|Born||Henry Allan Hartley
October 25, 1921
Kearny, New Jersey
|Died||May 27, 2003 (aged 81)
Fort Myers, Florida
Henry Allan Hartley (October 25, 1921, Kearny, New Jersey, United States–May 27, 2003, Fort Myers, Florida) was an American comic book writer-artist known for his work on Archie Comics, Atlas Comics (the 1950s precursor of Marvel Comics), and many Christian comics. He received an Inkpot Award at the 1980 San Diego Comic-Con.
Hartley studied at the Art Students League of New York before serving as a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber pilot in Europe during World War II. On his return, he became a commercial artist while beginning to freelance for comic books. He wrote and drew the backup feature "Roger Dodger" Exciting Comics #51-67 (Sept. 1946 - May 1949), from pulp magazine publisher Ned Pines' mix'n'match Better Publications/Nedor/Standard Publishing. Hartley also did humor one- and two-pagers for that company's America's Best Comics #20-28 (Dec. 1946 - Nov. 1948), "Zippie" in The Fighting Yank, and pieces for Startling Comics and Wonder Comics.
During this time he also did the backup features "Debbie" and "Teen Tales" in Michel Publications' Cookie, The Funniest Kid in Town; and "Peg" for ACG's The Kilroys. As well his worked appeared in the titles All Romances, Dotty, Dotty and Her Boyfriends, and Vicky for A. A. Wyn, Inc.'s Ace Comics.
Hartley hit his stride, however, at Atlas, where he worked across a gaggle of genres and made his mark with a more than decade-long stint on the Patsy Walker teen-girl titles. More naturalistic in his rendering than such fellow Atlas cartoonists as Dan DeCarlo, Hartley took over the Patsy Walker franchise from writer-artist Al Jaffee, who'd left to become one of MAD Magazine's top lights.
With writer-editor Stan Lee, Hartley drew the redheaded high schooler's lightly comic adventures in her namesake series (which ran through 1964) and in its spin-offs, Patsy and Hedy (which ran through 1967) and the single-issue A Date with Patsy (Sept. 1957). Well into the Marvel Age, Hartley also drew the "Special Queen Size Annual," Patsy Walker's Fashion Parade #1 (1966). Ironically, given the artist's later conversion to Christianity and extensive work in Christian comics, Patsy would be integrated into Marvel Universe continuity as the supernatural superheroine Hellcat, married to Daimon Hellstrom, the "Son of Satan", long after Hartley had left.
Also for Atlas, Hartley co-created Leopard Girl with writer Don Rico in Jungle Action, and drew such features as "The Black Rider" in Wild Western, and "Cliff Mason, White Hunter" in Jungle Tales. Hartley drew as well for the horror/suspense titles Mystic, Spellbound, Strange Tales, Adventures Into Terror, and Mystery Tales, among many other Atlas books.
For Marvel in the 1960s, Hartley drew one episode of "The Mighty Thor" in Journey into Mystery #90, demonstrating that for all his strengths, Hartley did not appear to have been suited for superhero comics. He dabbled in Marvel scripting on two stories: the "Iron Man" feature in Tales of Suspense #68 (Aug. 1965), and the last "Giant-Man" feature, in Tales to Astonish #69 (July 1965).
Among Marvel miscellanea, Hartley drew the 1961-63 Marvel Age series Linda Carter, Student Nurse, which began as a humor comic then became a romance with issue #2. (Although never explicitly a sequel, Marvel published Night Nurse, starring Linda Carter, from 1972-73.) After fellow Atlas artist Joe Maneely was killed in an accident in 1958, Hartley succeeded him on writer Stan Lee's syndicated comic strip Mrs. Lyon's Cubs. Hartley had done a short-lived gag-panel cartoon, Suburbia, the year before.
In 1967, feeling "sterile, numb, and filled with fear", Hartley became a born again Christian, as did his wife, Hermine, and, years later, their children, Alana and Fred. At the time, he was among several artists who drew the black-and-white, "nudie cutie" secret-agent feature, "The Adventures of Pussycat", that ran in some of Marvel publisher Martin Goodman's men's magazines; Hartley told the publisher he couldn't continue.
He began writing and drawing for Archie Comics, infusing some of the stories with his Christian beliefs. At one point he was directed to cut back. "I knew God was in control, so I respected my publisher's position and naturally complied". He later received a call from publisher Fleming H. Revell, for whom he then freelanced a comic-book adaptation of David Wilkerson The Cross and the Switchblade in 1972, quickly followed by adaptations of God's Smuggler by the pseudonymous Brother Andrew and The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Inspired, Hartley helped launch the Spire Christian Comics line, and pitched Archie president John L. Goldwater to let him license the Archie guys 'n' gals. The Jewish Goldwater, himself religious, agreed, and Spire went on to release 59 comics — at least 19 of them Archie titles — as well as six Bible stories, 12 biography adaptations, four other book or movie adaptations (including Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika), and nine children's comics.
Hartley also illustrated Christian children's books in the 1980s, He wrote a 1977 memoir, Come Meet My Friend! (New Life Ventures) (F. H. Revell, ISBN 0-8007-9001-4), and a 1997 inspirational hardcover, It Takes a Family: How to Create Hope and Celebrate Your Future (Barbour Publishing, # ISBN 1-55748-946-7.
Comics writer Kathleen Webb: "It was Al's 'Betty's Diary' stories that intrigued me the most. He wrote a lot of them for the Betty & Me books in the early 1970s. ... Al's way of handling Betty as she shared her thoughts in her diary was with insight, humor and care. He never 'preached' in those pages; he just had Betty share her feelings, good and bad. His other Betty & Me stories were also written well, tackling Betty's relationship with Archie carefully, never making Betty out to be so much the 'sore loser' as the 'never-give-up-gal'".