Monday, February 22, 2021

Comics: Howard James, Black Comics Artist

Special thanks to Karen James who graciously provided additional information about her father.

Howard Benjamin James was a black artist who had a brief career during the Golden Age of Comics. He was born on October 3, 1921, in Brooklyn, New York, according to the New York, New York Birth Index at and his World War II draft card.

The 1925 New York state census said James and his mother, Edna, a waitress, resided in Brooklyn at 316 Atlantic Avenue.

The 1930 U.S. Federal Census recorded James, his widow mother, and maternal grandparents, Thomas and Margaret Jones, at 316 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. His father, deceased, was born in South Carolina and mother, a waitress, in Virginia. His grandparents had moved from Eastville, Virginia.

In the 1940 census, James and his mother were recorded under her maiden name, Jones. Both were unemployed. Also living with them was his mother’s brother, Dempsey. Their Brooklyn address was 5 Fleet Place.

James graduated from the School of Industrial Art around 1940. Other graduates around that time were Valerie Barclay and Mike Sekowsky. 

Here are James’ credits at the Grand Comics Database

Sub-Mariner Comics #3, Fall 1941 
The Angel; inker

Mystic Comics #8, March 1942 
Black Marvel; inker
Davey and the Demon; penciller and inker
The five-page story is at Timely-Atlas-Comics.  
Mystic Comics #9, May 1942 
Davey and the Demon; 
penciller and inker

USA Comics #4, May 1942
The Whizzer; 
penciller and inker

All-Winners Comics #5, Summer 1942
The Whizzer; 
penciller and inker

Mystic Comics #10, August 1942
Davey and the Demon; 
penciller; see Indexer Notes

Truthful Love #2, July 1950
“Classroom for Romance”; 
penciller and inker

There was speculation Ernie Hart used the pen name, “Howard James”. 
On February 16, 1942, James and his uncle signed their World War II draft cards. They lived at 5 Debevoise Place, Brooklyn. Timely Comics was James’ employer.

The second World War interrupted James’ career. James served in the Navy. His service was summarized on his separation document.  

Serial Number: 8150086
Rank: Steward’s Mate 1c, SV6, USNR
(SV6: Selective Volunteer guaranteed discharge within 6 months of war’s end.) 

1. Navy Recruiting Station, New York, New York, enlisted September 1, 1943; active service September 8, 1943

2. Naval Training Center, Bainbridge, Maryland

3. Shoemaker Navy Training and Distribution Center, Receiving Barracks, Shoemaker, California 

4. CASU 33, Long Beach, California

5. CASU (F) 9, San Pedro Bay, Philippines
(Combat Aircraft Service Unit) 

6. USNPSC Lido Beach, Long Island, New York, United States Navy Personnel Separation Center
Honorable discharge

A history of CASU (F) 9 was illustrated by James and produced by mimeograph.

A Public Records Index at had two New York City addresses for James:
34-12 113 Street, Corona.

James passed away on August 24, 2010. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was Flushing. An obituary has not been found.

(Updated May4, 2022. Next post on Monday: Gerard Huerta, Lettering Artist)


  1. Hello, I am Howard's daughter. I can provide more info, if needed. Thank you for the lovely tribute to my father.