Monday, June 13, 2022

Comics: Lora Sprang aka Pat Gordon, Letterer, Colorist and Photographer

Lora Sprang was born Lora Ann Neusiis on May 28, 1911, in Mt. Olive, Illinois. The birth information is from the Social Security Death Index and an Evangelical Lutheran Church Record at Her parents were Frederick William Neusiis (1875–1949), and Augusta M. Kaemming (1876–1955), a German native. The newspaper, Mt. Olive Herald, June 3, 1922, said “A girl baby arrived at the home of Prof. and Mrs. F. W. Neusiis on Sunday.”

Sprang was baptized on June 4, 1911 at the Zions American Lutheran Church in Mt. Olive. 

A September 1916 edition of the Mt. Olive Herald reported “F. W. Neusiis, teacher of the Zions school, has accepted a call as teacher of the Lutheran school at Pegion [sic], Mich, and will leave about Nov. 1.”

On September 12, 1918, Prof. Neusiis signed his World War I draft card. His address was Pigeon, Michigan, where he was an assistant pastor. 

The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded the Neusiis family of six in Winsor, Michigan on Main Street. Sprang had a brother, Frederick (1906–1988), and two sisters, Elda (1904–1995) and Olga (1916–2007). 

The Evangelical Lutheran Church Record said Sprang received her confirmation in 1925 at the Solomon church in Woodville, Ohio. 

According to the 1930 census, Sprang, her parents and younger sister, resided in Woodville. Sometime after 1935, Sprang moved to New York City. 

In the 1940 census, Sprang lived at 230 West 101 Street in Manhattan. Her occupation was a colorist in photography. Her highest level of education was the second year of college.

Coincidentally, her future husband, artist Richard William “Dick” Sprang, resided at the same address according to his World War II draft card which was signed on October 16, 1940. 

The New York, New York, Marriage License Index, at, said they obtained a license in Manhattan on April 25, 1944. 

A sample of Dick Sprang’s lettering on the left

Their marriage was reported in the News-Messenger (Fremont, Ohio), May 10, 1944. 
An announcement of interest to relatives and friends in Fremont and Woodville is that of the marriage of Miss Lora Ann Neusiis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. W. Neusiis, of Woodville, to Richard W. Sprang, son of Mrs. W. H. Sprang, of 1007 east State street. The wedding took place in Holy Trinity Lutheran church in New York City Sunday, May 7, at 5 p. m. Dr. Paul Scherer, pastor of the church, officiated. Attending the couple were Miss Barbara B. Scherer and Norman L. Fallon, both of New York City. Mrs. Sprang is a commercial artist and photographer, currently engaged in the production of U. S. Navy Training films, and Mr. Sprang is a magazine illustrator. The couple will reside in New York City. 
“Danger Strikes Three!”, Detective Comics #86, April 1944, reprinted in 
Batman Archives Volume 3 (1994), lettering credited to Sprang as Pat Gordon

Dick Sprang was drawing Batman for DC Comics. In Alter Ego #19, December 2002, Dick said he wanted to move out West to either Arizona, Utah or New Mexico. According to Joe Desris, in Comic Book Marketplace #34, April 1996, the couple moved to Sedona, Arizona, in May 1946. (The November 1951 issue of Arizona Highways published photographs of Sedona and mentioned Dick on page 29.) The Sprangs divorced in 1951. 

She returned to New York and continued lettering for DC Comics. Sprang was listed in 1953 and 1957 Manhattan city directories at 306 West 75 Street. Her address in 1960 was 600 West 113 Street. 

Sprang was profiled in the Batman Archives, Volume 3 (1994). 
Pat Gordon
Laura [sic] A. Sprang, nicknamed, Pat Gordon, was the wife of Dick Sprang during the period when Sprang first began to illustrated Batman. Sprang taught Gordon how to letter comics and except for his earliest efforts, Gordon lettered many of his Batman stories, coloring a number of them as well. She also freelanced as a photographer for Film Fun magazine, hand-lettered titles for industrial films, worked on title photography and art for Navy training films during World War II and did theater posters for 20th Century-Fox. Gordon continued to work for DC Comics throughout the 1950s, lettering numerous stories for Batman, Superman, Superboy and others. She left DC about 1961. 
In Alter Ego #94, June 2010, Jim Amash interviewed George Kashdan who spoke about artist Dick Sprang. 
Did you ever meet his [first] wife Patricia? I know that he and Pat were separated, and headed towards a final divorce. I only met Dick briefly, but Pat was a very outgoing personality. She was always working on our friendship. [mutual chuckling] She had a list of birthdays in the editorial and art departments. Whenever a birthday came up, Pat came in with donuts and coffee and made a party. Sometimes she brought a little birthday cake, and lit the candles on it, and gave away pieces. Pat was also a freelance letterer, and she was usually dependable. ... They usually gave Dick’s work to Pat for lettering, and I think she threw in little corrections. She was good, and a very good-looking woman. Everybody was trying to make out with her. She was there for about 15 years, and then gave up on it. One day, she walked up to Mort, who did her work vouchers. She said, “Mort, I’m leaving. Hell, I’ve had it. I just wanted you to know I’ve had it.” And out she went, never to come back for work. I believe she was just tired of coming in there, and all the guys trying to make out with her.
Sprang passed away on June 19, 1999, in New York City. 

Further Reading and Viewing
Northern Arizona University, Cline Library, photographs of Sprang (identified as Pat Gordon) are here and here 
Grand Comics Database, Pat Gordon
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999, Pat Gordon
The Hayfamzone Blog, Mystery Letterer Revealed
Todd’s Blog, Early Batman Letterers

Comics Letterer Posts

(Updated March 17, 2024; next post on Monday: The Strathmore Quality Deckle Edge Book Papers)

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