Mike Esposito, American comic book artist died he was , 83
Mike Esposito , who sometimes used the pseudonyms Mickey Demeo, Mickey Dee, Michael Dee, and Joe Gaudioso, was an American comic book artist whose work for DC Comics, Marvel Comics and others spanned the 1950s to the 2000s died he was , 83. As a comic book inker teamed with his childhood friend Ross Andru, he drew for such major titles as The Amazing Spider-Man and Wonder Woman. An Andru-Esposito drawing of Wonder Woman appears on a 2006 U.S. stamp.
Esposito was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005.
(July 14, 1927 – October 24, 2010)
Early life and career
Born in New York City, New York, Mike Esposito graduated from the High School of Music and Art, where one of his classmates was future comics artist Ross Andru. Originally Esposito dreamed of becoming an animator at Disney. This ended when his father did not want him to leave New York for the West Coast.
Following his military service, Esposito entered the comic-book field drawing for the publisher Fiction House and later for later for industry giant DC Comics, then called National Comics. Because writer and artist credits were not routinely given during that era of comic books, a comprehensive account of his work is difficult to ascertain. His first confirmed work is as penciler and inker of the war comics story “Heat Of Battle” in Men’s Adventures #6 (Feb. 1951), from Atlas Comics, the 1950s forerunner of Marvel Comics.
He and Andru co-founded the studio Mike/Ross Publications in the early 1950s. The two artists became longtime collaborators, working together on various projects over a span of four decades. Their first known credited collaboration was the cover and a 24-page story, “The Jungle That Time Forgot” in the whimsical adventure comic Mister Universe #2 (1951; no month given, but published between the July and December issues). This five-issue series was the sole title from a comic book company they founded, Mr. Publications. The two also co-founded Mikeross Publications in 1953, which through 1954 produced one issue each of the 3D romance comics 3-D Love and 3-D Romance, two issues of the romance comic Heart and Soul, and three issue of the satiric humor comic Get Lost.
By this time, after having teamed for early work on Key Publications‘ Mister Mystery in 1951 and Standard Comics‘ The Unseen and Joe Yank (the latter credited as “Mikeross”), the two began a long career as one of DC Comics‘ primary war story artists, alongside the likes of Joe Kubert, Russ Heath, and Jerry Grandenetti. Beginning with a story each in All-American Men of War #6, Our Army at War #14, and Star Spangled War Stories #13 (all Sept. 1953), For those titles as well as G.I. Combat and Our Fighting Forces, Andru and Esposito drew hundreds of tales of combat under editor and frequent writer Robert Kanigher. With Kanigher, they co-created the non-superpowered adventurers the Suicide Squad in The Brave and the Bold #25 (Sept. 1959). They also drew early issues of Rip Hunter, Time Master in 1961.
Shortly after DC Comics ushered in the period fans and historians call the Silver Age of Comic Books by reimagining such Golden Age superheroes as the Flash and Green Lantern for modern audiences, Andru and Esposito began a long run on DC’s Wonder Woman, from issues #98–171 (May 1958 – August 1967), “defining her look during [this] boom period”. As well, with writer-editor Robert Kanigher, they co-created the robot superheroes the Metal Men in Showcase #37 (April 1962), going on to draw the first 29 issues of the lighthearted series Metal Men, from 1963 to 1968.
Esposito gradually began freelancing for Marvel Comics, starting with his uncredited inking of industry giant Jack Kirby‘s cover of Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965). For his inking of Bob Powell in the “Human Torch and the Thing” feature in Strange Tales #132, and his inking of Don Heck‘s “Iron Man” in Tales of Suspense #65 (both May 1965), he took the pen name Mickey Demeo (occasionally given as Mickey Dee or Michael Dee) to conceal his Marvel work from his primary employer, DC. He also occasionally worked under the pseudonym Joe Gaudioso for the same reason.
When John Romita, Sr. succeeded artist co-creator Steve Ditko on The Amazing Spider-Man, beginning with issue 39 (Aug. 1966), Esposito, initially as Demeo, was the first inker on what would become Marvel’s flagship series. After three issues, Romita inked himself for the next half-dozen before Esposito returned — uncredited for issue 49 (June 1967), then as Mickey Demeo until finally taking credit under his own name with issue #56 (Jan. 1968). Except for one issue (#65) inked by his successor, Jim Mooney, the Romita-Esposito team continued through issue #66 (Nov. 1968), establishing the new look of Spider-Man. Esposito continued to use the “Demeo” creidt sporadically, including on the debut story “Guardians of the Galaxy” in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (Jan. 1969), and on The Amazing Spider-Man #83 (April 1970), his last recorded use of the pen name.
During this period as well, for DC, the Andru-Esposito team segued from Wonder Woman to The Flash, drawing the super-speedster superhero’s adventures from issue #175–194 (Dec. 1967 – Feb. 1970). All the while, Esposito regularly inked such artists as Irv Novick and Curt Swan on the Superman family of comics, including Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane, Superboy, and Superman, and numerous Superman-Batman team-ups penciled by Andru in World’s Finest Comics. The Kanigher-Andru-Esposito trio introduced the Silver Age version of the split-personality superheroine feature “Rose and Thorn” in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #105 (Oct. 1970). For the black-and-white comics-magazine publisher Skywald in 1971, Andru & Esposito contributed many stories across the line, including to the horror titles Nightmare and Psycho and the Western titles Wild Western Action, The Bravados and Butch Cassidy, and with writer Gary Friedrich created the motorcycle-riding superhero Hell-Rider.
Andru and Esposito formed the publishing company Klevart Enterprises in 1970.
The Andru-Esposito team first drew the flagship Marvel Comics character Spider-Man in the premiere (March 1972) of that superhero’s first spin-off comic book, Marvel Team-Up, nearly every issue of which featured Spider-Man paired with another hero. While Andru did not remain on the series, Esposito would go on to ink several issues, often those penciled by Gil Kane. He and Andru eventually took over the flagship title The Amazing Spider-Man. Esposito inked the vast majority of a nearly four-year run on the title, encompassing issues #147-150, 152-171, 177, 179-182, 185-186, 188, and 191 (Aug. 1975 – April 1979), all penciled by Andru except for three issues Sal Buscema and two by Keith Pollard. He inked the feature stories in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #4-5 (1967–1968), over Larry Lieber‘s pencils, with the latter’s issue introducing Peter Parker‘s parents; Annual #10 (Nov. 1976), over Gil Kane; and Annual #22, over Mark Bagley. Esposito additionally inked several issues apiece of The Spectacular Spider-Man; the children’s comic Spidey Super Stories; and a host of Spider-Man miscellanea, such as Spider-Man Giveaway: AIM Toothpaste Exclusive Collectors’ Edition (1980), and Spider-Man Giveaway: National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse #1 (1984).
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Esposito inked virtually every major Marvel penciler on virtually every major Marvel title, from The Avengers to X-Men. By the mid-1980s, however, his Marvel work had tapered to a trickle. Among his final Spider-Man work, he was co-inker on the story “Moving Up”, penciled by Alex Saviuk, in Web of Spider-Man #38 (May 1988); inker of the following issue’s cover; and inker of the 11-page partial origin retelling “My Science Project, penciled by Bagley, in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #23 (1989). His final Spider-Man story was also his last with Andru, who died in 1993: the graphic novel Spider-Man: Fear Itself (Feb. 1992). Esposito’s final Marvel tale was Last Marvel the 11-page Darkhold story “Skin”, penciled by Dan Lawlis, in the horror comics title Midnight Sons Unlimited #2 (July 1993).
Later life and career
By this time, however, Esposito was well-ensconced at Archie Comics, inking hundreds of teenage-humor stories starring Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper and the other high-schoolers of Riverdale, U.S.A., generally over the pencils of fellow former longtime Marvel artist Stan Goldberg. His final Archie work was inking four Goldberg stories in Betty #56 (Dec. 1997).
Esposito’s first wife, Mary, died when he was in his 40s. He later married his second wife, Irene. Esposito had two children: Mark, who predeceased him, and Michelle. Esposito lived in Lake Grove, New York, on Long Island, in his later years, and died October 24, 2010, at age 83.
Esposito was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2007.
An Andru-Esposito drawing of Wonder Woman appears on one of the 10 character stamps issued in the U.S. Postal Service‘s 2006 commemorative stamp series “DC Comics Super Heroes”.
A paparazzo character was named after him on the Smallville episode “Trespass.”
In 2007 Esposito and Andru were the subjects of a biography titled Andru and Esposito: Partners For Life, published by Hermes Press (ISBN 978-1932563849).
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