Joe Orlando

Joseph "Joe" Orlando (April 4, 1927 – December 23, 1998)[1] was an Italian American illustrator, writer, editor and cartoonist during a lengthy career spanning six decades. He was the associate publisher of Mad and the vice president of DC Comics, where he edited numerous titles and ran DC's Special Projects department.

Joe Orlando
Joe Orlando in the early 1950s
BornApril 4, 1927
Bari, Italy
DiedDecember 23, 1998 (aged 71)
Manhattan, New York
Area(s)Illustrator, writer, editor
Notable works
Creepy, Mad, DC Comics
AwardsInkpot Award, 1980
Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame, 2007

Early life

Orlando was born in Bari, Italy, emigrating to the United States in 1929. He began drawing at an early age, going to art classes at a neighborhood boys' club when he was seven years old. He continued there until he was 14, winning prizes annually in their competitions, including a John Wanamaker bronze medal. In 1941, he began attending the School of Industrial Art (later the High School of Art and Design), where he studied illustration. This school was a breeding ground for a number of comics artists, including Richard Bassford, Frank Giacoia, Carmine Infantino, Rocke Mastroserio, Alex Toth and future comics letterer Gaspar Saladino. Infantino and Orlando remained close friends for decades. While Orlando was still a student, he drew his first published illustrations, scenes of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper for a high-school textbook.

After his high school graduation, Orlando entered the U.S. Army and was assigned to the military police, doing stockade guard duty, followed by 18 months in Europe. From Le Havre, France, he was sent to Antwerp, Belgium and then to Germany, where he stenciled boxcars and guarded strategic supplies for the occupation forces.

After his 1947 discharge, he returned to New York and began study at the Art Students League on the GI Bill. He entered the comic book field in 1949 when the packager Lloyd Jacquet assigned him to draw for the Catholic-oriented Treasure Chest. This was a "Chuck White" story that paid nine dollars a page. At the Jacquet Studio he met fellow artist Tex Blaisdell, and the two teamed later on many projects.

Professional career

EC and Mad

In the early 1950s, he was an assistant to Wally Wood on stories for several publishers, including Fox, Youthful, Avon and EC Comics, before becoming a regular staff artist with EC in the summer of 1951.[2] He was earning $25 a page at EC, and shortly after his first EC stories under his own name were published that summer, he married his first wife, Gloria, in September 1951.

After EC, from 1956 to 1959, he drew Classics Illustrated adaptations, including Ben-Hur, A Tale of Two Cities and Rudyard Kipling's Kim.[2] In addition to many contributions to EC's Mad (1960–69), Orlando also scripted the Little Orphan Annie comic strip beginning in 1964.[3] He did covers for Newsweek and New Times, and his work as an illustrator appeared in National Lampoon, children's books and numerous comic books.

Creepy editor

For Warren Publishing's black-and-white horror comics magazine Creepy, debuting in 1964, Orlando was not only an illustrator but also a story editor on early issues. His credit on the first issue masthead read: "Story Ideas: Joe Orlando."[2]

He also worked in toy design, packaging and advertising; sales of Harold von Braunhut's Sea-Monkeys escalated considerably after Orlando drew a series of unusual advertisements visualizing the creatures' enchanted and peaceful undersea kingdom.[4] In 1992, the short-lived live-action television show The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys with Howie Mandel used special effects make-up designs based on the character concepts created by Orlando for his Sea Monkeys illustrations.

DC Comics

This Joe Orlando page with lettering by Todd Klein was created for Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's Watchmen (1987)

In 1966, Orlando and writer E. Nelson Bridwell created the parody superhero team The Inferior Five in Showcase #62 (June 1966).[5] This lighthearted feature would soon receive its own ongoing series. Orlando launched the Swing with Scooter series with writers Barbara Friedlander and Jack Miller in July 1966.[6] After 16 years of freelancing, Orlando was hired in 1968 by DC Comics,[7] where he was the editor of a full line of comic books, including Adventure Comics, All-Star Comics, Anthro, Bat Lash, House of Mystery,[8] Plop!,[9] Swamp Thing, and The Witching Hour,[2] also scripting for several of these titles. Orlando coined the names of the Weird War Tales and Weird Western Tales titles.[10] While serving as DC's vice president, he guided the company's Special Projects department. This included the creation of art for T-shirts and other licensed products, negotiating with such companies as American Greetings and Topps, working with editor Joey Cavalieri on Looney Tunes Magazine[2] and supervising production of trading cards, Six Flags logos, DC character style guides and other items.

In the late 1960s, Orlando hired Filipino artist Tony DeZuniga for work on some of DC's horror titles. In 1971, Orlando and DC publisher Carmine Infantino traveled to the Philippines on a recruiting trip for more artists.[7][11] Alfredo Alcala, Mar Amongo, Ernie Chan, Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo, and Gerry Talaoc were some of the Filipino komik artists who would work for DC, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s.

During the 1980s, Orlando began teaching at the School of Visual Arts, continuing as an art instructor there for many years.[7]

In 1987, he created an illustration for the supplemental text piece from Watchmen #5, a page from the comic-within-the-comic, Tales of the Black Freighter. Orlando's contribution was designed as if it were a page from the fake title; the conceit being that Orlando had been the artist for a run of stories from the fictional Tales of the Black Freighter comic. Watchmen writer Alan Moore chose Orlando because he felt that if pirate stories were popular in the Watchmen universe, DC editor Julius Schwartz would have lured Orlando into drawing a pirate comic book. The comic-within-a-comic pages were credited to the fictitious artist "Walt Feinberg", and all art attributed to Feinberg was actually drawn by series-artist Dave Gibbons. The Orlando page was the only artwork for the series not by Gibbons.[12]

A limited series featuring The Phantom published by DC in 1988 was written by Peter David and drawn by Orlando and Dennis Janke.[2]

Orlando had a long working association with the prolific letterer Ben Oda, roughing out display lettering effects which Oda would finish. During the 1990s, Orlando was pleased to discover that designer-typographer Rick Spanier, working on a Macintosh computer, could create polished Oda-like finishes of Orlando's roughs. These Orlando-Spanier collaborations were printed in DC's Superman Style Guide and other DC style guides.

Associate Publisher of Mad

Wally Wood's drawing of Joe Orlando (left) and Wood collaborating on a comics page in the early 1950s

After the death of Mad founder-publisher William Gaines in 1992, publishing company/owner Time Warner positioned Mad under the purview of fellow-publishing-subsidiary DC Comics. After this shift, Orlando became the magazine's Associate Publisher. Concurrently, he was involved in creating exclusive Mad products for the then-new Warner Brothers Studio Store on Fifth Avenue.

Although he retired from DC in 1996, he nevertheless maintained an office at Mad where he worked on Mad cover concepts and other projects for the next two years. He illustrated four articles for publication in Mad with the last appearing in the July 1997 issue.[13] At the time of his death in 1998, he was survived by his wife, Karin, and four children.


Orlando's artwork for EC Comics has been reprinted extensively by publisher Russ Cochran. Following the 2006 culmination of Cochran's Complete EC Library reprint series with the EC Picto-Fiction volumes, other EC reprint volumes featuring Orlando illustrations have been published by Steve Geppi's Gemstone Publishing in their EC Archives series.


He received the Inkpot Award in 1980[14] and was chosen for the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2007.[15] His contributions to EC's Weird Science earned him a ranking in Entertainment Weekly’s "Sci-Fi Top 100".[16] He appeared in a taped segment on Horror Hall of Fame II, telecast October 17, 1991.


DC Comics

EC Comics

Marvel Comics

  • Adventure into Mystery #5 (1957)
  • Astonishing #47, 58, 61 (1956–1957)
  • Battle #47 (1956)
  • Battle Action #22 (1956)
  • Battle Ground #15, 17 (1957)
  • Battlefront #47 (1957)
  • Daredevil #2–4 (1964)
  • G.I. Tales #6 (1957)
  • Journey into Mystery #30, 32, 45 (1956–1957)
  • Journey into Unknown Worlds #44, 57 (1956–1957)
  • Marines at War #6–7 (1957)
  • Marines in Battle #14 (1956)
  • Marvel Tales #149, 151, 157 (1956–1957)
  • My Own Romance #61 (1958)
  • Mystery Tales #51 (1957)
  • Mystic #57, 61 (1957)
  • Mystical Tales #1–2, 7 (1956–1957)
  • Quick-Trigger Western #16 (1957)
  • Ringo Kid #12 (1956)
  • Six-Gun Western #2 (1957)
  • Spellbound #25, 28 (1955–1956)
  • Strange Tales #41, 44, 46, 49, 52 (1955–1956)
  • Strange Tales of the Unusual #2, 7 (1956)
  • Tales of Justice #65–66 (1957)
  • Uncanny Tales #49–50, 53 (1956–1957)
  • War Comics #42 (1956)
  • World of Fantasy #8, 13–14 (1957–1958)
  • World of Mystery #5 (1957)


  1. ^ "Joe Orlando". Lambiek Comiclopedia. August 16, 2012. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Joe Orlando at the Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ Bails, Jerry (2006). "Orlando, Joe". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999. Archived from the original on February 19, 2012.
  4. ^ Walsh, Tim (2005). "Ant Farm and Sea-Monkeys". Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers who Created Them. Kansas City, Missouri: Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 124–129. ISBN 978-0-7407-5571-2.
  5. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Joe Orlando knew what was in a name when they unleased the Inferior Five in Megalopolis.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 118: "DC made a concerted effort to attract the teenage reader. This included turning to lighter-fare with the likes of Scooter...Crafted by writer Barbara Friedlander and editor Jack Miller, with art by Joe Orlando."
  7. ^ a b c Cooke, Jon B. (Spring 1998). "Orlando's Weird Adventures". Comic Book Artist. Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (1). Archived from the original on February 5, 2012.
  8. ^ McAvennie "1960s" in Dolan, p. 130: "Editor Joe Orlando decided that The House of Mystery was in need of renovation."
  9. ^ McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 156: "Edited by Joe Orlando with contributions from comics' finest creators, Plop! was truly 'The Magazine of Weird Humor!'"
  10. ^ Daniels, Les (1995). DC Comics: Sixty Years of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes. New York, New York: Bulfinch Press. p. 153. ISBN 0821220764. 'Carmine Infantino and I found out that the word weird sold well.' [editor Joe] Orlando recalls. 'So DC created Weird War and Weird Western.'
  11. ^ Duncan, Randy; Smith, Matthew J. (2009). "The Power of Comics: History, Form & Culture". Continuum. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014.
  12. ^ Stewart, Bhob (July 1987). "Synchronicity and Symmetry". The Comics Journal. Fantagraphics Books (116): 89–95.
  13. ^ Gilfore, Doug (n.d.). "Mad Magazine Contributors: Joe Orlando". Archived from the original on June 12, 2018.
  14. ^ "Inkpot Award Winners". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
  15. ^ "Will Eisner Hall of Fame". San Diego Comic-Con International. 2014. Archived from the original on January 10, 2014.
  16. ^ Hochman, David (October 16, 1998). "Sci-Fi's Top 100". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2014. #35 Weird Science (1950-53): This EC Comics title nurtured the fevered brains of countless sci-fi fans; its O. Henry-ish surprise endings antedated The Twilight Zone, and its artwork — especially that of Wally Wood and Joe Orlando — helped form the images we all share of what spaceships, aliens, and the terrain of other planets look like.

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
George Kashdan
House of Mystery editor
Succeeded by
Paul Levitz
Preceded by
Jack Schiff
House of Secrets editor
Succeeded by
Paul Levitz
Preceded by
Mike Sekowsky
Adventure Comics editor
Succeeded by
Paul Levitz
Preceded by
Archie Goodwin
Star Spangled War Stories editor
Succeeded by
Paul Levitz
Preceded by
DC Universe Executive Editor
Succeeded by
Dick Giordano
Bat Lash

Bartholomew "Bat" Aloysius Lash is a fictional Western character in the DC Universe. A self-professed pacifist, self-professed ladies' man, and gambler, Bat Lash's adventures have been published by DC Comics since 1968.

Cain and Abel (comics)

Cain and Abel are a pair of fictional characters in the DC Comics universe based on the biblical Cain and Abel. They are key figures in DC's "Mystery" line of the late 1960s and 1970s, which became the mature-readers imprint, Vertigo, in 1993.

Huntress (Helena Wayne)

The Bronze Age Huntress, also known as Helena Wayne, is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The character is the daughter of the Batman and Catwoman of an alternate universe established in the early 1960s (Multiverse) where the Golden Age stories took place. In the comics, Helena Wayne assumes the Huntress identity.

Impact (EC Comics)

Impact was a short-lived comic book series published by EC Comics in 1955 as the first title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic, published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein, began with an issue cover-dated March–April, 1955. It ran for five issues, ending with the November–December, 1955 issue. The sub-title "Tales Designed to Carry an" ran above the title Impact. The book was dedicated to stories with shock endings, and was seen as a toned down, Comics Code era version of EC's earlier Shock SuspenStories. Front covers were by Jack Davis, and the stories were illustrated by Davis, George Evans, Jack Kamen, Graham Ingels, Joe Orlando, Reed Crandall and Bernard Krigstein.

There are two versions of the cover to Impact # 1. One logo is yellow and the other is white.

Impact was reprinted as part of publisher Russ Cochran's Complete EC Library in 1988. Between April and August 1999, Cochran (in association with Gemstone Publishing) reprinted all five individual issues. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a single softcover EC Annual.

Incredible Science Fiction

Incredible Science Fiction was an American science fiction anthology comic published by EC Comics in 1955 and 1956, lasting a total of four issues.

Inferior Five

The Inferior Five (or I5) are a parody superhero team appearing in books by the American publisher DC Comics. Created by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Joe Orlando, the team premiered in the DC Comics title Showcase #62 (1966).The premise is that the characters were sons or daughters of members of a superhero team called the Freedom Brigade, a parody of the Justice League of America. Most of the Inferior Five were takeoffs of other popular DC characters, though Merryman's appearance was modeled on Woody Allen.

M.D. (comics)

M.D. was a short lived comic book published by EC Comics in 1955, the sixth title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic was published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein. It lasted a total of five issues before being cancelled along with EC's other New Direction comics.

National Lampoon Comics

National Lampoon Comics was an American book, an anthology of comics; it was published in 1974 in paperback. Although it is to all appearances a book, it was apparently considered to be a special edition of National Lampoon magazine. (The book is described on the first page as being "Vol I, No. 7 in a series of special editions published three times a year".)

The anthology contained material that had been published in the magazine from 1970 to 1974. There is a 13-page Mad magazine parody, various photo funnies (fumetti) and many comics from the "Funny Pages" section of the magazine, including artwork by Charles Rodrigues, Vaughn Bodé, Shary Flenniken, Jeff Jones, Gahan Wilson, M. K. Brown, Randy Enos, Bobby London, Ed Subitzky. Stan Mack and Joe Orlando.

Owl (Marvel Comics)

The Owl (Leland Owlsley) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is depicted usually as an enemy of the superheroes Daredevil, Spider-Man and Black Cat. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Joe Orlando, the character first appeared in Daredevil #3 (August 1964).

The character has appeared in numerous media adaptations, including the Netflix television series Daredevil, in which he is played by Bob Gunton.

Panic (comics)

Panic was part of the EC Comics line during the mid-1950s. The bi-monthly humor comic was published by Bill Gaines as a companion to Harvey Kurtzman's Mad, which was being heavily imitated by other comic publishers.

Panic was edited by Al Feldstein (who became the editor of Mad a few years later). Beginning with its first issue (February–March 1954), Panic had a 12-issue run over two years. Feldstein was the primary cover artist, with stories illustrated by Jack Davis, Will Elder, Jack Kamen, Joe Orlando, Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood. Some story ideas were by Nick Meglin, later the co-editor of Mad. Scripts were by Feldstein, Elder and Jack Mendelsohn, later a co-screenwriter of Yellow Submarine (1968) and an Emmy-nominated TV comedy writer.

EC dubbed Panic the "only authorized imitation" of Mad, but Mad's creator didn't enjoy the joke. Almost thirty years later, Harvey Kurtzman told an interviewer, "Panic was another sore point. Gaines, by some convoluted reasoning, decided to double the profit of Mad by doing a Feldstein version of Mad and he just plundered all of my techniques and artists. For this there was a real conflict of interests."

Purple Man

The Purple Man (Zebediah Killgrave) is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Joe Orlando, he first appeared in Daredevil #4 (October 1964). His body produces pheromones which allow him to verbally control the actions of others. Initially a recurring enemy of Daredevil, in 2015 he emerged as the archenemy of Jessica Jones under the name “Kilgrave”.

A modified version of the character was portrayed by David Tennant in seasons 1 and 2 of Jessica Jones, for which Tennant received critical praise, and for which the character was included in Rolling Stone's list of the "40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time".

Scalphunter (DC Comics)

Scalphunter (Brian Savage) is a fictional character, a Wild West hero in the DC Comics Universe. Scalphunter first appeared in Weird Western Tales #39 and was created by Sergio Aragones and Joe Orlando.

Shock SuspenStories

Shock SuspenStories was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. The bi-monthly comic, published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein, began with issue 1 in February/March 1952. Over a four-year span, it ran for 18 issues, ending with the December/January 1955 issue.

Three Dimensional E.C. Classics

Three Dimensional E.C. Classics was a quarterly comic book anthology series published by EC Comics in 1954. It began publication with its Spring 1954 issue and ceased with its March 1954 issue, producing a total of two issues. The stories it contained were classics in that they were recyclings of stories that had already appeared in earlier EC comic books. They were three-dimensional because they were presented in Anaglyph 3-D. Two 3-D viewers were included with each issue.

Valor (EC Comics)

This article is about the EC Comics title. For the DC Comics character, see Lar Gand.Valor was a short-lived comic book published by EC Comics in 1955 as the second title in its New Direction line. The bi-monthly comic was published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein. It lasted a total of five issues before being cancelled, along with EC's other New Direction comics.

Valor was dedicated to tales of action and adventure in various period settings, including Ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic era. It was similar in vein to the historical stories that previously appeared in EC's Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat from 1950 through 1954.

Artists included Reed Crandall, George Evans, Gardner Fox, Graham Ingels, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Orlando, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.

Valor was reprinted as part of publisher Russ Cochran's Complete EC Library in 1988. Between October 1998 and February 1999, Cochran (in association with Gemstone Publishing) reprinted all five individual issues. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a single softcover EC Annual.

Weird Fantasy

Weird Fantasy is a dark fantasy and science fiction anthology comic that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. The companion comic for Weird Fantasy was Weird Science. Over a four-year span, Weird Fantasy ran for 22 issues, ending with the November–December 1953 issue.

Weird Mystery Tales

Weird Mystery Tales was a mystery horror comics anthology published by DC Comics from July–August 1972 to November 1975.

Weird Science-Fantasy

Weird Science-Fantasy was an American science fiction-fantasy anthology comic, that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. Over a 14-month span, the comic ran for seven issues, starting in March 1954 with issue #23 and ending with issue #29 in May/June 1955.

Weird Science (comics)

Weird Science was an American science fiction comic book magazine that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. Over a four-year span, the comic ran for 22 issues, ending with the November–December, 1953 issue. Weird Fantasy was a sister title published during the same time frame.

DC Comics Mystery Titles
Related Titles
See also
The Usual Gang Of Idiots: Contributors to Mad
Infrequent contributors

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