Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Green Lantern Creator Dies Today, Age 91

I had the privilege to meet Mart Nodell twice, both times at Wizard World Chicago. He was a small man, suffering heavily from arthritis, and the first time I met him, his wife was glued to his side, helping him with anything he needed. She passed away two years ago, and seeing how close the two of them were, it's no surprise to me that he followed her quickly.

He was a very kind man and graced me with a couple of Green Lantern sketches, one of which I gave to one of my best friends, and the other I kept as a treasure for the store. We just lost Dave Cockrum, and now we've lost another comic book legend - a moment of silence for Mart Nodell.


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 his 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.

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, 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.

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