Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Video: Al Hartley Interview

Atlas Comics and Archie artist Al Hartley (1921 - 2003) is interviewed in this "Focus on Faith" Christian TV show episode. Host Cynthia Anderson provides the background on Al, who served as a bomber pilot in WWII, and then became a busy commercial artist in New York City. He did a lot of comic book work from the late 1940s until the mid-60s. He's best known for his run on the Patsy and Hedy comic book. In 1967, with the Patsy and Hedy book canceled, and his marriage in trouble, Al was out of work and despondent. He became a born-again Christian, and, out of the blue, got a phone call to come and work at Archie comics. He saw this as a sign from God.

He infused his comics work with his new-found faith, so much so that Archie comics had to ask him to please tone it down. He launched Spire Christian comics, licensing the Archie gang in stories with religious lessons. He also drew comic book versions of bible stories. In 1980, he received the prestigious Inkpot Award.

I should add something to the comments that Cynthia Anderson makes in the video. She mentions that Al was working on a risque comic magazine titled "Pussycat" published by Martin Goodman at the time that he (Al) found God. Goodman was, as you know, the head of Marvel and also had his hand in some more adult books. Pussycat, a sexy girl in the big city, was originally created by Wally Wood, and continued on by writer Larry Lieber and artists like Bill Ward, Jim Mooney and Al Hartley. Al went to Martin Goodman, says Cynthia, and told him that as a Christian, he could not work on a lewd book like this. That's what caused him to be out of work.

It's a decent story, but it doesn't make sense. Whether the cause was the demise of Patsy and Hedy or Al's refusal to work on Pussycat, Hartley had worked in pretty much all genres since the late '40s and it was just a matter of time he would have gotten more work.

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