13 COVERS: A REED CRANDALL Birthday Celebration

Blackhawk and the Freedom Fighters — before they were the Freedom Fighters!


Even from the beginning of his comic-book career in 1940, the late Reed Crandall (born February 22, 1917) was one of the industry’s best artists, working at first for the S.M. Iger Studio in the 1940s, which packaged complete comic books (stories and art) for various publishers, including Quality Comics. During that time, Crandall’s amazing work could be seen in Quality’s Blackhawk (pre-DC), Smash Comics, Hit Comics, Modern Comics, Military Comics, and more.

Over the next 30 years, with his work appearing in comics published by EC, Atlas (Marvel), Warren and others, his art grew more and more polished until a Reed Crandall illustration could be recognized as totally his own fantastic solid style and no one else’s. In addition, he drew for Treasure Chest comics for 12 years and expanded his market in the ’60s to include absolutely jaw-dropping, breathtaking illustrations for reprints of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels. (For a much more in-depth history of Reed Crandall, Roger Hill’s profusely illustrated biography Reed Crandall: Illustrator of the Comics from TwoMorrows is an absolute must read.)

Crandall was born 106 years ago, so here are 13 COVERS (and splash pages) from his early work appearing in Quality Comics’ publications. Bronze Age readers will recognize most of these heroes as members of DC’s Freedom Fighters (after the company acquired them from Quality), and Generation Z fans will recognize a few from the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode in 2010, “Cry Freedom Fighters!”

National Comics #26 (Nov. 1942)

Military Comics #13 (Nov. 1942)

Military Comics #16 (Feb. 1943)

Crandall pencils, Bill Ward inks. (Inset by Bart Tumey.)

Modern Comics #59 (Mar. 1947)

Crandall pencils, Chuck Cuidera inks

Modern Comics #69 (Jan. 1948)

Blackhawk #63 (Apr. 1953)

Doll Man #40 (June 1952)


Hit Comics #18 (Dec. 1941)

Hit Comics #24 (Oct. 1942)

Crack Comics #51 (Nov. 1947)

Smash Comics #36 (Oct. 1942)

Police Comics #1 (Aug. 1941). Firebrand splash page. (Though Firebrand was the cover’s predominant feature, the same issue also introduced Jack Cole’s Plastic Man, who would take over the cover spot with Police Comics #5 and continue through #102.)

Smash Comics #26 (Sept. 1941). The Ray splash page.


— TwoMorrows’ Illustrated REED CRANDALL Biography to Be Re-Released. Click here.

— INSIDE LOOK: REED CRANDALL’S EC STORIES Artist’s Edition. Click here.

PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Pagehas just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Such an excellent artist, often overlooked today. Should be the subject of as many tributes and comic reprints as Kirby, in my opinion. Thank goodness for Gwandanaland to publish so much of his amazing art, but beyond what it does, would love to see at least some restored versions as opposed to scans.

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  2. Great covers. Love the Golden age. Crandall was an amazing artist.

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