Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Comic Book Artist Dick Ayers Passes On

Dick Ayers, who illustrated Marvel Comics ranging from Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos to The Incredible Hulk, died on 4 May 2014 at the age of 90.

Dick Ayers was born in Ossining, New York on 28 April 1924. His work was first published while he was serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, in the comic strip Radio Ray in the military newspaper Radio Post. Following the war Mr. Ayers studied at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School in New York City under legendary illustrator Burne Hogarth. In 1947 he worked in the studio of Joe Schuster, artist and co-creator of Superman. It was Joe Schuster who put Dick Ayers in touch with Vin Sullivan, then editor at Magazine Enterprises. At Magazine Enterprises Dick Ayers illustrated various Western comic books, including Ghost Rider (which he co-created).

It was in 1952 that Mr. Ayers began to freelance for Atlas Comics (as Marvel Comics was called in the Fifties). He drew art for Atlas Comics' various horror and science fiction titles, including Astonishing, Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales, and Uncanny Tales. When the Golden Age Human Torch was revived in the mid-Fifties (running in Young Men # 21-24, June 1953 - Feb. 1954), it was Dick Ayers who provided the art. Mr. Ayers also freelanced for Charlton Comics during the Fifties, drawing art for their horror title The Thing.

As Atlas Comics evolved into the modern day Marvel Comics, Dick Ayers often served as an inker for Jack Kirby. He inked Mr. Kirby on such titles as Amazing Adventures, Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales, Tales of Suspense, and Tales to Astonish, as well as early issues of Fantastic Four and early appearances of Ant-Man, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk.  Mr. Ayers also inked Jack Kirby on early issues of  Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.He took over entirely as its artist with issue #8, July 1964, and remained on the title for ten years. Mr. Ayers also worked on the Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D feature. He also worked on Marvel's version of Ghost Rider (the Western character) in the Sixties.

In the Seventies Dick Ayers good deal of work at DC Comics. He served as a penciler on such titles as Freedom Fighters, Kamandi, Sgt. Rock, and Weird Western Tales (on the feature Jonah Hex), and an inker on such titles as G. I. Combat, House of Mystery, and The Witching Hour. Later in his career he did a good deal of promotional work for Radio Shack promoting the TRS-80. In the Naughts he inked the "Doris Danger" stories in the magazine Tabloia #572-576.

There can be no doubt that Dick Ayers was one of the best artists working for Marvel in the Sixties and for DC in the Seventies. He had a very precise style with an attention to detail often lacking in other comic book artists. What is more, his style was all his own. One could tell an illustration by Dick Ayers from that of anyone else. His work on Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos and Jonah Hex remain some of the best artwork ever seen in comic books.

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