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L. B. Cole (American, 1918-1995)

Comic Book Art

Leonard Brandt Cole (American, 1918-1995) is responsible for more than 1,500 vivid covers. L.B. Cole could draw anything and everything from jungle girls to funny animals, sci-fi to superheroes. Raised in the Bronx, L.B. Cole’s first professional art job was at the Consolidated Lithographing Corporation in Brooklyn. It was at this job that Cole received an apprenticeship in design and advertisement, specifically posters and labels. Cole developed his skills for catching the reader’s eye with stimulating visuals, and from there he transitioned to painting book covers for Phoenix Press in 1942.

Cole did not do any comic book work until 1943 when he took a position at the Ferstadt Art Studio. Here, L.B. produced comic artwork for Ace Publications, which include titles such as Lightning Comics and Four Favorites.

Cole’s productivity was put to the test with the inception of the Second World War. A void was created when the draft plucked many of the talented comic book artists, but not L.B. Cole. Cole could not pass his military physical, and was therefore not fit to serve during the war. Instead of going to war, Cole joined Continental Magazines, where he helped produce Terrific Comics and Suspense Comics, some of his most well-known art.

Later in the decade, L.B. founded Star Publications after he purchased the rights for Blue Bolt Comics. Unfortunately, Star Publications did not fare well after the entire industry was shocked by censorship, political scandal, and the rise of the television in 1954. In fact, Star Publications halted production in 1955. In the early sixties, Cole became the art editor and director at Dell Publications, but this was somewhat short-lived. In the mid-sixties L.B. Cole made the switch back to commercial art and design, where he stayed until retirement. In the late eighties and early nineties, Cole was reconnected with his fans, and because of this he reproduced spectacular re-creations of some of his finest comic book covers.

In 1995, L.B. Cole passed away at the age of 77, and was posthumously inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1999.

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