The celebrated Mr. K pays tribute to one of Supergirl’s greatest artists…


In the early-1960s, Superman was (and still is) my favorite character, but his adventures weren’t necessarily my favorite stories. Even as a 10-year-old, I recognized the silliness of many of the Mort Weisinger edited stories in Superman and Action Comics but lived for those issues that took the Man of Steel to new and different places, like “The Day Superman Became the Flash” in Action Comics #314 (July 1964) or Superman #164’s (October 1963) “The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman.”

But no matter how ridiculous the lead story might be (“The Invasion of the Super-Ants,” Action Comics #296, January 1963), I knew I was still going to be getting my 12 cents’ worth thanks to the title’s back-up feature: Supergirl, by writers including Otto Binder, Jerry Siegel, and Leo Dorfman, and art by Jim Mooney (August 13, 1919–March 30, 2008). I covered Mooney’s background when I posted in celebration of his birthday here last year so I won’t repeat myself. Instead, this time around I want to focus on what was going on in the Supergirl strip that was absent from the rest of the Superman family of characters, not to mention just about every other title in the DC line-up: continuity.

Curt Swan pencils, Al Plastino inks

Of course, even the lamest Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane story where the protagonist gets turned into a giant turtle or a witch had a certain amount of continuity; cast of characters, setting, even the clothes they wore. (Just kidding, by the way, Giant Jimmy Turtle-Man was, is, and shall forever be cool!)

Not that there weren’t a fair share of one-off stories over the feature’s 10 years and some 120 stories—the strip ran from Action #252 (May 1959), created by Binder and Al Plastino, through #376 (May 1969), although by the end Kurt Schaffenberger had taken over the art chores—but there were a number of continuing characters and threads through several storylines, many with a soap-opera edge to them, including Linda’s problematic friendship with Lena Thorul, Lex Luthor’s younger sister, and the shocking revelation that Kara’s parents Zor-El and Allura hadn’t in fact perished in the destruction of Argo City but had found safety in the “Survival Zone.”


And, of course, there were the ongoing tales leading up first to her being adopted by the Danvers, then to Superman finally revealing her existence to the world. Great stuff, much of which has been reprinted in the two volumes of Supergirl: The Silver Age Omnibus and Showcase Presents Supergirl.

But I come here today not to praise the stories, as much as they deserve it (especially the scripts by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, forced to write in anonymity by DC’s hierarchy… not that anyone else was getting credited in the Weisinger titles), but to lavish some love on Jim Mooney’s handling thereof. (And just to get the subject out of the way, I repeat from last year’s column:

And, yes, he did pencil Supergirl in the nude, as {Mooney] explained in The Legion Companion: “Of course, I used to draw her in the nude, because I always drew my characters in the nude before I put costumes on them. To me, there was nothing particularly erotic about it…” I’m sure all he meant was he laid out the basic character shapes without clothing, not that he was drawing them as anatomically accurate, if you will.


Action Comics #253 (pub-date June 1959). Mr. Mooney, meet Kara Zor-El in “The Secret of the Super-Orphan,” the Girl of Steel’s second appearance.

Action Comics #264 (May 1960). “Supergirl Gets Adopted” by the Wilkins family, but only for a brief period. >Choke! Sob!<

Action Comics #276 (May 1961). Image this sleepover party! Supergirl joins the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century!

Action Comics #277 (June 1961). When Super-Pets clash, the world trembles!

Action Comics #279 (August 1961). Who is “Supergirl’s Secret Enemy”? Who cares! Linda Lee is adopted for real by the Danvers family!

Action Comics #283 (December 1961). But you are, Linda! You are!

Action Comics #285 (February 1962). “What a super-doll!” Supergirl gets a rare 1960s full-page splash to announce her existence to a grateful world. (Took you long enough, Superman!)

Action Comics #309 (February 1964). Untold no more! Zor-El and Allura haunt their daughter’s dreams in “The Untold Story of Argo City!”

Action Comics #310 (March 1964). Not a hoax! Not a dream! Not an imaginary story! Supergirl’s Kryptonian birth parents emerge from the Survival Zone!

Action Comics #318 (November 1964). Linda goes off to Stanhope College and makes some bad dating choices.

Action Comics #322 (March 1965). Supergirl goes to “The Planet of the Outcasts” where things don’t turn out well for her.

Action Comics #336 (April 1966). This am story me hate so much!

Action Comics #358 (January 1968). Jim Mooney bids a farewell to his nearly decade-long association with the Maid of Might with “Superboy in Argo City.”

Coincidentally, when nearly a quarter of a century later, after his return to DC from Marvel Comics, I finally had one of my scripts drawn by Jim Mooney, for The Adventures of Superboy (As Seen on TV!) #18 (July 1991). Having this childhood favorite on my story was an item I was thrilled to check off my Creator Bucket List!


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


PAUL KUPPERBERG was a Silver Age fan who grew up to become a Bronze Age comic book creator, writer of Superman, the Doom Patrol, and Green Lantern, creator of Arion Lord of Atlantis, Checkmate, and Takion, and slayer of Aquababy, Archie, and Vigilante. He is the Harvey and Eisner Award nominated writer of Archie Comics’ Life with Archie, and his YA novel Kevin was nominated for a GLAAD media award and won a Scribe Award from the IAMTW. Now, as a Post-Modern Age gray eminence, Paul spends a lot of time looking back in his columns for 13th Dimension and in books such as Direct Conversations: Talks with Fellow DC Comics Bronze Age Creators and Direct Comments: Comic Book Creators in Their own Words, available, along with a whole bunch of other books he’s written, by clicking the links below.



Author: Dan Greenfield

Share This Post On

1 Comment

  1. Happy birthday to Mr. Mooney!

    Post a Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: