Dondi co-creator and artist Irwin Hasen died March 13 at the age of 96. A comic strip about a war orphan, Dondi was co-written with Gus Edson and ran in more than 100 newspapers from 1955 to 1986. When it was filmed, Hasen had a cameo as a police sketch artist who drew the missing Dondi while the cops were searching for him.
Just before World War II he created the feature Citizen Smith, Son of the Unknown Soldier. While in the Army from 1942 to 1944 he managed the Fort Dix Post newspaper. Since he was stationed in New Jersey, sometimes he could get away to do comics work. In 1944 and 1945,Hasen drew a comic strip adaptation of The Goldbergs radio series for the New York Post.
He also had a long Golden Age career working on Green Lantern, and co-creating Wildcat and Wonder Woman covers. He met Alfred Bester a couple of times when Bester was writing Green Lantern stories.
When the Superman movie was announced in the 1970s he was one of many who campaigned for the Man of Steel’s creators to get pensions from DC, drawing Dondi with a tear in his eye for Siegel and Shuster. And Hasen’s quote was broadcast all over the country: “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a shame!”
His profile in the New York Times in 2011 ends with the reporter viewing the art on his apartment walls:
One illustration depicts a veritable harem of past girlfriends — all tall, buxom and naked. Drawn tiny in the corner is the laughing Mr. Hasen, bringing in a tray of martinis.
“I didn’t want much,” he said. “I just wanted to be loved by everyone.”
[Thanks to James H. Burns for the story.]