Monday, July 25, 2016

Comics: Searching for Gary Keller, Part 1

This profile has been updated here. The biographical information in “The Search Begins” is about a different person. 

Here is what is known about Gary Keller, Timely Comics letterer and production artist.

Timely Comics Staff, Hotel Astor, New York City.
Stan Lee recalls, “On August 14, 1942 Martin Goodman, owner and publisher of Timely Comics, together with Lloyd Jacquet, owner of Funnies Incorporated, took their staffs to see Walt Disney’s new animated feature “Bambi,” because they were producing comics at the time which featured animated cartoon characters, and because those comics were proving to be very profitable. After the movie, Martin and Lloyd took some of their staffs to dinner at New York’s Hotel Astor to celebrate the occasion. (Note: Lloyd Jacquet’s Funnies Incorporated was a studio whose artists provided stories and artwork to various comic book publishers, including Martin Goodman.) While I can’t remember all the names, the ones I can identify are —Left side (from the bottom moving up), all Timely unless otherwise labeled: Ernie Hart, editor, writer, and artist; Vince Alascia, inker of adventure strips; Mario Acquaviva, letterer; unknown; Moe Worth, animation artist; Dick LaScalzo; Ray Gill, writer and Funnies Inc. executive; Stan Lee; Jim Fitzsimmons, Funnies Inc. business executive; Frank Torpey, Martin Goodman's friend and “man Friday”; Lloyd Jacquet, Funnies Inc. owner; Center: Martin Goodman, Timely publisher and owner; Right side (from the top moving down): George Klein, penciler and inker; Don Rico, editor, writer, and artist; Ed Winiarski, penciler; Mike Sekowsky, penciler; Syd Shores, penciler and inker; Bill King, layout artist; Dennis Neville, penciler; Jim Mooney, penciler and inker; and Gary Keller, letterer and Head of Production.”

The photograph was published in Gentleman Jim Mooney (2011).

Alter Ego
#11, November 2001
A Conversation with Vince Fago
Interview conducted by Jim Amash
II. A Timely Change

JA: Who worked on staff then?
Fago: Mike Sekowsky. Ed Winiarski. Gary Keller was a production assistant and letterer. Ernest Hart and Kin Platt were writers, but they worked freelance; Hart also drew. George Klein, Syd Shores, Vince Alascia, Dave Gantz, and Chris Rule were there, too.

Alter Ego
#32, May 2004
A Timely Talk With Allen Bellman
Allen Bellman interviewed by Dr. Michael J. Vassallo

MV: Do you remember Gary Keller?
AB: Yes. Gary was a manager of some sort. He had glasses and walked around. My goodness, I haven’t thought about him in 60 years! This really takes me way back. While I can’t really put a finger on exactly what Gary did I do recall that he was a very nice man.

Alter Ego
#90, December 2009I Wrote Over 800 comic Book Stories
Leon Lazarus interviewed by Jim Amash

JA: Who hired you to be a letterer?
Leon: Gary Keller. He was in charge of the production department; gray haired…he was an old guy….
List of credits

Comics career; pen name: Gary Kay


Using, I found a long list of Gary Kellers but none were artists or designers. Perhaps the name Gary was a middle name or nickname. So I removed the first name from the search box then added “artist” in the keyword box. A much shorter list of names appeared and one name stood out: Theodore Keller. I’m not saying this person is Gary Keller but his occupation and location make him the leading candidate. Here is what I found at

Theodore Keller was born in Lake View, Cook County, Illinois, on January 19, 1888. His parents were Georg Fred Keller, 41, and Lina Franke, 35, both German emigrants. 

The 1900 U.S. Federal Census recorded Keller and his older brother, George, 13, in the household of Gustav Huth who was married and had two daughters. There appears to be no relation between the Kellers and Huths. The status and whereabouts of Keller’s parents is not known.

Keller and his brother have not yet been found in the 1910 census.

A 1916 New York, New York city directory had two listings for Keller. He was in the residential section and in the business section under the artists category. His address was 5 West 36th Street in Manhattan. In the 1917 directory Keller’s address was 106 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

On June 5, 1917, Keller signed his World War I draft card. He and his unnamed wife resided at 349 East 19 Street in Manhattan. His occupation was self-employed commercial artist. Keller said he had some military service in Illinois as a private in the 1st Infantry. His description was medium height, stout build with brown eyes and hair.

According to the 1920 census, Keller lived with his wife, Mary, and fifteen-year-old son, George, in Manhattan at 129 East 23rd Street. Keller was a self-employed artist.

The Kellers’ Manhattan address was 39 1/2 Washington Square South in the 1930 census. Keller was a freelance artist working in the magazine industry. Keller illustrated Alice Dinsmoor’s book, The Goodwins,  which was published in 1931.

In the 1940 census, Manhattanite Keller and family were at 407 West 22nd Street. Keller worked as a self-employed commercial artist. His highest level of education was the eight grade.

Keller signed his World War II draft card on April 26, 1942. He made his home in Whitestone, Queens County, New York, at 12-58 150th Street. His height was five feet seven inches and weight 145 pounds. On the lines for the name and address of employer, and place of emplyment, was written “None”.

Timely artist Bob Deschamps was interviewed by Jim Amash in Alter Ego #20, January 2003. Deschamps said
Well, I started at Timely Comics as a messenger/office boy. Gary Keller lived on my block in Forest Hills and I showed him some of my work. He said there was an opening for an office boy at Timely Comics. I said I’d be interested in that, and that’s how I got started at Timely….Eventually, I took some stuff to Stan Lee, who liked it and said, “Okay, Monday morning you start here as a staff inker.”…

This was shortly after World War II, in 1945.…I learned to do thick and thin lines with a brush. People like Al Sulman and Gary Keller helped teach me….
In Alter Ego #104, August 2011, Jim Amash interviewed Al Sulman.
Jim Amash: There was another guy—I guess he worked in the production department. His name was Gary Keller.

Al Sulman: I didn’t [have much contact with him]. I think he was in charge of the letterers. He used to assign artwork to certain letterers to ink and letter. The artists would put in the lettering in pencil, of course, and the letterers would ink it over. And Gary sort of supervised that.
What became of Keller is not known. He has not been found in the Social Security Death Index.

Related Posts

(Updated September 19, 2017; next post on Monday: Diamond Building)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Anatomy of a Logo: Spyke

On Monday, January 4, 1993, Epic Comics editor Marie Javins contacted me about doing a new version of the logo, Spike, which would be spelled Spyke. She sent a two-page fax of the logo and cover. I don’t know who designed the logo.

I sketched out three designs. Below are two variations of one letterform: pointed-bottoms and a horizontal spike.

This sketch developed into a symmetrical design with points on the ends and in the middle.

These three designs were faxed to Marie on Tuesday, January 5th.

Marie called Wednesday, January 6th. She chose the first design and suggested simplifying the horizontal bars under the letters. Below are the enlarged photocopy of the grid, the tight pencil drawing and the finished art. The logo measures 3.5625 x 12.5625 inches / 9.05 x 31.91 centimeters. The logo was delivered Monday, January 11, 1993.

The four-issue series was published from July to October 1993.
Links to details of each issue: #1, #2, #3 and #4.

(Next post on Monday: Searching for Gary Keller)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Under Cover: Standard Oil Bulletin Artists, Part 4

January 1, 1903, San Francisco, California – 

June 26, 1910, Piedmont, California – December 14, 1990, Sacramento, California

October 21, 183, Gilroy, California – June 8, 1947, San Francisco, California

July 26, 1891, Covina, California – September 9, 1951, Pasadena, California

July 18, 1902, Wichita, Kansas – December 18, 1974, Tiburon, California

November 24, 1875, Paris, France – January 24, 1955, Kentfield, California 

September 13, 1913, Guadalajara, Mexico – December 9, 2007, San Francisco, California

November 9, 1901, California – July 21, 1977, Foster City, California

November 4, 1903, Wisconsin – September 22, 1994, Walnut Creek, California

March 11, 1893, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - May 14, 1983, San Leandro, California

May 16, 1913, Los Angeles, California – April 17, 1986, Ross, California

August 9, 1915, California – February 4, 1989, Mill Valley, California Message Board

Artists to Be Identified