About Al

Background

Alfred John Plastino

Born: December 15, 1921

(St. Vincents Hospital, NYC)

Died: November 25, 2013

(Brookhaven Hospital, Patchogue, NY)


Graduated: High School of Art and Design, NYC


Member: National Cartoonist Society

Awards: Ink Pot Award 2008

First credted comic art: Dynamic Man 1941, Blue Bolt, 1943


Syndicated Comic Strips

  

Syndicated Comic Strips: Abbie n’ Slats (1957); Barry Noble, formerly Hap Harper, Washington Correspondent (1946-48); Batman and Robin (1968-72), Ferd’nand (1970-90), Nancy (1982-84), Peanuts (1985)

Comic Book Credits

  

Co-creator (original artist): Legion of Super Heroes and Supergirl (DC Comics)

DC Comics: Superman (1947-68); Superman and Batman (World’s Finest Comics 1967), Jimmy Olsen (1961-65); Legion of Super Heroes 1962; Lois Lane (1957-60); Superboy (1957-72); Supergirl (1959)

Featured Comics: Green Lantern 1941

Marvel/Timely Comics: Captain America 1942; The Patriot (1942-43); Sub-Mariner 1940’s; The Vision (1942-43)

Comics Shop Work: (Jack Binder Studio) 1940, Harry Chesler Studio (1938-45), Funnies Inc. (1941-46), SM Iger Studio (1940-41)

Chesler Publications/Dynamic, etc. Dynamic Man (1941-44), Johnny on the Spot (1945), Rocketman (1941, 1946)

Novelty Comics: Phantom Sub (1942-43); Sergeant Spook 1942

Magazine Enterprises American Air Forces 1944; non-fiction US Marines 1944; war 

Co-Creator

Original artist: Legion of Super Heroes, Supergirl, Brainiac, The Parasite

About AL

  •   Al Plastino learned to draw from copying the masters of old — literally. “ I used to go to the Metropolitan Museum in NYC — Dad would drop me off. I copied Renoir, Monet, Rembrandt, all the masters.”He laughs as he reminisces. Looking back, it was a rather inauspicious beginning for the man who would go on to help immortalize two of the best loved Superheroes — Superman and Batman.All this from someone who used to look down on comic art. “In my day, a cartoonist was the worst thing you could be.”Born December 15th, 1921 in NYC, Plastino says he began his career in art while still in grade school. “My third grade teacher saw my work; we used to have these little yearbooks. I contributed some drawings. When I got to 6th grade, I was painting the scenery for the plays. I did posters forThanksgiving, Christmas; she encouraged me, bought me books.” He was accepted in to the High School of Industrial Arts in NYC. When He graduated from high school, he was illustrating for a magazine called Youth Today. He was accepted to attend Cooper Union Art University in New York to further his art training but decided to keep working as a freelance artist. Plastino was in the Metropolitan one day, copying a Renoir, when a man came up and handed him his business card. “ I don’t know whether you’re showing off, but you’re good,” Plastino related. The man was a mapmaker and young Plastino found himself illustrating maps of real estate. “Not much pay,” he recalls, laughing. “But I learned a hell of a lot.”During World War II, Plastino was drafted, along with his brothers, who happened to let slip that Al was building a model airplane from his own sketches, plans and scrap balsa wood. The army became interested, fast. “They looked at it, they liked it,” he recalled.They liked it so much, in fact, that they gave him an extension and sent him to Grumman Aerospace Corp., who sent him to the Inventor’s council and then was sent to the Pentagon In Washington D.C. A week later, Plastino was sent a telegram to report for duty in the Pentagon and was assigned to the AGO – the Adjunct General’s office where he began drawing and painting posters for the Pentagon – then sent to Steinberg’s Studios in New York, There he did drawings for the training manuals. At this point he had learned by Steinberg they were looking for an illustrator to do Superman. “ I did a sample drawing for editor Mort Weisenger and I was hired. They were paying $55 a page at the time. Pretty soon Plastino was drawing not only Superman for DC but became the co-creator and original artist for the “Legion of Super Heroes”. He went on to illustrate Superboy and Supergirl along with Super Dog and Bizarro Superman. “Mort was responsible for really building up the Superman character with those ideas. I thought they were crazy at the time”. Plastino also worked on Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen stories as well. “People that created strips didn’t necessarily draw them,” he related. Batman writer/editor Jack Ellsworth relied on Al Plastino to illustrate the masked crusader (Al would go on to draw the strip for the Ledger Syndicate in the 60’s and 70’s). DC Editor Mort Weisenger used Plastino, Wayne Boring and Curt Swan to fine tune creators’ Siegel and Shuster’s ideas for Superman as well. In addition to working on Superman, he also freelanced commercial art (illustrations and cover designs for Pulp Magazines) and also did paintings of portraits, murals, and landscapes. He exhibited in New York and Philadelphia. In the 60’s Al was working on a Superman story featuring John F. Kennedy concerning Youth Fitness and called on Superman to help him. Halfway through the story our beloved President Kennedy was assassinated and was told by President Johnson to complete the story. The original artwork is housed in The Kennedy Library. Later he was also commissioned to do the only portrait of a famous American during the Era of John S. Hobart. This portrait print is registered in the Library Of Congress. The original painting is located at the John S. Hobart Elementary School in Shirley, New York. 
  • A character named “Hap Harper” was the start of Al’s relationship with United Features Syndicate. He went on to do the pantomine strip Ferd’nand in the early 70’s while he was still drawing Batman. Creator “Dahl Mikkelsen” was in need of help and he called on Plastino to take over. The strip became Al’s and appeared in more than 400 newspapers around the world. I did that strip for 20 years (he was let go in 1989 and the strip was given to a young Danish artist who took a lower salary). Every Monday morning I got up and looked at a blank slate. It was a real challenge”. Ferd’nand was not the only strip Plastino worked on for United Features, he went on to draw the “Nancy and Sluggo” comic strip for Ernie Bushmiller and later ghosted “Peanuts” for Charles Shultz when Shultz underwent heart surgery back in the 1980’s. 
  • Plastino refused to work from photographs, preferring the human element. “A photograph influences you too much, “ he says. And if I had done that, Superman would never have been able to leap a tall building in a single bound, fly around the earth faster than a speeding bullet or lift a train full of passengers and fly them to safety. 
  • Al came out of retirement 25 years later to appear at Comic Book Conventions and meet the fans who followed him throughout his career. “I get a great deal of satisfaction when a letter arrives from a fan or I meet someone in person and they tell me how much they enjoyed my work and how it has influenced them. Knowing I have helped to inspire others and the fact that they can recognize the craftsmanship of the art, to me, is the greatest honor anyone could receive.” 
  • On November 25th, 2013, in the middle of a very public dispute with Heritage Auctions over comic art that was supposed to have been donated to the Kennedy Library, Al passed away at the age of 91. This website is dedicated to keeping his spirit alive and to exhibit his work for the fans that recognize his super talent. Please stay in touch. Our family continues to enjoy hearing from you and any stories you can add to his legacy. 


High school friend, Nick Cardy (Aquaman, Teen Titan's artist) and Al at Florida ComicCon July 2013. 

Al working on recreation of Batman for commission by fan (Courtesy Newsday)

Contact Me

Get in Touch!

al@alplastino.com