Ramona Fradon has announced her retirement. The 97-year old ends a career as a pioneer for women in the male-dominated comics industry, with defining runs on Aquaman and more at DC Comics, and a 15-year run on the syndicated comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter. Although semi-retired from the grind of regular comics since 1995, Fradon had up to now been working on commissioned illustration work. No more.

The news of Fradon’s retirement came via her art dealer Catskill Comics:

“After an extremely long run in the comic industry, at 97, Ramona has decided it’s time for her to retire. She will no longer be doing commissions. She apologizes to all the fans who have been waiting patiently on her wait list to get one. She did say though from time to time she’ll do a drawing or two to put up for sale on the website.”

Fradon, born October 2, 1926, became a professional comic artist and illustrator after graduating from New York’s Parsons School of Design in 1950, becoming one of the only women working in the post-war comics industry at a time where most were locked out as male artists returned from military service.

She found a comfortable home at DC Comics working on the likes of Aquaman, Superman, Batman, Plastic Man, and more. From 1951 her career at DC began in earnest primarily working on Aquaman stories in the pages of Adventure Comics. Her extensive decade-long Aquaman run would see the Silver Age reinvention of the character, introduce the hero’s contemporary backstory and secret identity (Arthur Curry, son of a lighthouse keeper and heir to the kingdom of Atlantis) and define the appearance of the blond aquatic bombshell for a whole generation. Fradon would also co-create new characters including Aquaman’s teen sidekick Aqualad (with writer Robert Bernstein, 1960), and superhero Metamorpho (with writer Bob Haney, 1965).

In 1980, Fradon took over as the artist on the Chicago Tribune syndicated comic strip Brenda Starr, Reporter when its creator Dale Messick stepped away from the drawing board. Fradon would remain on the strip until 1995, initially working from scripts provided by Messick, followed by Linda Sutter and Mary Schmich.

In 1995 Fradon had announced a retirement from the industry, working instead on commissioned illustration work sold via Catskill Comics. In May 2023 Fradon provided a special Lois Lane variant cover for Superman #4.

Gwynne Watkins, who interviewed Fradon for Vulture in 2018, describes her personal illustration style which she has sustained into her nineties:

“There she shows me piles of sketches, mostly copies of recent commissions. Every pencil line is clean and full of energy. Perhaps owing to that art school education, her sense of composition is flawless. Her heroes, by design, are all just a little more perfect than ordinary humans, more symmetrical, their perfectly arched feet and balletic arms suggesting graceful movements across the page. Even when the characters are still, there is a sense of kinetic energy. You can practically see them breathing.”

Ramona Fradon
Aquaman illustration, credit: Ramona Fradon/Catskill Comics
Ramona Fradon
Red Sonja sketch, credit Ramona Fradon/Catskill Comics

See also: Heidi MacDonald on The Greatness of Ramona Fradon (December 11, 2020)


  1. One of the most under-appreciated comic artists of all-time. She has only seemed to get better over time, even into her 90s. I highly recommend seeking out her relatively recent drawing of Dawnstar from the Legion of Super-Heroes as an example. It’s spectacular.

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