Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 12, 2010

Violet “Valerie” Barclay, 1922-2010


CR has heard from a pair of sources that Valerie Barclay, one of a handful of working female cartoonists at the end of the comic book industry's heyday in the 1940s and into the early 1950s, passed away on February 26 after a long period of decline. If these reports are true, she was 87 years old. Barclay was perhaps best known for being celebrated as "Violet Barclay, Glamorous Girl Inker" in Stan Lee's Secrets Behind The Comics, where she offered up as proof that both men and women worked in the comics field.

imageBarclay was born Violet Barclay in Manhattan in 1922. (She later adopted the name Valerie without legally changing her name.) She attended School of Industrial Art High School and then School Of Visual Arts. In a 2004 interview, she recalled the she received her first job in comics through Mike Sekowsky, who secured a staff inker position for her at Stan Lee's Timely Comics. This was apparently at the point when the company had relocated to the Empire State Building office, yet before Stan Lee's entrance into the service. During the 1940s, Timely made a line-shift in the heart of its output to publishing a number of humor comics, and it looks like Barclay had credits on a number of those, including the wonderfully-named Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal.

Barclay left Timely in 1949, in part because of the personal tensions in the office, becoming a freelancer for a number of companies including ACG, St. John, Ace, Standard and, briefly, DC Comics. Unable to find work in the field as censorship pressures, declining sales general and distribution difficulties began to squeeze the industry, Barclay temporarily turned to modeling and back to hostessing before moving into a long career in fashion illustration. She later turned to painting.

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