The celebrated Mr. K gives due to the Silver and Bronze Age workhorse…


There was a reason William Robert “Bob” Brown (August 22, 1915 – September 1977) was picked to replace Jack Kirby when the King moved on from the Challengers of the Unknown in 1959: Brown’s art packed almost as powerful a punch as Kirby’s!

Before he got into comics, Brown lived a life almost as exciting as the heroes he would later draw. After attending the Hartford Art School and the Rhode Island School of Design, Bob became… a singer and dancer in a vaudeville act with his sister and younger brother! He and his sister went on to work in nightclubs and theaters before Bob became a solo act when his sister went off to sing with the Tommy Dorsey Band.

Drafted in 1940, he served in the Army Air Corps and, while he washed out of pilot school, he trained as a bombardier and navigator and flew 35 missions over Japan in a B-29 bomber as part of General Curtis LeMay’s 20th Bomber Command, earning six Air Medals and a Distinguished Flying Cross.

1950’s Action Comics #152. Writer unidentified.

After the war, Brown entered the comics field, starting his career at Fox Comics before moving on to the pre-marvel Timely Comics, then to DC, where he was, among other projects, the regular artist on the (original Greg Saunders) Vigilante strip in Action Comics. He kept working on various genre strips for Atlas and took over as artist on DC’s Revolutionary War hero Tomahawk in 1956.

He co-created Space Ranger for Showcase #15 with Edmond Hamilton, drew countless stories for the Jack Schiff anthologies, and co-created Beast Boy with writer Arnold Drake. His work also appeared in The Brave and the Bold, House of Secrets, Superboy, and World’s Finest Comics, and with Denny O’Neil drew the first appearance of the League of Assassins and co-created Talia al Ghul in Detective Comics.

1971’s Detective Comics #411. Inked by Dick Giordano. Written by Denny O’Neil.

Bob jumped back to Marvel in the early ’70s, working on the Beast strip in Amazing Adventures, Warlock, as well as on runs of The Avengers and Daredevil. One of his last stories was for DC Comics; he was supposed to take over as the new artist on Wonder Woman, but he was only able to draw a single issue (#231, May 1977) before he died, only weeks after that book hit the newsstands.

Bob Brown drew bold, audacious characters and action, but to compare him too closely to Jack Kirby denies him the credit he deserves for his unique and individual stye and approach. Kirby’s dynamism sprang from his broad abstractions of anatomy and setting; Brown’s approach was grounded in reality.

1977’s Wonder Woman #231. Inked by Vince Colletta.

Look at the cover for Tomahawk #101, below. It’s rich with his style’s kinetic energy, all tightly focused and concentrated on the triangle formed by the positioning of the character’s heads and the mouth of the cannon barrel behind the forced perspective of the hands grappling for the tomahawk. And check out the expressions on their faces, especially Tomahawk’s “Oh, crap!” look. There was a subtlety to Brown’s art that made even his most exaggerated action feel human and relatable.

Here then, MY 13 FAVORITE BOB BROWN COVERS, which I’ll just let speak for themselves. In chronological order:

Tomahawk #18 (July/August 1953)

Gang Busters #62 (February/March 1958)

House of Mystery #88 (July 1959)

Challengers of the Unknown #10 (October/November 1959)

Challengers of the Unknown #11 (December 1959 – January 1960)

Jack Adler washtone

Tales of the Unexpected #73 (October/November 1962)

The Doom Patrol #95 (May 1965).

The Doom Patrol #96 (June 1965).

Tomahawk #101 (November/December 1965).

Challengers of the Unknown #44 (June/July 1965).

Challengers of the Unknown #45 (August/September 1965)

The Doom Patrol #101 (February 1966)

The Unexpected #105 (February/March 1968)


— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite JIM MOONEY Pages. Click here.

— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite MURPHY ANDERSON Covers. Click here.

Sure, you know PAUL KUPPERBERG as the prolific writer of over a thousand comic books for such characters and series as Superman, Aquaman, Doom Patrol, Vigilante, Life with Archie, Bart Simpson, Scooby-Doo, and dozens more for DC Comics, Archie Comics, Bongo Comics, and others, and that he is also the creator of the series Arion, Lord of Atlantis, Checkmate and Takion, and is a former editor for DC, Weekly World News, and WWE Kids Magazine. But Paul is also the author of numerous books, including the superhero novel JSA: Ragnarok and the comics industry-based murder mystery, The Same Old Story, not to mention (but we will anyway) Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing ComicsI Never Write for the Money, But I Always Turn in the Manuscript for a CheckDirect Comments: Comic Book Creators in their Own WordsThe Unpublished Comic Book Scripts of Paul Kupperberg and Son of the Unpublished Comic Book Scripts of Paul Kupperberg. You can follow Paul at and at

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I’ve always loved Bob’s work– I even own a page of his from Detective Comics #388 (Batman on the moon) — his work reminds me of a cross between Kirby and John Buscema. Great article!

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  2. Excellent coverage of Bob Brown.

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  3. Bob Brown was one of my favorite Bronze Age Superboy artists! No offense to Curt Swan and Kurt Shaffenberger, who I grew to love over time, but even with the silly younger Clark Kent stories, Bob was able to give them a bit of a visual zing!

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  4. He really was a great artist, and I think it’s a shame how he is usually overlooked when people are discussing “the greats” such as Neil Addams or Dick Giordano.

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  5. Bob Brown was so versatile that he adapted his style to every era he worked in. As a Bronze Age kid, I noticed how Bob was fitting in seamlessly in Batman and Daredevil. His death in 1977 left us wondering what could have been. I easily see him working into the 1980s and beyond. Bob Brown had the stuff for sure. An excellent artist!

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