Q&A With Allen Bellman -- Timely/Marvel Legendary Artist

Captain America made his comic book debut 75 years ago in March 1941. He was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and first appeared in Captain America Comics #1, published by Timely Comics (later to become Marvel Comics). In the fall of 1942 a young artist by the name of Allen Bellman was introduced to Captain America.

In addition to drawing Captain American, Bellman worked on a number of other comics for Timely/Marvel including The Destroyer, The Human Torch, Jet Dixon of the Space Squadron, and others.

What was the impetus that got you interested in drawing?

It was natural. A feeling I had within as a young child of 6 or 7. I would draw on anything that was open. My dad had a bakery and I drew on the paper bags. I guess I created the first commercial bag!

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Allen Bellman, age 15, Bellman Brothers Bakery, 1939
Photo: Allen Bellman

When did you start drawing cartoons?

I first started drawing cartoons when I was 18 years of age. I answered an ad in the New York Times to do backgrounds for Captain America. It was on a Monday, Columbus Day. I told my dad that since it was a holiday I will go tomorrow. He told me no and that I should go on Monday. I went in and for the interview and ten minutes later I was hired. I guess fathers do know best. Soon after, I was given my own scripts, penciling and inking my own stories - Human Torch, Submariner, war, romance, crime stories. I did anything Stan Lee gave me.

What did they have you first working on at Timely/Marvel?

My first jobs at Timely/Marvel was doing backgrounds on Captain America. It was boring, but shortly after they gave me my own scripts to pencil and ink.

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Allen Bellman, 21, working at his desk at Timely Comics. Year: 1945 approx
Photo: Allen Bellman

What was it like working at Timely/Marvel?

It was beautiful. I was doing what I wanted to do and I was treated well by editor Stan Lee.

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Stan Lee and Allen Bellman - 1992
Photo: Allen Bellman

What do you think of the direction of Captain America has taken since you last worked on him?

The art is superb, but the fans love the old style - the way I or the other Golden Age artists would draw.

How do you think The Walt Disney Company has been as the current custodians of the Marvel Universe?

The Walt Disney Company has improved the movie end of the Marvel Universe - after all they have the movie making experience. The comic books remained the same - beautiful art.

You do commissions for your fans. Is Captain America your most requested commission?

Yes, he is. Even though I am still drawing Captain America, it's important to remember who created him, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. they are the greatest team in comic book history.

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Jack Kirby (l) and Joe Simon (r)
Photo: Jack Kirby/Susan Skaar Joe Simon/Wikipedia

Anything else you'd like to add?

Comics will rock and roll for a long time! It's the new entertainment.

Allen will be a guest at this year's San Francisco Comic Con (September 2-4),Grand Rapids Comic Con (October 21-23), Akron Comic Con (November 5-6) and the Rhode Island Comic Con (November 11-13).

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Commission by Allen Bellman

To request a commission please visit www.allenbellman.com. Allen is also the subject of a forthcoming documentary about his life, "Shoot First, Ask Questions Later," from ArcMedia Studios.