Gerald Selwyn Altman was born on on February 22, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. His full name was found at an Ancestry.com family tree. His birth information is from the Social Security Death Index and the New York, New York, Birth Index.
In the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Altman was the only child of Ellis, a Russian emigrant and salesman of ladies wear, and Bertha, a Hungarian. They lived in Manhattan at 96 Haven Avenue. The 1925 New York state census recorded Altman, his parents and sister in Manhattan at 79 Haven Avenue.
A different address for the Altmans was found in the 1930 census: 410 Riverside Drive.
According to the 1940 census, Altman was a coat salesman and his father a coat manufacturer. The Altman family resided in Manhattan at 155 West End Avenue.
Six months after the census enumeration, Altman signed his World War II draft card on October 16. He lived with his parents at 98 Riverside Drive in Manhattan. His employer was Miller & Baker at 1350 Broadway in Manhattan. Altman’s description was five feet seven inches, 140 pounds, with brown eyes and hair.
Before enlisting in the Army, Altman got married. Below is the marriage license application with Altman’s lettering.
A marriage notice was published in The New York Times, October 11, 1942.
Altman–Goodman–Mr. and Mrs. Morris Goodman of 1836 East 18th St., Brooklyn, announce the marriage of their daughter, Gertrude, to Gerald Altman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Altman of 98 Riverside Drive, Manhattan, Oct. 5.
Altman enlisted in the Army on November 13, 1942. At the time, he was a commercial artist. Altman’s veteran’s file said he was discharged on August 28, 1943.
Information about Altman’s art training has not been found. Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 said Altman worked at several comics studios, from circa 1938 to 1945, including Eisner and Iger, Binder, Funnies Inc., and L.B. Cole. Apparently Altman started doing lettering and backgrounds and gradually worked his way up to penciling and inking. Some of Altman’s credits are here.
Around 1948 Altman joined the Siegel and Shuster Studio which produced the Funnyman comic book and comic strip. American Newspaper Comics (2012) said the strip debuted October 11, 1948 and ran into Fall 1949. Alberto Becattini says Altman and Dick Ayers assisted Joe Shuster. Artist John Sikela also worked on it.
The 1950 census said Altman and his family resided in Queens at 131-36 231st Street. He was a freelance artist in the comic book industry. In 1949 he worked fifty-two weeks and earned two-thousand dollars.
Altman’s son, Andy, left a comment at the comic strip blog, Stripper’s Guide.
I don't know what formal art training he had if any. He had natural talent and upon graduation from high school in the midst of the Great Depression was unable to find employment without experience. Fortunately, he was able to gain experience doing artwork for the WPA.A victim of McCarthyism black listing his publisher, he found employment doing artwork as a commercial artist. He sketched hair styles for a famous stylist. He also did the artwork for banners and memorabilia produced by Hanco Art Novelties [sic; Hanco Art Novelty Company was, at various times, located at 127 West 27th Street, New York City; 555 Broadway in New York City; Wayne, New Jersey; and 584–588 Broadway in New York City.].In the late 1960’s he also worked in comics under the pseudonym Galt for Fun and Pleasure newspapers.
Altman passed away June 16, 1986. His last known residence was Jamaica, Queens, New York. He was laid to rest at Mount Judah Cemetery.
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