Jim Steranko is an American artist of influential comic book art, most notably for Marvel during the Silver Age of Comics. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania as James F. Steranko into a family of Ukrainian origins, he started drawing comics in 1965. Prior to this, he was an illusionist, magician and escape artist with several American circuses, carnivals and nightclubs. He was also a musician in several bands during the early years of rock 'n' roll. Steranko did his first art jobs for a local printing firm and some ad agencies, before he was hired by Harvey Publications to create the features 'Spyman', 'Magicmaster' and 'The Gladiator' for the shortlived Harvey Thriller line in 1966.
Then Marvel Comics editor Stan Lee hired him as a penciller for the 'Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.' feature in Strange Tales. Steranko first filled in layouts by Jack Kirby, but soon took over the series and began to play with his new medium in surprising and innovative ways, drawing inspiration from psychedelia, optical art and photomontage. His work became a major influence on contemporary comic artists. By 1967, he was also the writer and colorist of the comic. Steranko also had shortlived runs on some other Marvel titles, such as 'Captain America' and 'X-Men', and contributed a short horror story in 'Tower of Shadows'.
In 1969, he started his own publishing venture Supergraphics, which published the magazine Mediascene and Steranko's 'History of Comics' in 1970. Steranko worked with writer Byron Preiss on the anti-drug comic book The Block', that was distributed to elementary schools nationwide in 1970. Although he continued to contribute cover art to Marvel until 1973, his last comic story for the company was a single issue of 'Our Love Story', published in 1970. He was however the editor of the official Marvel fan magazine FOOM from 1973.
Steranko eventually focused on painting and book cover illustrations. His later comics/sequential work includes the experimental 'Frogs' in Comixscene (1973), the illustrated novel 'Chandler: Red Tide' (Pyramid, 1976), adaptations of the sci-fi short story 'Repent Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman' (Baronet, 1978) and the sci-fi thriller 'Outland' (Heavy Metal, 1981), and 'The Exile at the Edge of Eternity' in Superman issue 400 (DC, 1984). Steranko has won numerous awards for his work both in America and Europe.