Monday, November 6, 2023

Comics: Herb Field, Letterer, Editor and Designer

Herb Field was born Herbert Hirshfield on August 3, 1909, in Amsterdam, Holland, according to his World War II draft card. However, birth records at Wie Was Wie show his name as Herman Hirshfeld who had the same birth information. The birth register is at Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchief.

The family made its way to England and departed from Liverpool on May 6, 1916. The passenger list recorded the family name as Hirshfield. The family of four (lines 7 to 10) arrived in the port of New York on May 14, 1916. They were bound for Brooklyn.

On September 12, 1918, Field’s father, Bernard, signed his World War I draft card. He was a tailor who resided at 427 7th Avenue in Brooklyn. 

The same address was recorded in 1920 United States Census (see lines 87 to 90). Field’s parents were born in Russia.

The 1925 New York state census counted the family in Brooklyn at 5305 6th Avenue (lines 13 to 16). 

I believe Field attended the Alexander Hamilton High School of Commerce. A “Herman Hirshfield” was named in the school’s orchestra in the Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), June 15, 1925. The school’s art department was described.
... Individuality in art accompanies individuality in character. The school is said to rank second to none in the commercial art department, designs made for various commercial purposes showing marked ability on the part of the students. Morris Greenberg, the teacher of free-hand drawing, succeeded in imparting artistic feeling as well as a knowledge of composition and technique to his pupils. The results are really remarkable. ...
According to the 1930 census, their Brooklyn address changed slightly to 5309 6th Avenue (lines 73 to 76). 

On April 23, 1931, Field and Beatrice Goldlust obtained, in Brooklyn, marriage license number 5949. They married on April 29, 1931.

The 1940 census recorded Field’s first name as Herbert (line 15). He, his wife and eleven-month-old daughter, Priscilla, resided in Brooklyn at 1581 East 17th Street. Field operated a cigar mail order business. His highest level of education was the fourth year of high school. Field’s house was valued at $5,250.

On October 1, 1940, Field signed his World War II draft card which recorded his name change. At some point his name and address were updated. Field’s description was five feet ten inches, 175 pounds, with brown eyes and hair. 

Information about Field’s art training has not been found.

At the Marvel Mysteries and Comics Minutiae website, Nick Caputo profiled several letterers of Charlton Press. He said Field began lettering, in 1946, at the Sangor studio, and worked for other publishers including Better Publications, Fawcett, Nesbit, Stanmor, and DC Comics. Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952–1954 (2011), included a few endnotes that mentioned Field. The endnote on page 414, for the story “The Crushed Gardenia” in Who Is Next? #5, January 1953 (Ned Pines), quoted Toth.
… “I’d file down a ‘Speedball B-6’ ‘flicker’ lettering pen nib, to not only letter, but ink, all of this storyset—I wanted a clean monotonous line—a dip pen nib gave it to me. It was only later, after delivery of it, that Herb Field introduced me to the newly arrived from Germany “Rapidograph’ pen series—monotonous line and all—and I, at once, adopted it—for years—in its many line widths—did some filing-down of them, too, to get a nice calligraphic line. …

New Romances #17, August 1953
Stars in My Eyes (see page 416, Setting the Standard: 
Comics by Alex Toth 1952–1954.)

In the mid-1960s Field began lettering at Charlton Comics. Many of Field’s credits are at the Grand Comics Database

Captain Atom #85, March 1967

Hercules #1, October 1967

According to the 1950 census, Field and his family (lines 28–30) resided in Croton-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York. He was a commercial artist working in the publishing industry. 

In the late 1960s, Field gradually withdrew from comics lettering. He started an art studio to service publishers. Field made diagrams for the 1967 book, Skiing Guidebook; Basic Ski Technique for Boys and Girls which was illustrated by Bob Powell.

The Herb Field Art Studio was acknowledged by George Sullivan in his books: Baseball’s Art of Hitting (1974), Better Softball for Boys and Girls (1975), Winning Plays in Pro Football (1975), The Catcher, Baseball’s Man in Charge (1976), Fifty Dual Crostics Plus, Series Two (1976), This Is Pro Hockey (1976), This Is Pro Basketball (1977), Better Basketball for Girls (1978), Better Volleyball for Girls (1979), The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Pool and Other Billiard Games (1979), This Is Pro Soccer (1979), Better Basketball for Girls (1980), Better Football for Boys (1980), Better Roller Skating for Boys and Girls (1980), Track and Field: Secrets of the Champions (1980), Better Baseball for Boys (1981), Better Field Hockey for Girls (1981), Better Track for Girls (1981), The Gold Hunter’s Handbook (1981), Sadat: The Man Who Changed Mid-East History (1981), Better Field Events for Girls (1982), Better Cross-Country Running for Boys and Girls (1983), Return of the Battleship (1983), Strange But True Stories of World War II (1983), Better Wrestling for Boys (1986), Better Tennis for Boys and Girls (1987), and The Day Pearl Harbor Was Bombed: A Photo History of World War II (1991). 

At some point, Field moved to California where he remarried. The status of his first wife is not known. A death notice was published on January 7, 1997 in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times for Florence Folkenflik. 
Field—Florence Folkenflik (nee Rogosin) on January 2nd, 1997 in Laguna Hills, CA, following an extended illness. Beloved wife of Herb Field and the late Bernard Folkenflik. Loving mother of Robert Folkenflik (Vivian), Bette Folkenflik Blank and Max Folkenflik (Margaret) and loving stepmother of Priscilla Field. Dear sister of H. Rogie Rogosin (Donna) and the late George Rogosin (Frances). Devoted grandmother of six grandchildren and one step-grandchild. We will all miss you. 
Field passed away on September 10, 1999, in California. The Social Security Death Index said his last residence was Laguna Hills. 

Further Reading and Viewing
Grand Comics Database, Pines titles

SIDEBAR: Herb Field’s Family

The Citizen Register, (Ossining, New York), May 21, 1957, said
Priscilla Field, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Field of 235 Cleveland Drive, Croton, plans to enter Skidmore College following graduation next month from Croton-Harmon High School. Awarded the Junior Honor Key, she was manager of cheerleading this year, in the chorus throughout her high school career, a member of the senior play cast and active on school publications and in intramural sports.
Tiger’s Tail yearbook

The New York, New York Marriage License Index, at, has a Priscilla Field and William Periard who obtained a 1960 license in Manhattan. 

Public records at said she resided in California as early as 1989. She was referred to in The New York Times, April 29, 2007, which profiled her son, Justin Bua, an accomplished artist. 
... Mr. Bua said many of his characters were inspired by unlikely father figures: men he looked up to as survivors in “the harsh realities of the urban jungle.” His own father was absent, he said, and his single mother supported the family as the owner of a graphic-design business. (Her father, Herb Field, was a comics letterer who also painted and made sculptures.) ...
In an interview at Fatlace, Bua said
I have been painting and drawing since I was very young. Both my mother and my grandfather are/were artists and constantly taught me about the great artists they admired. I attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Performing Arts and went on to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena so that I had a good foundation to begin my career in the arts.
Shoutout LA asked Bua who else deserved credit? He answered
My Mom. Along my journey she always believed, had my back and was encouraged my art. She’s a real New Yorker who tells it like it is and doesn’t sugar coat. She’s a straight G.

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(Next post on Saturday: Frank Frollo, Artist and Art Director)

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