Martin Nodell, creator of Green Lantern, 1915-2006

Sad news to pass along. Martin Nodell, who helped create both the Green Lantern and the Pillsbury Doughboy, has passed away at age 91. If you’ve been to a comic convention, it’s likely you’ve seen him.

From the CBR obit: Born Nov. 15, 1915, in Philadelphia, Nodell got his start in comics as a freelance artist around 1938, but it was when he began working for editor Sheldon Mayer at All-American Comics that his career took off… Nodell asked Mayer what he needed to do to get regular assignments from the company, Mayer suggested he pitch a new character for their flag ship title, “All-American Comics.” That character was the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott. All-American Comics was later absorbed by DC Comics. Read the whole story.

The CBR peice is a condensed version of a longer, more detailed retrospective by Mark Evanier. An excerpt: [All-American Comics editor Sheldon] Mayer gave him a little work. When Nodell asked what it would take to get steady assignments, Mayer, who was looking for a new feature for the company’s signature title, All-American Comics, told him to come up with a character. Nodell returned a few days later with sketches and the germ cell of a strip called Green Lantern. He said the idea had come to him on the subway when he saw a man waving — you guessed it — a green lantern. Nodell also said he wrote and drew the first few pages of the first story…but he wasn’t a writer so Mayer brought in one of comics’ top writers, Bill Finger, to rewrite and finish the first tale.

On a personal note, I really liked Mr. Nodell for a number of reasons. First of all, the Green Lantern remains one of my favorite superheroes of all. His contribution to that character cements his position in the Pantheon of Comic Creators for me.

And secondly, he was a defining part of my first comic convention, the 2001 Pittsburgh Comic Convention. I got a GL T-shirt signed by him. As I was deciding whether to purchase a signed book as well, his wife said, “You’d better get it now. Marty doesn’t go to many comic conventions anymore.”

I saw him at almost every convention I attended ever since.

…Which, incidentally, was the inspiration for the inside joke in the Greystone strip below.