Above: A STEVE ROPER AND MIKE NOMAD Sunday strip courtesy of Comic Book Catacombs.
Francis "Fran" Matera, best known for drawing King Features' STEVE ROPER AND MIKE NOMAD, died at his home in Safety Harbor, Florida on March 15, 2012. The cause was complications from prostate cancer. He was 87.
He is survived by his three sons, Fran Matera Jr., Chris and Guy Matera, and four grandchildren. Services, according to the Tampa Bay Times, are 2:15PM. March 30; Bay Pines National Cemetery, 10,000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg.
Mr. Matera delineated the adventures of STEVE ROPER AND MIKE NOMAD for twenty years beginning in 1984, until the last day of the comic strip, December 26, 2004.
Through his mentor, local comic strip artist Alfred Andriola, Matera found a staff position with Quality Comics after graduating high school in Connecticut. Eight months later, he interrupted his art career when he served in the Marines during World War II. While serving on the USS Augusta, he drew a portrait of visiting President Harry Truman.
After his 1947 discharge, he assisted Andriola on KERRY DRAKE. After that, he took over the Milton Caniff-created DICKIE DARE comic strip.
Matera's line up of comic strip and comic book work is tremendous: LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY, REX MORGAN, the 1981 INDIANA JONES movie tie-in comic, ghosting strips such as JUDGE PARKER, APARTMENT 3-G, REX MORGAN; he drew hundreds of comic book stories for Charlton, St. John and the Catholic comic book series TREASURE CHEST. Fran Matera also drew THE HULK and TARZAN for Marvel Comics.
In 2009, Sherri Ackerman profiled Matera for The Tampa Tribune:
- He married the love of his life, a beautiful blonde named Patricia, and moved her south to Delray Beach where the couple lived in an old two-story house on Swinton Avenue nicknamed White Haven. There, they raised three boys, Fran Jr., Chris and Guy. The family eventually moved to Safety Harbor, where Patricia died in 2004. Matera's sons live nearby. One day, they'll inherit their dad's famous portrait, though Matera has heard more than once that it belongs in the White House or a museum. A copy of the original resides at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum Independence. MO. Some friends have even suggested Matera sell his sketch with its famous signature, a moment in time that still leaves Matera wondering: Did Truman realize then how valuable that piece of paper would
- one day become? "I don't see how it could ever be sold," Matera says. "It's priceless."
Fran Matera Web site
Fran Matera Wikipedia page