Monday, January 19, 2009

Remembering the Comic Book Art of Billy Graham

No, ya turkey, not the Reverend B.G., the comicbook artist par excellence! Ol' Groove can't find a lot of information about the amazing Billy G., except that he was also a sometimes actor and stuntman (even appearing in a beer ad back in the 70s) who passed away sometime during the 1990s. His comicbook legacy, though, is pretty amazing for a dude who worked in the industry for a comparatively short time.

Billy started at Warren Magazines, with a story in the legendary first issue of Vampirella (cover dated September, 1969) written by Don McGregor called, "Death Boat!"

As you can see, his inking was quite lush and organic, which led him to gaining work at Marvel Comics. That work, natch, included helping create Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (aka Power Man, member of the Defenders, the Fantastic Four, Heroes for Hire, and of course the Avengers) along with doing lots of inking (usually over George Tuska) and some penciling on that title, as well as a nigh-legendary stint as artist on the McGregor-scribed Black Panther strip in Jungle Action (issues 10-22).

Graham also took some side-trips into Marvel's supernatural mags, like Journey into Mystery, Haunt of Horror, Vampire Tales, and Monsters Unleashed. Check out "More Than Blood", written by George Alec Effinger, from Journey Into Mystery #2 (September, 1972).


  1. I've never seen that Vampirella bit before, that's a groovy find, mate. the Panther page there, that's outstanding, I always remember that particular sequence as one of the stand-out moments of McGregor's Panther run ( this & the burning cross pages, of course ). Billy will always be THE definitive Black Panther artist.

  2. Billy was a great artist & my favorite on Black Panther. I was always disappointed he wasn't the regular artist on Luke Cage Hero For Hire/ Powerman.I was very sadden to hear he had passed away & so long ago. That no one ever annouced it at Marvel!To send his family sympathy cards if not e-mails atleast. Thanks again for posting this! Please drop me a e-mail, I'd really like to hear from you. I've tried sending you e-mails from your site. But my e-mails won't allow me. Something about POP3? Sorry I'm not very computer savy I'm sad to say. I have some art, I'd like to send u scans of.

  3. I am not sure if you will get around to seeing this as I see your original post is from January 2009. But I too would like to thank you for putting this together, as a lot of people do NOT know the real artist Billy Graham, or how much he contributed to Marvel.

    My father, Mardine is Billy's son, an we are just getting around to going through the exceptional amount of artwork that he left. In my spare time recently, I have been trying to do internet searches on both Billy and his artwork.

    1. I have great respect and admiration for Billy's contributions to the comic artform, and I'm pleased you found this piece and you've taken time to respond. I recently did a Luke Cage piece that Billy drew, and will do more as the blog rolls on. If you or any member of your family would like to contribute any stories, memories, art scans, etc. I'd be honored to share them.

    2. This was one of my all time favorite comic book artists. I was even more proud to learn (as a kid) that he was a black man. Equally as talented as some of my other favorite heavyweights of the era (Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Keith Pollard, John Romita Sr., Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Arvell Jones, Ron Wilson, John & Sal Buscema, Jim Starlin to name a few). Graham however did the best Luke Cage ever! I will never forget (what ended up being) his impressionable style on me! All of these influences inspired me to draw profusely! VQ



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