Curt Swan

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Douglas Curtis Swan (February 17, 1920, in Willmar, Minnesota - June 17, 1996)[1] was an American comic book artist. The artist most associated with Superman during the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of comic books, Swan produced hundreds of covers and stories from the 1950s through the 1980s.



Early life and career

Curt Swan, whose Swedish grandmother had shortened the original family name of Swanson, was the youngest of five children. Father John Swan worked for the railroads; mother Leotine Hanson had worked in a local hospital.[2] As a boy, Swan's given name — Douglas — was shortened to "Doug," and, disliking the phonetic similarity to "Dog," Swan thereafter reversed the order of his given names and went by "Curtis Douglas," rather than "Douglas Curtis."[3]

Drafted into the army in 1940, Swan spent World War II working on the G.I. magazine Stars and Stripes. During his period he also married the former Helene Brickley, who was stationed near him in Paris in 1944.[2] Shortly after returning to civilian life in 1945 he moved from Minnesota to New Jersey and began working for DC Comics.[2] Apart from a few months of night classes (at the Pratt Institute)[2] under the G.I. Bill, Swan was an entirely self-taught artist.[4] After a stint on Boy Commandos he began to just pencil pages, leaving the inking to others.


Initially, Swan drew many different features, including "Tommy Tomorrow" and "Gangbusters", but slowly he began gravitating towards the Superman line of books. His first job pencilling the iconic character was for Superman #51 (March–April 1948).[5] Many comics of the 1940s and 1950s lacked contributor credits, but research shows that Swan began pencilling the Superboy comic book with its fifth issue in 1949.[4] Swan always felt, however, that his breakthrough came when he was assigned the art duties on Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, in 1954.[4]

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