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Lovers #23-86 (May 1949 - Aug. 1957 continued from Blonde Phantom).
Will Ely was born John William "Bill" Ely Jr. on (March 20) September 7, 1913 in White Plains, New York. His parents, John William Ely and Evelyn Gates, married on December 16, 1908. They had three children, of which he was the first born. His younger brother Lester Woodson Ely was born in 1923. His sister Mary Katrina Ely was born in 1925. The family lived at 6 Orchard Street.
His father was an inventor and manufacturer of steel devices for amusement park rides that were used throughout the world. He was president of the J. W. Ely Company with offices in NYC and an assembly plant in the Bronx. His mother attended one year of college and was a certified school teacher.
In 1925 the family moved to a splendid home at 168 North Broadway, which cost $75,000 and the assistance of three domestic servants.
On August 9, 1931 his father died at the age of sixty-six. Afterwards his mother sold their impressive home and moved the family to a more modest home on Buch Street, which is near Woodcrest on Savoy Park in White Plains, NY.
In 1932 his fifty-one-year-old widowed mother worked as a school teacher on a WPA project. The WPA, Works Progress Administration, was an enlightened government program that funded community projects during the Great Depression.
He graduated from White Plains High School in June of 1932.
In September 1932 he enrolled as a full-time student in the three-year certificate program at Pratt Institute School of Art in Brooklyn. His classmates included Richard Case, Ed DeLavy and Ed Cartier. His teachers were H. Winfield Scott, Frederick Blakeslee and Nicholas Riley.
In 1935 he was elected Class President at Pratt. In June of 1935 he completed his studies and graduated from Pratt. His yearbook description says, "'Swell Guy' is the phrase that fits this quiet, hard worker of the first water."
In 1936 he began to draw pen and ink story illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Mystery Adventures, Saucy Movie Tales, Saucy Romantic Adventures, Spicy Adventure Stories, Super Sports, Thrilling Adventure and Thrilling Western.
In 1936 he also began a long and impressive career in comic books. Initially working through Funnies Inc., he did art on Dell features like Ellery Queen, Martan the Marvel Man, The Robinsons and Caling All Cars. Over the next thirty years his work appeared in comic books produced by most of the major publishers, including National, Timely, Dell, Centaur, Fiction House, Ziff-Davis, Hillman and Charlton. He has worked extensively for National/DC titles, starting with features like Barry O'Neill, Larry Steele, Sandra of the Secret Service and Dale Daring in the 1930s, to mystery and crime features for House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Casebook Mystery and Tales of the Unexpected in the 1950s and 1960s.
On April 16, 1936 he became engaged to Miss Norma Link Allen, a twenty-one-year-old model, who lived at 383 Warburton Avenue in Yonkers, NY. A few months later the engagement was called off.
In 1940 at the age of twenty-six he returned to live at home with his widowed mother and two younger siblings.
In 1942 he drew The Green Hornet comic strip for newspaper syndication.
In 1943 he married Martha Ely and moved to 165 North Washington Avenue in White Plains, NY.
Nothing is known about his WWII military service.
After the war he continued to draw for comic books throughout the 1950s and up until the 1960s.
He and his wife moved to 35 Greenfield Road in Milford, Connecticut, in New Haven County.
John William Ely died in Milford, CT, on November 12, 1993 at the age of eighty.
From pulpartists.com and Lambiek Comiclopedia.
Born in 1920, Bob Fujitani (aka Bob Fuje, Bob Wells) was of Irish/Japanese descent and attended New York City’s American School of Design. He started work in comics shortly after America’s entry into World War Two, making quite a mark on the Hangman series for MLJ (future home of Archie Andrews). The Hangman strip was quite unique in its day, infusing elements of horror into a superhero book. Fujitani’s layouts are always interesting and his splash pages.
At the same time, Fujitani was working for Hillman Periodicals on the Flying Dutchman strip in Air Fighters Comics. I’ve seen conflicting credits on many of the covers from this title, so it is plausible that at least one could be credited to Fuje. This series has some pretty appalling examples of Japanese caricatures and I’ve often wondered how Fujitani felt about working on this type of comic at the time.
Later in the decade, Fujitani started producing work for Harvey Comics, contributing to the Zebra strip in Green Hornet and a long run on Shock Gibson in Speed Comics. Some of these stories have been reprinted in various AC Comics publications.
Fujitani worked for a handful of other publishers including Ace and even Fawcett. He was also one of the numerous artists to get a shot at Holyoke’s Cat-Man Comics. From 1948 onwards, however, Fujitani began a consistent stint at Lev Gleason, drawing stories in numerous genres from crime to romance to humour. His work can be found scattered through just about any Gleason title, which are often quite affordable in lower grades.
He was also a talented painter, as is evidenced by the handful of painted covers he produced for Lev Gleason’s Lovers’ Lane in the early 50s.
Fujitani also contributed at least two dozen stories to a variety of Atlas anthology titles in the horror, war, romance and western genres. As far as I can tell, he never drew a single story for DC/National.
The introduction of the Comics Code Authority saw many publisher close shop or change tactics, but Fujitani continued to get work – contributing to four Prince Valiant stories in Dell’s Four Color series (were those new or reprinted newspaper material?) and a number of issues of King of the Royal Mounted. Today’s fans may most familiar with Fujitani for his work on early issues of both Turok, Son of Stone and Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom. His work on both series was incredibly strong and both series have aged very well. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the last work did for a mainstream American comic book was the 5th issue of Doctor Solar, in which the costume is first introduced.
Like many of his contemporaries, Fujitani sought work on a comic strip. He has worked on several over the years including Judge Wright, Mandrake the Magician and various stints ghosting on the Flash Gordon strip and inking Dan Barry. Prior to his retirement in the 1990s, Fujitani was assisting on the Rip Kirby strip.
As far as I can tell, Bob Fujitani is still with us. I know that I’ve seen a small piece or two on him in Alter Ego, but not much has been written about the man. Perhaps that’s because he left comics just before fandom took off. That’s too bad, as I’ll bet he has some interesting tales to tell.