Golden Age Comic Book Artist Sheldon Moldoff, R.I.P.
Multiple outlets are reporting the death of Sheldon Moldoff, the Golden Age comic book artist whose work is probably best known to ComicsAlliance readers in the form of the enduring Batman characters he co-created: Poison Ivy, Clayface II and Bat-Mite. In addition to his prodigious work with Batman co-creator Bob Kane, Moldoff also had the distinction of working on Action Comics #1, which contained the first appearance of Superman. Affectionally known as Shelly within the industry, Moldoff was Action #1′s last surviving contributor. He was 91 years old.As detailed by comics writer Mark Evanier, Moldoff had his hand in many auspicious works of American comics’ Golden Age, beginning his career at just 17-years-old. Moldoff was an assistant to Bob Kane on the early Detective Comics issues to feature the Batman, introduced the world to the original Flash with his Flash Comics #1 cover, drew the first appearance of Hawkgirl in All Star Comics #5, and reportedly gave EC Comics publisher William Gaines the inspiration to create Tales From the Crypt.
Moldoff worked for many years as one of Bob Kane’s Batman ghost artists. Because he was also working for DC directly at the time, primarily as an inker, Moldoff was occasionally tasked with inking “Kane” pencils he’d actually drawn himself. Moldoff would later claim that DC had no idea what was going on, but others say his involvement was common knowledge.
Moldoff discussed that time in an interview with Alter-Ego:
I worked for Bob Kane as a ghost from ’53 to ’67. DC didn’t know that I was involved; that was the handshake agreement I had with Bob: ‘You do the work don’t say anything, Shelly, and you’ve got steady work’. No, he didn’t pay great, but it was steady work, it was security. I knew that we had to do a minimum of 350 to 360 pages a year. Also, I was doing other work at the same time for [editors] Jack Schiff and Murray Boltinoff at DC. They didn’t know I was working on Batman for Bob. … So I was busy. Between the two, I never had a dull year, which is the compensation I got for being Bob’s ghost, for keeping myself anonymous.
The changing times saw Moldoff’s style go out of fashion in the late 1960s, but the artist kept busy in animation and commercial art. Eventually he would return to DC Comics 30 years later to draw Superman and Batman: World’s Funnest, Evan Dorkin’s cult classic one-shot starring Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite.
Present day DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee released the following statement on the occasion of Moldoff’s passing:
When you think of the Golden Age of comics, you think of the work of Sheldon Moldoff. His early drawings of Green Lantern, Flash and most especially Hawkman set the tone for these bold new heroes. Throughout his career, Sheldon Moldoff made a lasting contribution to the comic book industry and what would later become the DC universe. We salute the career and legacy of one of the greats.