Page 1

Written by

John Coates with Dan Spiegle

All characters shown TM & Š their respective owners.


A Life in Comic Art

CONTENTS 4 Acknowledgements 5 Introduction 6 Foreword - Mark Evanier 10 Chapter One: The Early Years 16 Chapter Two: Hopalong Cassidy 1949-1955

24 Chapter Three: Western Publishing (a.k.a. Dell, Gold Key, and Whitman) 1956 - 1983

44 Chapter Four: DC, Eclipse, & Indy Publishers 1980s - 1990s

58 Chapter Five: 2000s to Present

64 Chapter Six: Watercolors 68 Chapter Seven: Process of Drawing 72 Chapter Eight: Growing up with a comic artist father 76 Chapter Nine: Partners in Art & Life - Dan and Marie’s write-ups of one another 80 Chapter Ten: Dan Gheno’s 1972 interview with Dan Spiegle 86 Comic Index 102 Afterword - Sergio Aragonés


This is my Foreword for this splendid book about Dan Spiegle. So naturally, I’m going to start it out by writing about Jerry Lewis. In July of 1959 when I was nine, my parents took me to the Paradise Theater, which was located on Sepulveda Boulevard not far from where L.A. International Airport is now situated. There I saw the first movie that I remember seeing. It wasn’t the first movie my parents ever took me to. It was just the first one where I was cognizant of what a movie was and that I was seeing it. The film was Don’t Give Up The Ship starring Jerry Lewis. It wasn’t bad if you were nine and had nothing to compare it to. A day or three later, I had an appointment with my pediatrician and I wound up sitting in his waiting room, waiting for my parents to come pick me up. As I waited, I read comic books from a pile I’d acquired on the way to Dr. Grossman’s. One was the Dell comic book adaptation of Don’t Give Up The Ship. Also waiting was a kid around my age. He saw the comic I was 6

DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art


reading and informed me—like it was the most natural thing in the world—“That’s one of my dad’s movies. My dad starred in that.” I pointed to the photo of Jerry Lewis on the cover and said, “Your dad is Jerry Lewis?” The kid said yes.

And I was just about to call him a liar when Jerry Lewis walked into the office. Thinking it would please him, I quickly told Mr. Lewis that I had

just seen his new movie. His reply was along the lines of, “Who the hell cares?” and “Leave me alone.” For some reason, this did not bother me or cause me to stop going to Jerry Lewis movies. I guess I just figured I had said the wrong thing and that Mr. Lewis was grumpy because his kid was sick. Or something. So what does this story have to do with Dan Spiegle? Simple: Dan Spiegle drew the Dell version of Don’t Give Up The Ship. That’s how long I’ve been a Dan Spiegle fan. Of course, I didn’t know it at the time. No credits. But as I avidly collected Dell—and later, Gold Key—comics, I came to recognize That Guy’s style. It was on Maverick comics. It was on other westerns and later on Space Family Robinson...and I don’t remember when I got a name to go with the style. But somewhere, somehow I learned that artist I liked was named Dan Spiegle. There was just something so organic about his work. The people had emotions and expressions and they posed like real

human beings. He also had an astounding eye for detail and a wonderful way of setting the scene. Wherever the characters were, you knew what it was like there. In late ’71, I began writing comic books for Western Publishing Company, the firm that had once produced the contents of Dell Comics and had printed them. They were now putting comics out under the Gold Key label and Dan Spiegle was drawing many of them, though not the kind I wrote. I was doing Super Goof and Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker. Dan did stuff like Korak, Son of Tarzan... and adaptations of Disney movies that all seemed to have Dean Jones in them. Our editor (Dan’s and mine) was a cheery gent named Chase Craig and when I delivered work to his office on Hollywood Boulevard, I’d run over to the table of incoming artwork and look for the drawn versions of my scripts. Invariably though, there’d be Spiegle pages there and I’d paw through them, getting up close and personal with that fine linework. I gushed more than a few times to Chase about how much I liked Spiegle art and I wasn’t hinting at anything. At least, I don’t think I was. But my gushing gave Chase an idea. One day, he asked me if I’d like to do some scripts for Scooby-Doo, a comic based on the long-running

(though nowhere near as long as it would run) Hanna-Barbera TV show. I said yes to just about everything in those days, but I didn’t particularly like the program, and I said to Chase, “If you want, but I’d rather do more for the Warner Brothers comics.” He said, “Well, okay. But I thought you’d enjoy a chance to write for Dan Spiegle.” Dan Spiegle? What in the name of Hopalong Cassidy was Dan

Spiegle, one of the best straight adventure artists working in the business, doing drawing Scooby-Doo? Chase explained. Western had cut back on this and that, and the New York office (which produced half the line) was claiming all the new titles that Spiegle might have drawn. “I had nothing else to give him and I needed a new artist on Scooby-Doo so I thought we’d try it.” I asked how it was working out. He said, “So far, not bad. It’s not Dan’s kind of comic but he’s figuring it out.”

Dan was one of Chase’s favorite artists and, he said, one of the two most dependable freelancers he’d ever employed, the other being Mike Royer. And in neither case did he just mean the work was always in on time. That would have been impressive enough, but Chase meant it was always on time and good. Read the following slowly: I (this is me, Mark) worked with Dan Spiegle for around twenty years. We did hundreds of stories together. He was never even a day late with a single one of them. He was, in fact, usually early. And I never saw one thing in any of those jobs that caused me to think that Dan didn’t understand what he was doing or that he hadn’t given it his all. Editors get down on their knees and pray for contributors like that. When I wrote my first Scooby-Doo story, the pages were back from Dan in no time and Chase really liked the way they came out. He ran around the office showing the work to everyone and saying, “Look! Spiegle’s learned how to do this kind of comic.” I got a fair amount of probablyOpposite Above: Dan Spiegle & Mark Evanier in 1972 Opposite Below: Dell Don’t Give Up The Ship, 1959 Above (left to right): Gold Key Scooby-Doo... Mystery Comics #25 and #29, 1974 FOREWORD: MARK EVANIER


Chapter One

THE EARLY YEARS JOHN COATES: Let’s start at the beginning: When and where were you born, Dan? DAN SPIEGLE: I was born in Cosmopolis, Washington on December 12, 1920; my sister was two years older, and my brother was six years younger. COATES: Were your parents in some artistic or in a creative field? SPIEGLE: Not really. My mother was a nurse and my father was a druggist. COATES: Were your parents supportive of your interest in drawing? SPIEGLE: My mother encouraged my art but my father wanted me to be a druggist, like he was. COATES: Did your siblings share your interest in drawing?

SPIEGLE: Not really, no. COATES: I read that your family moved to Hawaii for a stint, before moving to California. Was that an adventure for a young child? SPIEGLE: In Cosmopolis, Washington, where my father owned a drugstore, he developed an ulcer and became very ill. The doctor suggested that my father retire and move to a warmer climate. I was four years old when my father sold the drugstore and we moved to San Diego, California; that’s where I started grammar school. In 1927, when I was seven years old, Charles Lindberg flew across the Atlantic Ocean and my father took me down to Ryan Airfield where the Spirit of Saint Louis was built and he showed me around the old aircraft

Opposite: Dan, his sister, & his mother Above: Dan & Father, 1937

hangers. That is probably why I have loved to draw all types of aircraft. About that time my aunt and uncle, who owned a couple of small hotels in Honolulu, suggested that we move to Hawaii. So my folks leased a beach house just south of Diamond Head. My sister and I enjoyed swimming every day and going to school. That suddenly all 12

DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art

changed in 1929 when the stock market crashed and my parents lost most of their savings. We had just enough money to buy a chicken ranch in Northern California and rode out the Depression “living off the land.� In 1934 my father bought another small drug store in the little town of Loleta, California and I started school in Fortuna. COATES: Was this when you

knew you wanted to be an artist? SPIEGLE: No, that was earlier. I was about five years old. My father sold newspapers and magazines. That is where the comic strip dream started, reading Doc Savage, G8 and the Battle Aces, and other adventure stories. I really liked the magazine illustrators at the time. My influences were Alex Raymond, Roy Crane, Fawcett, and

Milton Caniff from the newspapers. I used to make-up and draw continued stories on these five-cent tablets. COATES: Did you have any early formal art training? SPIEGLE: In high school I discovered watercolor and loved it. By this time I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist. As I mentioned earlier, my father was a druggist and owned

a small store. I used to read all the pulp magazines he sold, plus I read the San Francisco newspapers. I was so committed to being a cartoonist that I even created a couple of weeks of an adventure strip and sent it to King Features Syndicate. I received a rejection, but a nice letter of encouragement and a suggestion that I not color my originals; that they would actually do

the coloring. COATES: Where did you go after high school? SPIEGLE: In 1940 I moved to Santa Monica, California and went Opposite: Spiegle Chicken Ranch, 1930 Above: Spiegle Pharmacy



Chapter Two


HOPALONG CASSIDY JCOATES: So in 1946 you’re Stateside. Did you begin your professional art career immediately? DC: No. Under the G.I. Bill I attended three years at Chouinard Art Institute (illustration course) from Fall 1946 to Fall 1949. This was in Los Angeles, California. I had some great instructors from the movie industry, quite a few from Disney. Incidently, Bill Ziegler (who later drew the Dragnet and Mary Opposite: Commissioned Hopalong Cassidy, 2007

Worth newspaper comic strips) was a student and a good friend of mine. We remained friends. Chouinard was strictly a “fine art” school. I remember that I decided to create a western newspaper strip so I worked on it during my “life” class. I had to make sure Mrs. Chouinard didn’t catch me, so I would start a quick sketch of the “life” figure, and then flip over the page where I would have one of my western strip Above: Sculpting class Left: Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, 1940s. Photo by Elizabeth A. Powell (courtesy of Lindy Narver) from www.

pages that I had been working on. I would continue working on the strip unless Mrs. Chouinard would stop by. Then I would flip back to the model drawing! (Laughter) All the instructors knew what I was doing but were sympathetic. I also had to work after school so I didn’t have time to work on the strip at home.

Hopalong Cassidy William Boyd played the western hero “Hopalong Cassidy” from the 1930s-1950s, beginning with a popular radio program, over sixty movies, and finally a TV show. He was a show business marketing visionary and not only licensed his character to just about every product imaginable, but also bought the license to his movies, then repackaged those movies into one of the most popular western TV shows of the 1950s; he was an iconic figure in his time. Above: Hoppy Mirror billboard, early 1950s Right: Russel Haydon, Hoppy (William Boyd), & Gabby Hayes, late 1940s 18

DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art

COATES: Before we get to your connection with the Hopalong Cassidy [Ed: a.k.a. “Hoppy”] character and William Boyd, can you clear up the “Bozo the Clown” story? Did you draw a Bozo strip at one point? SPIEGLE: The Bozo the Clown story has been screwed up so many times. (Laughter) Around September of 1949, I answered an advertisement for a “Comic strip writer” at an address in Hollywood, California. I took some samples of my western strip and found it was the offices of Capital Records and they wanted someone to write and draw Bozo. I said I did not think I was the right person as my work was more realistic. The man I talked to

said, “Well, let me see what you have and I’ll decide.” When he saw my strip he said his cousin or uncle was the office manager for William Boyd and that Boyd’s office was just “down the block” and “Why don’t you see if he might be interested in doing a Hoppy strip?” The timing was just right as Boyd also happened to be in the office at this time and liked the way I drew horses. He agreed a comic strip would just about cover the market as he already had Hoppy toys of all kinds, clothes, games, and had his popular television show. COATES: Can you elaborate on that first encounter with Boyd? SPIEGLE: I always say timing is everything! (Laughter) When I entered the Hoppy offices I had no

Chapter Three

1956 to 1983

WESTERN PUBLISHING (a.k.a. Dell, Gold Key, and Whitman)

Western Publishing produced and distributed comic books under three separate logo-imprints: “Dell Comics” imprint from 1938-1962, “Gold Key” imprint from 1962-1980, and “Whitman Comics” imprint from 1980-1984, when Western Publishing ceased producing comic books. All three logo-imprint names are used interchangeably throughout the interview to represent Western Publishing.

COATES: Is this when you started to work for Western Publishing? SPIEGLE: Yes, during this time Boyd had also moved his offices from Hollywood to Beverly Hills. One day, while dropping off some Hoppy strips at the new office to be edited, I remembered hearing that Western Publishing had an office in Beverly Hills as well, so I stopped by and met Opposite (left to right): Dell Corky #707 (May 1956), Dell Brave Eagle #705 (June 1956), Dell Spin and Marty #767 (1957), Dell Maverick #945 (1958), Dell Old Yeller (1957), Gold Key Hardy Boys (1970), Whitman Space Family Robinson #59 (1982), Gold Key Mickey Mouse #107 (June 1966), Gold Key Scooby-Doo... Mystery Comics #21 (1973), Whitman Buck Rogers #14 (1982), Whitman Mighty Samson #32 (1982)

Tom McKimson; he was a story editor there. Tom offered me several western books if I wanted to start right then. I agreed to start just as soon as I finished the last few weeks of the current Hoppy story. Then I went back to Dan Grayson at Boyd’s office and told him of my decision, and we had an agreeable parting. Hoppy was a wonderful experience. Above: Space Ghost Left: Gold Key Dagar the Invincible #2, 1982

COATES: It’s 1955 and you start your long association with Western Publishing. Did you focus on working for Western Publishing exclusively or did you also do any advertising, or additional newspaper strip work? SPIEGLE: Not really. Western Publishing kept me pretty busy with westerns genre stories, and other adventure books. I enjoyed the variety and the money was much better! (Laughter) I did work-up a newspaper comic strip about old sailing ships and the characters that sailed them, but I have yet to find a taker. The title is Penn and Chris. They are two cabin boys and their adventures are aboard ship with good and bad captains. COATES: Did you work in a studio bullpen environment or freelance? SPIEGLE: With Western Publishing and thereafter I always freelanced from my home studio. COATES: Any specific editors that stand out as favorites? SPIEGLE: The Western Publishing editors were always friendly and very professional. I especially enjoyed working with Tom McKimson and Del Connell. I think my favorite was Del, though. We met once when I 26

DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art

came in to deliver some artwork, and have been friends for over fifty years. He is a talented editor and writer. He had been at Disney and came to Western Publishing as a writer/artist. He was an excellent editor that everyone liked. In fact, he just received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 2011 Comic-Con International held in San Diego, California.

COATES: I’m curious, and this question is unrelated to any specific editor, but is there a difference in the creative approach or treatment of artists from, say, an editor for Western Publishing, a company based in Los Angeles, versus an editor for a company based in New York City? I guess I’m asking, is there a West Coast/East Coast difference based on the cultures of the two cities? SPIEGLE: No difference in the editors that I could tell, but a difference in clients. DC, Marvel Comics, and others could put in more sex and violence, while Western Publishing, with producing Disney, Hanna/Barbara, kidsoriented movie and TV adaptations, and other animation studios, were more conservative back when I worked for them. COATES: And any writers you can recall? SPIEGLE: Don Christensen was a very humorous writer. I think he may have written some Scooby-Doo later on. COATES: Were there any artists at Western Publishing that you admired? SPIEGLE: I liked Sparky Moore. We would meet at the Western offices when we would both be bringing in a finished story. We still keep in

Above left: Dell Corky #707, May 1956

Above right: Dell Brave Eagle #705, June 1956

contact. Alex Toth was my favorite artist. Alex and I would have lunch sometimes. He was quiet and very serious about his work but a real genius. He was always experimenting with the new Japanese pens and markers. I was greatly influenced by his work and started using “Rapidograph” pens and markers, but found that

Per the Grand Comics Database ( Dan’s earliest published comic book work listed is Dell’s Four Color Comics #707, May 1956—featuring the modern day western adventures of Corky and White Shadow; “Corky” was a character played by Darlene Gillespie on Walt Disney’s then popular Mickey Mouse Club. However, Four Color Comics #705, June 1956, featured the popular western TV character “Brave Eagle,” and was coverdated a month later; there is no way of knowing which story was drawn first. Both publishing dates sync with Dan’s account of moving to Western Publishing in late 1955. the early markers were not permanent so I gave up the markers, but am still using “Micron” and “Microperm” pens. COATES: Any other artists come

to mind? SPIEGLE: Russ Manning was also a terrific artist. I enjoyed looking at his Tarzan pages when we would meet at Western Publishing. Nick

Opposite Above: Penn and Chris daily strip, mid-1950s Opposite Below: Dell Annie Oakley & Tagg #7, Spring 1956 Right: Dell Corky #707, May 1956 CHAPTER THREE: WESTERN PUBLISHING


Opposite Above: Gold Key Korak #24, 1968. Dan’s first work on Korak.

Above: Whitman Space Ghost: The Sorceress of Cyba-3 Big Little Book pages, 1968

Opposite Below: Gold Key Magnus Robot Fighter #23, 1968 CHAPTER THREE: WESTERN PUBLISHING


needs a professional job completed on a tight deadline. Any you can recall? SPIEGLE: Not specifically. It happened so often. Seems like most of the projects were rush jobs! (Laughter) COATES: You began drawing humorous titles for the first time, such as Scooby-Doo. Was your approach different than drawing an adventure strip? SPIEGLE: Yes, humorous is drawn with less detail. COATES: It was during this time on Scooby-Doo… Mystery Comics #22 (December 1973) we find the first listing of collaboration with your longtime friend and collaborator, Mark Evanier. How did you meet and become acquainted with Mark? SPIEGLE: I met Mark at Western Publishing with Scooby. We were friends right way. You’ve got to like the guy! He is so funny but also a very caring person. I was not sure I could do the humorous drawing needed for Scooby-Doo, but Mark said, “Just make it line drawing with no shading and simple backgrounds and you will do all right.”

[The following is reprinted from Comics Buyer’s Guide #1442, July 6, 2001, with permission from Mark Evanier. Evanier provided this anecdote from the 1970s when he was a writer and editor for Western Publishing.] “Dan drew a Scooby-Doo story for France and, because of some screw-up (maybe his, maybe mine), it was drawn in the wrong page format. I had to ask him to redraw the same script with slightly different margins. He was being paid anew, but what he could have done—what almost any other artist would have done—was to just trace or swipe the earlier version. He could even have cut a lot of the old drawings out and pasted them into the new layout. He didn’t. He drew the entire story over and changed every single panel. Every shot was at least a little different from the way he’d staged things the first time. I knew the answer but I had to call and ask, anyway; why did you change every single panel? Answer: “Just to keep my interest up. It would have been too boring to draw it the same way twice.”


DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art

Chapter Four


DC, ECLIPSE, & INDY PUBLISHERS COATES: Speaking of DC Comics, in 1980 your work began to appear in their comics again. Do you recall how you came to work for DC Comics? SPIEGLE: Not really. I think I started doing back-up stories for Karen Berger, who at the time was an editor at the time. She was nice and very easy to work with. COATES: Now, in 1982 you and your longtime collaborator and friend Mark Evanier re-launched the Blackhawk Opposite (left to right): DC Comics Blackhawk #268, (1984), DC Comics Teen Titans Spotlight #21 (1988), DC Comics Blackhawk #271 (1984), Eclipse Comics Crossfire #6 (1984), Eclipse WhoDunnit? #3 (1987), Comico Jonny Quest #21 (1988)

comic for DC. [Ed: The “Blackhawks” were created back in 1941 by Will Eisner, and Chuck Cuidera. They were a team of stunt-aviators, with each team-member being from a different Nazi-occupied European country, banding together as a collective-resistance to the Nazis.] In my opinion, this is some of your finest comic artwork, and it read like a labor of love. How did this project come about, and why Blackhawk? Above & Left: Commissioned Blackhawk illustrations

SPIEGLE: You know, I hadn’t ever heard of the character before taking on the book. (Laughter) I did like drawing that era, the costumes, architecture, uniforms, and of course the aircraft; one of my favorite series. Also, Mark always made the stories interesting with unusual characters. COATES: Over the first eleven issues you had four separate editors; Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Ernie Colon, and then Mark Evanier also took over as editor for the remainder of the series. Do you recall any specifics about the numerous editorial changes? SPIEGLE: Like I said, I’ve never been involved in the editorial decisions, so I’m not sure why the editors kept changing. I kept getting Mark’s scripts and producing the book. COATES: Do you recall if these changes impacted your working experience? SPIEGLE: No, as a rule, editors made the dialogue and art changes before I ever received the script, so I usually had very little interaction with the editors until Mark took over. I used to mail the finished art directly to DC Comics, but when Mark took over as editor, I would send SPIEGLE: Thank you. As the artist I was never involved in the editorial decisions. I think it was Mark and Len Wein’s idea to bring the series back. Mark wrote the series. COATES: Had you and Mark kept in touch through the years, or did you reconnect for this project? SPIEGLE: Yes, Mark and I had worked on other stories up to this point and enjoyed the experience, so we knew this book was going to be fun. COATES: Had you known about the Blackhawk character prior to this time, either through the popular comics, 1940s movie serial, or radio show? 46

DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art

Above: DC Comics Blackhawk # 272, 1984 Opposite Above: Marvel Tarzan #1, 1984 Opposite Below: DC Comics House Ad, Nov. 1982

SPIEGLE: Bad experience! (Laughter) At the time I don’t think Marvel was interested in the series. If it’s not “superhero” it didn’t have a chance. Also, they gave us cheap paper and it had terrible coloring. COATES: In 1994 DC Comics released a graphic novel on Modesty Blaise. Dick Giordano is sole-credited as the artist in the book but I found where Mark Evanier had indicated on the creative-index website site, Grand Comics Database, that you did the pencils. SPIEGLE: Yes, and it was a pleasant experience! I had met Dick years before at DC and we worked well together on Modesty Blaise. As I have said before, my pencils were always very rough but in Dick’s case I had to tighten them and found it was kind of fun! COATES: Had you been a Modesty Blaise fan? SPIEGLE: No. I never followed the strip.

COATES: In 1995 you drew the Walt Disney’s Pocahontas #1 movie adaptation. Your artwork seemed more attuned to the movie’s animationart style than your traditional style. SPIEGLE: Yes, Disney said they wanted the art to look the same as the movie and “Did I want to try?” It was easier than I thought and I found it was kind of fun! (Laughter) COATES: You were also working with Dark Horse Comics on the Indiana Jones franchise. How did you become associated with the franchise? SPIEGLE: I guess they called and I said “yes”. (Laughter) I think Dan Barry was drawing some of the series as well, but I never met or worked with him. 52

DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art

Chapter Five

2000 to Present

2000S TO PRESENT COATES: Around 2000 you had work published in Boys’ Life magazine: “Bank Street Classic Tales.” SPIEGLE: Yes, I guess this is the story of my life! (Laughter) I get in on the ending of a good thing…just like when I finished Sea Wolf for Classics Illustrated Comics, they went out of business. Boys’ Life decided to go to Opposite: Boys’ Life May 2000, interior page

photos…illustrated stories were too expensive. It was different and fun illustrating the classics for Boys’ Life and I wish I had had the opportunity earlier. COATES: Any current work you want to share with the readers? SPIEGLE: Well, aside from my commissions which we discussed, I did some work for the American Bible Society Above: Dan in his studio, 2004 Left: American Bible Society

Above (left to right): Commission The Shadow, 2011 Blackhawk War Wheel, 2006 Below (top to bottom): Commission Disney’s Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, 2011 Commission Blackhawk & the Zeplin, 2006

COATES: You seem very busy with fans commissioning you for specialty pieces. Your commissions are beautiful. How do you keep up the discipline after all these years? SPIEGLE: Thank you, I think it’s just habit! (Laughter) After breakfast I go out into my avocado orchard, take a walk, maybe work in the yard, and just always seem to eventually end up in my studio. I draw most every day. I play golf once a week and I think that’s the only day I usually take the full day off from drawing. I also like to read, but none of those replace drawing for me. I think I feel somewhat empty without it. The commissions have become quite fulfilling. For those interested my agent is or COATES: Do you ever plan to fully retire from drawing? SPIEGLE: I guess I’m just a stubborn guy! (Laughter) I still do hand exercises to stay limber. You know, I was looking at some of my artwork that I drew back in high school. It’s awful! (Laughter) I had zero talent! I look at that art and wonder what ever could have made me think I could draw anything, or be an illustrator. But, I did. I kept drawing. I love it! I think it’s about drive. COATES: I see over the years you’ve attended a few Comic-Con International comic conventions in San Diego, California. Back in 1983 you received their Inkpot Award, as well. SPIEGLE: Yes, I have been to quite a few San Diego Comic-cons, but not recently. CHAPTER FIVE: 2000s To Present


They are a lot of fun, but tiring; it’s fun meeting and talking with fans and to see the wild costumes. Some of the fans must spend all year thinking up ideas for those outfits! COATES: Do you keep up with current comics and art trends? SPIEGLE: I do see the comic book displays in the book stores (because they cost as much as a book), which means only adults can afford them. Where’s the comic books for kids? COATES: Overall, how would you describe your 50+ years in comic books? SPIEGLE: I wouldn’t change a minute! I have met some terrific artists, writers, editors, and fans. Most of all I was able to work at home and be with my wife and to watch our four kids grow and become responsible citizens in this crazy world. I hope they can make a difference! COATES: Beautiful! Final question: Are there any additional insights about your career you wanted to share that we hadn’t covered? SPIEGLE: Can’t think of anything you haven’t, John! (Laughter) I appreciate the fans’ interest in my career. Best Wishes! COATES: It’s been a pleasure! Thank you again from myself, and your fans! Opposite (Top to Bottom): Commission Indiana Jones, 2007 Commission Disney’s Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, 2009 Above: Commission Blackhawk & Domino, 2007 Left (left to right): Dan Spiegle, Jerry Scott, and Stan Lee. Dan with Jerry Scott, creator of “Zits”, & Stan Lee…who you know already!

CHAPTER FIVE: 2000s To Present


Chapter Six

WATERCOLORS Opposite (top to bottom): Hopalong Cassidy, 2003 Western Dave’s Saloon, 2009

Above: Spiegle Christmas card illustration Hopalong Cassidy Left: Green Hornet, 2008 Bottom: Maverick, 2000




Chapter Seven

PROCESS OF DRAWING I discussed my overall process earlier in our interview, but here is the way I do the 10"x15" illustrations on cold press medium weight board:

1. I like to rough-in the illustration with a “Col-Erase” (blue) pencil, to get a rough idea of composition, and then tighten up the picture with an HB lead pencil. 2. Using Micron pens (.02 through .08), I draw all faces, figures and backgrounds and brush in heavy blacks. 3. Diluting black india ink, or acrylic paint, I paint in medium shadows in faces, bodies and backgrounds. 4. Finally, I finish the picture with watercolor using either bright colors for the important areas, or leaving them white, which is sometimes more effective than color. Now that Dad’s studio is in the house, I can always tell when Dad is working at the drawing board, because I can hear Diana Krall, Artie Shaw, Harry Connick, Jr., Dave Brubeck, Benny Goodman (among the many musicians that get Dad motivated) emanating down the hall. Dad loves his music. - Gayle Spiegle

Above: Gold Key Space Family Robinson, Lost in Space on Space Station One #52, 1977

Left: Commissioned art, Herculoids, Space Family Robinson, 2012 Opposite Above: Dan, early 1950s

1956 to 1983

Chapter Eight



ew people in the “comic world” know that along with being a comic book illustrator, my father is also an accomplished watercolorist. He has numerous paintings in all of our homes and homes of friends. Not feeling confident in his abilities as a watercolorist, Dad has sold some and given away hundreds of paintings through the years—some of which have been reproduced, matted, framed and given to those extended family members (and their children). I am forever running into an old friend of the family with them saying, “I have a painting of your father’s. It’s the one of the ___, and I absolutely love it!” The watercolor medium is challenging and difficult at best. However, his paintings were all similar to colored illustrations, and with the fine tip of a brush, not a pen, he is able to create “Norman Rockwell-ish” pictures of current and past events—his favorites being old boats, buildings, houses with pastoral or ominous skies, and his depictions of people being simply drawn, but with character and action. Growing up with my dad, he had a way of making every one of his four kids feel like we were his favorite. I don’t really know how he did it, but he did. He was always a kind, gentle man, and self-effacing. Always wanting to “talk it through”, we learned “moderation in everything” and a good work ethic by seeing him spend days and sometimes nights working in his “studio” (a.k.a. converted trailer). Which could not have been all that easy with four growing children. Whenever there was a disagreement between us siblings, we would run to his studio to settle the matter. He said we would hit his door at 90 miles an hour, startling him, and pens would fly. I’m sure some

white-out was needed after that. My dad’s world as an illustrator was somewhat obscure. He worked long hours in his studio on books we sometimes knew little about. I remember him saying that each morning when he woke, he could not wait to get to his drawing board. He loved to draw and loved his job. How many of us can say that? When I was about 10, my dad was working on the Mary Poppins comic book for Disney. He was commissioned to draw the “real” characters and someone else would draw the “cartoon” characters. In the scene with the penguins, he asked me to trace the little figures (drawn by someone else) onto the pages so that he would know how much room to leave for the other artist to complete the more cartoonish drawings. I pen this as my “beginning” in comics. I also remember him taking us at times to the Disney studios. We were able to see the movies before the sound effects and music were installed. I even remember seeing Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke having lunch together in the commissary. During this time, my dad would drive his finished work to Los Angeles and meet with publishers and other artists, usually staying through dinner. My mom, making it a special time for us, would serve breakfast for dinner. Dad would return in the evening with his large, black leather portfolio bursting at the seams with comic books. He wouldn’t make it past the foyer before we would pounce on him wanting to see what he brought home. He would unzip the portfolio, and what seemed like hundreds of thousands of comic books would spew out onto the carpet. The four of us kids would scramble to get as many copies of our favorites, before the others got them....I’m sure there was a bit of

Opposite: Happy Hour in the garden Left: Looking back I don’t know if I was leaning against the car or the car was leaning against me! [Laughter]. It was a real junker! - Dan Below: Dan and Marie at the CAPS convention.

Chapter Nine



an and I met on a blind date in 1947. I was going to Chounards art school in Los Angeles. After working at Edison during the day, I would take the train to Los Angeles twice a week. I had aspirations of becoming a fashion designer. Johnny McManus was one of the students and we became friends. He must have told Dan about me because he set up a double-date with his girlfriend and Dan and I. Dan was attending the art school in the daytime. Dan lived in Santa Monica, California and the three of them drove to Compton to pick me up. I was pretty nervous, not knowing what he looked like or if he would like me. When I saw him at the door, I was very pleased. I introduced him to my mom and dad and I could tell they liked him right away. He was a gentleman, very polite and easy to talk to. Johnny had a 1935 Ford coup and I had to sit on Dan’s lap all the way to the Palladium in Los Angeles. After the dance Johnny drove us a few blocks to Dan’s car. That was quite a shock! He had a little 1936 Ford coup. The lining inside was in shreds and it had no bumper on the front. He told me his plans to fix it up. I wish we had that (continued on page 78)


ll of this could not have happened, had it not been for Marie. She has been my devoted and loving partner, a wonderful mother, a caring grandmother and an excited great-grandmother, who never forgets a birthday or anniversary. I never cared for “blind dates”… it’s like Russian Roulette, but my friend Johnny McManus said “trust me,” this girl has it all, beauty and a personality to match. I was not disappointed! We were married November 26, 1947 and rented a small apartment in Compton near the Southern California Edison office, were Marie worked. I drove to Los Angeles each day to the Chouinard Art Institute. Marie stayed with Edison for a couple more years, while I was attending art school. She encouraged me to create a western comic strip, after we saw the movie Red River. We thought a real western with lots of authentic backgrounds to make it more interesting might sell. On weekends we would travel to a western museum near Pasadena, were I would sketch old lamps, furniture, wagons, trains etc. Marie would patiently wait or scout around for interesting things that could be included in some of the stories. (continued on page 79)

Chapter Ten

INTERVIEW WITH DAN SPIEGLE CONDUCTED BY DAN GHENO This interview originally appeared in Graphic Story World, 1972 (with thanks to Richard Kyle, editor)

“I was born in Cosmopolis, Washington in 1920. Then I moved over to Honolulu. When the stock market crash came, I left its warm climate for Northern California, where I went through my standard school years—and got the itch for drawing as a living...” DAN SPIEGLE


DAN SPIEGLE: A Life in Comic Art

Q: You’ve been one of the leading artists in comics for more than twenty years—how did it all begin? DAN SPIEGLE: In my last year at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles—this was 1949—I realized that my G.I. Bill was running out, and I thought it best if I looked for a job. A friend of mine seeing my plight handed me a clipping from the classified ads of the newspaper: Capitol Records needed an artist to draw a comic strip of theirs. At that time I’d been working on a western comic strip and I thought that I’d pay a visit to Capitol, show them my idea, and perhaps get the job. Well, when I arrived they informed me that the comic strip was Bozo the Clown, and of course I was let down because I couldn’t do that kind of strip. But when they saw my western strip, the man I was talking to told me he was the brother-in-law of one of “Hopalong Cassidy’s”—Bill Boyd’s—managers, and that they were looking for an artist to draw the famous cowboy in syndicated strip form. He told me to walk a couple of blocks down the street to where “Hoppy’s” main office was and see if I could get the job. As the old saying goes, when you’re lucky, you’re lucky, because I was very fortunate to find Bill Boyd in an agreeable mood. He liked the way I drew horses and commented that it wouldn’t matter how I drew him—I’d learn how through practice—as he considered horses the most important in a Western strip.


He had another artistLINK who could artist. THIS BOOK! BELOW comic TO ORDER draw good horses in consideration While I was in my second year and told me he’d contact me if I in high school, I drew up a comic got the job. Sure enough, a week strip, colored it, and sent it to King later I got the job. A LIFE IN Features—whom I’d always wanted Q: Were you always interested in to work for. They sent it back and COMIC ART comics? SomeDocuments artists start out planadvised me that the next strip I his 60-year career on ning to be illustrators, or toKEY’S go into DELL and GOLD licensedsent in should not be in color beTV and Movie adaptations (LOST advertising... cause the colors would print black. IN SPACE, KORAK, MAGNUS SPIEGLE: I’ve always liked to I thought it was very nice of them ROBOT FIGHTER, MIGHTY draw. From the time I could hold a to point out this fact that I was unSAMPSON), at DC COMICS pencil, I’d scribble away. I used toSOLDIER, aware of. (BATMAN, UNKNOWN go down to theTOMAHAWK, dime storeJONAH and buy After my school years, along HEX, TEEN TITANS, BLACKHAWK), his these little five cent tablets and came World War II, and I found for ECLIPSE, myself in the Navy. There, I did draw on them,CROSSFIRE creatingseries a continDARK HORSE’S INDIANA JONES things for the base series and more, with rare newspaper and inartwork, personal photos, and signias for planes. private commission drawings. Written by JOHN COATES. Upon release from ISBN: 978-1-60549-049-6 the service in ’46 I (104-page trade paperback) $14.95 • (Digital Edition) $4.95 took advantage of the G.I. Bill and entered into Chouinard the same year. I’d checked out many colleges, but found that none of them were to my liking—you had to take too many minor courses on top of the ones you really wanted to enroll in. I’d say this is true ued story throughout the tablets. It today, also. If you want to do anywas just a natural thing for me to thing and do it well, you must put do, to tell a story. your whole back into it, and you Q: Were you influenced by the can’t be bothered by what you comic strips appearing at that time? could care less about—like in my SPIEGLE: I don’t really think I own practicing years, I drew six even looked at the comic pages hours a day, and I enjoyed it. I when I was young. know many a friend who enrolled The first comic strip to really in a university and finally got so make an impression on me was Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. Opposite (top to bottom): Then there were Tim Tyler and Dan Gheno & Dan, 1972 Terry and the Pirates while Caniff Dan at his art table, 1972 was still doing it. I would say that Above: Raymond influenced me the most Hopalong Cassidy, 1951 and gave me the drive to become a




Dan Spiegle: A Life in Comic Art  

Documents Dan Spiegle’s 60-year career on Dell and Gold Key’s licensed TV and Movie adaptations (Lost in Space, Korak, Magnus Robot Fighter,...

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