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Reed Crandall was born in Winslow, Indiana on February 22, 1917. His career in art started at the age of four when he wowed his parents with some of his earliest drawings. In 1935 he recieved an art scholarship at the Cleveland School of Art in northeast Ohio.
After graduating, he moved to New York at the invitation of a publisher of children's books, but after illustrating just one cover, Reed left the company. He then went to work for the NEA Syndicate as an editorial cartoonist before finally landing a job at the Eisner-Iger shop on Manhattan's east side.
At this time he worked alongside such greats as Will Eisner, Lou Fine, Paul Gustavson, Alex Kotsky, & Fred Gardineer. Eisner & Fine, through the distinct quality & innovative style of their illustrations were revolutionizing the comic art form, and working alongside them, Reed's work bloomed into maturity within an imperceptively short period. It was said that his art was so good and respected at the shop that the other artists would stop work to watch Reed & look at his pages. Finally Iger told him to stop bringing his work into the office.
Almost all of his output at this time went to the Quality Comics Group which published such titles as Hit, Crack, Smash, Military (later Modern) and Uncle Sam which later became Blackhawk Comics.
In the beginning, one of his chores was inking Lou Fines wonderful Military Comics covers. After a few issues of that, Everett M. (Busy) Arnold, the publisher of Quality saw his beautiful fine-lined renderings, he reportedly hired hem exclusively, and Reed took over the reigns of penciling & Chuck Cuidera (& probably others) inked over Reed's work. Some of the features he drew included the Ray, Firebrand, Hercules, Uncle Sam, Dollman & the Blackhawks. Those fantastic group shots of the Blackhawks ficghtings hordes of villains are breath-taking.
Before long Reed was illustrating all of the Blackhawk & Dollman stories, which he continued to draw for almost fifteen years, with a short hiatus from 1942-44 during which time he served in the Army Air Force, where he picked up the neccessary knowledge to draw the great militaria that was neccesary to the Blackhawk series.
Over the course of those years, the stories & art of these books became a reflection of the social & real world fears of Americans. From the Nazi & Yellow threat theme of the second World War years thru the late forties Crime comic era and into the Red Menace & Horror themes of the early fifties.
When Quality scaled down their line, Reed began doing work over at EC. The artist he worked alongside here are some of the most revered names in the business. Greats like Frazetta, Williamson, Ingels, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis and the heaven-blessed Wally Wood were just some of them.
The genre's he drew for crossed from SF to Suspenstory to Horror, but some think his best work here were his Piracy comic covers, two of which were homages (or swipes) of famous Howard Pyle paintings from his "Book of Pirates".
When EC & Quality both folded comic production in 1955/56, Reed did occasional work for Atlas/Marvel, Classics Illustrated (Gilberton) and shortly after Buster Brown shoestores, who issued their own monthly giveaway comic book. The Interplanetary Police feature Reed drew in collaboration with Ray Willner was science fiction at it's best.
In 1960 he landed a contract with Treasure Chest Comics & drew stories for them for twelve years doing stories & covers as often as twice a month for the bi-weekly comic.
Then in 1964 he increased his workload further & we began to be treated to some the best work of his career. Warren Publishing, the publisher of Famous Monsters of Filmland - one of the most influential magazines of this hobby & many others- was about to begin with a line of horro comic titles in magazine format. The resultant titles, Creepy, Eerie, Blazing Combat & later Vampirella; were resurrections of the EC Comics horror & war titles of the fifties. Part of this resurection neccesitated the assemblage of the former's artistic alumnis.
At Warren his talent had come to it's epoch, and Reed's exquisite illustrations for his gothic horror & historic war stories were poetry on paper. Whereas in the forties he employed the liberal usage of india ink to blacken open areas to negative space, to achieve the shaded effect he simply (?) would pen hundreds of small parallel lines into the panel's spaces. The effort was, like one of his early characters at Quality, "Herculean".
Also in 1964, Reed through his friend Al Williamson, acquired work at Canaveral Press where he drew bookplates & covers for the Edgar Rice Burrough's characters "John Carter" and the legendary "Tarzan". Unfortunately, Canaveral folded before Reed's entire output for them was published & many great pieces were left to languish in the pages of fan publications.
A little while later, after Williamson left the King "Flash Gordon" comic, he drew several issues of the title.
Unfortunately, by the late sixties his work began to show the effects of years of alchohol abuse & Reed's age until finally his illustrations of the anatomical form, which was once his greatest strength, slowly took on the deformed look of less talented artists, and finally in 1973 his last contribution to comics was published in Creepy #54 (This Graveyard is Not Deserted). And his long and illustrious career in comics, which had spanned more than thirty years, had ended.
In 1974, Reed began working as a janitor & night watchman with Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas. After suffering a stroke in 1975, he settled into a rest home for the elderly where he spent the next seven years until a massive coronary ended his life on September 13, 1982.