Monday, 15 November 2004

Harry Lampert R.I.P.

Harry Lampert died Saturday, November 13, after a long battle with cancer. He was 88 years old. I suppose many of you are probably wondering who Harry Lampert was. Well, along with Gardner Fox, Lampert created The Flash back in 1939. The character made his debut in Flash Comics #1, January 1940. The Flash was scientist Jay Garrick, who after being ingesting heavy water and other chemicals, discovered he could ran exceptionally fast. The character proved to me one of the most popular superheroes of the Golden Age of comics. Lampert derived his inspiration for The Flash from Greek mythology, drawing upon the super fast god Hermes. The Flash even boasted a winged helmet and wings on his boots. As a testament to the character's lasting popularity, it was a new version of The Flash (this time around The Flash was Barry Allen) that sparked the Silver Age of comics in 1956.

Before creating The Flash with Gardner Fox, Lampert had worked at Fleischer Studios. There he worked on such classic cartoon characters as Betty Boop and Popeye. At All-American Comics and National Comics (the companies that would become DC), Lampert also created The King and Red, White, and Blue. During the Second World War and following it, Lampert worked for years as a gag cartoonist. His cartoons appeared in Esquire, The New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, and Time. He also founded an advertising firm, the Lampert Agency, and taught at the School of Visual Arts.

Although most people probably do not recognise the name "Harry Lampert," I think it is safe to say that he has had a lasting impact on pop culture. Through various incarnations, The Flash has remained one of the most popular superheroes. In fact, Lampert's creation--the original Flash--can still be seen in the pages of JSA each month. Only a few comic book characters have had that kind of lasting power.

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