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This is the thirty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous thirty-eight.Let’s begin!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: An artist who wrote and drew a comic book adventure of fighter pilots became an actual flying ace himself during World War II.
Like many of the creators of the Golden Age, Bert Christman’s name has become almost unknown, which is a shame, for not only his creative contributions to comics, but also for the work he did in real life.
Christman is probably best known today as being the co-creator, with Gardner Fox, of the original Sandman in 1939.
His other claim to fame were the stories he did backing up Superman in Action Comics starring “The Three Aces,” Whistler Will” Saunders, “Gunner” Bill and the British “Fog” Fortune.
The three men were initially soldiers of fortune, and Christman actually drew the serial WHILE flying for the Navy! He would presumably send them in while on leave.
With the advent of World War II, the Three Aces went to China to fight against Japan, and so did Christman as well. In 1941, Christman ceased his work on the Three Aces strip, as he was now in China, fighting on behalf of the “American Volunteer Group” of pilots made famous in the films of the time.
Christman was shot down in early 1942, and was wounded in his escape from the plane. However, he recovered and was back in the cockpit by the end of the month.
Tragically, on January 23rd, 1942, Christman was part of a squadron sent to cut off an attack on Rangoon in Burma. Christman was shot down and killed in the battle.
Let us do our best to keep Christman in our minds.
Thanks to Andrew Glaess for the info.
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