Tuesday, October 23

Marc Swayze, R.I.P.

(Typo in issue number - should be #18)
This is a bit belated, but I want nonetheless to bring notice to the passing on 14 October of another of the founding fathers of American comic books, Marcus Desha Swayze of my hometown of Monroe, Louisiana.  Among the many comic book stories he illustrated during the 1940s was the introduction of Captain Marvel's sister, Mary Marvel, in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (Dec 1942).  

I contributed the following to the memorials web page of Mulhearn Funeral Home a few days ago:

I only learned a couple years ago that the man who produced many of the 1940s comic book stories that were being reprinted in the 1970s when I was enjoying them so immensely lived in the same town I grew up in. Although I never met Mr Swayze, I felt I grew to know him through his art from back then and later interviews and articles he contributed to, until very recently, celebrating the Golden Age of American comics in which he was a vital participant. My condolences to his family and all those touched by him. - Kent Hare

In case it vanishes from the Monroe News-Star web site, I also preserve the obituary posted there on 14 October:

Monroe's 'Captain Marvel' Artist Marcus Swayze Dies

Marc Swayze died Sunday at the age of 99.
He was an artist and writer for Captain Marvel Comics
in the 1940s. / The News-Star/File
Legendary artist Marcus Swayze of Monroe died Sunday.

He was 99.

Swayze, who was also called "Marc," drew the Captain Marvel character for Fawcett Publications from 1941 to 1942.

He talked about his career during an October 2000 interview with The News-Star.

Swayze said Fawcett, based in New York City, was looking for an artist to contribute to its newly created comic book "WHIZ Comics."

Swayze sent sketches of his work to Fawcett and "they said, 'come for an interview and be prepared to stay,'" Swayze recalled in the interview.

He said his style of drawing is simple and stands in sharp contrast to the flashy, intricate comic book art of today.

"My personal philosophy was to use the art in storytelling so that even a child who couldn't yet read could get a story out of it," he said.

Swayze's career in comics spanned more than a decade during the Golden Age of Comics, when the books were at the height of their popularity.

In addition to drawing Captain Marvel, Swayze was the first to draw Mary Marvel. Mary, Billy's long lost sister, could also gain super powers by saying "SHAZAM!"

"I loved that life," Swayze said, referring to his years in New York. "I made some of the best friends I ever had."

Swayze created 50 characters of his own in an attempt to secure a contract for a syndicated comic strip.

The characters were drawn by Swayze and from his experiences. The Great Pierre was a Cajun from Louisiana, complete with woodsman's clothes and a broken Louisiana accent.

Swayze was working for Fawcett Comics on Dec. 7, 1941, when America entered World War II. He was soon drafted and found himself at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

In a January 2011 interview, Swayze said it was during his Army stint that another talent came to the fore. One day on the firing range, he was called in to see the base colonel and was told to "bring your guitar."

There, he was introduced to Bing Crosby, and the two of them performed together in two concerts before the troops. Later, word came down that when Crosby broadcast one of his next radio shows, he mentioned having visited Fort Oglethorpe and said that he had met "a great guitar player."

After his Army years, Swayze decided he wanted to settle down and start a family. He recalled telling his editors at Fawcett that he loved New York but it was just time to go home.

His editors at Fawcett allowed him to work from home. He returned to Monroe, where he met his wife June, and raised five children.

While in Monroe, Swayze drew The Phantom Eagle for Fawcett and Flyin' Jenny for newspapers. Regular trips to the post office to mail his work to New York and an occasional telephone call kept him in contact with his editors.

It was revealed in a 2011 interview that Swayze regularly wrote a column for Alter Ego, a magazine for comic-book enthusiasts. His column was titled, "We Didn't Know It Was the Golden Age!"

Requiescat in Pace.

No comments:

Post a Comment