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Five For Friday #49—Men Behind Desks
posted September 30, 2005

Name Five Important Figures in Comics Not Primarily Creators

1. Gilbert Seldes
2. William Gaines
3. Kees Kousemaker
4. Phil Seuling
5. William Randolph Hearst

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Jeffrey Meyer

1. Frederick Wertham
2. Gary Groth
3. Don Thompson
4. Robert M. Overstreet
5. Joe Matt


Rob Schamberger

1. Denis Kitchen
2. Julie Schwartz
3. Bill Gaines
4. Phil Seuling
5. Ron Perlman


Andrew Mansell

1. Hearst
2. Patterson & McCormack
3. Bill Blackbeard
4. Jerry Bails
5. Hugh Hefner


Art Baxter

1. Frederik L. Schodt
2. Bill Blackbeard
3. Russ Cochran
4. Hugh Hefner
5. Mort Weisinger


Alan David Doane

James Sime
Jim Crocker
Christopher Butcher
Jeff Mason
Eric Reynolds


Christopher Duffy

1. Jack Schiff
2. Gary Groth and Kim Thompson (yes, I know they're not one person...)
3. Bill Blackbeard
4. William Randolph Hearst
5. Carol Kalish


Fred Hembeck

Belligerent Billy Hearst
Mirthless Marty Goodman
Frenzied Freddy Wertham
High-priced Howie Rogofsky
Gentrified Jenny Kahn


Tom Peyer

1. Joseph Medill Patterson
2. Walt Disney
3. Ben Cooper
4. William Dozier
5. Karen Berger

Good question.


Randall Kirby

Roz Kirby
Ann Eisner
Joan Lee
Josie DeCarlo
Jackie Estrada


Jeet Heer

I've decided only to focus on people not already mentioned:

1. Woody Gelman -- the mentor of Crumb and Spiegelman, and collector who preserved Little Nemo for future generations.
2. Francoise Mouly -- as co-editor of Raw and editor at The New Yorker.
3. Chris Oliveros -- is their any publisher with better taste?
4. Martin Williams -- a fine critic who co-edited the pivotal, canon-forming Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics with Bill Blackbeard.
5. Coulton Waugh -- not really remembered at all as a cartoonist but the author of a great pioneering study of comics.


Roger Green

1. Martin Goodman
2. Bill Gaines
3. Don & Maggie Thompson
4. Phil Seuling
5. Denis Kitchen

(Am I boring, or is it the question?)


Jeet Heer

Hi Tom,

This might be unorthodox, but I came up with five more that fit your criteria that haven't been mentioned yet.

1. Harold Ross -- whose sensibility shaped the New Yorker and by extension all magazine cartooning.
2. Michele Urry -- the gatekeeper of cartooning at Playboy.
3. Charles Landon -- his Landon School of Cartooning (a correspondence course) educated virtually every great cartoonist of the early 20th century, including Caniff, Segar, Jack Cole, and Carl Barks.
4. Frank Wing -- not to be confused with Frank King, of course. He also educated students by mail. His most famous alumni? Charles Schulz.
5. Mollie Slott -- she kept Chicago Tribune-New York Daily News Syndicate running in its mid-century glory days.


Mike Catron

Ignoring the example of your list, I limited my selection to those still living (and not mentioned on others' lists). (And kudos to Randall Kirby for completely ignoring the suggestion in your headline.) Alphabetically, then:

1. Jack Adler -- his invention of the comics coloring process (R2Y2 was "flesh" for white characters, B was Superman blue, BR3 was Spider-Man Blue) made it possible to color comics at a rate faster than one page a week. He also pioneered many other production innovations. Not that it's relevant, but he also happens to be some kind of cousin (2nd, 3rd, 4th, I don't know) to Howard Stern (not that there's anything wrong with that).

2. Shel Dorf -- founder of the San Diego Comicon (OK, he didn't do it by himself, I know, but from what I understand he was the guy with the initial vision and drive.)

3. Steve Geppi -- winner in the direct comics distribution wars

4. Bob Klein and Tim Stroup -- so I cheated by naming two people. They're the co-founders of the Grand Comics Database (an organization with which I'm associated --, which revolutionized comics indexing and research.

5. James Warren -- another publisher. Maverick, entrepreneur, he was the first to find a successful way of publishing "mature" comics outside the Comics Code, something even EC wasn't able to pull off. He was also the first to publish a number of the early underground cartoonists, in the now-forgotten Help!, edited by Harvey Kurtzman.