Fred Guardineer

Frederick B. Guardineer (October 3, 1913 – September 13, 2002)[2] was an American illustrator and comic book writer-artist best known for his work in the 1930s and 1940s during what historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books, and for his 1950s art on the Western comic-book series The Durango Kid.

A pioneer of the medium itself, Guardineer contributed two features to the seminal Action Comics #1, the comic book that introduced Superman.

Fred Guardineer
BornFrederick B. Guardineer
October 3, 1913
Albany, New York
DiedSeptember 13, 2002 (aged 88)
Area(s)Writer, Artist
Gene Baxter[1]
Lance Blackwood[1]
AwardsInkpot Award, 1988


Early life and career

Action Comics #8 (Jan. 1939), Guardineer's first comic-book cover.

Fred Guardineer was born in Albany, New York.[3] He acquired a fine arts degree in 1935, then moved to New York City, where he drew for pulp magazines.[3] The following year he joined the studio of the quirkily named Harry "A" Chesler, an early "packager" supplying comics features on demand for publishers entering the emerging medium of comic books. There he drew adventure features such as "Dave Dean" and the science-fiction feature "Dan Hastings" before going freelance in 1938.[3]

Guardineer's first known comics credits appear in several one- to three-page Western and comic-Western stories, and in spot illustrations for a text story, in Centaur Publications' Star Ranger #2 (cover-dated April 1937). Through that year, he continued writing and drawing such short features in a variety of genres in some of the medium's first comics, including Centaur's Star Comics, '"Funny Pages and Funny Picture Stories.[4]

He is among the contributors to the future DC Comics' landmark title Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic that introduced Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's seminal superhero Superman. There Guardineer wrote, drew and lettered the 12-page feature introducing his magician-hero creation Zatara, a character remaining in the DC stable as of the 21st century. Guardineer was also one of the artists on two features handled previously by Creig Flessel in More Fun Comics: "Pep Morgan" (on which he sometimes used the pseudonym Gene Baxter) and, in Detective Comics, "Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator".[4]

He married Ruth Ball in 1938 and bought a home in Long Island, New York the following year.[5]

Guardineer's other early work includes art for Quality Comics, where he created the character Blue Tracer; and Columbia Comics, where he worked with former DC editor Vin Sullivan, who had edited Action Comics.[4]

Later life and career

Guardineer followed Sullivan to the editor's next venture, the comic-book company Magazine Enterprises, which Sullivan founded. There from 1949–1955, Guardineer drew writer Gardner Fox's Old West masked-crimefighter series The Durango Kid. In the late 1940s, he also drew for such Lev Gleason Publications comics as Black Diamond Western and Crime Does Not Pay.[4] In 1955, Guardineer retired from comics and worked 20 years with the U.S. Postal Service,[3][5] and during this time did wildlife illustrations for publications including The Long Island Fisherman.[5] He was a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.[5]

Popular-culture historian Ron Goulart called Guardineer

...a true nonpareil, an artist whose style was unmistakably his own. ... His style was almost fully formed from the start. He seems always to have thought in terms of the entire page, never the individual panel. Each of his pages is a thoughtfully designed whole, giving the impression sometimes that Guardineer is arranging a series of similar snapshots into an attractive overall pattern, a personal design that will both tell the story clearly and be pleasing to the eye....[6]

Comics historian Mark Evanier wrote that during Guardineer's years away from comics, Mad magazine writer and editor Jerry DeFuccio located him "and became the first of many collectors to pay what Guardineer considered tidy sums to re-create some of his old covers."[7] Guardineer again lost contact with the comics community until 1998, when a comics fan found him in northern California and convinced him to attend that year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. There, he was part of an Evanier-hosted panel "of every surviving person who'd had a hand in the creation of the historic Action Comics #1. [When presented with the convention's Inkpot Award,] Fred was confined to a wheelchair ... but with great effort, he insisted on standing as he made a brief but eloquent acceptance speech."[7] Guardineer later was a guest at WonderCon, in Oakland, California.[7]

One source says Guardineer moved to San Ramon, California, where he died in 2002,[3] though the Social Security Death Index gives his last place of residence as Babylon, New York (ZIP Code 11702) in Suffolk County, Long Island.[2]



  1. ^ a b c Bails, Jerry; Ware, Hames, eds. "Guardineer, Fred". Who's Who of American Comic Books, 1928–1999. Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2014.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b Frederick B. Guardineer, Social Security Number 111-12-8578, at the United States Social Security Death Index. Retrieved on January 8, 2016| Archived from the original on January 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Fred Guardineer at the Lambiek Comiclopedia
  4. ^ a b c d Fred Guardineer at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ a b c d Black, Bill (September 2001). "Fred Guardineer: The M.E. Years". Alter Ego. Vol. 3 no. 10. p. 15.
  6. ^ Goulart, Ron (1986). The Great Comic Book Artists. New York City: St. Martin's Press. p. page #?.
  7. ^ a b c Evanier, Mark (May 6, 2004). "Fred Guardineer, R.I.P." News From ME (column). Retrieved October 9, 2011.

Further reading

  • Outdoors Unlimited (April 1987), Outdoor Writers Association of America
1938 in comics

Notable events of 1938 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

2002 in comics

Notable events of 2002 in comics. See also List of years in comics.

Action Comics 1

Action Comics #1 (cover dated June 1938) is the first issue of the original run of the comic book/magazine series Action Comics. It features the first appearance of several comic book heroes—most notably the Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster creation, Superman—and sold for 10 cents (equivalent to $2 in 2018). It is widely considered to be both the beginning of the superhero genre and the most valuable comic book in the world. Action Comics would go on to run for 904 numbered issues (plus additional out-of-sequence special issues) before it restarted its numbering in the fall of 2011. It returned to its original numbering with issue #957, published on June 8, 2016 (cover-dated August) and reached its 1,000th issue in 2018.

On August 24, 2014, a copy graded 9.0 by CGC was sold on eBay for US$3,207,852. It is the only comic book to have sold for more than $3 million for a single original copy.

Adventures into the Unknown

Adventures Into the Unknown was an American comic-book magazine series best known as the medium's first ongoing horror-comics title. Published by the American Comics Group, initially under the imprint B&I Publishing, it ran 174 issues (cover-dated Fall 1948 - Aug. 1967). The first two issues, which included art by Fred Guardineer and others, featured horror stories of ghosts, werewolves, haunted houses, killer puppets, and other supernatural beings and locales. The premiere included a seven-page abridged adaptation of Horace Walpole's seminal gothic novel The Castle of Otranto, by an unknown writer and artist Al Ulmer.Unlike many American horror comics of the Golden Age, it weathered the public criticism of the early 1950s and survived the aftermath of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings of April and June 1954 when the comics industry attempted self-regulation with a highly restrictive Comics Code.

Atlantis (DC Comics)

Atlantis is a fictional aquatic civilization appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The first version of Atlantis within the DC Universe debuted in Action Comics #18 (November 1939), and was conceived by Gardner F. Fox and Fred Guardineer.

Other incarnations of Atlantis appeared in various DC comics in the 1940s and 1950s, including the version in the Superman group of books in which the mermaid Lori Lemaris resides. Aquaman's version of the city, the most prominently featured version in the company's line, first appeared in Adventure Comics #260 (May 1959), and was created by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon. All versions are based on the fictional island of Atlantis first mentioned in Plato's initial dialogue, the Timaeus, written c. 360 BC.

Bob Powell

Bob Powell (né Stanley Robert Pawlowski; October 2, 1916 – December 1967) was an American comic book artist known for his work during the 1930–1940s Golden Age of comic books, including on the features "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle" and "Mr. Mystic". He received a belated credit in 1999 for co-writing the debut of the popular feature "Blackhawk". Powell also did the pencil art for the bubble gum trading card series Mars Attacks. He officially changed his name to S. Robert Powell in 1943.

Columbia Comics

Columbia Comics Corporation was a comic book publisher active in the 1940s whose most well-known title was Big Shot Comics. Comics creators who worked for Columbia included Fred Guardineer, on Marvelo, the Monarch of Magicians; and Ogden Whitney and Gardner Fox on Skyman.

Crime Does Not Pay (comics)

Crime Does Not Pay is the title of an American comic book series published between 1942 and 1955 by Lev Gleason Publications. Edited and chiefly written by Charles Biro, the title launched the crime comics genre and was the first "true crime" comic book series. At the height of its popularity, Crime Does Not Pay would claim a readership of six million on its covers. The series' sensationalized recountings of the deeds of gangsters such as Baby Face Nelson and Machine Gun Kelly were illustrated by artists Bob Wood, George Tuska, and others. Stories were often introduced and commented upon by "Mr. Crime", a ghoulish figure in a top hat, and the precursor of "horror hosts" such as EC Comics' Crypt Keeper. According to Gerard Jones, Crime Does Not Pay was "the first nonhumor comic to rival the superheroes in sales, the first to open the comic book market to large numbers of late adolescent and young males."

Inkpot Award

The Inkpot Award is an honor bestowed annually since 1974 by Comic-Con International. It is given to professionals in the fields of comic books, comic strips, animation, science fiction, and related areas of popular culture, at CCI's annual convention, commonly known as "San Diego Comic-Con". Also eligible are members of Comic-Con's Board of Directors and convention committee.

The recipients, listed below, are known primarily as comics creators, including writers; artists; letterers; colorists; editors; or publishers; unless otherwise noted.

List of Quality Comics characters

Quality Comics was a comic book company from the Golden Age of Comic Books that sold many anthology comic books that starred superheroes, many of which were adopted by DC Comics when they purchased Quality Comics, and others were not, entering the public domain.

Magician (comics)

The Magician is the name of three fictional characters appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Merlin the Magician (comics)

Merlin the Magician is a fictional character and superhero in the publications of Quality Comics in the 1940s and, briefly in the 1990s, by DC Comics. Merlin first appeared in National Comics #1 (July 1940). The character is a direct descendant of the Arthurian wizard Merlin and spent most of his time fighting Nazis, using, as his title page frequently read, "occult powers to aid democracies in their fight against oppression."

Mr. Mystic

Mr. Mystic is a comics series featuring a magician crime-fighter, created by Will Eisner and initially drawn by Bob Powell. The strip featured in four-page backup feature a Sunday-newspaper comic-book insert, known colloquially as "The Spirit Section". It first appeared in 1940, distributed by the Register and Tribune Syndicate.

Paul Gustavson

Paul Gustavson (né Karl Paul Gustafson August 16, 1916 – April 29, 1977) was an American-immigrant comic-book writer and artist. His most notable creations during the Golden Age of Comic Books were The Human Bomb for Quality Comics, and the Angel, who debuted in Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the first publication of Marvel Comics forerunner Timely Comics. The Angel would star in more than 100 stories in the 1940s. The Human Bomb would later be acquired by DC Comics and make sporadic appearances as late as 2005.

Tigress (DC Comics)

Tigress is the name of three different comic book supervillains, all of whom have appeared in various series published by DC Comics.

Western comics

Western comics is a comics genre usually depicting the American Old West frontier (usually anywhere west of the Mississippi River) and typically set during the late nineteenth century. The term is generally associated with an American comic books genre published from the late 1940s through the 1950s (though the genre had continuing popularity in Europe, and persists in limited form in American comics today). Western comics of the period typically featured dramatic scripts about cowboys, gunfighters, lawmen, bounty hunters, outlaws, and Native Americans. Accompanying artwork depicted a rural America populated with such iconic images as guns, cowboy hats, vests, horses, saloons, ranches, and deserts, contemporaneous with the setting.


Giovanni "John" Zatara is a fictional superhero appearing in comics published by DC Comics. He is a stage magician who also practices actual magic. He married Sindella, a Homo magi, and they have a daughter, Zatanna Zatara, who, like her father, is both a "stage magician" and a genuine high-level sorceress to boot.

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