Monday, August 9, 2021

Comics: Herman Stackel, Artist, Teacher and Letterer


Herman Stackel was born Hyman William Stackel on March 9, 1904, in Kiev, Russia, according to his naturalization papers viewed at His family arrived, aboard the S.S. Gothland, in New York City on May 6, 1913. 

The 1915 New York state census recorded Stackel, his parents and three older sisters in Brooklyn at 350 Thatford Avenue. His father was a tailor. 

Stackel attended the Richard H. Dana School, Public School No. 125. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle published the names of honor roll students. Stackel was mentioned in these issues: November 13, 1914; February 19, 1915 and April 16, 1915. The Eagle, June 15, 1917, mentioned Stackel when he was at the Isidor Straus School, Public School No. 109. 

In the 1920 census the Stackel family were Brooklyn residents at 591 Stone Avenue. 

Stackel was a student at the Manual Training High School in Brooklyn. The Eagle, March 6, 1921, said “Prizes were awarded in three groups in the election poster contest at Manual Training High School on Friday. ... In the copied work group Hyman Stackel won first prize …” In 1922 Stackel received an honorable mention at his school in the Abraham & Straus 57th anniversary poster competition. The Eagle, October 23, 1922, said “The Poster Club at Manual Training High School has organized for the year and the following have been chosen officers: President, Hyman Stackel; Vice President, Margery Phillips, and secretary, John Benson.”

Stackel graduated January 31, 1923. The Eagle, February 1, 1923, said “… Herman Stackel won a scholarship to Pratt Institute for one year for the best work in the elective art course.” 

On February 5, 1923, Stackel filed an application to become a naturalized citizen. 

Stackel was mentioned in the 1924 Pratt Institute yearbook, The Prattonia. He was in Group A, General Art, Class of 1926.

General Art, Class of 1926

Stackel graduated on June 20, 1929 from Pratt Institute. The list of graduates was published in the Eagle and the Times Union on the same day. From the School of Fine and Applied Arts, Stackel received a diploma in the category Teacher Training in Fine and Applied Art. 

The 1930 census said art teacher Stackel, his widow mother and sister, who was the head of the household, lived at 235 Rochester Avenue in Brooklyn. About six weeks after the census enumeration, Stackel became a naturalized citizen on May 27. 

The New York, New York Extracted Marriage Index, at, said Stackel married Anne Liebman on October 15, 1934 in Brooklyn. 

In 1940 Stackel was an art teacher employed by the Works Project Administration. He earned one-thousand dollars in 1939. The census recorded Stackel and his wife in Brooklyn at 748 Saratoga Avenue.

On February 15, 1942 Stackel signed his World War II draft card. He was a freelance commercial artist who lived and worked at home, 748 Saratoga Avenue in Brooklyn. His description was five feet seven inches, 190 pounds, with hazel eyes and gray hair. 

The Eagle, March 9, 1944, reported the whereabouts of Brooklyn soldiers and said “On leave following completion of training at Sampson, N. Y., are ... Herman Stackel of 694 Saratoga Ave.” The date of his discharge is not known. 

Around 1942 Stackel found work in comics. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said he was lettering at the Binder Studio and Funnies, Inc. Artist Leonard Starr was interviewed by Jim Amash in Alter Ego #110, June 2012, and said
… In terms of mentoring or giving lessons, the guy who spent time helping me was Herman Stackel, and that was not artistically. He had a wide range of intellectual knowledge and introduced me to various things, people to read, and stuff to look at. We used to spend hours and hours drinking coffee, and talking. He was at Funnies when I started, and was there after I left. He was a letterer. He was just a terrific guy, and I guess in his later life, work dried up or something. He was very bitter, and I was very, very sorry to hear that.

As far as I can remember, he was the only letterer there. He was forty and I was like seventeen, and so it was a whole world I was unfamiliar with, the world that he had experienced on his route to being forty, and he shared his experiences with me.
Stackel was also remembered by artist Frank Bolle in Alter Ego #86, June 2008. Bolle said to Amash “Herman was a letterer. He was an older fellow, a philosopher. [mutual chuckling] To us, anyway.”

Heritage Auctions has two pieces of Stackel’s art here and here (below). 

Manhattan telephone directories for 1945 and 1946 listed Stackel at 153 West 72nd Street. 

On July 11, 1952, Stackel and his wife were two of over fifty guests at the tenth anniversary party for Will Lieberson as Fawcett’s executive editor. A photograph of the guests was printed in Alter Ego #107, February 2012. 

It’s not clear when Stackel left comics and what he did later. He moved to Monsey, New York, which was his last residence according to the Social Security Death Index. Stackel passed away in March 1990. 

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(Next post on Monday: The 1933 Gopher Yearbook)