Howard Bender ’66

Howard Bender's Spectre (colorized by yours truly)

My old buddy, artist Howard Bender (Action Comics, “Spider-Man Seek and Find,” Mr. Fixitt) recently shared some of his artwork from 1966, when he was 14 or 15. (I was only 8 then. Though I’m only a few years younger than Howard, when you see us side-by-side, the difference is pronounced.) Howard gave me permission to share it with you …

DC Comics heroes

Bender was obviously a savvy kid … he drew the pre-“New Look” Batman, without the yellow oval around the bat emblem (unlike what was then currently in DC’s Batman comic books and on TV).

I dig this Batman “punch” closeup, ‘coz it really reminds me of ’66. Do I see a bit of Joe Giella in this drawing? Giella is my favorite Batman artist. I think I’m the only guy who picks Joe Giella. To me, his is the look of 1966.

Here is Bender’s full Spectre illustration. It flips me out that this was drawn in 1966 — the year DC brought back the Spectre in Showcase #60, with art by the great Murphy Anderson. I owned it then, and I own it now (though not the same copy, dangit). I remember reading it in the summertime sitting on a curb with a friend, slurping on Slurpees (which were new at the time … we were guinea pigs, yo). P.S.: I just checked the Wikipedia, and confirmed that Slurpees indeed debuted that year! My memory is not cooked! #Slurpees1966

Marvel Comics heroes

Avengers assemble! Young Howard depicted Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man and others in a manic fight scene. Dig those motion lines! Jack Kirby-esque, I tell you! Or at least Don Heck-esque.

Sub-Mariner versus Daredevil! (Did this ever happen in Marvel Comics? It very well could have.) Hmmm … that butt-cheek definition on Prince Namor is awfully pronounced, Howard.

More Marvel nuttiness from young Bender. It’s the Uncanny X-Men! The word balloon that says “Good work, my X-Men!” is clearly Professor Xavier.

Bender’s Thor. Remember, most of these Marvel heroes were only a few years old back in ’66.

Thanks for sharing, Howard. I hope this post doesn’t devalue your artwork. Like, why should people buy a big, fat hardback titled “The Life and Art of Howard Bender,” in which this art would be presented, if all you have to do is visit

VIDEOS: Hey, since we’re back in 1966, howzabout some “Marvel Super Heroes” clips? When I was 8, these things aired at 7:30 p.m. Friday nights on Channel 3 in Philadelphia. It was my no-nonsense Marine dad, of all people, who first told me about it.