Mart Nodell

Creator of the Green Lantern


Martin Nodell, comics artist: born Philadelphia 15 November 1915; married (two sons); died Muskego, Wisconsin 9 December 2006.

A stirring - if long-winded - incantation belonged to the 1940s superhero Green Lantern, the creation of the much loved comics artist Mart Nodell:

In brightest day, in darkest night
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power . . .
GREEN LANTERN'S LIGHT!

Green Lantern never quite made the premier league of American superheroes occupied by Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman: he wasn't the strongest (that was either Superman or Captain Marvel, depending on which small boy you asked), the fastest (the Flash or the Whizzer), the smartest (Batman or, well, Batman) or the most patriotic (Captain America or the Shield, both of whom wore variations of the Stars and Stripes as their outfits).

But Green Lantern did possess a super-powered ring, cast from part of a magic lantern he had stumbled across in his civilian guise as Alan Scott, a construction engineer, which endowed him with a range of abilities including flight and near-invulnerability to anything except wood. (Unfortunately, every 24 hours - and at inconveniently critical moments - the ring would run out of oomph, requiring him to recharge it from the lantern.) Plus, he had all the customary accoutrements of the masked mystery man-about-town - a theatrical cape and cowl, a domino mask, a sidekick (Doiby Dickles, a cabbie based on the film funny man Lou Costello of Abbott and Costello) and the obligatory secret identity.

He was just what Sheldon Mayer, editor at All-American Comics (half of what was to become DC Comics), was looking for to cash in on the new superhero craze, when Nodell walked into his office with the concept and design in late 1939. Nodell claimed he had been inspired by Wagner's operatic Ring cycle and the sight of a subway train worker waving his green railway lantern. Fine-tuned by the experienced writer (and Batman co-creator) Bill Finger, the gaudily clad vigilante first saw print in All-American Comics #16, dated July 1940, in an eight-page origin story co-written by Finger and Nodell and drawn by Nodell (under the pseudonym Mart Dellon).

The Lantern hit the spotlight immediately, gaining his own series the following year and co-starring in two others: All-American, which lasted until 1948 and issue 102, Green Lantern, which ran for 38 issues until 1949, the compilation Comic Cavalcade, and the team-up All Star Comics, until it too ceased in 1951. Thereafter the hero was put out to pasture, a victim of falling sales. (In 1959, the name was revived and successfully applied to a different character, and to date there have been several heroes of that name in what has become one of American comicdom's most enduring franchises.)

Nodell, born in 1915 and raised in Philadelphia, had taken the route followed by many comics artists of the era: training at the Art Institute of Chicago and the famed Pratt Institute of New York, followed by one-off cartoons in papers and pulp magazines from 1935 onwards. When the Superman-led superhero comics boom took off in 1938, he freelanced for many of the fly-by-night independent comics publishers that briefly flourished, before he struck it "lucky" (as he always put it) at All-American.

He stayed with the publisher till 1947, when he moved across town to work in-house at Timely Comics, the forerunner to Marvel Comics. However, poor pay and fewer prospects led him to abandon comics in 1950 in favour of better paid advertising studio work, in which he was to spend the rest of his career. It was while he was working for the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago that he drew the storyboards for the original Pillsbury Doughboy advertising campaign in 1965.

After retirement to Florida, Nodell and his wife Carrie were rediscovered by the comics fraternity and became highly popular fixtures on the comics convention circuit. He had one final, fitting reunion with his old creation: to mark Green Lantern's 50th anniversary, Alan Scott was reintroduced in the landmark issue Green Lantern #19, December 1991, for which Nodell was invited to draw a new nine-page story.

Alan Woollcombe

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor