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Brooklyn comic book artist known for drawing Captain America dead at 95

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/13/2020 Michael Vassallo

A Brooklyn-born cartoonist who was the last link to Captain America’s infancy is dead.

Allen Bellman — the last surviving artist who drew the Marvel superhero during World War II — died Monday in Tamara, Fla., at age 95.

After attending the High School of Industrial Arts and Pratt Institute, Allen answered an ad in the New York Times in October 1942 for a background artist opening at Timely Comics, the forerunner of Marvel Comics. He landed the job working on Captain America, the industry’s most patriotic comic book hero, who made his debut a year earlier.

After this apprenticeship, Bellman was given his own feature, “The Patriot." For the rest of the decade, except for a time being a patriot by serving in the Navy during WWII, he toiled away for editor Stan Lee in the Empire State Building on a multitude of heroes, including The Destroyer, The Human Torch and The Sub-Mariner.

It may be hard to believe in these Marvel-ous times in the industry, but superhero stories became less popular in the 1940s, and Bellman took a staff position at the Lev Gleason studios. He then freelanced in all genres for Stan Lee, at what now was called Atlas Comics, in science fiction, horror, war, crime, western and romance comics.

The mid-1950s crusade against comic books led by psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham and his book “Seduction of the Innocent” drove Bellman out of the industry and into advertising art and related opportunities.

One of Bellman‘s professional roles included working for the art department of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel where he discovered his passion and talent for photography.

Bellman went on to become an award-winning photographer and in 1998, was rediscovered by comic book fandom, who showered him with accolades as superheroes surged once again.

Captain America — aka Steve Rogers — was featured in a 1979 TV movie and a 1990 feature film, but the character’s resurgence truly occurred in 2011, when Chris Evans played the patriotic paragon of virtue in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The film was a smash, and Evans has since played him in blockbusters “The Avengers,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Captain America: Civil War.”

Bellman, who was interviewed extensively by Marvel fans, became a feted star of the comic book convention circuit and in 2007 earned an Inkpot Award. He was also honored by walking the red carpet at the first Captain America movie opening and was once invited to throw the first ball at a Florida Marlins baseball game.

In 2017, Bellman published his autobiography, “Timely Confidential“ while remaining active in comic conventions.

Bellman, who was still active in his 95th year, lived in Florida with his wife of 57 years, Roselyn. He is also survived by his wife, four daughters, and six grandchildren.

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