Face of Death, by Jay Disbrow 1953
Face of Death (Spook #26, 1953)

Jay E. Disbrow was an American artist, writer, illustrator and lecturer, who worked as a comic book artist during the 1950s. He is especially remembered for his pre-Code horror comics, and has become a cult favorite for his stories filled with demons, ghostly apparitions and other monsters. Disbrow later moved on to become a technical illustrator for the government, but made some independent and promotional comics in the 1980s, as well as the webcomic 'Aroc of Zenith' in the 2000s.

Jayson Edward Disbrow was born and raised in Neptune, New Jersey, on 16 March 1926. He studied commercial art and illustration through the Famous Artists School, a correspondence course institution in Wilton, Connecticut. He ranked among his influences Alex Raymond, Hal Foster, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Burne Hogarth. He had an affiliation with Jerry Iger's comics studio in 1950 and 1951. During this period, he worked as an inker on jungle features like 'Sheena, Queen of the Jungle' and 'Kaanga', and on the western titles 'Firehair' and 'Long Bow', all published by Fiction House.

Blue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror #115

He was a freelance artist for L.B. Cole's Star Publications between 1951 and 1954, where he started writing most of his own stories. Disbrow’s stories were generally the only originals in the comic books, which were mainly re-titled reprints from the defunct Fox Features. He contributed to romance titles like 'True-to-Life Romances', 'Popular Teen-Agers' and 'Confessions of Love', but was especially a writer and artist of horror and monster stories for 'Blue Bolt Weird Tales of Terror'. He also continued to work on jungle stories with heroes like Nigah, Taranga and Torga for 'Terrors of the Jungle'. Disbrow furthermore contributed to the company's other horror titles 'Spook' and 'Ghostly Weird Stories', and to the parody comic book 'Unsane'. Additional comic book work of the 1950s includes mystery, western and crime comics for companies like Timor, Stanmor, Story Comics and Trojan Comics. In 1956 his stories appeared in the romance comic books by Farrell ('Bride's Diary', 'Dear Heart', etc.). Among his final regular comic book work were 'Centurion of Ancient Rome' for Zondervan Publishing House (1957) and art for the educational title 'The World Around Us' by Gilberton (1959).

Ultimate Destiny (Crime Detector #5, 1954, Timor)

Many of Disbrow's mystery stories for Star were reprinted in the comic books 'Daring Adventures' and 'Eerie Tales' by I.W. Publishing in 1963 and 1964. By then, Disbrow himself was working in other fields. From the mid-1950s throughout the 1960s and 1970s he was active as a reporter and lecturer. He also worked as a government technical illustrator for 27 years. He made a comics feature called 'Junior Life' for Sunday School handouts between 1964 and 1968. He returned to making comics for independent publishers in the late 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. He created the Flash Gordon-like hero Valgar Gunnar of Gyro for the title 'The Flames of Gyro', which was in fact the first comic book published Fantagraphics, back in 1979. He made three issues of the space comic book 'Lance Carrigan of the Galactic Legion' for Quest Publications (1984) and stories for 'Seduction of the Innocent' by Eclipse Enterprises (1985).

Valgar Gunnar of Gyro

Disbrow was public relations director for the Brick Computer Science Institute in his hometown Brick, New Jersey, from the mid-1980s. He made a promotional comic book for this institute called 'Captain Electron' (1986). The book contained three stories in which characters like 'Mr. Computer' and 'Captain Electron' run through the history and current state of computer technology. At the age of 73, Jay Disbrow ventured into the new world of webcomics. Between January 2000 and December 2005, he published his science fiction comic 'Aroc of Zenith' online.

Disbrow's pre-Code monster comics have remained popular among horror comics affectionados, and by now have a cult status. His over-the-top monster depictions have been compared to the work of Basil Wolverton. A collection of Disbrow's horror comics was published as 'Jay Disbrow's Monster Invasion' in IDW's collection 'The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics!' in January 2017. The artist passed away a couple of months later, on 2 May 2017, at the age of 91.

Aroc of Zenith (16 January 2000)

Aroc of Zenith

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