Academy of Comic Book Arts

The Academy of Comic Book Arts (ACBA) was an American professional organization of the 1970s that was designed to be the comic book industry analog of such groups as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Composed of comic-book professionals and initially formed as an honorary society focused on discussing the comic-book craft[2] and hosting an annual awards banquet, the ACBA evolved into an advocacy organization focused on creators' rights.

The ACBA award, the Shazam, was a statuette in the shape of a lightning bolt. In addition to the creative awards, the ACBA also established the Academy of Comic Book Arts Hall of Fame award, inducting Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as its initial honorees.

Academy of Comic Book Arts
Academy of Comic Book Arts (1975 sketchbook - cover)
ACBA Sketchbook (1975).
Cover art by Bernie Wrightson.
TypeComics professionals organization
Legal statusDefunct
HeadquartersSociety of Illustrators
Region served
United States of America
Comic book professionals
Stan Lee (1970)
Dick Giordano (c. 1971)
Neal Adams
AffiliationsShazam Award
ACBA Sketchbook


Founded in 1970,.[3][4] the ACBA's first president was Stan Lee; its first vice-president was Dick Giordano. (Presidents initially served one-year terms.)[2] The ACBA met monthly at the Manhattan headquarters of the Society of Illustrators.[2]

The ACBA Sketchbook (1973)

The Academy's Shazam Award was a successor to the 1960s Alley Award; the ACBA held its first annual awards banquet at the Statler Hilton Hotel's Terrace Ballroom on May 12, 1971.[4]

Aside from its Shazam Awards, the ACBA also published an annual fundraiser sketchbook. Contributing to the 36-page[5] ACBA Sketchbook 1973 were Neal Adams, Sergio Aragones, Frank Brunner, Howard Chaykin, Dave Cockrum, Reed Crandall, Frank Frazetta, Michael Kaluta, Gil Kane, Gray Morrow, John Romita Sr., Mike Royer, Syd Shores, Jim Starlin, Jim Steranko, Herb Trimpe, and Wally Wood. The 48-page ACBA Sketchbook 1975 included Adams, Aragones, Chaykin, Kaluta, Kane, Romita Sr., Steranko, Wood, and John Byrne, Russ Heath, Jeff Jones, Harvey Kurtzman, Walt Simonson, Michael Whelan, and Berni Wrightson. Wood also contributed to the 1976 and 1977 sketchbooks.[6]

Under its later president, artist Neal Adams, the ACBA became an advocacy organization for creators' rights. The comic-book industry at that time typically did not return artists' physical artwork after shooting the requisite film for printing, and in some cases destroyed the artwork to prevent unauthorized reprints. The industry also did not then offer royalties or residuals, common in such creative fields as book publishing, film and television, and the recording industry.[2]

Historian Jon B. Cooke writes:

While the ACBA was established [as] . . . a self-congratulatory organization focused on banquets and awards . . . it quickly served as a soapbox for the Angry Young Men in the industry, primarily Neal Adams, Archie Goodwin, and their ilk of educated, informed and gutsy artists and writers, self-confident and filled with a strong sense of self-worth, attitudes sadly absent from the field for decades. ... (Jeff Rovin recalled, 'I can't tell you how many times Martin [Goodman] would listen to some of the things Neal Adams was saying and mutter, "Who the hell does he think he is?"').[7]

Once the ACBA — riding a wave begun by the mid-'70s independent startup Atlas/Seaboard Comics, which instituted royalties and the return of artwork in order to attract creators — helped see those immediate goals achieved, it then gradually disbanded.[7]

As writer Steven Grant notes, by 1977 the ACBA had "... disintegrated into what became Adams' "First Friday" professional get-togethers at his studio or apartment."[1]

Irene Vartanoff was the final ACBA treasurer.[3] In early 2005, approximately $3,000 in sketchbook sales plus general contributions to the ACBA and accumulated interest was donated from the ACBA's Bill Everett Fund — created in 1975 to help comics professionals in financial need — to The Hero Initiative (formerly known as A Commitment to Our Roots, or ACTOR), a federally chartered, not-for-profit corporation likewise dedicated.


The ACBA was the first in a string of largely unsuccessful comics-industry organizations that includes the Comic Book Creators Guild (1978–1979), the Comic Book Professionals Association (CBPA, 1992–1994), and Comic Artists, Retailers and Publishers (CARP, 1998).[8] The long-running exception had been the publishers' group the Comic Magazine Association of America (CMAA), founded in 1954 and lasting through 2011,[9] as a response to public pressure and a Senate subcommittee on juvenile delinquency, and which created the self-censorship board the Comics Code Authority.

Grant summed up the ABCA's legacy this way:

[The ACBA] had the support of what passed for comics fandom at the time. But that was also its weakness; its members drew their incomes from the same companies ACBA would have had to war on to be effective, and alternative markets were functionally non-existent. Fandom's "support" was also a double-edged sword, since many in fandom, as now, identified with the professionals' goals but wanted the rewards for themselves as the ones who created the comics, providing the companies with potential talent pools should existing professionals get too uppity. (Both Marvel and especially DC had already turned to foreign artists as a cost-cutting tool.) Significant changes for talent had to wait until new competition forced Marvel and DC to keep up, and Marvel didn't bother until DC, which had spent most of the '70s and early '80s in potentially fatal decline, and inspired by publicized early '80s creator-rights struggles by Jack Kirby and Steve Gerber, adopted many "independent publisher" notions about royalties, artist ownership of original artwork, etc. to woo talent away from Marvel.[1]

Shazam Award

Shazam Award
Awarded forOutstanding achievement in the comic book field
CountryUnited States of America
Presented byAcademy of Comic Book Arts
First awarded1970
Last awarded1975

The Shazam Award was a series of awards given between 1970 and 1975 for outstanding achievement in the comic book field. Awards were given in the year following publication of the material (at a dinner ceremony modeled on the National Cartoonist Society's Reuben Award dinners).[10] The Shazam awards were based on nominations and were the first comics awards voted upon by industry professionals.[4] The name of the award is that of the magic word used by the original Captain Marvel, a popular superhero of the 1940s and early 1950s.


Winners. Presented May 12, 1971.[4]


Winners. Presented 1972.[11]


Winners. Presented 1973.[12]
Also nominated: "The Black Hound of Vengeance," by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, Conan the Barbarian #20 (Marvel)
  • Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic): "The Demon Within" by John Albano & Jim Aparo, House of Mystery #201 (DC)
  • Best Writer (Dramatic Division): Len Wein, Swamp Thing
  • Best Penciller (Dramatic Division): Berni Wrightson, Swamp Thing
  • Best Inker (Dramatic Division): n.a.
  • Best Humor Story: "The Poster Plague" by Steve Skeates & Sergio Aragones, House of Mystery #202 (DC)
  • Best Writer (Humor Division): n.a.
  • Best Penciller (Humor Division): n.a.
  • Best Inker (Humor Division): Sergio Aragones, Mad
  • Best Letterer: n.a.
  • Best Colorist: n.a.
  • Best Foreign Artist: n.a.
  • Outstanding New Talent: n.a.
  • Special Award: DC letterer/proofreader Gerda Gattel "for bringing her special warmth to our history"
  • Superior Achievement by an Individual: Julius Schwartz "for bringing the Shazam Family back into print"
  • Hall of Fame: n.a.


Nominees where known, and winners. Presented 1974.[13]
  • Best Continuing Feature: Swamp Thing (DC)
Also nominated: Conan the Barbarian (Marvel), The Tomb of Dracula (Marvel)
  • Best Individual Story (Dramatic): "Song of Red Sonja" by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, Conan the Barbarian #24 (Marvel)
Also nominated: "A Clockwork Horror" by Len Wein & Berni Wrightson, Swamp Thing #6 (DC); "Finally, Shuma-Gorath" by Steve Englehart & Frank Brunner Marvel Premiere #10 (Marvel)
Also nominated: Roy Thomas (Conan the Barbarian); Len Wein (Swamp Thing)
  • Best Penciller (Dramatic Division): Berni Wrightson ("Swamp Thing)
Also nominated: John Buscema (Conan the Barbarian, The Savage Sword of Conan); Mike Ploog (Marvel Spotlight, Frankenstein)
Also nominated: Tom Palmer (The Tomb of Dracula); Berni Wrightson (Swamp Thing)
  • Best Humor Story: "The Gourmet", Plop! #1 (DC)
Also nominated: "The Escape", Plop! #1; "F-f-frongs", Spoof #3 (Marvel); "Kung Fooey", Crazy #1 (Marvel)
  • Best Writer (Humor Division): (tie) Stu Schwartzberg; Steve Skeates
Also nominated: Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman
Also nominated: Bob Foster (Crazy); Larry Hama (Crazy); Mike Ploog (Crazy)
Also nominated: Russ Heath; John Severin; Herb Trimpe
Also nominated: Klaus Janson
  • Superior Achievement by an Individual: Richard Corben
  • Hall of Fame: Carl Barks


Nominees and winners. Presented 1975.[14]
  • Best Continuing Feature: Conan the Barbarian (Marvel)
Also nominated: Man-Thing (Marvel), The Tomb of Dracula (Marvel)
  • Best Individual Story (Dramatic): "Götterdämmerung" by Archie Goodwin & Walt Simonson, Detective Comics #443 (DC)
Also nominated: "Night of the Stalker" by Archie Goodwin & Walt Simonson, Detective Comics #439 (DC); "Red Nails" by Roy Thomas & Barry Smith, Savage Tales #1-3 (Marvel)
  • Best Individual Short Story (Dramatic): "Cathedral Perilous" (Manhunter) by Archie Goodwin & Walt Simonson, Detective Comics #441 (DC)
Also nominated: "Burma Sky," by Archie Goodwin & Alex Toth, Our Fighting Forces #146 (DC); "Jenifer" by Bruce Jones & Berni Wrightson, Creepy #63 (Warren)
  • Best Writer (Dramatic Division): Archie Goodwin
Also nominated: Steve Gerber, Roy Thomas
  • Best Penciller (Dramatic Division): John Buscema
Also nominated: Gene Colan, Berni Wrightson
  • Best Inker (Dramatic Division): Dick Giordano
Also nominated: Frank Giacoia; Tom Palmer; Joe Sinnott
  • Best Humor Story: "Kaspar the Dead Baby" by Marv Wolfman & Marie Severin Crazy #8 (Marvel)
Also nominated: "The Boob Rube Story" by Stu Schwartzberg & Marie Severin, Crazy #4; "The Ecchorcist" by Marv Wolfman & Vance Rodewalt (Crazy #6); "Police Gory Story" by Stu Schwartzberg & Vance Rodewalt (Crazy #8)
  • Best Writer (Humor Division): Steve Skeates

Also nominated: Nick Cuti; Steve Gerber; Joe Gill

  • Best Penciller (Humor Division): Marie Severin
Also nominated: Dan DeCarlo; Frank Roberge; George Wildman
  • Best Inker (Humor Division): Ralph Reese
Also nominated: Rudy Lapick; Frank Roberge; Marie Severin; George Wildman
Also nominated: Annette Kawecki; Gaspar Saladino; Artie Simek
  • Best Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Also nominated: Marie Severin; Glynis Wein
Also nominated: Paul Gulacy; Al Milgrom
  • Superior Achievement by an Individual: Roy Thomas
Also nominated: Barry Smith; Jim Starlin
  • Hall of Fame: Jack Kirby
Also nominated: Alex Toth; Wally Wood

Additional credits where not given in cited source:[15]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Grant, Steven (March 26, 2008). "Permanent Damage". Archived from the original on April 5, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d Eury, Michael (2003). Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day at a Time. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 57. ISBN 978-1893905276.
  3. ^ a b "Academy of Comic Book Arts Gifts ACTOR Comic Fund Over $3000". ACTOR Comic Fund press release via April 22, 2005. Archived from the original on July 24, 2010..
  4. ^ a b c d Thompson, Maggie (August 19, 2005). "Comics Fan Awards 1961-1970". Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on September 14, 2015.
  5. ^ "The A.C.B.A. Sketchbook, Academy of Comic Book Arts, 1973". Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections: Reading Room Index to the Comic Art Collection, Acacia to Acar. Archived from the original on July 24, 2010.
  6. ^ "Wally Wood". Archived from the original on December 5, 2007. Includes "Online checklist: Catalogues, Programs, Sketchbooks, Etc."
  7. ^ a b Cooke, Jon B. (December 2011). "Vengeance, Incorporated: A history of the short-lived comics publisher Atlas/Seaboard". Comic Book Artist (16). Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  8. ^ Dean, Michael (August–September 2004). "Collective Inaction: The Comics Community Tries and Tries Again to Get It Together". The Comics Journal (262, excerpt posted online Aug. 13, 2004). Archived from the original on July 24, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) Additional , July 23, 2010.
  9. ^ The final publisher to use the Code dropped it in January 2001, as noted at Rogers, Vaneta (January 21, 2011). "Archie Dropping Comics Code Authority Seal in February". Archived from the original on January 31, 2011. The CMAA was described as "defunct" at "CBLDF Receives Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval". Comic Book Legal Defense Fund press release. September 29, 2011. Archived from the original on November 15, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  10. ^ Gabilliet, Jean-Paul. Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2010), pp. 251–252.
  11. ^ Hahn, Joel, ed. "1971 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on December 17, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2016.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Hahn, Joel, ed. "1972 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on December 27, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2016.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Hahn, Joel, ed. "1973 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2016.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Hahn, Joel, ed. "1973 Academy of Comic Book Arts Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2016.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Grand Comics Database

External links


ACBA may refer to:

Academy of Comic Book Arts, an American professional organization

Aéro Club du Bas Armagnac, a large French aero club

American Cavy Breeders Association

American College of the Building Arts in Charleston, South Carolina

Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors

The Academy of Comic-Book Fans and Collectors (ACBFC) was the first official organization of comic book enthusiasts and historians. Active during the 1960s, the ACBFC was established by Jerry Bails, the "father of comics fandom." A vital player in the development of comics fandom, the ACBFC brought fans of the medium together, administered the first industry awards (the Alley Awards), and assisted in the establishment of the first comic book fan conventions.

Alley Award

The Alley Award was an American series of comic book fan awards, first presented in 1962 for comics published in 1961. Officially organized under the aegis of the Academy of Comic Book Arts and Sciences, the award shared close ties with the fanzine Alter Ego magazine. The Alley is the first known comic book fan award.The Alley Awards were tallied yearly for comic books produced during the previous year. The Alley statuette was initially sculpted by Academy member Ron Foss out of redwood, from which "plaster duplications" were made to be handed out to the various winners.

Barry Windsor-Smith

Barry Windsor-Smith (born Barry Smith, 25 May 1949) is a British comic book illustrator and painter whose best known work has been produced in the United States. He is known for his work on Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian from 1970 to 1973, and for his work on Wolverine - particularly the original Weapon X story arc.

Bernie Wrightson

Bernard Albert Wrightson (October 27, 1948 – March 18, 2017), sometimes credited as Berni Wrightson, was an American artist, known for co-creating the Swamp Thing, his adaptation of the novel Frankenstein illustration work, and for his other horror comics and illustrations, which feature his trademark intricate pen and brushwork.

Bob Oksner

Bob Oksner (October 14, 1916 in Paterson, New Jersey – February 18, 2007) was an American comics artist known for both adventure comic strips and for superhero and humor comic books, primarily at DC Comics.

Conan the Barbarian (comics)

Conan the Barbarian was a comics title starring the sword-and-sorcery character created by Robert E. Howard, published by the American company Marvel Comics. It debuted with a first issue cover-dated October 1970 and ran for 275 issues until 1993. A significant commercial success, the title launched a sword-and-sorcery vogue in American 1970s comics.

Marvel Comics reacquired the publishing rights in 2018, and started a new run of Conan the Barbarian in January 2019 with the creative team of writer Jason Aaron and artist Mahmud A. Asrar.

Date with Debbi

Date with Debbi is a DC Comics comic book series, which ran for 18 issues between 1969 and 1972. About Debbi's attempts to find happiness, often through dating, the series combined humor and romance elements. Similar in appearance and tone to Archie Comics titles of the same era, Date with Debbi's title paid homage to the long-running DC comic A Date with Judy (1947–1960). (It also recycled some covers and plots from the earlier series.)The series won recognition in the industry, including the 1970 Shazam Award for Best Inker (Humor Division) for Henry Scarpelli for his work on it, Leave It to Binky, and other DC comics.A spin-off title, Debbi's Dates, ran for 11 issues from 1969 to 1971.

Dick Giordano

Richard Joseph "Dick" Giordano (; July 20, 1932 – March 27, 2010) was an American comics artist and editor whose career included introducing Charlton Comics' "Action Heroes" stable of superheroes and serving as executive editor of DC Comics.

Frank Giacoia

Frank Giacoia (July 6, 1924 – February 4, 1988) was an American comics artist known primarily as an inker. He sometimes worked under the name Frank Ray, and to a lesser extent Phil Zupa, and the single moniker Espoia, the latter used for collaborations with fellow inker Mike Esposito.

Gerda Gattel

Gerda Gattel (October 28, 1908 – May 14, 1993) was a comic book creator who worked as a letterer, and later as a proofreader, most notably for DC Comics.

Gattel worked as a letterer in the production department of Marvel Comics' predecessor Timely Comics from 1947–1952. Throughout the balance of the 1950s she worked in other production capacities, including proofreader and production manager. Moving to National Periodical Publications (DC Comics) in 1958, Gattel worked as executive vice president Irwin Donenfeld's assistant from 1958–1968, rising to production coordinator in 1968. While at DC, Gattel began an archive of all the company's publications, a resource which proved invaluable in later years.

Gattel retired as DC's production coordinator in 1973, and was given a Special Award by the Academy of Comic Book Arts in "for bringing her special warmth to our history."

Glynis Oliver

Glynis Oliver, also credited as Glynis Wein () is an artist who has worked as a colorist in the comics industry. For several years, she was married to Len Wein. She returned to her maiden name in 1985.

Green Lantern

Green Lantern is the name of several superheroes appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. They fight evil with the aid of rings that grant them a variety of extraordinary powers.

The first Green Lantern character, Alan Scott, was created in 1940 by Martin Nodell during the initial popularity of superheroes. Alan Scott usually fought common criminals in New York City with the aid of his magic ring.

The Green Lanterns are among DC Comics' longer lasting sets of characters. They have been adapted to television, video games, and motion pictures.

Howard Keltner

John Howard Keltner (1928 – July 29, 1998) was an American comics publisher, artist, writer, and indexer. He was a founding member of the Academy of Comic Book Arts and Sciences, co-editor and co-publisher of Star-Studded Comics, created the character Doctor Weird, and provided art to fan publications such as CAPA-alpha and The Rocket's Blast. His Golden Age Comic Books Index, begun in 1953, influenced other later indexes, such as the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.

Jean-Michel Charlier

Jean-Michel Charlier (French: [ʃaʁlje]; 30 October 1924 – 10 July 1989) was a Belgian comics writer. He was a co-founder of the famed Franco-Belgian comics magazine Pilote.

Joe Gill

Joseph P. Gill (July 13, 1919 – December 17, 2006) was an American magazine writer and highly prolific comic book scripter. Most of his work was for Charlton Comics, where he co-created the superheroes Captain Atom, Peacemaker, and Judomaster, among others. Comics historians consider Gill a top contender as the comic-book field's most prolific writer. Per historian and columnist Mark Evanier, Gill "wrote a staggering number of comics. There are a half-dozen guys in his category. If someone came back and said he was the most prolific ever, no one would be surprised."

John Costanza

John Costanza (born August 14, 1943, in Dover, New Jersey) is an artist and letterer who has worked in the American comic book industry. He has worked for both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He was the letterer during Alan Moore's acclaimed run on Swamp Thing. The bulk of Costanza's art assignments have been for funny animal comics and children's oriented material.

Roy Thomas

Roy William Thomas Jr. (born November 22, 1940) is an American comic book writer and editor, who was Stan Lee's first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. He is possibly best known for introducing the pulp magazine hero Conan the Barbarian to American comics, with a series that added to the storyline of Robert E. Howard's character and helped launch a sword and sorcery trend in comics. Thomas is also known for his championing of Golden Age comic-book heroes – particularly the 1940s superhero team the Justice Society of America – and for lengthy writing stints on Marvel's X-Men and The Avengers, and DC Comics' All-Star Squadron, among other titles.

Thomas was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2011.

Snowbirds Don't Fly

"Snowbirds Don't Fly" is a two-part anti-drug comic book story arc which appeared in Green Lantern/Green Arrow issues 85 and 86, published by DC Comics in 1971. The story was written by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams, with the latter also providing the art with Dick Giordano. It tells the story of Green Lantern and Green Arrow, who fight drug dealers, witnessing that Green Arrow's ward Roy "Speedy" Harper is a drug addict and dealing with the fallout of his revelation. Considered a watershed moment in the depiction of mature themes in DC Comics, the tone of this story is set in the tagline on the cover: "DC attacks youth's greatest problem... drugs!"

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