'The Story of Pope John XXIII' (1962, recolored edition from 2015).

Joe Sinnott was an American comic book artist, with an extensive track record at Marvel Comics. His tenure with the company lasted over 60 years, starting with cranking out a great many stories for the Atlas genre-based anthology titles throughout the 1950s, and then becoming one of their most in-demand inkers. During the Silver Age of Comic Books, Sinnott was instrumental in the appearance of Marvel's 1960s wave of superhero comic books. His slick inking line graced 'Thor', 'The Silver Surfer', 'Captain America', 'The Avengers', 'The Hulk', 'The Defenders', and 'The Invaders', but he remained mainly associated with 'The Fantastic Four' for several decades. After a popular run on the title with grandmaster Jack Kirby, he worked on the title well into the 1980s, working with many subsequent pencilers. In addition, Sinnott has done freelance assignments for comic books by Dell Comics and Charlton Comics, as well as titles like 'Treasure Chest' and 'Classics Illustrated'. A true veteran of American comic books, Sinnott remained active until largely retiring from comic books in 1992. He then turned to inking the 'Amazing Spider-Man' Sunday comic, which he continued to do until March 2019. He was one of the few artists who during his lifetime already had a prize named after him: the Inkwell Award's "Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award".

Early life
Joseph Leonard Sinnott was born in 1926 in Saugerties, New York. He kept living in this village on the west bank of the Hudson River for the rest of his life, with the exception of his art school period in New York City. The Sinnott household was a crowded place. He had six siblings and his parents ran a boarding house, which occupied mainly schoolteachers. Some of these guests who stayed in their house encouraged young Joe to develop his talent for drawing. The kid loved reading Milton Caniff's 'Terry and the Pirates' in papers, but also devoured early comic books published by National Periodicals, starring early superheroes like Bob Kane and Bill Finger's 'Batman', Gardner Fox's 'Hawkman' and Fred Guardineer's 'Zatara', as well as Whitney Ellsworth's jungle adventurer 'Congo Bill'. In 1944 Joe's brother Jack was killed in action during his service in the U.S. Army's Third Division in Europe. His mother begged her other son not to join the army when he was drafted, so Joe served in Okinawa as an ammo truck driver with the Navy Seabeas instead.

From: 'Kent Blake of the Secret Service' #5 (inking by Tom Gill).

Early career
Discharged in May 1946 with a Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Navy Occupation Service Medal, Joe Sinnott returned home. There, he worked in his father's cement factory for three years, before pursuing his artistic ambitions. In March 1949, he enrolled at Burne Hogarth's Cartoonists and Illustrators School in New York City on the G.I. Bill. During this period he also made his first freelance comic book work, starting with a 'Trudi' back-up story in St. John Publishing's Mopsy #12 in September 1950. One of his instructors at the school, Tom Gill, hired Joe Sinnott and his classmate Norman Steinberg as his assistants for his own comic book work. For about nine months, Sinnott spent his weekends working for Gill, initially as an inker, and later moving on to penciling, while Gill would fill in the character's heads since it was his assignment. After some work on Gill's comic book work for Dell Comics, the main productions Sinnott worked on were 'Red Warrior' (1951) and 'Kent Blake of the Secret Service' (1951-1952), two comic books by Atlas Comics. It were the first of many jobs Sinnott did for this company, which would evolve into Marvel Comics during the next decade.

'Arrowhead' #2.

Atlas Comics
Somewhere in 1951, Sinnott decided to take the plunge and offer his service directly to Atlas editor Stan Lee in his Empire State Building office. It was the beginning of a long working relationship, which would last well into the 1990s. Like most artists at the Atlas/Marvel bullpen, Sinnott was handed random scripts every week. Since all the work was done anonymously, it is difficult to determine where his tenure started, and what he did exactly?  Throughout the decade, Sinnott mostly penciled and inked his own stories, which appeared in the many genre-based anthology titles that dominated the comic book market back then. Sinnott worked on war, science fiction, horror, western and romance stories. These appeared in titles like 'Journey Into Mystery', 'Strange Tales', 'Marvel Tales', 'Uncanny Tales', 'Man Comics', 'Battle', 'Battle Action', 'Battlefield', 'Navy Combat', 'Frontier Western', 'Two Gun Western' and 'Secret Story Romances', but the young artist also contributed to 'Bible Tales for Young Folk'. Graphically, he co-created the Native American warrior 'Arrowhead' (1954) and the title hero of 'The Kid from Texas' (1957).

Commercial art
The comic book market at the time was in an economic downfall. The Atlas artists had to endure several cuts in their page rates, before the company was forced to let go most of its staff in 1957 and dry up their stock. It took about six months before Sinnott was asked back, but by that time he had expanded his clientele. As a commercial artist he took illustration assignments for billboards, record covers and an occasional comic book. A notable job were illustrations for the twelve-volume 'Harwyn Picture Encyclopedia' (1958) for art director Jack Kamen. At one point in his career, he also assisted on John H. Striebel and Renny McEvoy's 'Dixie Dugan' newspaper strip for a while.

Charlton Comics
Besides an occasional, anonymous fill-in job for DC Comics and the full art for the comic book 'The Enchanted Deer' (1958) in Gilberton's 'Classics Illustrated Junior' line, Sinnott associated himself on a more regular base with Charlton Comics. Between 1958 and 1964 he served as a penciler for the company's many romance books, often in collaboration with inker Vince Colletta. The titles leave little to guess about their contents: 'Brides in Love', 'Cynthia Doyle, Nurse in Love', 'First Kiss', 'High School Confidential Diary', 'I Love You', 'Just Married', 'Love Diary', 'My Secret Life', 'Romantic Secrets', 'Romantic Story', 'Secrets of Love and Marriage', 'Secrets of Young Brides', 'Sue and Sally Smith, Flying Nurses', 'Sweetheart Diary', 'Sweethearts', 'Teen Confessions', 'Teen Secret Diary', 'Teen-Age Confidential Confessions' and 'Teen-Age Love'. Sinnott and Colletta also cooperated on stories for Charlton's monster comic books 'Reptisaurus' (1962) and 'Gorgo' (1962-1963).

Treasure Chest
From 1961 to 1972, Joe Sinnott was also a productive artist for Treasure Chest, a Roman Catholic bi-weekly magazine distributed in parochial schools through publisher George A. Pflaum. He illustrated articles and comics about subjects like the French and Indian Wars, the gallbladder, hygiene and the life of Jesus Christ, but also serialized comics biographies like 'The Story of Pope John XXIII' (1962), 'The Story Of Bishop Walsh' (1963), 'Eisenhower the Man for the Moment' (1966) and 'Eamon de Valera: Hero of Ireland' (1968). Another regular comic series drawn by Sinnott was 'Archaeology the Greatest Detective Story' (1966) by F.E. Crandall, about ancient societies. Sinnott's Pope biography was reissued as a comic book by MSJT Publishing in 2015. With his Treasure Chest colleague Bob Wischmeyer, Sinnott also tried to pitch a newspaper strip about the athlete 'Johnny Hawk, All American', but they couldn't find a syndicate interested and the project was shelved.

'The Beatles' one-shot.

Dell Comics
Since he was capable of drawing recognizable faces of celebrities, Sinnott was a regular artist for the movie and TV adaptation comic books by Dell Comics between 1963 and 1969. He provided pencil and ink artwork to comic books based on 'Operation Bikini' (1963), 'The Castillian' (1964), 'The Lieutenant' (1964), '12 O'Clock High' (1965), 'The Great Race' (1966), 'The Naked Prey' (1966) and 'The Rat Patrol' (1967-1969). He also filled biographical and documentary-style comic books about the Beatles (1964) and the F.B.I. (1965). With Vince Colletta he also provided stories to Dell's 'Jungle War Stories' (1963-1964). Around the same period he additionally drew a couple of stories for the American Comics Group, including at least three with the character 'John Force, Magic Agent'. Between 1969 and 1972 he inked several stories penciled by Al Hartley and Jon D'Agostino for the Archie Comics line.

Silver Age of Comic Books
During the 1960s Sinnott remained however a stalwart in Stan Lee's team at Marvel Comics, the successor of Atlas. The comic book industry saw a renewed popularity of superhero comics, often referred to as the Silver Age of Comic Books. Like many of his colleagues, Sinnott was gradually drawn into this new direction, moving from the more down-to-earth genre-based comic books of the 1950s to monster and mystery titles such as 'Tales to Astonish', 'Strange Tales', 'Tales of Suspense' and 'Journey into Mystery'. These evolved into Marvel's a new line of superhero comic books, which all took place in the same "Marvel universe".

Kirby pencils and Sinnott ink for Fantastic Four #50.

Inking Jack Kirby
Sinnott continued to do pencil art on several Marvel stories, but became especially noted for his inking work. His partnership with penciler Jack Kirby was considered by many a match made in heaven. Sinnott inked his first Kirby stories in 1960, at the time still one-shot stories in 'Battle', 'Journey into Mystery' and 'Tales to Astonish'. In 1962 he was handed Kirby's pencil work for 'Fantastic Four' issue #5 (July 1962), marking Sinnott's first superhero work (and the introduction of arch-villain Dr. Droom). Sinnott later recalled that he wasn't even aware of all the new superheroes that Stan Lee put on the market, since many of the books weren't for sale where he lived. To him it was just another assignment, which he received by mail. But the 'Fantastic Four' lasted. Joe Sinnott's smooth and firm inking lines enhanced Kirby's sophisticated pencil work, and Lee considered their team-up the best for the title. It took however until issue #44 (November 1965) before Sinnott returned to the characters, since he had too much assignments from other publishers. Another groundbreaking Kirby story that Sinnott inked was the one introducing 'The Mighty Thor' in 'Journey into Mystery' #83 (August 1962). By the time the returned to Marvel full time, his first job was inking Kirby's 'The X-Men' issue #13 (September 1965). He later also inked some of Kirby's 'Captain America' stories and the 'Inhumans' back-up feature in 'Thor'. An interesting sidenote is that Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott never met each other or spoke on the telephone during all this time. In fact, they were only introduced to each other by Marie Severin long after Kirby had left Marvel, during an early 1970s comics convention.

Fantastic Four
The Marvel title Joe Sinnott has remained mostly associated with was 'The Fantastic Four'. He continued to ink most of Kirby's 'Fantastic Four' stories up until his departure after issue #102 (September 1970), contributing to the graphical appearance of new characters like Galactus, the Silver Surfer, the Black Panther, the Inhumans and Adam Warlock. Sinnott remained on board doing finished art and inks for Kirby's successors until 1981, including John Romita, John Buscema, Bill Sienkiewicz, Rich Buckler and George Pérez. He inked most issues up until issue #236 (November 1981), and then returned between 1986 and 1989.

Joe Sinnott inking over Jim Steranko pencils for Captain America #110.

His tenure on 'Fantastic Four' made him one of the most popular inkers in Marvel's bullpen, much in demand by the company's pencilers. Sinnott later stated that he didn't simply want to ink what was there, but always added something to it. He saw himself more of an embellisher than a plain inker. Not all of his colleagues could appreciate his craftmanship, however. John Buscema feared Sinnott's inking would overpower his pencils, and requested that the inker was replaced by his brother Sal Buscema after three issues of 'The Silver Surfer' (1968). Sinnott on the other hand worked with Buscema on many other titles, including 'Thor', 'Conan the Barbarian' (1975) and 'Nova' (1976), doing both inking and finished art. Until his semi-retirement from comic books in 1992, Joe Sinnott had on-and-off stints on nearly all of Marvel's superhero titles, including 'Captain America', 'The Defenders', 'The Incredible Hulk' and 'The Avengers'.

Later comic book work
After his retirement, Joe Sinnott returned to comic book work on occasion. He was most notably one of the inkers of the 'Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Comics Magazine' title in 2001. It was an all-star tribute title to the original 'Fantastic Four' run by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and included pencil work by Keith Giffen, Ron Frenz, Frank Fosco, and Erik Larsen, and inking duties by Joe Sinnott, Al Milgrom, Bruce Timm, Jorge Lucas and Al Gordon, among several other artists. Sinnott's other post-retirement contributions to comic books were limited to cover art and illustrations.

Amazing Spider-Man
Joe Sinnott's departure from comic books at age 66 didn't mean the end of his career, however. He joined the production team of the 'Amazing Spider-Man' newspaper comic for King Features Syndicate, and inked the Sunday comic by Alex Saviuk until his definitive retirement in March 2019. By then the veteran artist was 92 years old.

Sports nostalgia cartoon, drawn by Joe Sinnott in 2007.

Legacy and recognition
Later in life, Joe Sinnott continued to be a regular guest at comics conventions. He enjoyed being interviewed about his work in the industry, and did recreations of comics covers and commissioned artwork for his fans. He also got much recognition for his work, starting with a 1995 Inkpot Award. When Bob Almond initiated the Inkwell Awards for comic book inkers in 2008, Joe Sinnott was the first to win the Inkwell Hall of Fame Award, and shared the 2008 Inkwell Award for Favorite Inker with Terry Austin. The Hall of Fame Award has become known as "The Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award", and is presented annually to two veteran comic book inkers. An avid supporter of the Inkwell Awards from the start, Almond appointed Joe Sinnott their special ambassador in 2012. Joe Sinnott's son Mark Sinnott was also a longtime contributor to the event, both as a fundraiser and as a liaison between the organization and his father. In 2013 Joe Sinnott received the Will Eisner Hall of Fame Award as well. TwoMorrows Publishing released a 136 page trade paperback devoted to Joe Sinnott's life and work by Tim Lasiuta under the title 'Brush Strokes With Greatness: The Life & Art of Joe Sinnott' (2007).

Joe Sinnott passed away on 25 June 2020, at the age of 93. He had been able to devote almost his entire life to his craft, having retired from inking only one year earlier. Despite his age and the fragile state of his health, the comics community was shocked to learn of the death of the veteran artist; one of the last remaining of his generation.


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