Word going around on Facebook that master inker and comics technical innovator Murphy Anderson has passed away at age 89. No details yet available. Anderson was one of the great DC inkers of all time, providing crisp clean lines that defined the look of Hawkman, Superman, and Adam Strange, and, indeed, the whole DC line of the Silver Age, inking over Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane and most notably, Curt Swan. He was inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame (precursor of the Eisner HoF) all the way back in 1988, a tribute to his statue in the industry.
From his origins in the Golden age, where he worked on the Buck Rogers comic strip and PS magazine, through his Silver Age triumphs, Anderson went on to become a pioneer of the technique of making comics. He’s actually credited with helping develop the current size of comics art:
Murphy even unintentionally revolutionized the industry in the mid ‘60s. After asking DC production manager Sol Brodsky if he could draw his pages at a smaller, more efficient size instead of the then-standard “twice-up”12”x18”, Brodsky liked the idea so much he made it mandatory for all DC artists. Other publishers soon followed, and the 10”x15” size suggested by Murphy remains the standard today.
Later in his career, Anderson established Murphy Anderson Visual Concepts in 1973, a freelance production house which helped with color separations, lettering and other prep work for many of DC’s comics of the era, just as coloring techniques were becoming more sophisticated. Anderson even contributed to Cerebus Jam, a mix of the indie and “ground level” artists of the time.
On a personal note: when I was a kid and went to comic cons, Anderson would be the only guy who wore a suit in artists alley, and I found that pretty intimidating. His very professional (but friendly) demeanor definitely set him apart fro the other artists of his time, and it’s no surprise that he was as successful as a businessman as a creator.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.