrated Gettysburg Sketches, a popular booklet about the Battle of Gettysburg in 1939. 

In 1940 he began drawing  More Fun Comics and Action Comics  for National Periodical Publishers/Detective Comics/DC.  During the 1940's he penciled many Superman covers and is well known for the new design for the Patriotic Shield "S" symbol on Superman's chest initially displayed on  the cover of Superman #14.  He also penciled various issues of Star Spangled Comics, World's Finest Comics, Real Fact Comics and Adventure Comics during the 1940's.

He served as a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Force during World War Two and contributed illustrations to New York Picture Magazine, PM, and in Yank magazine.  After the war he continued his formal art training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in Philadelphia, PA 1946-1949.   In 1950 he established a studio in his parent's house, 3008 N. Second Street, Harrisburg, Pa, which he maintained until his death in 2001. 

During 1950's he conceived, illustrated and wrote the text for the Tomahawk comics and continued to work on various issues of World's Finest Comics, Star Spangled War Stories, and Tomahawk during the decade.  Also during the 1950's he authored and illustrated military history booklets including Fort Ticonderoga, Lake George, Fort Niagara, St. Augustine, Valley Forge, The Story of the Alamo,  Ft. McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner, Antietam, Frontier Forts and Battlefields and others.

In 1960, he became Art Consultant and Art Director for Civil War Times Illustrated, American History Illustrated and British Heritage, which were published in Harrisburg, PA and served in this position until his retirement in 1982.  During this period he painted many cover illustrations for these magazines, as well as writing articles and contributing interior illustrations for various stories.  In 1970, he authored O! Say Can You See; The Story of America through Great Paintings, published by Stackpole Press, Harrisburg, Pa. and in 1974 he authored: Our Special Artist, Alfred R. Waud's, Civil War, which was published by Viking Press, New York.   

Fred Ray was a lifelong student of American History and a member of the Company of Military Collectors and Historians which published many of his illustrations of military uniforms.  After his retirement he continued to draw and paint and was found dead in his studio at 3008 N. Second Street, Harrisburg, PA on January 23, 2001.   He is buried in Resurrection Cemetery, West Hanover Township, Pa.

His illustrations and comic art were executed in pencil, pen & ink, and gouache.  Cover illustrations were usually executed in oil, gouache and/or watercolor.  The majority of the extent work is either unsigned or simply signed "Ray" or "F. Ray" in block letters.  Early work was dated, however many known drawings, paintings and illustrations are not dated.   

Biographical information researched and prepared by Noel F. Marks, Antique Dealer.

The information and documentation are compiled from the following source documents;
1. Obituary published in the Harrisburg Patriot News, Harrisburg, PA. January 27, 2001.
2. Review of issues of Civil War Times, American History Illustrated, British Heritage Magazines and other published works.
3. Consultation with Neumyer Funeral Home, N. Second Street, Harrisburg, PA.  
4. Review of Amazing World of Comics, DC Database
5. Personal interviews with:  a. Beverly Fowler, widow of Robert Fowler, Founder and Publisher of Civil War Times, American History Illustrated, and British Heritage. Oct 18, 2005.

Douglas Gibbony, Carlisle, PA personal friend of Fred Ray and owner of numerous original illustrations and Civil War Times cover paintings.

William C. Davis, Professor of History, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Va.  Personal friend

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A comic-book artist, especially linked to the super hero comic book, Superman, and its most famous cover on Superman #14 with the American shield and eagle, Fred Ray began pencilling the covers in 1940 beginning with Superman's 'Christman Adventure'.  Ray got involved in the series to help its creator, Joe Shuster, so that Shuster could focus more on the business aspects of the project with his partner Jerry Siegel at their business named Shuster Studios .

Ray's biggest contribution to the series was a new design for the S in Superman.  After the ending of World War II, Fred Ray focused on covers with western themes such as Tomahawk and on his favorite topic, which was Civil War themes.

However, between 1973 and 1974, Fred Ray drew twelve Superman color cover recreations for the Russ Cochran art catalog for covers being sold at auction.

From September 15, 2006 to January 28, 2007, the Jewish Museum in New York held an exhibition titled Superheroes featuring Fred Ray and others who were illustrators of these subjects whose themes were the struggles between good and evil, strength and weakness.

Sources include:

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