Hank Chapman (living status unknown) is an American comic book writer for Marvel Comics' two predecessors, Timely Comics and Atlas Comics, and later for DC Comics, where he specialized in war fiction. Though much of his Timely/Atlas work went unsigned, comics historians estimate that Chapman, a staff writer, penned several hundred or more stories.
Among his notable works is an early self-reflexive story, in 1951, in which he and editor Stan Lee appear; and the creation, with artist Jack Abel, of the DC Comics character Sgt. Mule, a pack animal that helped its Allied keepers fight the Nazis in a variety of World War II stories.
Chapman's earliest known credit is as one of the many Golden Age of comic books professionals who contributed to the epic crossover battle between the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch in Marvel Mystery Comics #8-10 (June-Aug. 1940), plus an additional story in The Human Torch #5 (Fall 1941; due to a numbering quirk, there was a previous #5, cover-dated Summer 1941). His precise contributions are as lost to history as those of other writers and artists who legendarily jammed on this hastily created confrontation. As described by historian Jess Nevins in his online article "The Timely Comics Story", Sub-Mariner creator Bill Everett and Human Torch creator Carl Burgos
|“||...brainstormed the story and then gave them to two writers, John Compton and Hank Chapman, to finish. Whether Everett & Burgos were the only ones to create this story remains, as do so many other questions about this time in comics' history, in dispute. [Timely Comics publisher] Martin Goodman seems to have had input into the crossover; he seems not to have been behind the idea, but seems to have influenced the content of the stories".||”|
By the following decade, Chapman was one of at least five staff writers (officially titled editors) under editor-in-chief Stan Lee at Marvel forerunner Atlas, along with Ernie Hart, Paul S. Newman, Don Rico, Carl Wessler, and, on teen-humor comics, future Mad Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee. Among the titles for which Chapman wrote, beginning in early 1951, are the horror/fantasy series Adventures into Terror, Adventures into Weird Worlds, Astonishing, Marvel Tales, Mystery Tales, Spellbound, Strange Tales, Suspense, and Uncanny Tales; the war titles Battle, Battle Action, Battlefield, Battlefront, Battle Brady, Combat Casey, Combat, War Action, War Adventures, War Combat and War Comics; the Westerns Red Warrior and The Texas Kid; the adventure-drama series Girl Comics, Man Comics, Men's Adventures, and Young Men; the crime fiction series Crime Exposed and Justice; the romance titles True Secrets Love Romances; and such miscellanea as Sports Action, and Speed Carter, Spaceman.
Chapman's last known Atlas works were in comics cover-dated May 1954. His next known credit is a story in the DC anthology title All-American Men of War #18 (Feb. 1955), followed by four years without recorded credits until his name surfaced in two June 1959 DC titles, G.I. Combat #73 and Our Fighting Forces #46. These would be the first of at least 105 war stories he would write in those comics along with Our Army at War, Sea Devils, Capt. Storm, and Star Spangled War Stories.
His and artist Jack Abel's character Sgt. Mule — whose name, "Millie", meant she was actually not a mule (male) but a hinny (female) — appeared with various keepers including Private Mulvaney (Our Army at War #149 & 160, Star Spangled War Stories #136); Private Skinner (G.I. Combat #104); and Private Smith (Our Army At War #117).
Chapman's last recorded credit is the story "Paper Bullets", with artist Abel, in Our Army At War #181 (June 1967)
Chapman, who married Bonnie Hano, a production staffer at Atlas, later left comics to become a magazine writer.
Chronological by date of original publication