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Del Connell, 1918-2011
posted January 1, 2012

imageThe writer and comics historian Mark Evanier brings word that the animation artist, writer and longtime comics editor Del Connell passed away over the weekend. He was 93 years old.

Connell went to work for the Disney Studio in 1939, where he was employed by the department that dreamed up new characters for forthcoming movies. Movies in which appeared Connell's work of that nature were Fantasia and Dumbo.

Connell served in the military for the breadth of the Second World War. He returned to Disney in 1945 as a screenwriter, contributing to The Three Caballeros, Alice In Wonderland and numerous shorts. Evanier mentions that Connell wrote the short "The Cold-Blooded Penguin" used in the feature The Three Caballeros while still in the Army.

In 1950, Connell began to work for Western Publishing as a writer, mostly on Disney's ultra-successful comics efforts. One of Connell's primary duties seemed to be writing movie adaptations and stories for Disney's special issues -- an appropriate role for the former Studio employee. Connell was a prolific writer all around, however, and contributed a number of fondly-remembered stories to more standard elements of the Disney line including their duck comics. Connell also wrote for other studios' major cartoon characters, including Tom and Jerry (MGM) and Porky Pig (Warner).

In 1956, Connell became the editorial director at Western, a position he held for the next 28 years. This put him directly in a overseer's role with Western's prodigious output for decades of time. He also continued to write, co-creating the long-running (and Lost In Space precursor) Space Family Robinson series in 1962 with Dan Spiegle, co-creating Supergoof with Paul Murry in 1965, providing the initial concept and writing for the character Wacky Witch in I believe the comic of the same name in 1971 and debuting the Mighty Knight character in an issue of Super Goof in 1979. He was a contributor to the daily and weekly Mickey Mouse feature from 1968 until his retirement to the southern California town of Tehachapi (southeast of Bakersfield) in the late 1980s when Western ceased operations. The Mickey Mouse work was uncredited. Connell also worked with Roger Armstrong on the Little Lulu newspaper strip during the 1960s.

A search for Connell's name in the credits of comics on the resource Grand Comics Database yields 128 pages of listings.

Connell was the living recipient of this year's Bill Finger Award, designed to bring recognition to under-appreciated but deserving writers in comics industry past and present. His son Brady accepted on his behalf at this year's Eisner ceremonies during Comic-Con International.