Monday, March 4, 2024

The Late Great Ramona Fradon

Ramona Fradon, co-creator of the superhero Metamorpho with writer Bob Haney and a comics artist known for her work on Aquaman and Brenda Starr, died on February 24 2024 at age 97.

Ramona Fradon was born Ramona Dom on October 2 1926 in Chicago. Her father was Peter Dom, a commercial artist who created the Dom Casual font and created logos for Camel, Elizabeth Arden, and Lord & Taylor. While she did not read comic books when she was growing up, she developed a love for newspaper comic strips as a child. Her father took notice of her talent when she was still young, and encouraged her to go to art school. She graduated from the Parsons School of Design. It was after graduating that she married  New Yorker cartoonist Dana Fradon. He encouraged her to become a cartoonist.

Ramona Fradon's earliest work for DC Comics was on the comic book adaptation of Gang Busters in 1949. It was in 1951 that she began working frequently for DC, providing art for the Shining Knight feature in Adventure Comics, the Roy Raymond feature in Detective Comics, the comic book adaptation of the radio show Mr. District Attorney, and Western Comics. She went onto become the regular artist on the Aquaman feature in Adventure Comics and later World's Finest Comics. In 1961 she was the artist on Showcase no. 30 (February 1961), which more or less rebooted the character of Aquaman. In the Fifties she also provided art for House of Mystery and Star-Spangled War Stories.

In the Sixties Mrs. Fradon provided art for The Brave and the Bold no. 55 (September 1964), which featured a team up between the Metal Men and The Atom. Metamorpho was introduced in The Brave and the Bold no. 47 (January 1965) and appeared in the following issue, both with art by Ramona Fradon. She would go onto provide the art for the first four issues of Metamorpho's regular title. She provided the art for The Brave and the Bold no. 59 (April–May 1965), which featured a team-up between Batman and Green Lantern. In 1965 Ramona Fradon left the comic book industry to raise her daughter.

In 1972 Ramona Fradon returned to DC Comics. She once more drew Metamorpho for 1st Issue Special no. 3 (June 1975). During the decade she also did art for Freedom Fighters, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Plastic Man, Plop!, Secrets of Haunted House, Secrets of Sinister House, Star Spangled War Stories, and Super Friends. She also did some work for Marvel Comics, providing art for Fantastic Four and Crazy Magazine. In 1980, after Don Messick retired, Ramona Fradon became the new artist on the newspaper comic strip Brenda Starr. She worked on Brenda Starr until 1995.

Ramona Fradon's later work on comic books included Just Imagine... Stan Lee With Scott McDaniel Creating Aquaman and Silver Age Secret Files no. 1 (July 2000) for DC, Simpsons Super Spectacular no. 5 (2007), Sonic the Hedgehog no. 68 (March 1999) Archie Comics, SpongeBob Comics no. 3 (June 2011), and SpongeBob Comics no. 1 (2013) for Bongo Comics, Girl Comics no. 2 (July 2010) for Marvel Comics, and Sea Ghost no. 1 (March 2011) for Nemo Publishing. For most of her later career she primarily took orders for commissions, preferring that to regular work on comic books. Ramona Fradon retired in January of this year.

Rarmona Fradon was not only one of the best comic book artists of the Silver and Bronze Ages, The lines of her artwork were always crisp and clean. She had a real gift when it came to the expressions of the characters she drew. What is more, she was excellent when it came to the composition of her artwork. Every single panel she drew could very nearly be a still photograph or a frame from a motion picture. It was that talent that made Ramona Fradon one of the best artists, if not the best, to ever draw Aquaman and the quintessential artist for Metamorpho. She was also nothing if not versatile. While best known for her work on superhero comic books, Ramona Fradon also drew adventure, crime, horror, and war comic books. Her artwork for Brenda Starr still continues to stand out. Few comic book artists ever had the talent that Rebecca Fradon had.

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