Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Original Art Showcase Episode 6 - Sheldon " Shelly" Moldoff



   While everyone who is a fan of Batman probably knows who Bob Kane was, some may not know much, or anything at all, about Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff.  Shelly Moldoff was a self-taught artist born in NYC in 1920. He fought his way into comics at the age of seventeen and kept a rigorous work schedule for many years to follow. In 1953, Shelly became one of the main ghost artists for Bob Kane on Batman (along with Dick Sprang and Win Mortimer) - back in the early days of comics, it wasn't uncommon for assistants to do part, or the entirety of the work, which was then reviewed by the main artist, and, upon approval, the main artist slapped his name on the pages and turned them in to be published. The arrangement was done on a handshake - Shelly just had to do the work in Kane's style and under his management...And remain anonymous. Shelly did just that, and he was a true workhorse, cranking out over 350 finished pages per year, along with any side work he could get, which included giveaway comics for Bob's Big Boy and Shoney's in the 60s. He kept up this breakneck pace for about fourteen years, until Kane no longer had to produce pages - Kane renegotiated with DC Comics, and other, younger artists with a more modern style were hired to produce Batman pages. This put Moldoff out of regular work. Afterwards, he found work in comics here and there, but his style was considered to be too dated to continue in the medium. Afterwards, he turned to mostly advertising and animation, leaving the comics industry behind until 2000 when he was hired to do a chapter in "Superman and Batman: World's Funnest," which was his first work from DC Comics in many, many years. 

I am very proud to own original artwork produced by the hands of one of the most important Batman artists ever to hold a pencil, and I want to share it with you:

Here is the first piece of original Batman art:

Here is the second piece: 
These Batman pieces drawn, inked and signed by Shelly Moldoff himself, are some of the most loved pieces of my original comics art collection. 


FUN FACT 1: Shelly Moldoff actually had work inside on Action Comics #1, the comic that contained the historic first appearance of Superman - but he did not work on the first Superman story, of course.

FUN FACT 2: Shelly Moldoff drew the covers to Flash Comics #1 (1940):


All-American Comics #16 (1940):

These comics introduced the world to The Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern. 

FUN FACT 3: Shelly Moldoff created Ace The Bat-Hound, Zebra-Man, and Bat-Mite, and he co-created Poison Ivy!

FUN FACT 3: Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944. 

FUN FACT 5: Some claim that Moldoff was the creator of the American horror comic. In 1950, he proposed the idea of horror comics to William Gaines, publisher of EC Comics, several months before he published "Tales from the Crypt." The story goes that as the popularity of superheroes began to wane, Moldoff pitched "This Magazine Is Haunted" and "Tales of the Supernatural" to Fawcett Comics. They passed on them. He then pitched to Gaines, and Gaines loved the idea and signed Moldoff to a contract, a contract which Gaines failed to honor when he published "Tales From The Crypt" a few months later.  EC went on to be the premier publisher of horror comics. Moldoff went on to sell three of his horror titles to Fawcett Comics ("This Magazine Is Haunted," "Worlds of Fear" and "Strange Suspense Stories").  

Here is a stunning sample of what Moldoff could do on a horror cover:

On March 3, 2012, Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff breathed his last at the age of ninety-one. He will be remembered as a true pioneer of the comics industry, and one of the most prolific Batman artists of all time. 

Thanks for reading.

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  1. I love Bats, 350 pages per year...Wow that's like better than Awesome.
    Sweet Tribute Tex!

    1. Thanks, Gil!!

      Moldoff did 350 pages a year for Batman working directly for Kane, but he also did side work for restaurants, and for DC comics, who didn't know he was ghosting for Kane.

      He was a beast.