Jack Kamen: 1920-2008
Mark Evanier reports that Jack Kamen, best known for his work at EC Comics, died yesterday at the age of 88. The cause of death is being reported as cancer.
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1920, Jack Kamen studied at the Art Students League and the Grand Central Art School and actually got his start in sculpture—his first professional job was on the Texas Centenniel.
His illustration career was just beginning when he was called up to the Army in 1942. After World War II, Kamen began drawing comics for Fiction House and Iger Associates, then started working for EC Comics in 1950. He quickly became one of their most prolific artists, particularly on their horror lines though he also worked on crime/suspense and weird science/fantasy books. After EC’s line of comics fell victim to industry censorship in 1954-55, it was Kamen who suggested to the publisher that the company could avoid the newly-imposed Comics Code Authority strictures with a pricier magazine format, which Kamen dubbed "Picto-Fiction" and included titles like his favorite, Psychoanalysis.
Kamen left comics in 1954 and did advertising art and supplemental illustrations for a wide variety of other clients— when Stephen King and George Romero created the horror anthology film Creepshow, an homage to EC’s horror comics, they tapped Kamen to do the artwork. He also illustrated the cover of the graphic novel adaptation.
In recent years, Kamen basked in the spotlight of his sons’ accomplishments. Dean Kamen invented the Segway and the iBOT Mobility System; he recently contributed a foreword about his father published in Gemstone’s Shock SuspenStories Archives volume 2. Another son, Barton, is a doctor who is now the Chief Medical Officer of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.