Remembering the Art and Craftsmanship of Ross Andru
On this day in 1927, Rossolav Andruskevitch was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He showed an aptitude for art from an early age, and after attending the High School Of Music & Art in New York City, serving a stint in the Army, enrolling at the Cartoonists And Illustrators School (now known as SVA), and shortening his professional name to Ross Andru, he launched himself into a career in comics that would span six decades, and establish him as one of the industry's finest craftsmen.
Andru's first published work was assisting Burne Hogarth on the syndicated Tarzan strip, and shortly thereafter, he teamed for the first time with his friend and classmate, inker Mike Esposito, launching what would become one of the most successful and lasting collaborations in the history of the medium. Sensing a good thing, the pair would found two different short-lived comic companies before landing at DC in 1953, and becoming some of the publisher's go-to artists for much of the ensuing two decades.
In 1958, they took over as the art team for Wonder Woman, defining her look for a new generation of readers. The following year, in the pages of The Brave And The Bold, they introduced the original Suicide Squad (whom Andru co-created with writer Robert Kanigher). In 1960, also in collaboration with Kanigher, Andru and Esposito created the science-fiction/war mash-up series The War That Time Forgot in the pages of Star Spangled War Stories.
In 1962, Kanigher, Andru, and Esposito created The Metal Men, who first appeared in Showcase #37, and would go on to headline their own series for many years thereafter. And in 1967, upon wrapping up their nine-year Wonder Woman run, Andru and Esposito took over The Flash from series originator Carmine Infantino, and would lead the character through some of his best-remembered tales of the Silver Age over the next two-and-a-half years.
As the '70s dawned, Andru and Esposito began to seek new opportunities, so when former Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky founded Skywald, a new company with plans to publish an entire slate of black-and-white magazine-format comics, they were ready to make the most of it. But things at Skywald fell apart after only two issues of their flagship title Hell-Rider (a series that Andru co-created with writer Gary Friedrich, about a flame-throwing, motorcycle-riding vigilante), and in short order, Andru was enlisted by Marvel to help firm up their roster of artists.
At Marvel, both with Esposito and other collaborators, Andru would gain possibly his greatest fame. He pencilled the first appearances of The Defenders, launched the Spider-Man spin-off title Marvel Team-Up, handled short stints on Sub-Mariner and Shanna The She-Devil, and, most famously, took over The Amazing Spider-Man for a fifty-six issue run, during which he drew such landmark issues as #131 (the Doc Ock/Aunt May wedding), #149 (which would serve many years later as the jumping-off point for the infamous "clone saga"), and #129 (which introduced a grim-faced vigilante known as The Punisher).
Andru was also responsible for the visuals of one of the highest-profile single stories of all time, 1976's landmark Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man special edition, which would be the first of many crossovers between the DC and Marvel universes.
In the late '70s, Andru and Esposito co-created the syndicated adventure strip The Unexplained. Andru would also return to DC in 1978, working as both an artist and editor, and over the next dozen years, contributed to Firestorm, Vigilante, Detective Comics, Blue Beetle, DC Comics Presents, Who's Who, Captain Carrot, Atari Force, and a number of other titles. And in 1992-1993, he reunited with Esposito one last time for a run on Zen, Intergalactic Ninja.
In November of 1993, Andru passed away in Queens, New York.
Some creators make every ounce of their strife and sweat visible on the page, but Andru's work appeals on a very different level --- he makes it seem effortless, setting fluid figures on carefully-rendered backgrounds, guiding his characters through the action without ever drawing undue attention to himself. He was equally at home in a variety of different genres, and for more than forty-five years, produced top-notch work without ever missing a beat or a deadline. His covers draw you in, and his pages tell the stories with an easy grace: never strained, ever-stylish. So today, on the anniversary of his birth, ComicsAlliance celebrates Ross Andru's career, accomplishments, and artistry.
Check out a gallery of his most-awe-inspiring covers below: