Dan Spiegle was one of the best known celebrity comics artists, who drew many stories based on film and TV series. He did most of his work for companies like Dell, Gold Key, DC and Marvel. Especially his production for Dell and Gold Key was immense, with his most notable productions being 'Maverick', 'Space Family Robinson' and 'Korak, Son of Tarzan'. He later worked regularly with writer Mark Evanier on 'Scooby Doo' (Gold Key, Marvel), 'Blackhawk' (DC) and 'Crossfire' (Eclipse Comics).
Spiegle was born in 1920 in Cosmopolis, Washington, as the son of a nurse and a druggist. He spent parts of his childhood in San Diego, California, and Honolulu, Hawaii, before the family settled on a chicken ranch in Northern California in 1929. Although his father wanted him to become a druggist as well, his mother encouraged her son's artistic ambitions. Spiegle had gotten his interest in cartooning through the magazines and newspapers his father sold from his drugstore. Especially the work of Alex Raymond, Roy Crane and Milton Caniff interested him. In his second year of high school, Spiegle sent a sample comic strip to King Features. It was politely turned down, but Spiegle vowed to become a cartoonist. After fulfilling his military service in the navy in 1946, Spiegle enrolled at the Chouinard Art Institute of Los Angeles under the G.I. Bill. Among his teachers were Disney artists from the movie industry, and one of his fellow students was comic book artist Bill Ziegler.
In 1949, he was introduced to movie actor William Boyd, best known for playing Hopalong Cassidy in the eponymous western film serials. Boyd had recently sold these old serials to TV stations, whose broadcasts led to a resurrection of his career. As the episodes were rebroadcast a radio show also saw light, as did the need for some comic strip adaptations. Spiegle turned out to be the best choice as the artist, while Royal King Cole and Dan Grayson took care of the writing. Between January 1950 and January 1956 he drew several stories about the noble cowboy, which were distributed to newspapers by Mirror Enterprises Syndicate (1950-1951) and King Features Syndicate (1951-1956). Spiegle then tried his hand at a pirate strip, 'Penn and Chris', but couldn't find a syndicate to pick it up.
In 1956, Spiegle started his long association with Western Publishing and its production partner Dell Comics. When Western and Dell ended their collaboration in 1962, Spiegle remained active for the Western imprints Whitman Comics and Gold Key until 1982. Spiegle worked on many realistic comic books based on popular American TV series of the time (mostly westerns), as well as comic book adaptations of movies. Later on he also worked on more comical stuff with Hanna-Barbera characters, and mystery/occult stories for some anthology titles. Among the other artists involved in Western's realistic comic books were Alex Toth, Bill Ziegler, Harry Parkhurst, Frank Thorne, Mike Arens, John Ushler, Jesse Marsh, Mo Gollub, Russ Manning and Jesse Santos.
Between 1956 and 1962 he drew many of the mostly one-shot comic books in Dell's 'Four Color Comics' series. These included books based on western TV series like 'Brave Eagle' (1956-1958), 'Circus Boy' (1956-1957), 'Tales of the Pony Express' (1957), 'Johnny Mack Brown' (1957-1958), 'Maverick' (1958-1959), 'Jace Pearson's Tales of the Texas Rangers' (1958), 'Lawman' (1959-1960), 'The Adventures of Jim Bowie' (1959), 'The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca' (1959), 'Colt .45' (1959), 'The Rifleman' (1959), 'The Texan' (1960), 'Tombstone Territory' (1960), 'Johnny Ringo' (1960-1961), 'Rawhide' (1961-1962) and 'Walt Disney's Texas John Slaughter' (1961). Spiegle also drew comic stories of 'Corky and White Shadow' (1956), 'Spin & Marty' (1956-1959), 'The Hardy Boys' (1956-1959) and 'Annette' (1958), which were all segments of the Walt Disney TV show 'The Mickey Mouse Club'.
Further contributions are to comic books based on the action adventure TV series 'Sea Hunt' (1958-1959), 'The Aquanauts' (1961) and 'The Untouchables' (1961-1962), and to the solo comic book of 'Little Beaver' (1956), a character from the 'Red Ryder' newspaper comic by Fred Harman. Spiegle did similar work on TV tie-in books outside of the Four Color series, such as 'Annie Oakley and Tagg' (1956-1959, 1965), 'Rex Allen' (1956-1959), the solo titles of 'Lawman' (1960-1962) and 'Maverick' (1959-1962), as well as features for the anthology comic book 'Western Roundup' (1956-1958). Last but not least, Dan Spiegle drew a lot of comic book adaptations of movies, including 'John Paul Jones' (1959), 'Don't Give Up the Ship' (1959), 'Yellowstone Kelly' (1959), 'A Dog of Flanders' (1960), 'Atlantis, the Lost Continent' (1961) and the Disney films 'Old Yeller' (1958), 'Old Ironsides' (1958), 'The Shaggy Dog' (1959), 'Annette's Life Story' (1960), 'The Parent Trap' (1961) and 'The Prince and the Pauper' (1962).
For the Gold Key line, he was the co-creator of 'Space Family Robinson' with editor/writer Del Connell in 1962. The comic book was a space opera version of the novel series 'Swiss Family Robinson' by Johann David Wyss, and unlike the company's other titles, served as an inspiration itself for the CBS TV series 'Lost in Space' in 1965. Spiegle worked on the title, which was later renamed to 'Space Family Robinson Lost In Space', until 1976. His Gold Key work included more comic stories related to TV series, such as 'Walt Disney's World of Adventure' (1963), the sitcom 'My Favorite Martian' (1964-1965), 'The Legend of Jesse James' (1966), 'It's About Time' (1966) and the adventure series 'Flipper' (1966-1967), 'Lassie' (1966-1969) and 'The Green Hornet' (1967). When Russ Manning left Dell in 1967, Spiegle took over the 'Korak, Son of Tarzan' title until 1972.
More adaptations of movies followed with 'Mutiny on The Bounty' (1963), 'Clash of the Titans' (1980), and many Disney movies, both for stand-alone comic books and the 'Disney Showcase' series (1970-1980). These include adaptations of 'Big Red' (1962), 'In Search of the Castaways' (1963), 'Son of Flubber' (1963), 'The Horse Without a Head' (1964), 'Mary Poppins' (1965), 'Emil and the Detectives' (1965), 'The Scarecrow' (1965), 'The Legend of Young Dick Turpin' (1966), 'Herbie Rides Again' (1977), 'Return from Witch Mountain' (1978), 'The Black Hole' (1980) and more. Other notable Disney-related are the 'Mickey Mouse Super Secret Agent' stories (1966), which had realistic art by Spiegle, and Mickey and Goofy drawn by Paul Murry. He also did back-up features like 'Keys of Knowledge' and illustrations for Gold Key's Hanna-Barbera and Disney funny animal titles
His first more comical work were contributions to Hanna-Barbera's 'Space Ghost' (1967) and 'Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes' (1968-1969). He had regular runs on the HB series 'Harlem Globetrotters' (1972-1975) and 'Scooby-Doo Mystery Comics' (1973-1975), the latter mostly with writer Mark Evanier. During the end of his tenure with Western, Spiegle mainly drew for 'Brothers of the Spear' (1975-1976) and the prehistoric sci-fi series 'Tragg and the Sky Gods' (1975-1977). He also contributed many stories to Gold Key's mystery/occult titles like 'Mystery Comics Digest' (1972-1975), ' Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery' (1976-1978) and 'Grimm's Ghost Stories' (1972, 1976-1978). His final comic book work for Western Publishing was 'Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom' (1981-1982). Also for Western, Spiegle illustrated "Golden Storybooks" based on the animated TV series 'Masters of the Universe' ('The Trap', 1983) and 'Gobots' ('Race to the Stars', 1985).
While still working for Western/Gold Key, Spiegle had begun contributing to comic books by DC Comics and Marvel. Spiegle and Evanier continued their work on 'Scooby-Doo' when Marvel took over Gold Key's license between 1977 and 1979, and again when Archie Comics published the title in 1996. They also worked on Marvel's other Hanna-Barbera titles such as 'The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera' (1978) and 'Laff-A-Lympics' (1978-1979). Spiegle and Evanier furthermore did a lot of Hanna-Barbera comics for European and South-American publishers, which have never been printed in the USA.
Among Spiegle's later Marvel work are Mark Evanier's adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's 'Tarzan of the Apes' (1983), which was published to coincide with the release of the movie adaptation 'Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes' (1984). He illustrated stories with 'Doctor Zero' (1989), and also did all five issues of 'Hollywood Superstars' for Marvel's Epic Comics imprint with Evanier in 1990 and 1991.
At Marvel, Spiegle additionally returned to Disney with adaptations of the films 'The Three Musketeers' (adapted by Bobby J.G. Weiss, 1994), 'Pocahontas' (adapted by Bob Foster, 1995) and 'The Hunchback of the Notre Dame' (with several other artists and writer T. Jeannette Steiner, 1996). He had also made a comics version of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' (1988) for The Walt Disney Studios, with Daan Jippes drawing the cartoon characters. In the following year he drew Bob Foster's graphic novel sequel 'Roger Rabbit: The Resurrection of Doom' (Marvel, 1989), together with cartoonist Todd Kurasowa.
Spiegle's first work for DC Comics were two 'Unknown Soldier' stories for 'Star Spangled War Stories' in 1972. He returned to the company in 1980 with a couple of 'Jonah Hex', 'Bat Lash' and 'Superman' stories, followed by contributions to 'Mystery in Space' (1980), 'Secrets of Haunted House' (1980-1981), 'House of Mystery' (1981-1982) and 'Unknown Soldier' (1981-1982). In 'Secrets of Haunted House', he was the first to draw 'Mister E' (created by Bob Razakis), who would become a recurring character in Neil Gaiman's 'The Books of Magic' series in the 1990s. He also drew stories with 'The Phantom Strange' in 'The Saga of the Swamp Thing' (1982). With writer Cary Burkett, Spiegle made the back-up feature 'Nemesis' in DC's 'The Brave and the Bold'. He worked together once again with Mark Evanier on the relaunch of DC's classic series 'Blackhawk' (1982-1984), about a team of stunt-aviators banding together as a collective-resistance to the Nazis, which was created by Chuck Cuidera at Quality Comics in 1941.
Spiegle furthermore drew issues of DC's 'The Omega Man' (1985), 'Star Trek' (1985) and 'Teen Titans Spotlight' (1988) until landing on a more regular job making 'The Secret Six' with writer Martin Pasko for Action Comics Weekly in 1988. He subsequently ghost penciled a large part of DC's graphic novel adaptation of Peter O'Donnell's 'Modesty Blaise' novel for Dick Giordano in 1994. The novel was an adaptation of the original screenplay for the 1966 film based on the British newspaper strip by O'Donnell and artist Jim Holdaway.
Another collaboration between Spiegle and Mark Evanier was 'Crossfire' for Eclipse Comics, starring a superhero who originated from the 'DNAgents' series by Evanier and Will Meugniot. Spiegle penciled the entire run of the spin-off series from 1984 to 1988, as well as the mini-series 'Crossfire and Rainbow' (1986) and 'Whodunnit?' (1986-1987). He additionally drew stories for other Eclipse titles, like 'The DNAgents' (1985), 'Three Dimensional DNAgents' (1986), 'The New DNAgents' (1986), and also the 'Skywolf' feature for 'Airboy' (1987-1988) and two stories for 'True Crime Comics' (1993).
Spiegle remained active throughout the 1990s, drawing stories with 'Elvira, Mistress of the Dark' (1993) for Claypool Comics, as well as 'Indiana Jones: Thunder In the Orient' (1993) and 'Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny' (1995) for Dark Horse Comics. He provided the art to the issue about racer Bobby Allison in the 'Legends of Nascar' series by the Canadian company Vortex Comics in 1990. Besides his immense production for comic books, Spiegle was an assistant for Thomas Warkentin on the 'Star Trek' newspaper strip by King Features Syndicate (1980). He drew the later stories of the feature 'Nester's Adventures' for Nintendo Power Magazine until 1993. From April 1996 to July 1997, he continued the 'Terry and the Pirates' strip for Tribune Media Services. He succeeded Greg and Tim Hildebrandt on this short-lived revival of the classic newspaper comic by Milton Caniff (1934-1946) and George Wunder (1946-1973).
Later in his career, around 2000, Spiegle worked with the Bank Street College of Education as an illustrator of a number of 'Bank Street Classic Tales' published in Boys' Life magazine, as well as Bible stories for the American Bible Society. In 2008, Spiegle and Evanier returned to the 'Crossfire' character for an issue of 'About Comics' in 2008. In that same year, he contributed a story to the 'Simpsons Comics' title of Matt Groening's Bongo Comics. He continued to do commissions with his classic characters until old age. An interview book about Dan Spiegle's long career by John Coates was published under the title 'Dan Spiegle: A Life in Comic Art' by TwoMorrows Publishing in July 2013.
The veteran artist passed away on 28 January 2017 at the age of 96. Because most of his work was done anonymous, he didn't become a household name among comic fans until later on. He was however respected among his fellow artists. Notably, Gil Kane and Alex Toth have expressed their admiration for his skilled artwork. In his obituary, Mark Evanier called Spiegle "one of the greatest comic book artists who ever lived and inarguably one of the nicest people I've ever met". Spiegle's daughter, Carrie Spiegle, has been a letterer for comic books from 1977 through the mid 1990s.