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Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: Spotlight on Ruben Moreira

Here is long overdue Underappreciated Artist Spotlight on the great Ruben Moreira:

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Born in Puerto Rico, Ruben Moreira moved New York City as a 4 year old. Like many Golden Age artists, his first work appeared in a variety of Fiction House titles such as Planet Comics, Fight Comics and Wings Comics. In 1945, he was given the daunting task of taking over the Tarzan Sunday Page from Burne Hogarth (signing as ‘Rubimor’). In 1947, Hogarth returned to the page.

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In the late 40s, Moreira worked for a number of comic book publishers, including Quality Comics and Standard/Nedor, where he turned in some nice work on the Black Terror strip.

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In 1949, he began working in earnest for DC/National, co-creating the Roy Raymond TV Detective character for Detective Comics. He remained as the artist on that strip for its entire 12 year run. At the same time he worked on The Adventures of Alan Ladd.

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During the early 50s, Moreira became one of the real jewels in DC’s crown. He did some phenomenal work in many of their anthology titles. Like Mort Meskin, Moreira was one of the early masters of the splash and semi-splash page. Take a look at the page above, taken from House of Mystery #7 (October, 1952). It is a perfect example of the Moreira’s innovative and compelling design.

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Moreira was also a terrific storyteller, and was able to work in many genres. I am also particularly fond of his Nighthawk stories in Western Comics, and his horror/mystery work is impeccable. Take a look at how Moreira’s leads the reader through the rather complex exposition on this page from the story Tattoos of Doom from House of Mystery #8 (November, 1952). I am just blown away by that single panel showing the exploding zeppelin – no pun intended.

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Moreira was also responsible for a number of DC’s most memorable covers from the 1950s. The cover to House of Secrets #1 has stuck with me from the very first time I saw it in an early edition of the Overstreet Price Guide. I can’t imagine any 10 year old boy could have passed this one up in 1956.

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Many of you may know Moreira’s work from the many PSA’s he did for DC in the years leading up to his retirement. These one-pagers were full of charm and provide an insight into a much simpler time.

Ruben Moreira returned to Puerto Rico in 1958, He continued to produce some work for DC, including the co-creation of Rip Hunter, until his retirement from comics in 1962. I am not sure what he did during his post-retirement years but he passed away from cancer in 1984 a few weeks before his 62nd birthday.

For more comic talk – stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent

9 Comments

I have been looking forward this Moriera feature Scott ever since you hinted at it. It has come sooner than I had supposed, and provides excellent and wide ranging insight into this overlooked golden-age great. And you are spot on about about that zeppelin panel. I sometimes do silly things like take note of, or collect comics where zeppelins appear. I have several in my long boxes now, but nope…. no this one. Thanks for the illumination! All the illuminations on today’s blog!

I’ve heard of Moreira but wasn’t familiar with his work. Yes, very good stuff.

That House of Secrets cover is great !

Another great column, Scott. I’d love you to write a coffee-table book about these creators, maybe even one focussing on minority artists.

Agreed. It’s great to read a comics history book with some real meat to it instead of the same old rehash with just infinitesimal bits of new info here and there.

Fascinating article as always Scott, Thanks!

On a completely off topic note – anyone know how to enable Avatar pics with comments? some people seem to have them on here, others not.

I’ve long thought of Moreira as the Garcia-Lopez of the 50s — beautiful, beautiful art, but for some reason overlooked when people list their faves. (Fortunately, for Garcia-Lopez, lots of pros list him as a fave, so he gets at least some recognition.) Sad that Moreira didn’t get the recognition he deserved. If he had wandered into EC, or into Julie Schwartz office, he’d be considered one of classic artists of the time.

Thanks for the kind words everyone.

I really admire Moreira and I think the comparison to J G-L is a good one. Both artist infuse a certain amount of elegance into their stories.

I read somewhere that Moreira employed a lot of assistants. I can’t recall when or where i read that – and I many be confusing him with someone else, but I would love to learn more about him and his work.

A coffee table book probably isn’t in my future. There are thousands of people out there better equipped to speak to the art and the historical context than me. I just like to use this column as a springboard for ideas. If someone is interested in a topic I’ve covered, and they decide to dig a little deeper – then I’ve done my job. I barely have enough time to get these quick 500 word overviews done – so I’m afraid I never do any artist justice.

I’m glad that people find this kind of thing interesting. I’ve read a lot of stuff about creators and comics over the last 30 years or so, but there’s still so much to learn.

Craig – I’m glad you like that zepellin panel. It really jumped out at me.

As for the avatar pics. I think it was an option when I first signed up here – but I really can’t recall.

Ruben Moreira became a very distinguished commercial artist and fine artist when he returned to Puerto Rico. When he became ill, Moreira freelanced from his home. Never stopped working. His non-commercial work includes book illustration, murals, paintings and silkscreens. He also taught at the School of Fine Arts. His career as a comic artist was not well known in the Island.

I am one of Ruben’s sons. There was an article written about my father about 20 odd years ago. I did not know him much as I was born in 1956 and he returned to Puerto Rico in 1958. I have two older brothers and two half brothers that I believe still live in Puerto Rico. I have a couple pieces of his work in my home. One was a gift from his half brother Sixto Moreira. The last time I saw my father was in July, 1982 when he passed through Miami on a business trip.

I know he did the artwork for a couple of plates “La Anunciacion” in 1983 and “A Belen Navidad 1984″

All the Best,
Ron Moreira

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