Intellectual Amos, by Andre LeBlanc
'Intellectual Amos' (The Spirit Section, 15 April 1945).

André LeBlanc (also written as "André Le Blanc") was a Haitian cartoonist, who spent the largest part of his life living in either Brazil or the United States. Even though he worked with many major comic characters, he has largely remained out of the spotlight, since much of his work was done in the service of others. He began his career in the late 1930s, doing pencil and ink duties for the American comic book market, before creating his own superhero parody 'Intellectual Amos' (1944-1947) for Will Eisner's The Spirit Section. In Brazil, he created the newspaper comic 'Morena Flor' (1948-1951), illustrated the classic children's books of Monteiro Lobato and adapted famous Brazilian literary works into comic stories for the series 'Edição Maravilhosa' (1950-1953). Back in the States, LeBlanc assisted Will Eisner on 'The Spirit', Dan Barry on 'Flash Gordon' and Sy Barry on 'The Phantom', and gained fame with the weekly 'Our Bible in Pictures' series (1959-1964) for publisher David C. Cook, of which the often reprinted book collection was sold around the world in 130 languages.

Early life
André LeBlanc was born in 1921 in Haïti as the son of a French mother and Honduran father. LeBlanc's path of life led him through several countries, spending many years in the USA, Cuba and Brazil. In a March 1972 interview with O Pasquim magazine, LeBlanc said he had little memories of his time in Haiti. During the 1920s, the family already moved to the United States, where André LeBlanc spent the largest part of his childhood. In New York, he got his artistic training at the Art Students League, while debuting in the upcoming comic book industry.

'P.T. Boat' (Military Comics #18. April 1943).

American comic books
In 1939, eighteen-year-old André LeBlanc got a job with the New York City-based comic production studio of Will Eisner and Jerry Iger. There, he was initially an assistant doing backgrounds and inking on the team's comic book production - largely for Quality Comics and Fiction House - while learning the trade from Will Eisner, Reed Crandall, Lou Fine and other associated artists. Among his other influences were the magazine illustrators Harold Von Schmidt, Matt Clark and Tom Lovell.

When Eisner-Iger was dissolved in 1940, LeBlanc worked for production studios led by Jerry Iger solo (S.M. Iger, founded in 1940) and Jack Binder (Binder Studio, founded in 1942), and also directly for publisher Everett M. "Busy" Arnold, who ran Quality Comics. At Binder, LeBlanc worked alongside Lee Ames and Dan Barry, who became lifelong friends of his. During these early years of his career, LeBlanc did pencil and/or inking duties on features like 'Sheena, Queen of the Jungle', 'Steve Brodie', 'Famous Fighters', 'Kayo Kirby' and 'Rip Carson' for comic books published by Fiction House Comics. At Fawcett Comics, he worked on superheroes like 'Bulletman', 'Captain Marvel', 'Golden Arrow' and 'Spy Smasher', while his Quality Comics contributions included work on 'Destroyer 171' in National Comics and 'P.T. Boat' in Military Comics. As an inker, he regularly worked with pencil artist John Spranger. During the 1940s, André LeBlanc also illustated pulp magazines and the occasional comic book story for Street and Smith publishers.

Around 1943-1944, LeBlanc had to leave the USA for Cuba to take care of the estate of his recently deceased father, who was growing sugar and coffee on a piece of land. After wrapping up his father's businesses, he decided to stay and settled in Havana, which, as he recalled in the O Pasquim interview, was at the time was a blossoming city populated by intellectual fugitives, spies of all nationalities and Spanish exiles.

'Intellectual Amos' (National Comics #52, February 1946).

Intellectual Amos
While in Cuba, André LeBlanc got the idea for his own comic feature, and submitted it to his former boss in the USA, publisher Everett M. "Busy" Arnold. Intended as a protest against the superhero genre, 'Intellectual Amos' (1944-1945) was about a boy who was abandoned at the door of a library. Growing up there, he read everything and became an intellectual, who fought villains with his childlike innocence, unusual powerful memory and knowledge gained from reading. With four pages a week, 'Intellectual Amos' ran as a back-up feature in Will Eisner's Sunday newspaper supplement 'The Spirit Section' starting on 21 May 1944.

André LeBlanc continued to produce 'Intellectual Amos' when in 1944 he moved from Cuba to Brazil. There, he married his Brazilian wife Elvira Telles and settled in Niterói, a residential suburb of Rio de Janeiro. However, mailing his weekly comic pages to the USA eventually became problematic. The packages were intercepted by US customs and heavily taxed as works of art. Publisher Arnold was not prepared to pay the thousand dollar fine, and as a result the weekly 'Intellectual Amos' feature came to an accidental end on 29 April 1945. It was replaced by Al Stahl's 'Flatfood Burns'. Between February 1945 and August 1947, longer monthly stories with Amos and his sidekick Wilbur the Goblin appeared in Quality Comics titles like Police Comics and National Comics.

Cover illustrations by André LeBlanc for O Tico-Tico (1945) and Capitão Atlas (1953).

Work in Brazil
With his regular assignment in the USA coming to an end, LeBlanc began exploring the Brazilian market. One of his first publications there was the cover for issue #1914 of the children's magazine O Tico-Tico (May 1945). He then also illustrated double-page short story spreads for the weekly magazine O Cruzeiro, and contributed to the cultural monthly A Cigarra. He later also did commercial art assignments through the São Paulo branch of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. For Editora Brasiliense, he made the interior illustrations for almost all the re-editions of the children's books by Monteiro Lobato (1882-1948); the cover drawings were by Augusto Mendes da Silva (AKA  Augustus/Avgvstvs).

'Morena Flor' strips #65 and 66 (1948).

Morena Flor
One of LeBlanc's best-known Brazilian comic creations was 'Morena Flor' (1948-1951), an daily strip of 833 episodes, published in the newspaper Diario da Noite. Debuting on 16 August 1948, Morena was a Brazilian jungle girl who fought the despoilers of the Amazon. Through Luiz Rosemberg's Agência Periodista Latino-Americana, LeBlanc's ecologically-themed strip was also distributed to newspapers in Argentina, Chile and Mexico. In 1953, the stories were also reprinted as a back-up feature in Capitão Atlas, a comic book based on the radio serial created by Péricles do Amaral.

'Iracema', adapted by André LeBlanc for Edição Maravilhosa #31 (January 1951).

Edição Maravilhosa
Between 1950 and 1954, LeBlanc was also a prominent artist for the comic book collection 'Edição Maravilhosa - Clássicos Ilustrados', published by Adolfo Aizen's publishing company EBAL (Edição Maravilhosa da Editora Brasil-América Limitada). The Brazilian answer to the American 'Classics Illustrated' series, the Edição Maravilhosa comic books adapted important titles of Brazilian literature into comics. LeBlanc notably drew the installments with adaptations of works by the 19th century Brazilian Romantic novelist José de Alencar ('O Guarani', 'Iracema', 'Ubirajara', 'O Tronco do Ipê') and the regionalist novelist José Lins do Rego ('O Menino de Engenho', 'Doidinho', 'Banguê', 'Cangaceiros'). He additionally adapted classic novels by Joaquim Manuel de Macedo ('A Moreninha'), Dinah Silveira de Queiroz ('A Muralha'), Gastão Cruls ('A Amazônia Misteriosa'), Maria Dezonne Pacheco Fernandes ('Sinhá Moça') and Herberto Sales ('Cascalho'). Among the other artists working for this collection were Manoel Victor Filho, Nico Rosso, Ramón Llampayas, Aylton Thomaz, Gil Coimbra, José Geraldo and Gutemberg Monteiro.

'O Guarani', adapted by André LeBlanc for Edição Maravilhosa #24, second edition (February 1954).

Traveling reporter
During the 1950s, LeBlanc also worked as an illustrator-reporter for the Brazilian newspapers Correiro da Manha and O Globo. For the latter, he travelled to the East for a series of 36 illustrated reports, first visiting India (Bombay, Benares, Agra, Calcutta, Goa), then going through Pakistan and the region that is now Bangladesh. After six months, he returned home through Europe. In 1956, LeBlanc moved back to New York, where his wife could undergo medical treatment for a complication in her spine. The treatment lasted more than a year, and the LeBlanc family decided to stay. In 1969, they went back to Brazil once again, but already returned to the States a couple of years later. In Brazil, LeBlanc was part of a select group of cutting-edge illustrators that flourished in the country, but the repression of the military dictatorship made life difficult. In interviews, he expressed concerns about raising his children in the country. A polyglot himself, he preferred to have his children educated in English instead of Portuguese.

Plastic Man - 'Reflecto, the Astounding Mirror Man' (Plastic Man #31, September 1951).

U.S. comic book work
Already in the second half of the 1940s, LeBlanc had renewed his old contacts in the United States. In 1947 and 1948 he assisted his old taskmaster Will Eisner on the inking of 'The Spirit'. In 1949, he also contributed to the single issue of Eisner's children's comic book Kewpies, drawing the 'Pito' feature. He was also back at Quality Comics, drawing the 'Poodle Mc Doodle' feature in Modern Comics. Between 1951 and 1953, LeBlanc drew stories for Quality's 'Plastic Man' comic book, following in the footsteps of the series' creator, fellow former Eisner co-worker Jack Cole. LeBlanc's closeness with Will Eisner persisted over the years. In 1983, he helped his old friend with the colorization of his graphic novel 'Signal from Space'.

'The Mystic Sands' (Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #17 (March 1967).

During the 1950s, even before his return to the USA, LeBlanc continued to work for American comic book companies. In 1952-1953, he drew a couple of crime and horror stories for 'Authentic Police Cases' and 'Weird Horrors' by St. John Publishing. A couple of years later, he was present at Dell Comics, drawing comic adaptations of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' (1957) and 'The Pride and the Passion' (1957) for the publisher's Four Color Comics line of one-shot books. According to Jerry Bails' 'Who is Who' index, LeBlanc possibly drew episodes of features like 'My Paul, Alien', 'Spyman' and 'Super Surplus' for Harvey Comics in 1966. Between 1966 and 1968, he was working for Western Publishing, drawing about a dozen stories for the anthology titles 'Ripley's Believe It Or Not', 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery'. For the 1967 'Wham-O Giant Comics' anthology - published by the Wham-O toy company - LeBlanc made the three-page World War I story about 'The Young Eagles'. Between 1966 and 1967, LeBlanc was a penciler and inker for the 'Mandrake the Magician' title of King Comics, the comic book imprint of King Features Syndicate. It was the first time he worked with one of Lee Falk's creations; more followed later in his career.

'Flash Gordon' strip of 6 January 1957, penciled by André LeBlanc and inked by Sy Barry.

Ghost artist for newspaper comics
For a large part of his career, André LeBlanc was happy to work in the service of others. Besides assisting Will Eisner, he spent long periods of time doing well-paid jobs as assistant and ghost artist for newspaper comics. Between 1957 and 1959, he regularly helped his former Binder Studio colleague Dan Barry with the 'Flash Gordon' newspaper comic. During this same period, he ghosted for Dan's brother Sy Barry on large parts of the civil rights comic book 'Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story' (Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1958). Around 1976, he replaced George Olesen as Sy Barry's regular assistant on the newspaper comic with Lee Falk's 'The Phantom'. One notable sequence penciled and inked anonymously by LeBlanc were the 1977 daily strips and Sunday pages detailing the Phantom's marriage to Diana Palmer. LeBlanc continued to work with Sy Barry on an on-again off-again basis until the latter's retirement in 1994. In the 1970s, LeBlanc also did some assistant work on the 'Mandrake the Magician' newspaper comic, another Lee Falk creation, drawn for King Features Syndicate by Fred Fredericks. In August-September 1976 and August-October 1978, he additionally helped Alex Kotzky with the 'Apartment 3-G' strip and in the 1978-1979 period, he also ghosted on both Sunday and daily episodes of the 'Rex Morgan, M.D.' strip for Frank Edgington and Marvin Bradley.

The Phantom's wedding on 11 December 1977, ghosted by André LeBlanc.

Our Bible in Pictures
LeBlanc's biggest claim to fame was arguably the Bible series he did for publisher David C. Cook. The origins of the project lay in the early 1950s, when Cook had Reverend David S. Piper write and Joseph Wirt Tillotson draw Bible stories in picture story format, added as "take home" supplements to Sunday Pix, a Christian comic book aimed at Sunday School pupils. By 1958, plans for a full Bible comic adaptation came about. Editor Iva Hoth was chosen to write the text to go with the pictures, while LeBlanc was hired as illustrator. Between October 1959 and 1964, 'Our Bible in Pictures' appeared as weekly installments of three to four pages in Sunday Pix. In 1964, selections of the feature were collected as the 'Life of Jesus' book, which appeared with editions in English, Dutch, Finnish, Indonesian, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

In 1973, the first book version of the entire series appeared in black-and-white as the six-volume 'The Picture Bible for All Ages' collection. For reprints later that decade, LeBlanc was assigned to colorize the entire project. In 1978, a New Testament version appeared, followed in 1979 by 'The Picture Bible', containing both the Old and New Testaments in 750 full-color comic pages. Since then, the book has often been reprinted, becoming a worldwide hit. Interviewed in May 2001, the director of Cook Communications Ministries International, Ralph Gates, estimated that 75 million copies of the Picture Bible had been distributed around the world with translations in over 130 languages, including Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Romanian and Tagalog. In 2010, David C. Cook Publishing released a new and modernized version of 'The Picture Bible', entitled 'The Action Bible', with scripts by Doug Mauss and artwork by Sergio Cariello.

'The Picture Bible' (Portuguese edition).

Other work
Following the immense success of this ambitious Bible project for David C. Cook, LeBlanc became a sought-after illustrator for other Bible-related projects, including work for magazines and Sunday schools. In the mid-1980s, he was hired by Hanna-Barbera as character designer for the animated direct-to-video series 'The Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible' (1985-1992). Years earlier, he had already worked for Hanna-Barbera as an in-betweener on the animated TV show 'Space Ghost and Dino Boy' (1966-1968).

During the 1950s, LeBlanc also teamed up with former Binder Studio colleague Lee Ames to illustrate children's textbooks for publisher MacMillan. Represented by Ames' agent Mary Gerard, LeBlanc also landed jobs with other educational publishers, such as Allyn & Bacon. With Ames, he additionally collaborated on book projects like 'George Washington: Frontier Colonel' (Random House, 1957) and 'Draw 50 People from the Bible' (Watson-Guptill, 1995).

In 1959, LeBlanc was a contributing illustrator to the twelve-volume 'Picture World Encyclopedia' series, edited by Gene Fawcette. He illustrated paperback novels like 'Snow Treasure' by Marie McSwigan (Scholastic, 1958) as well as a mid-1980s sex manual, while doing commercial art assignments through the Ted Bates Advertising Agency. He was additionally an instructor at New York City's School of Visual Arts.

Illustration for a re-edition of Monteiro Lobato's 1922 storybook 'Fábulas'.

Recognition and legacy
In Brazil, André LeBlanc was awarded the prestigious "Southern Cross" - the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Brazilian citizen - for his illustrations for classical literature. After a long and varied career, André LeBlanc died in the USA on 21 December 1998, at the age of 77. Dividing his time between the USA and Brazil, LeBlanc worked in many fields and genres. From the blossoming American comic book market to Brazilian journalism and youth literature, and from religious publications to newspaper comics. In articles, LeBlanc was described as a person with a great curiosity and intellect. During his lifetime, he learned how to speak six languages fluently. He was also known for his keen understanding of science, politics, history and arts. These character traits he shared with his signature creation, 'Intellectual Amos'. This boy genius can be considered a forerunner to later comic book whizzkids like 'Génial Olivier' by Jacques Devos in the Belgian Spirou magazine (1963-1988), and Alan Moore and Kevin Nowlan's 'Jack B. Quick' (1999-2002) at DC Comics in the USA.

André Leblanc. 

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