Monday, February 22, 2021

Comics: Howard James, Black Comics Artist

Howard B. J. 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 Ancestry.com 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.

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.


 
Here are his comics 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”.
 
Apparently the second World War interrupted James’ career. Details of his service are not known. The front of his draft card was stamped “Statement of Service Card Furnished” and “May 4 — 1948”. He may have worked for other comics publishers.

A Public Records Index at Ancestry.com had two New York City addresses for James:
34-12 113 Street, Corona and 5 East Drive, Flushing.

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

 
(Next post on Monday: Gerard Huerta, Lettering Artist)

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