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Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Yet another of the "Golden Age" cartoonists whose creations helped build the comic book industry as we know it, the creator of the original Green Lantern, has died. I met Martin Nodell when he visited DC Comics back in 1999, and he was one hell of a guy, even being kind enough to sign his section in my copy of "The Great Comic Book Heroes," a book that I have cherished since I was seven years old, a tome that is more responsible than any other influence for my interest in the history of comics.

Yeah, I know, I'm a geek.

So here's Nodell's obit from the Associated Press, and for the layman, the original Green Lantern is not the one you're familiar with; the later, better-known GL is a space hero, while the original was more of a traditional "mystery man" with a magic ring. And don't get me started on the original's major weakness, namely wood. Yes, you read that right.

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Martin Nodell, the creator of Green Lantern, the comic book superhero who uses his magical ring to help him fight crime, has died. He was 91.

Nodell died at a nursing home in Muskego, Wisconsin, on Saturday of natural causes, his son Spencer Nodell told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He previously lived in West Palm Beach.

Nodell was looking for a new idea for a comic book in 1940 when he was waiting for a New York subway and saw a train operator waving a lantern displaying a green light, said Maggie Thompson, senior editor of Comics Buyer's Guide.

Nodell imagined a young engineer, Alan Scott, a train crash survivor who discovers in the debris an ancient lantern forged from a green meteor. Scott constructs a ring from the lamp that gives him super powers, and becomes a crime fighter.

Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. From his first appearance, ALL AMERICAN COMICS #16 (1940)

He brought his drawings and story lines to All-American Publications, which later became a part of National Periodical Publications, the company that was to become DC Comics, Thompson said. (DC Comics is a unit of Time Warner, as is CNN.)

The first Green Lantern appearance came in July 1940, an eight-page story in a comic book also featuring other characters. The character then got his own series, and Nodell drew it until 1947 under the name Mart Dellon.

After its cancellation in 1949, the series was reborn in 1959 with a revised story line, and it has been revived several times.

Meanwhile, Nodell left the comics field for an advertising career. In the 1960s, he was on a design team that helped develop the Pillsbury Doughboy.

In later years, Nodell traveled the comic book convention circuit with his wife, Caroline, who died in 2004.

"There were myriad of fans who would come up to my dad and would say 'Green Lantern got me to read' or 'Green Lantern got me to do something in my life,' " Spencer Nodell said.

Nodell was born in Philadelphia and studied at art schools in Chicago and New York. Besides Spencer Nodell, survivors include another son, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The Golden Age Green Lantern by Alex Ross


Suki said...

When did they change it from wood to yellow/gold? Notice I didn't ask WHY.

And I'm really glad the AP added the origin of the origin.

Anonymous said...

Something Positive honored him today:

Anonymous said...

Wood? So he could destroy a tank with a thought but a little dutch boy could stomp him to death with those ugly clogs.

I'd say that's a fatal flaw.


Bunche (pop culture ronin) said...

In answer to the lovely Suki's question: the wood thing applied strictly to the Golden Age GL. The yellow thing happened as of the 1959 outer space reboot with Hal Jordan.