13 COVERS: JOE MANEELY Could Draw Anything

A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE to the late artist, who was born 97 years ago…


It has been said that if artist Joe Maneely had lived into the 1960s, Jack Kirby might not have been the one to co-create the Fantastic Four and so many other characters with Stan Lee. Maneely (born February 18, 1926) was more than part of the Atlas (pre-Marvel) team of the 1950s, he was its greatest artist.

Maneely started in comics in the late 1940s with assignments for Street and Smith Publications, but it was when he worked as a freelancer (and then staff member) at Atlas that his career would soar.

Maneely drew an amazing amount of covers and stories — and he could draw everything. However, in 1957, Atlas’ publisher, Martin Goodman, cut back on everything. Everyone in the comics department was let go, except for Stan Lee, and they were forced to look for work elsewhere. Maneely freelanced for DC, Charlton, and for Cracked magazine, but when Lee’s pile of inventoried stories ran out, Maneely and others returned. (During this time, Lee and Maneely also created a humorous newspaper strip, Mrs. Lyon’s Cubs.)

Unfortunately, on the cusp of greatness, tragedy struck. Maneely was regularly commuting to New York and, on the evening of June 7, 1958, he was taking the train home. He had lost his glasses a few days before so he could not see clearly. He went out on the platform of the train car to get some air and fell off. Death was instantaneous.

It was a blow to everyone who knew him. In a 2003 email to Roy Thomas (published in Alter Ego #28, September 2003, TwoMorrows), Stan Lee wrote – in part: “Joe was the best!  I mean, the all-time, unconditional best. He could draw anything – and handle it magnificently. … To top it off, Joe was the nicest, pleasantest, friendliest guy imaginable to work with. … To say he’s missed is the most profound masterpiece of understatement imaginable!”

To salute Joe Maneely’s birthday, here are just 13 – out of thousands! – of his magnificent artistic creations for Atlas, covering just about every comic book genre:

ADVENTURE: Black Knight #5 (Apr. 1956)

WAR (AND HUMOR): Sailor Sweeney #12 (July 1956)

SCIENCE FICTION: Adventures Into Weird Worlds #3 (Mar. 1952)

ROMANCE: Lovers #35 (Sept. 1951)

SATIRE: Wild #1 (Feb. 1954)

Maneely worked at a time when racial and ethnic stereotypes were often seen in comics and other media. It doesn’t excuse the content but it does explain it. (See the next entry, as well.) — Dan

ESPIONAGE: Yellow Claw #1 (Oct. 1956)

HORROR: Astonishing #30 (Feb. 1954)

SUSPENSE: World of Suspense #1 (Apr. 1956)

WESTERN: The Outlaw Kid #1 (Sept. 1954)

JUNGLE: Lorna, the Jungle Girl #19 (May 1956)

SUPERHERO: Sub-Mariner #37 (Dec. 1954)

CRIME: Justice #52 (Mar. 1955)

KIDS: Melvin the Monster #2 (Sept. 1956)


— BLACK KNIGHT #1: Pre-MARVEL AGE Rarity to Get Facsimile Edition. Click here.


Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Wow that’s some great artwork. I can see Ditko’s Spider-Man running pose poster influence by that Black Knight cover.

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  2. Great stuff ! Wow could you imagine if he was at Marvel in the beginning with Stan, Kirby and Ditko ? ! Such a shame, he was a great artist.

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