The Firefly (Top Notch Comics #19)
The Firefly (Top Notch Comics #19)

Warren King was a longtime editorial cartoonist for the New York Daily News (1955-1977). Prior to this, he was active as a comic book artist during the so-called Golden Age of Comic Books. His main body of work were superhero features like 'The Fox' and 'Firefly' for MLJ Comics, the company that later became Archie Comics.

The Fox (Blue Ribbon Comics #15)
The Fox (Blue Ribbon Comics #15)

Born in 1916, he grew up on Long Island and received a B.S. from Fordham University in 1938. He attended the Phoenix Art Institute and the Grand Central School of Art in New York City. Despite his training as a painter, he became a freelance illustrator for books, movies and advertisements. He began his career in comic books in 1939 through the studio of packager Harry "A" Chesler. He quickly moved over to MLJ Comics when that company began its comic book line.

Captain Flagg (Blue Ribbon Comics #18)
Captain Flagg (Blue Ribbon Comics #18)

King worked on many of MLJ's superheroes between 1940 and 1942. These included 'The Fox' and 'Captain Flag' in Blue Ribbon Comics, 'Captain Valor' and 'Blackjack' in Zip Comics, 'The Hangman' in Pep Comics, and 'The Firefly', 'The Black Hood', 'The Wizard', 'Bob Phantom', 'Kardak the Mystic', 'Kayo Ward' and 'Keith Kornell' in Top Notch Comics. King is best remembered for his work on 'The Firefly' (1941-1942) with writer Harry Shorten. He took over the feature from Bob Wood after the first couple of stories, and continued it until the cancellation of Top Notch Comics in 1942. The Firefly was the secret identity of chemist Harley Hudson, who trained himself to coordinate his muscles like an ant, and thus gaining super strength. He fought against such villains as Dr. Dread, Sneaky and The Mummy. King also had a regular run on 'The Fox' (1941-1942), which was originally created by Joe Blair and Irwin Hasen. Unlike the noble motives of most other superheroes, the Fox was actually a scoop-hunting reporter who used his secret identity to be the first on a crime scene.


Dynamic opening pages from Top Notch Comics #22 and Jackpot Comics #5

Warren King was notable for experimenting with dynamic panel layouts, and drawing dramatic emotions in his faces. Some of his work was done in cooperation Bob Montana under the joint signatures Bob King or Bobby King. By 1942 MLJ dropped most of the superhero titles and focused on their kid's gang comics starring Archie and his friends. King moved on to work for other publishing companies. In 1945 he drew stories for the one-shot comic books Conqueror Comics ('The Conquerors', 'Sandy') and Hi-Lite Comics ('Miss Shady'), which were published by the highly obscure Albrecht Publishing Company and E. R. Ross Publishing Co., respectively. In the late 1940s he did some work for Fawcett Comics, and he spent his final years as a comic book artist drawing occasional romance stories and covers for St. John Publishing (Pictorial Romances, Adventures in Romance, etc.) in the period 1949-1953.


Keith Kornell (Top Notch Comics #22)

King moved over the newspaper cartooning in the mid 1950s. He worked as Rube Goldberg's assistant before becoming the editorial cartoonist for the New York Daily News in 1955. The National Cartoonists Society recognized King in 1968 with the best editorial cartoon award and he also received several Freedoms Foundation awards during the 1950s and 1960s, and a 1963 award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. King was furthermore active for New York journalism organisations like the Newspaper Guild of New York and the Silurians. Because of illness, he retired from cartooning in mid 1977. He passed away in Wilton, Connecticut in the following year.

Cartoon by Warren King

Warren King cartoons at the New England Gallery

Series and books by Warren King in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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