Home Culture Cartoonists Martin Nodell – 1915-2006

Martin Nodell – 1915-2006


Mark Evanier is the first to announce the death of Green Lantern creator Mart Nodell at age 91. Nodell was a fledgling cartoonist with he walked in to Sheldon Mayer’s office with the idea for a superhero with a magic ring:

He said the idea had come to him on the subway when he saw a man waving — you guessed it — a green lantern. Nodell also said he wrote and drew the first few pages of the first story…but he wasn’t a writer so Mayer brought in one of comics’ top writers, Bill Finger, to rewrite and finish the first tale. The result was that Green Lantern, by Bill Finger and “Mart Dellon,” debuted in All-American Comics #16, cover dated July of 1940. The character, which drew inspiration from the legend of Aladdin, was an immediate hit on the magnitude of the firm’s other new superstars, The Flash and Wonder Woman, and soon received his own comic. (The All-American company was later absorbed by DC Comics. A new version of Green Lantern was created in 1959 and that version remains popular today, though the original Nodell incarnation has also been known to reappear.)

Nodell left comics in the 50s, to as did so many, to devote himself to the world of illustration, but in the late 80s and 90s he became a convention staple, his beloved wife Carrie, who died in 2004, by his side.

Our condolences to his friends and family.

  1. bummer, green lantern is just 2 cool for words. but mark evanier didnt have the news 1st…. the long island newspapr newsday.com had it saturday afternoon and talked about how he thought up gl on the train to brooklyn and all that. i prefer hal jordan but i still think alan scotts pretty kickass in his own right!

  2. I also saw read it in Newsday before Mark posted it. The most intriguing facet of the article was how Green Lantern inspired Francis Ford Coppola to want to tell stories, which pushed him to a movie career. Who’d have thought that Martin Nodell would have some connection to the Godfather!? Here’s the link if you wanna check it out: http://www.newsday.com/news/obituaries/ny-lidnode115011627dec11,0,3651663.story

    It says Seinfeld is a big Green Lantern fan too. Those are some pretty impressive fans. Way to go, Marty. We’ll all miss you.

  3. My memories of Martin Nodell are fond ones. I met him at the age of eight or nine when he lived in Huntington,Long Island with his mother.As a child, I had the opportunity to play the accordion for him. In appreciation for my efforts,
    he invited me to see him work in the attic of his home. I left with an autographed pen and ink sketch of the Green Lantern,thanking me “for the good accordion solo.”

  4. It has taking me until now to comment about this great loss.I remember the first time I meet Mr.Nodell,I was running a comic shop and he and his family were there for a signing.I had to go home and get my Goldenage Green Lantern comics so I could get them signed.Mr. Nodell enjoyed looking at his original works.We all had a great time I also had his family sign a book with him so I could have his and his family autographes.He will be greatly missed.RIP

  5. I no longer collect comics and I was never one to run to some location to get a glimpse of some famous celebrity, but on June 2, 1996 something happened that I will always remember. I was at a Comic convention with my son and there was supposed to be an artist named Mart Nodell there who used to draw Green Lantern. (I had always liked Green Lantern, and thought it would be fun to meet someone who used to draw it.) Stan Lee was also there and his table was packed with people crowding in see him. Mr. Nodell had a few people there, but it was mostly just a few collectors looking to get his signature as many of their comic collection as possible in order to increase their value. My son and I were the last in line. The guy in line in front of me I recognized as one of the professional “rabid” collectors. He approached Mr. Nodell with an old Golden Age Green Lantern. As he approached he gently slid it from it’s hard case and carefully laid it on the table. Mr. Nodell appeared to me as a sweet little older man with a gentle demeanor and a quiet kind word for everyone. As he started to sign the comic, he paused to wipe his eye which was watering a bit and making it hard for him to see. The comic owner wanted the comic signed specifically with a silver paint pen and just about shoved it in Mr. Nodell’s hand when he went to pick up the wrong color. He told Mr. Nodell where and exactly how to sign. As Mr. Nodell reached to sign the comic, the paint pen dripped out a single drop of paint on the corner of the comic. I thought the collector was going to have a heart attack. He reached out to grab the pen, but stopped just short of doing so. Mr. Nodell apologized and reached to blot the ink causing it to spread out a little. The collector stood there with clinched fist, gritting his teeth and boiling mad. Mr. Nodell kept apologizing and finish signing the comic. The collector carefully picked up his precious book and walked away, all the time glaring at Mr. Nodell and shaking his head. It was my turn now, and to look at Mr. Nodell’s face, it looked as if all the life had been drained out and he was much saddened by the experience that just happened. I had nothing to sign, but Mr. Nodell had some prints of Green Lantern #1 covers which could be purchased and he would then sign. I asked him if he would do so. He pulled one out and laid it on the table and waited for my instructions. I told him I had always love the Green Lantern series and would appreciate it if he wold personalized it to me by writing, “To” James, from Mart Nodell”. He paused and looked up at me with still sad eyes and said, “But if I personalize it, it will not be worth anything.” I looked back and said, “It will to me. I will always keep it.” That seem to bring a smile to his face. He paused again and wiped his eye, repositioned himself as if he was going to sign something real important and signed it with “To James” just as I ask. He then asked me if I wanted any thing drawn, and I said “SURE! I’d love it!” He took out a green Sharpie and a backing board drew me a little green lantern and signed it to. Then it really got good. There was no one behind me in line, so for the next ten minutes I stood and just chatted with him. I can’t remember the exact conversation, but it seemed that he enjoyed getting to talk to me, as much as I did getting to talk to him. He was a very humble and grateful man. He was getting a little tired and his wife said something that caused us to end the conversation. As we left, we shook hands with him, and I still remember the feel of that soft wrinkled old hand shaking mine and the thought of all the wonderful work that had been done by it. I thanked him and he smiled back and humbly thanked me back. I will always enjoy looking at that picture he signed for me, but even more I will always cherish in my heart, the memory of meeting Mr. Nodell and his wife that day.

  6. I saw Mart Nodell at the last Comicon he appeared at in Baltimore, Md. ( I think it was in `03…not sure…but I have a really cool Green Lantern—(yes, an actual green kerosene lantern!) and he signed it for me…I TREASURE IT…He`s a legend in the same caliber of Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, John Romita Sr., Herb Trimpe, Irwin Hasen, et al !!
    And he was a real class act. We lost a SUPER HERO!!!

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