Noel Sickles became a political cartoonist for the Ohio State Journal in the late 1920s. He moved to New York in 1933, where he became a staff artist for Associated Press. Here, he was asked to take over the aviation comic 'Scorchy Smith', due to illness of its creator, John Terry. At first, he illustrated the strip as a "ghost artist", but after Terry's death, Sickles was allowed to sign his own name to the strip.
In the 'Scorchy Smith' comic, Sickles developed a personal, almost photographic, style. His method of drawing became popular among other comic artists, and was particularly inspiring to Milton Caniff. Sickles and Caniff started working together closely, assisting each other on their comics (respectively 'Scorchy Smith' and 'Terry and the Pirates'). They also did advertising work together, such as the 'Mr. Coffee Nerves' character, using the pen name Paul Arthur. After AP turned Sickles down for a salary raise, he left and turned to illustrating. Although his comic career was short, Noel Sickles had a big impact on the comic profession.
Mr. Coffee Nerves