Gale Allen (1945), by Fran Hopper
Mysta of the Moon (Planet Comics #40)

Fran Hopper was one of the few female artists active during the Golden Age of American comic books, the 1940s. She has mainly worked through Robert Iger's studio on Fiction House features starring heroines like 'Gale Allen and the Girl Squadron', 'Mysta of the Moon', 'Jane Martin' and 'Camilla'.

She was born in 1922 as Frances R. Deitrick in the state of Maryland. She spent most of her childhood in New Jersey, however. Deitrick was one of several female comic book artists entering the field during the early 1940s. By 1942, the US had joined World War II, and many male authors were drafted. Packager Bob Iger and his editor Ruth Roche thus hired Deitrick and other females such as Ruth Atkinson, Lily Renée and Marcia Snyder to fill their places. Iger's studio produced complete comic books for publishers like Fiction House. Deitrick's first known contribution appeared in Planet Comics #23 of March 1943. She started signing her work Fran Hopper after marrying Dr. John B. Hopper II in 1944.

Yank Aces of World War II - Lt. Kenneth A. Walsh (Wings Comics #43)
Yank Aces of World War II - Lt. Kenneth A. Walsh (Wings Comics #43)

Hopper's first contributions were two installments in the science fiction feature 'Norge Benson' in Planet Comics. She moved on to draw the humor feature 'Private Elmer Pippin and the Colonel's Daughter' (1943-1944) and the adventure series 'Glory Forbes' (1945-1946) in Ranger Comics. She also drew educational features like the biographical 'Yank Aces of World War II' (1944) in Wing Comics and 'African Wild Life' (1944-1945) and 'Jungle Facts' (1945) in Jungle Comics.

Fiction House however often assigned its female artists to draw features with female heroines. Hopper stepped in with the science fiction adventure comic 'Gale Allen and the Girl Squadron' (1944) in Planet Comics. She would gain more attention with another sci-fi feature for this title, 'Mysta of the Moon' (the repository of the sum of all human knowledge), which she took over from artist Joe Doolin from July 1945 to July 1947. In Jungle Comics, she assumed the art duties of the jungle adventure feature 'Camilla' from October 1945 until August 1947. The character was graphically created by Charles A. Winter in 1940 and was since then drawn by several of Iger's crew. Hopper's final Fiction House feature was the espionage series 'Jane Martin' for Wings Comics from March 1946 until August 1947.

Jane Martin (Wings Comics #73)
Jane Martin (Wings Comics #73)

She additionally worked for Timely's Ruth Atkinson on some of the early installments of the teen humor feature 'Patsy Walker' in the mid 1940s. With the war over, Hopper left the industry in mid 1947, as did several other female artists. By the 1950s, the only females working on mainstream comic books in the following decade were Ramona Fradon and Marie Severin. In the following decades, the Hopper family lived in the New Jersey towns of Mendham and Chester, where they raised and showed Arabian horses. They moved to Thornton, New Hampshire, in 1974 and then finally to a retirement home in Whiting, New Jersey in 2006.

Comics artist and historian Trina Robbins tracked Fran Hopper down and visited her in her retirement home. Hopper was one of the Golden Age women featured in Robbins' anthology 'Babes In Arms: Women in the Comics During World War Two' (2017), along with Barbara Hall, Jill Elgin and Lily Renée. Fran Hopper passed away in New Jersey on 29 November 2017, at the age of 95.

Camilla by Fran Hopper
Camilla (Jungle Comics #81)

Series and books by Fran Hopper in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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