Airboy is a fictional aviator hero of an American comic book series initially published by Hillman Periodicals during the World War II-era time period fans and historians call the Golden Age of comic books. He was created by writers Charles Biro and Dick Wood and artist Al Camy.

The character disappeared from publications until a 1980s revival under Chuck Dixon that lasted for several years. He has appeared intermittently since then under multiple publishers, sometimes updating his story to the present day.

Air Fighters Comics vol. 2, No. 2 (Nov. 1943): A typically cleavage-baring Valkyrie provides the "latest war thrills". Cover art by Fred Kida
Publication information
PublisherHillman Periodicals (1942–1953)
Eclipse Comics (July 15, 1986 – October 1989)
Moonstone Books (2009–2010)
First appearanceAir Fighters Comics #2 (cover-date Nov. 1942)
Created by(writers) Charles Biro & Dick Wood, (artist) Al Camy
In-story information
Alter egoDavid ("Davy") Nelson II
Team affiliationsAir Fighters
Allies of World War II
Abilitiesexpert fighter pilot
Series publication information
PublisherHillman Periodicals
Format(Hillman) Standard Golden Age
(Eclipse) Standard modern age
Publication date(Hillman)
Nov. 1942 – May 1953
July 15 1986 – Oct. 1989
Number of issues(Hillman) 89
(Eclipse) 50
Main character(s)
  • Airboy
  • Birdie
  • Valkyrie
Creative team
Writer(s)(Hillman) Charles Biro, Dave Wood
(Eclipse) Chuck Dixon, Timothy Truman
Artist(s)(Hillman) Al Camy, Tony DiPreta, Fred Kida, Ernie Schroeder, Dan Barry, Maurice Del Bourgo, Carmine Infantino
(Eclipse) Timothy Truman, Ron Randall, Stan Woch
Collected editions
The Complete Golden Age Airboy & ValkyrieISBN 9781934044025
Airboy: DeadeyeISBN 9780930655099

Publication history

Golden Age

Airboy debuted in Air Fighters Comics #2 (cover-date Nov. 1942), an omnibus series featuring a variety of aviator heroes.[1] The series was renamed Airboy Comics with vol. 2, #11 (Dec. 1945), and ran 89 issues, through vol. 10, #4 (May 1953).[2]

In the early issues, Biro wrote the scripts with Dave Wood and drew the covers, Al Camy was the initial story artist. He was followed by Tony DiPreta and, beginning with Air Fighters No. 10 (July 1943), Fred Kida, who would become closely associated with the series. Ernie Schroeder became the regular artist with Airboy Comics #vol. 5, No. 11 (Dec. 1948), through the end of the series' run, with Dan Barry, Maurice Del Bourgo, Carmine Infantino, and others supplying an occasional story.[1][2] The two consecutive series contained backup stories about other aviators, including Skywolf, Iron Ace, the Black Angel, the Bald Eagle, the Flying Dutchman, the Flying Fool, and the prototypical comic book swamp monster, the Heap. Airboy's most frequently recurring supporting character was the German aviator Valkyrie, who fought on the side of the Axis but then defected to the Allies.

Hillman stopped publishing comics in 1953. Two issues were reprinted in 1973 and a trade paperback entitled Valkyrie!: From the Pages of Air Fighters and the Airboy was published in 1982 with five stories from Air Fighters Comics vol. 2, #s 2 and 7 and Airboy Comics vol. 2, #12, and vol. 3 #s 6 and 12.

Modern era

In 1986, Eclipse Comics published a new Airboy series, updated to the modern era, starring the son of the original character. The 50-issue comic (July 15, 1986 – October 1989), which ran as a half-sized (16-page) bi-weekly through issue No. 33 (1 Nov. 1987) and monthly thereafter, reintroduced many of the supporting characters from the old series, such as Valkyrie and a Japanese fighter pilot named Hirota, and guest-starred many of the characters who had appeared as backups in the original comics. Chuck Dixon scripted with the occasional assistance of Tim Truman, with Truman, Ron Randall and Stan Woch the main illustrators.[3]

Spinoffs from the Eclipse series include the one-shots Airboy–Mr. Monster Special (Aug. 1987),[4] Airboy Meets the Prowler (Dec. 1987),[4] The Air Fighters Meet Sgt. Strike Special (Jan. 1988),[5] Target: Airboy (March 1988),[4] and Airboy vs. the Air Maidens (July 1988).[4] Additional spinoffs starred related characters: Air Maidens Special (Aug. 1987), starring Black Angel, La Lupina, and Valkyrie;[6] the miniseries Skywolf #1–3 (March–Oct. 1988);[7] and two Valkyrie comics, the one-shot Valkyrie: Prisoner of the Past (Dec. 1987), drawn by Paul Gulacy,[8] and the three-issue miniseries Valkyrie! (July–Sept. 1988), penciled by Brent Anderson.[9] In addition, the Air Fighters co-starred in the five-issue miniseries Total Eclipse (May 1988 – April 1989), which featured most of the Eclipse stars together,[10] and the one-shot Total Eclipse: The Seraphim Objective (Nov. 1988).[11] Prisoner of the Past was collected as a trade paperback, as were Airboy #1–5 entitled The Return of Valkyrie. Prisoner of the Past was also published in a hardcover edition.

Starting in 1988, Eclipse also published Air Fighters Classics, a six issue bimonthly series dedicated to reprinting the original Golden Age stories of Airboy and related characters.

In 2007, Moonstone Books announced plans to revive the World War II character in new stories written by 1980s Airboy writer Dixon. However, the revival did not see print until March 2009, when Moonstone released the one-shot Airboy – 1942: Best of Enemies.[12] Two issues of Airfighters, featuring Airboy, followed in 2010.[13]

The Valkyrie character was ranked 45th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[14]

In 2012, Antarctic Press started publishing Airboy: Deadeye by Chuck Dixon, Gianluca Piredda and Ben Dunn.

In 2014, Image Comics began publishing a new Airboy comic, written by James Robinson and illustrated by Greg Hinkle. This series begins with fictionalised versions of Robinson and Hinkle engaging in an orgy of drink, drugs and sex while trying to find the inspiration to write a new Airboy series, only for the "real" Airboy to enter their world—much to his horror.

Fictional character biography

The first Airboy was David ("Davy") Nelson II, the son of an expert pilot and, despite his youth, a crack flyer himself. His friend, inventor and Franciscan friar Brother Francis Martier, had created a highly maneuverable prototype aircraft that flew by flapping its wings, like a bird. Martier, however, was killed while testing it, and Davy inherited both the plane and a uniform, which had apparently been in Martier's family since the French Revolution. Davy soon christened himself "Airboy", and in his seemingly sentient new plane, "Birdie", helped the Allies during World War II.

Airboy confronted such weird antagonists as intelligent rats, the mysterious Misery – whose Airtomb imprisoned the souls of dead pilots – and his cleavage-baring Nazi nemesis, Valkyrie, a German aviator who later became his ally.

After the conclusion of World War II, David Nelson II continued to work as a freelance pilot and mercenary for a time, but he eventually retired from combat flying and stored Birdie in a barn outside his California estate. He had a son, whom he named David Nelson III, and founded an aircraft manufacturing company, through which he became very wealthy. In the mid-1980s, David Nelson II was assassinated by mercenaries from the South American nation of Bogantilla. When David Nelson III discovered that his father had been assassinated, he began to investigate the circumstances which had led up to his father's death. He soon discovered his father's mothballed plane and uniform and teamed up with a number of the surviving Air Fighters to face many of the same enemies as David Nelson II, as well as South American dictators, Soviets, pirates and corporate criminals.


The first volume in the Wild Cards novel series edited by George R.R. Martin includes a character called Jetboy, an Airboy analogue created by Howard Waldrop who wanted to write an Airboy story.[15]

The lead character of publisher America's Best Comics' graphic novel Top 10: The Forty-Niners is Jetlad, whom historian Jess Nevins calls, "an analogue of Charles Biro's teenaged aviator Airboy."[16]

Collected editions

Antarctic Press

  • Airboy: Deadeye collects Airboy: Deadeye #1–5, Softcover: 128 Pages, Publisher: Antarctic Press, October 2013, ISBN 9780930655099

Eclipse Comics

  • Airboy Archives Volume 1 collects Airboy #1–16, Softcover: 312 Pages, Publisher: IDW, March 2014, ISBN 9781613779002
  • Airboy Archives Volume 2 collects Airboy #17–25, Valkyrie #1–3 (1987), Softcover: 300 Pages, Publisher: IDW, September 2014, ISBN 9781631400100
  • Airboy Archives Volume 3 collects Airboy #26–34, Airmaidens Special, Airboy–Mr. Monster Special, Airboy Meets The Prowler, Softcover: 316 Pages, Publisher: IDW, March 2015, ISBN 9781631402166
  • Airboy Archives Volume 4 collects Airboy #35–40, Airfighters Meet Sgt. Strike, Skywolf #1–3, Softcover: 292 Pages, Publisher: IDW, April 2016, ISBN 9781631403996
  • Airboy Archives Volume 5 collects Airboy #41–50, Valkyrie #1–3 (1988), Airboy vs. The Air Maidens, plus a previously unpublished eight-page Skywolf story, Softcover: 380 Pages, Publisher: IDW, April 2017, ISBN 978-1631408106

Hillman Periodicals

  • The Complete Golden Age Airboy & Valkyrie collects Air Fighters #12; vol. 2. #2, #7; Airboy vol. 2, #12; vol. 3, #6, #12; vol. 4, #10; vol. 9, #2, Softcover: 136 pages, Publisher: Canton Street Press, September 2013, ISBN 9781934044025

Image Comics

  • Airboy Deluxe Edition collects Airboy #1–4, Hardcover: 120 Pages, Publisher: Image, April 2016, ISBN 978-1632155436

Moonstone Comics

  • Airboy and the Airfighters: Dangerous Liaisons collects Airboy: 1942, Airfighters #1, Air Fighters #2, Air Vixens, plus the never-before-published Airfighters: L'Hospital St. Blaise, Softcover: 256 Pages, Publisher: Moonstone, January 2013, ISBN 9781936814381


  1. ^ a b Air Fighters Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  2. ^ a b Airboy Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ Airboy (Eclipse, 1986 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ a b c d Airboy series at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Airfighters [sic] Meet Sgt. Strike Special, The at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Airmaidens [sic] Special at the Grand Comics Database
  7. ^ Skywolf at the Grand Comics
  8. ^ Valkyrie: Prisoner of the Past at the Grand Comics Database
  9. ^ Valkyrie! at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Total Eclipse at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Total Eclipse: The Seraphim Objective at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ Airboy – 1942: Best of Enemies at the Grand Comics Database
  13. ^ Airfighters (Moonstone, 2010 Series) at the Grand Comics Database
  14. ^ Frankenhoff, Brent (2011). Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. Krause Publications. p. 34. ISBN 1-4402-2988-0.
  15. ^ "Wild Cards – Origins". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  16. ^ Nevins, Jess. "Annotations for The Forty-Niners". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.


Ben Oda

Ben Oda (December 21, 1915 – November 1984) was a Japanese-American letterer for comic books and comic strips.

He graduated from Chouinard Art Institute and began his career as an apprentice at Walt Disney Studios. During World War II, Oda was a paratrooper.

Oda lettered for two major comic strip syndicates: the Chicago Tribune Syndicate and King Features Syndicate. Comic strips lettered by Oda include Apartment 3-G, Big Ben Bolt, Dondi, The Dropouts, Flash Gordon, Johnny Hazard, Little Orphan Annie, Miss Peach, On Stage, The Phantom, Prince Valiant, Rip Kirby, The Spirit and Steve Canyon.He entered the comics industry after World War II, some of his earliest lettering was for Hillman Periodicals' Airboy and Real Clue Crime Stories, which connected him with the Simon & Kirby team. In the 1950s, his lettering appeared in the EC Comics edited by Harvey Kurtzman.He was a prolific letterer at DC Comics for many years, until his death, working on such books as Action Comics, Aquaman, Justice League of America, Wonder Woman, Young Romance, Teen Titans, New Teen Titans and a plethora of others.

His wife, Nishi Oda, also did lettering.Odaballoon, created by Oda's family, is a tribute freeware typeface in his lettering style.

Bill Jaaska

William C. "Bill" Jaaska (June 22, 1961 – November 9, 2009) was an American comics artist.

Burna Boy

Damini Ogulu (born 2 July 1991), known professionally as Burna Boy, is a Nigerian Afro-fusion singer and songwriter. He rose to prominence in 2012 after releasing the lead single "Like to Party" from his debut studio album L.I.F.E (2013).

Charles Biro

Charles Biro (May 12, 1911 – March 4, 1972) was an American comic book creator and cartoonist. He is today chiefly known for creating the comic book characters Airboy and Steel Sterling, and for his 16-year run on the acclaimed 1940s series Daredevil Comics for Lev Gleason Publications.

Chuck Dixon

Charles Dixon (born April 14, 1954) is an American comic book writer, best known for his work on the Marvel Comics character the Punisher and on the DC Comics characters Batman, Nightwing, and Robin in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Doc Stearn...Mr. Monster

Doc Stearn...Mr. Monster is a comic book featuring a superhero created by Michael T. Gilbert, most recently published by Dark Horse Comics. The character first appeared in Pacific Comics Vanguard Illustrated #7 (July 1984). Later the character graduated to his own monthly series Doc Stearn...Mr. Monster from Eclipse Comics. Mr. Monster was derived from an old 1940's character created by Fred Kelly who appeared only twice in 1940s Canadian comic books (Triumph Comics #31, 1946, and Super-Duper Comics #3, 1947). After trademarking Mr. Monster, Gilbert heavily revised the character creating a Horror/Humor hybrid which often featured heavy satire of both the horror genre and superhero comics in general.

Ernie Schroeder

Ernest C. Schroeder (January 9, 1916 – September 20, 2006) was an American comic book artist, a commercial illustrator, and a sculptor, best known for drawing and co-writing Hillman Periodicals' influential muck-monster the Heap from 1949 to 1953.

Other characters with which Schroeder is associated include Hillman's Airboy and Harvey Comics' Shock Gibson and Spirit of '76.

Fred Kida

Fred Kida (December 12, 1920 – April 3, 2014) was a Japanese-American comic book and comic strip artist best known for the 1940s aviator hero Airboy and his antagonist and sometime ally Valkyrie during the period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books. He went on to draw for Marvel Comics' 1950s iteration, Atlas Comics, in a variety of genres and styles, and then again for Marvel superhero titles in the 1970s. He drew the company's The Amazing Spider-Man newspaper comic strip during the early to mid-1980s. Kida also assisted artist Dan Barry on the long-running strip Flash Gordon from 1958 to 1961 and then again from 1968 to 1971.

Heap (comics)

The Heap is the name of several fictional comic book muck-monsters, the original of which first appeared in Hillman Periodicals' Air Fighters Comics #3 (cover-dated Dec. 1942), during the period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books. The character was created by writer Harry Stein and artist Mort Leav, and revived in the 1980s by Eclipse Comics.

Similar but unrelated characters appeared in comics stories published by Skywald in the 1970s and Image Comics in the 1990s.

Hillman Periodicals

Hillman Periodicals, Inc. was an American magazine and comic book publishing company founded in 1938 by Alex L. Hillman, a former New York City book publisher. It is best known for its true confession and true crime magazines; for the long-running general-interest magazine Pageant; and for comic books including Air Fighters Comics and its successor Airboy Comics, which launched the popular characters Airboy and The Heap.

It! (short story)

"It" is a horror short story by American writer Theodore Sturgeon, first published in Unknown of August 1940. The story deals with a plant monster that is ultimately revealed to have formed around a human skeleton, specifically that of Roger Kirk, in a swamp. P. Schuyler Miller described "It" as "probably the most unforgettable story ever published in Unknown. "

List of Eclipse Comics publications

Eclipse Comics is an American comic book company.

Michael T. Gilbert

Michael Terry Gilbert (born May 7, 1951) is an American comic book artist and writer who has worked for both mainstream and underground comic book companies.

Prowler (Eclipse Comics)

The Prowler was a comic created by Timothy Truman and John K. Snyder III for Eclipse Comics.Two four-issue color miniseries, a black and white one-shot and a one-shot crossover with Airboy were published in 1987-1988. The comic concerned a manipulative elderly hero, in the manner of The Shadow, and his much younger sidekick/protégé.

Punch and Judy Comics

Punch and Judy Comics is a golden age comic book series in the humor genre, which also contains many stories in the funny animal genre. The series was published by Hillman Periodicals from 1944 to December 1951, and ran for 32 issues, in three volumes. The series is most notable for showcasing some early funny animal work of legendary comic book writer/artist Jack Kirby, who provided two characters for the book, Lockjaw the Alligator and Earl the Bunny.

The main feature concerns a living marionette named Punch, who is created by a genial toymaker named Uncle Tony, and the puppets best friend, a blonde haired girl named Judy. The strip draws for inspiration more from Pinocchio than typical Punch and Judy puppet performances. The artist on the first issue and the probable creator of the series was Joe Oriolo, who had recently worked for Fleischer Studios and created Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Other features include Fatsy McPig, Captain Catfish and Buttons the Rabbit. One feature notable for its racist overtones is Little Horsefeathers, a humor strip about a hapless Native American boy, in the “Little Hiawatha” mode.

All Hillman periodical publications are in the public domain, and have been often reprinted by various companies, including Eclipse Comics with Airboy and The Complete Jack Kirby reprints. The comics entered the public domain 28 years after their first printing, and the copyrights were never renewed for the second term of 28 years available.3Due to either a publishing error or the vagaries of publishing issue number 9 of volume one does not seem to exist, but issues 8 and 10 do.

According to the Grand Comics Database:

“Vol. 1/#7 is February 1947; V1/#8 is March 1947 in indicia, but April is listed on cover; V1/#10 is May 1946. Does V1/#9 exist? None of the Punch and Judy collectors known have a copy.”1There are currently scans of several issues of this comic available at Wikisource.

Stan Woch

Stan Woch (born July 8, 1959) is an American comics artist who has worked on comic strips and comic books.

Timothy Truman

Timothy Truman (born February 9, 1956) is an American writer, artist and musician. He is best known for his stories and Wild West-style comic book art, and in particular, for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex, with Joe R. Lansdale.

Total Eclipse (comics)

Total Eclipse was a comic book mini-series in five parts published by Eclipse Comics in 1988. The title was a cross-company crossover in the style of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and intended to bring all of Eclipse's characters together, no matter how obscure or bizarre, many of whom were acquisitions from defunct Hillman Periodicals. These include Airboy, Black Angel, Dot, Impulse, Misery, Polestar, Prowler, Sgt. Strike, Skywolf, Strike!, Tachyon, and Valkyrie.

The title consisted of a main story written by Marv Wolfman, and drawn by Bo Hampton. Accompanying the main story were back up stories by various creators featuring Eclipse characters. Issue four is especially notable as it features the first Neil Gaiman-written Miracleman story.

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