At the age of 97, trailblazing comic artist Ramona Fradon passed away only a month after announcing her retirement. The prolific pioneer for women in the male-dominated comics is perhaps best known for herdefining 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. 

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, Ramona 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.

As previously mentioned since 1995 Fradon had been working on commissioned illustration work sold via Catskill Comics most notably variant covers for DC Comics. Over the weekend, colorist Trish Mulvihill shared on social media DC variant covers for Women’s History Month drawn by Fradon with inks by Sandra Hope and colors by Mulvihill.