The Music Master, by Ben Thompson
The Music Master (Heroic Comics #16, January 1943)

Ben Thompson was an American newspaper cartoonist, who also worked as a comic book artist during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He was born Benton F. Thompson on 20 April 1906 in Nebraska. By 1922, Thompson was a radio hobbyist in Bellingham, Washington, who also made a comic strip called 'The Alley Kids' for the Bellingham American Reveille at the age of 16. He studied at the University of Washington, as well as the Chicago Art Institute.

Stalin cartoon by Benton Thompson

In 1929 he was living in Seattle, where he produced cartoons for the Seattle Times. He had a daily cartoon called 'Listen to This One' for this paper from June 1930 to March 1932. Thompson has done magazine art for Collier's, Click and The New Yorker, and also gag cartoons for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle Times and New York Journal-American. He self-published a 16-page pamphlet with his Stalin cartoons, called 'The Reaper!', in 1949.

Masked Marvel, by Ben Thompson
The Masked Marvel (December 1939)

He was active as a comic book artist through the packager Funnies Inc. from 1938 to 1942. He created the adventures of "super sleuth" 'The Masked Marvel' for Centaur's 'Keen Detective Comics' in 1939-1940. It was the first comic book hero with "marvel" in his monicker, created before Timely Publications/Marvel Comics began to introduce a host of characters with the name, such as 'The Black Marvel' (1941), 'Marvel Boy' (1950), 'Marvel Girl' (1963), 'Captain Marvel' (1967) and 'Ms. Marvel' (1977). Centaur's Marvel was not quite a superhero though, since he didn't have any particular superpowers.

Doctor Frost by Ben Thompson
Doctor Frost (Prize Comics #9, February 1941)

Thompson worked for Timely at the same time, creating 'Ka-Zar the Great' for 'Marvel Comics' #1 in 1939. His other Timely credits include 'Blue Diamond' (1941-1942), 'Citizen V' (1942), 'Loony Laffs' (1939) and 'The Texas Kid' (1940). He also drew for 'Prize Comics' by Feature Comics, for which he created 'Dr. Frost' with Richard Steele from 1940 to 1942. This arctic character could freeze objects and create ice sleds by projecting cold beams from his hands.


Hydroman (Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics #12, September 1942)

He worked mainly for the comic books published by Eastern Color Printing, however. He first did fillers (1938-1942), before working with many of the company's over-the-top superheroes for 'Heroic Comics' in 1942 and 1943. He drew features with 'Hydroman', a superhero created by Bill Everett who could transform into water, and co-created 'Rainbow Boy', a youth who travels with the speed of light, and 'The Music Master', a violinist who was able to fly through the air on musical notes.

Ben Thompson lived for many years in Naugatuck, Connecticut, but then divorced and moved to San Diego, California, where he died on 14 December 1975.

Ben Thompson
Ben Thompson in 1926

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