Veteran comics artist Jim Mooney died over the weekend. He was born in 1919 and enjoyed a very long career that included most of the history of comics, as Mark Evanier summarizes:
Reared in Los Angeles, Mooney moved to New York in 1940 and was a part of the comic book industry almost from its inception. His first job was probably drawing The Moth, a Batman imitation for Fox Publication’s Mystery Men, and he worked for the legendary Eisner-Iger shop which he soon left, he said, because he was intimidated by how good all the other artists there were. He next worked for Fiction House and began freelancing for Stan Lee at Timely Comics (later Marvel), starting an association that lasted on and off for the next half-century. At first, he drew funny animal strips but Lee soon found that Mooney, along with being very dependable, was kind of a utility infielder who could do a little of everything. He was especially good at drawing cute ladies and a lot of his assignments were chosen with that in mind. (Asked how he drew such beautiful women, he usually pointed out that his sister had been a Ziegfeld Girl so he often found himself around lovely ladies.)
There’s an excerpt of an interview with Mooney from Comic Book Artist online
Are there any anecdotes, anything interesting with different personalities you’d like to go into?
JIM: Well, I think I mentioned earlier on it was such a pleasure to go into that. I used to dread going into the offices at DC, but I looked forward to going into Marvel, and I think one of the real nice pleasant things, and a lot of the guys who have great memories say the same thing. You’d come in, and Flo Steinberg would be there, and she would say (in her marvelous enthusiastic voice), “Stan, Jim Mooney’s here,” and that would just make me feel great, as if I were very important. Then I realized everybody else got that same treatment, which was darn nice. I’d occasionally hang out in the bullpen and shoot the breeze, but I don’t have too many bullpen anecdotes, because I really wasn’t there all that much. The one thing I really liked, and I haven’t had that experience before with Stan when we collaborated on the funny animal stuff, we’d get together for a story conference in the early ’70s, and Stan would act these things out, and I’d think, “This is amazing, I’ve known this guy for years, I’ve never seen anything like this!” He’d jump up on the desk, and go through the motions, the actions that he expected either from the Green Goblin or whatever the heck it was we were doing, and he was having such a great time with it, it was contagious. I’d begin to think, “Hey, this is kind of fun, I’m enjoying this.”
Mooney was what might be called a journeyman, but his work elevates that term. Not as dynamic or flamboyant as Kirby, Kane or Romita, his work was still exceptional, graceful and put the stories across with a directness that any artist would envy. His work is probably what most people think of when they think “comic book.”
As several obituaries noted, Mooney worked with the late Steve Gerber on some of his greatest Man-Thing stories and the entirety of the original run of Omega the Unknown. His strong, steady work there is as important an element as the complicated script by Gerber and Mary Skrenes, and definitely helped make it the mindbomb that it was.