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Fred Kida, R.I.P.

April 8, 2014

Another worthy contender for the title of Oldest Comic Book Artist was a Japanese-American, Fred Kida, who drew the Airboy comic books beginning around 1940 and who worked in comics (books and strips) until around 1987. Mr. Kida was born December 12, 1920, making him only a few months younger than Ken Bald. Sad to say, Mr. Kida died last week on April 3. He remains a nominee for the Hall of Fame in this year's Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.

Airboy was published by Hillman and he also worked on their other titles, including romance and crime comics until around 1948. He spent a few years working for Lev Gleason Publications, mostly on crime and romance books, then around '52 began working for the company we now know as Marvel. He was a good, dependable artist who drew beautiful women, handsome heroes and some of the ugliest villains in comics. He also intermittently assisted Will Eisner on The Spirit.

Mr. Kida worked as an assistant/ghost on a number of syndicated newspaper strips, including Flash Gordon, for which he eventually got credit. He left Marvel around 1956 when the company downsized and ceased having work for most of their freelancers. In the seventies, Kida returned there and worked on any number of their best comics, including a stint drawing the newspaper strip of The Amazing Spider-Man. More information on his life is available in this newspaper obit notice. It's sad to lose a fine artist like that.

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