USS Stevens by Sam Glanzman

Sam Glanzman was an American comic book artist and writer, who began his career during the "Golden Age of Comic Books" in the 1940s. He continued to work in the industry until the 1990s, and spent the next decades working on webcomics and smaller commissions. He is best known for his war comics for Charlton, Dell Publishing, DC Comics and Marvel. Glanzman's World War II stories stood out for their realism and originality, especially the feature 'The Lonely War of Willy Schultz' (1968-1970), and the stories dealing with his own experiences on the U.S.S. Stevens during World War II. He was one of the first to make autobiographical comic book stories. He also addressed issues of race and homosexuality in comics at a time when this was still a taboo. Apart from writing and pencilling Glanzman also inked his own stories, because according to him his "pencils are almost like stick figures".

Human Meteor by Sam Glanzman
Flyman from Spitfire Comics #1

Samuel Joseph Glanzman was born in 1924 in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Virginia and Long Island. His uncle and mother were artists, and his two brothers Lew and Davis also chose an artistic profession. Louis "Lew" Glanzman also worked as a comic book artist and painter, while his brother Davis Charles worked in the production process at Charlton. Sam Glanzman had no formal art training. As a child he learned himself to draw by copying Hal Foster and pulp illustrators. He started working on comic books as early as 1939, through the packager Funnies, Inc. Like most of the early comic book artists, his work initially dealt with the upcoming superhero genre. He drew stories with 'Aman the Amazing-Man', a superhero created by Bill Everett, for Centaur Publishing's 'Amazing Man Comics' in 1940 and 1941. At Harvey Comics, he created 'Fly-Man' in the comic book 'Spitfire Comics' in 1941. The first of his many war stories ran in Harvey's 'All-New Short Story Comics' in 1943. Further work includes a story with the 'Human Meteor' for 'Champ Comics' and contributions to 'Hello Pal Comics' and 'Green Hornet Comics', all in 1943. He furthermore wrote and drew biographical comic stories about real-life war heroes like American fleet admiral William F. Halsey and United States Coast Guard Commandant Russel R. Waesche for 'Real Heroes' by Parents' Magazine Press. During this period he regularly worked with his brother Lew Glanzman.


From New Heroic Comics #59

During World War II, Sam Glanzman served in the Pacific on the destroyer U.S.S. Stevens. The experience gave him enough inspiration for dozens of future comics, even though he didn't resume drawing until after being discharged in 1946. Instead, he worked in cabinet shops, lumber mills and boat yards. He eventually found employment with Republic Aviation in Farmingdale on Long Island, New York, where he installed machine guns on military jets. He slowly returned to comic books, contributing a couple of stories to the Fox Comics title 'Western Frontier' in 1948. He then returned to drawing "Heroic True Life Stories", this time for Eastern Color's 'New Heroic Comics' (1949-1954). He furthermore made appearances in Gilberton's educational title 'The World Around Us' (1958-1960), and tried his luck in children's book illustration. Glanzman continued to spend most of the 1950s working for Republic Aviation, however.


The Lonely War of Willy Schulz (Fightin' Army #76)

Between 1958 and 1961 he was a regular collaborator with Charlton Comics. He drew a great many stories for the company's war titles, including 'Army Attack', 'Attack', 'Battlefield Action', 'Fightin' Army', 'Fightin' Air Force', 'Fightin' Marines', 'Submarine Attack', 'U.S. Air Force Comics' and 'War at Sea'. The stories, often written by Joe Gill, were characterized by their grittiness, authenticity and sense for detail, especially in the ships, aircrafts and weaponry. In 1961 he moved over to Dell Comics, but he continued to contribute stories to Charlton throughout the decade. Signing with "SJG", he worked on new war stories for 'Attack' and 'Army War Heroes', for which he created the feature 'The Iron Corporal' with Willi Franz (1967-1970). Glanzman and Franz' most notable collaboration was the feature 'The Lonely War of Willy Schultz', which appeared in 'Fightin' Army' from 1967 to 1970. Despite being set in World War II, it reflected the anti-war sentiment of the Vietnam era. Main character was a conflicted German-American US Army captain, battling with his loyalties. It was a far step away from the general heroic tone of war comics. Sam Glanzman's war stories continued to be reprinted by Charlton until well into the 1980s.

Hercules by Sam Glanzman
Hercules (1967)

Glanzman's 1960s Charlton work further includes a comic book adapation of the 1962 'Marco Polo' film, directed by Hugo Fregonese. Glanzman and writer Joe Gill furthermore cooperated on adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs short stories for Charlton's 'Jungle Tales of Tarzan' (1964-1965). They also delved into Greek mythology with thirteen issues of 'Hercules: Adventures of the Man-God' (1967-1969), of which the artwork was influenced by the Art Nouveau movement, psychedelia and Hieronymus Bosch.


From Combat #12

Glanzman's work for Dell Publishing also mostly dealt with the war genre. He contributed to nearly all 40 issues of 'Combat' (1961-1973), as well as all eight issues of 'Air War Stories' (1965-1966) and all three of 'World War Stories' (1965). He also drew the comic books based on the TV war shows 'Tales of the Green Beret' (1967-1969) and 'Garrison's Gorillas' (1968-1969). In Dell's 'Four Color' series, he worked on adaptations of the movies 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' (1961), 'Lad: a Dog' (1962) and 'Hatari!' (1963), easily switching from underwater adventure to sentimental animal drama and safari action. He returned to the mysterious depths of the ocean with the science fiction comic book 'Voyage to the Deep', in which he showed a talent for drawing mysterious undersea creatures as well. Four issues were published between 1962 and 1964. For 'Flying Saucers', he drew comic strips based on "true stories" of UFO sightings (1967-1969).

Kona by Sam Glanzman
Kona #9

With Don Segall, Glanzman furthermore created the more campy hero 'Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle' (1962-1967). The stories were set on a lost world in the Pacific, where the present-day caveman Kona serves as protector of a stranded scientist and his family. Glanzman co-wrote and drew 21 issues full of dinosaurs, monsters set and lost worlds. Apart from Segall some plots were written by Paul S. Newman or the New York beatnik rabbi Lionel Ziprin. Glanzman also drew the back-up feature 'Anak'.

In addition to his work for comic books, Glanzman had a feature in  Outdoor Life magazine, called 'This Happened To Me' (1967-1973), in which he drew stories sent in by readers.


U.S.S. Stevens story from Star Spangled War Stories #172

In 1969, Editor Joe Kubert placed Glanzman at DC Comics' war comic books department. Throughout the 1970s, he was a staple of anthology titles like 'Our Army at War', 'Star Spangled War Stories' and 'Weird War Tales' with his series about the 'U.S.S. Stevens' (1970-1977). The feature was based on his own experiences during in World War II and therefore completey written, pencilled and inked by himself. Spanning at least 58 chapters, it is one of the greatest achievements in war comics, with each story being an exploration of one of the many facets of war. He also worked on back-up features like 'Battle Album' (1970-1978), 'All About' (1978-1982) and 'Warrior' (1970-1978), which all gave educational insight in the machinery, battlefields and key people of different wars in history.


The Haunted Tank (G.I.Combat #178)

Glanzman additionally succeeded Russ Heath as the main artist of the feature 'The Haunted Tank' in 'G.I. Combat', and drew over 225 stories from 1972 to 1987. Most of these were written by Robert Kanigher, some by Archie Goodwin, while Dick Ayers participated in some of the artwork. 'The Haunted Tank' was a mix between war and supernatural stories, and centered around a M3 Stuart tank protected by the ghost of 19th-century Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart. Glanzman and Kanigher furthermore cooperated on two issues of 'Sgt. Rock' in 1988. Other work for DC include contributions to some of the company's supernatural/mystery titles, like 'Ghosts' and 'House of Mystery', and installments of the back-up feature 'Wild Frontier' in 'Tomahawk' (1971-1972).


A Sailor's Story 2: Winds, Dreams and Dragons

In the second half of the 1980s, Glanzman wrote and drew more comic stories based on his own World War II experiences for Marvel Comics. These appeared under the title 'Of War and Peace: Tales by MAS' (1986) in the comic book 'Savage Tales', and even more explicitly in the two graphic novels 'A Sailor's Story (1987) and 'A Sailor's Story 2: Winds, Dreams and Dragons' (1989). With writer Michael Palladino he made stories for the title 'Semper Fi' (1988-1989), focusing on the US Marine Corps during various years of US history. He also provided the artwork for the 27th issue of 'The 'Nam' in 1989.

In 1989, Glanzman contributed to Tim Truman's publishing company 4Winds, writing and drawing two sci-fi graphic albums featuring the Kona-like character 'Attu'. The character returned in the two issues of 'Fantastic Worlds' by Flashback Comics in 1995. Glanzman continued to work with Truman as his inker in the 1990s. They cooperated on three mini-series of the western comic 'Jonah Hex' (originally created by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga) for DC (1993, 1995, 1999), and on three issues of 'Turok, Dinosaur Hunter' (1994) for Acclaim Comics. He also inked Hearn Cho on three issues of 'Zorro' at Topps (1994). In the early 1990s, he drew a new 'Robin Hood' comic book called 'Thief of Sherwood' for the Canadian A-Plus label of Roger Broughton, but only one of the four completed issues was released (1991). New 'U.S.S. Stevens' stories appeared in 'Sgt. Rock Special #1' (1992) and the 'Joe Kubert Presents' six-issue anthology limited series (2012-2013).

West of the Dakotas by Sam Glanzman
West of the Dakotas

With writer Joe R. Lansdale, Glanzman contributed another war story to DC/Vertigo's 'Weird War Tales' #2 in 1997, and a horror-suspense story to 'Weird Western Tales' #2 in 2001. He also made contributions to the anthologies 'Streetwise' (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2000) and '9-11: The World's Finest Comic Book Writers & Artists Tell Stories to Remember' (2002). Glanzman and Lansdale's western graphic novel 'Red Range' was released by the small press label Mojo Press in 1999, and dealt with the forgotten or ignored black heroes of the Old West. Despite already being well into his late seventies, Glanzman turned to creating webcomics in the early 2000s. He published his work on Kirk Sivertsen's website comicstories.com, such as the 19th century nautical adventure 'Apple Jack' and the Roman centurion series 'The Eagle', the latter a new collaboration with Willi Franz. Sivertsen also released some of the work in print, such as the western-frontier comic 'West of the Dakotas' (2002), written by James MacCormick.


The Eagle

In the period 1999-2001, Avalon Communications reprinted much of Glanzman's work for Charlton Comics in a number of mostly one-shot titles, including 'Hercules', 'Flyboys', 'Nam Tales', 'Star Combat Tales', 'Total War', and 'ACG Comics Presents Fire and Steel'. In 2014, editor Drew Ford launched a line of graphic novel reprints for Dover Publications. The collection started with Glanzman's autobiographical 'A Sailor's Story', which received praise from the The New York Times. The next release, 'U.S.S. Stevens: The Collected Stories' (2016), was nominated for an Eisner Award in May 2017. Through his own imprint It's Alive! at IDW, Ford launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a color reprint of 'Red Range' in late 2016. The book was published in June 2017.

Red Range by Sam Glanzman
Red Range

Sam Glanzman passed away a couple of weeks later, on 12 July 2017, following a fall of which the injuries had required surgery. At age 92, he was the second-oldest comic book creator still writing and drawing newly published work, after Al Jaffee. Since June 2016, he had been working on one of Dave Sim's rejected horror stories from the 1970s, but production went very slow due to failing health. Although no household name among the general public, the modest Sam Glanzman had many fans within the industry, including Stephen R. Bissette, Kurt Busiek, Garth Ennis, Stan Lee, Paul Levitz, Jim Steranko, Tim Truman and Mark Waid.

Sam Glanzman

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