Sam Glanzman Bio

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Just a quick biographical rundown of Sam Glanzman's 60 year career in comics, with a few samples of his work.

Sam Glanzman actually began in comics quite early, even before he went off for his tour of duty on the USS Stevens during WWII. Starting around 1940, under various names (including Sam Decker), along with his brother Lew Glanzman, he did work for publishers like Centaur and Harvey, including Fly-Man.

During the war, of course, Glanzman served on the USS Stevens, in the Pacific. While on the ship he kept a diary, which ended up serving as the foundation for a lot of his later work. Thanks to Don Mangus, I have a few pages of those diaries to present here. There's another page elsewhere on the site. As you can see, Glanzman was already an skilled artist at that young age, and provides a great view of his perspective of the war at the time, contrasting with his retrospective view thirty years later.

After the war he actually didn't get back into comics right away. He spent time on various jobs, generally manual labour, including installing machine guns on airplanes.

In the late 1950s he got back into comics, doing work for Dell, Charlton and Gilberton (Classics Illustrated) throughout the sixties. He did several war comics for those publishers, including the well regarded Lonely War of Willie Schultz for Charlton. A lot of his war comics work for Dell appeared in the series Combat, as well as Air War Stories, World War Stories and others. While as far as I know he didn't write any of the stories during the sixties, as he would for the Stevens series in the seventies, these stories still show his experience of the war, with the grittiness and raw emotion. Some good looking oft-ignored war art in these books. From the examples I've seen, Dell's war books tended to be a bit more 'historical' than those of most of the other major publishers, telling stories about particular incidents and battles (the death march of Bataan and the battle at Tarawa in the two examples I've seen). They still managed to put a human face on the stories though, thanks largely to Glanzman's excellently evocative artwork. The Tarawa issue is actually strongly like the much-praised first scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan.

His major work at Dell other than the war books was Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle, which is particularly well regarded (we have some words of appreciation by Steve Bissette here, and a short comic tribute by Scott Shaw! as well). It featured some excellent dinosaur art, and good adventure storytelling. I've only read two issues, but it seems to be a decent variation on the whole Tarzan, lost cities adventure genre, with lots of creative creatures and situations. What I've read didn't really explain the Monster Isle backstory, but the general gist of the series seems to be Kona, a white-haired left-over caveman, travelling around the world with a scientist and his family (his daughter and two grandchildren), finding lost civilizations in places like under the antarctic ice or below the sea, and always full of a wide variety of bizarre creatures. Campy adventure stuff, true, but really brought to life by Glanzman's skills.

He did many other books at Dell, being one of their chief adventure comics artists. Some titles to look for include like Flying Saucers, Voyage to the Deep (about a military/scientific experimental submarine that expands and contracts, and has to foil the earth-threatening plots of some unknown enemey. Strange stuff at times, and it let Glanzman combine his skills at drawing military equipment and personnel with his ability to design weird and wonderful creatures, undersea creatures in this case) and others.

One very impressive thing on the Dell books was that they didn't feature any ads on the interior pages, so Glanzman would generally draw 31 or more pages for each issue (one page was usually a text story), sometimes more if there weren't ads on the inside covers. He was a remarkably prolific artist, while maintaining a high level of quality.

In addition to the war comics, for Charlton he did features such as Hercules, which was an interesting little series, with some nice fantasy illustration and a distinctive look to Hercules written by Joe Gill and Dennis O'Neil. The 13 issues went through all of the legendary Twelve Tasks of Hercules and more. Other work for Charlton would include Tarzan (I've heard very good things about his version) and other features.

Glanzman also did a long-running feature for Outdoor Life magazine, called "This Happened To Me", where he drew stories sent in by the readers of the magazine.

In 1970, Glanzman began to work for DC under Joe Kubert's editorship. One of the main features he did, of course, was the USS Stevens, which he did in four to five page installments from 1970 to 1977. That is of course the main focus of these pages, so you'll find a lot more about the series on other pages. As discussed there, Glanzman's excellent work in units of just 4 pages provided a great view of the war from one who had been there, looking at the men fighting in the Pacific. Excellently drawn stories, using a variety of narrative techniques, crossing various moods and themes, all well worth checking out.

Other than the Stevens, Glanzman's major work at DC was his run on The Haunted Tank in G.I. Combat. The feature began in 1961, with the Robert Kanigher / Russ Heath introductory story in G.I. Combat #87. Over the next dozen years it continued, drawn primarily by Russ Heath, but also at times by Joe Kubert, Irv Novick, Ross Andru / Mike Esposito and others. Then, in G.I. Combat #154 Sam Glanzman was assigned the artwork on it for the first time. Glanzman would then draw (mostly solo, some with Dick Ayers) every new Haunted Tank story in G.I. Combat for the next 16 years, until the series was cancelled with #288. That's a run of over 225 stories (many issues had two or more stories), over 2600 pages. He also had at least some work in every issue from #150 on, which is a run of 139 issues (a few of the later ones he did a feature called Mercenaries rather than Haunted Tank. One issue only had a Heath reprint but he did some other work in it). These are highly entertaining stories, mostly written by Robert Kanigher (with a two year run written mostly by Archie Goodwin), with great art by Glanzman, so that almost any issue of G.I. Combat is a good buy. (thanks to Don Mangus for that photo of SJG with what very well might be a haunted tank)

As well as the thousands of pages of stories he did, Glanzman was also the main contributor of special features for the DC war books in the 1970s. The most familiar of these are probably the great double page "Battle Album" features. These were great looking features focussing on various aspects of different wars, primarily detailed shots of the planes and ships of war, others would feature major battles. The feature seems to have been developed by Joe Kubert, with a few early ones being done by Ken Barr, before Glanzman came in and became the major artist on the feature, doing a few dozen of them in various books. In later days the Battle Albums would be done by other artists, many from the Kubert school. Glanzman's Albums are great detailed works, a really nice complementary feature to the stories in the war books. A few of the other features he did were the All About series, featuring many pages on the themes of tanks, small arms, artillery and other weapons of war. These were similar to the Battle Albums, but one page, and generally with more technical details. Glanzman showed a great interest and affinity to the various aspects of war equipment and such, which also showed in the attention to detail in the stories he drew. He also did some of the Table-Top Dioramas, which were interesting little two page features designed to be cut out and made into a sort of 3-D view of a war scene (I'm not sure if he developed the format for this himself. Most I've seen are by him, I think some are by Kubert, and I've seen it in non-war books by other artists)

Other work for DC during that era includes part of the final Losers story in the Losers Special, a series of one page features on famous war figures under the title Warrior! (including profiles of George Washington, Erwin Rommel, Tecumseh and others), a few Sgt. Rock stories, a few non-continuity war stories (including the story "First" (shown left), which he wrote and drew), some work in the western series Tomahawk, and short stories in the various fantasy/horror books like Ghosts and House of Mystery (a few of which he wrote as well).

In the mid-to-late 1980s, Glanzman began doing some work for Marvel. A lot of these features are USS Stevens stories, written and drawn by Glanzman, which are covered elsewhere on these pages, including the two A Sailor's Story graphic novels and the "Of War and Peace" series that ran in Savage Tales. Other work that he did for Marvel in that era includes a series of backups from the series Semper Fi', written by Michael Palladino and focussing on the US Marine Corps during various years of US history. These are pretty good stories, with some good art by Glanzman, and the lead features and covers are usually pencilled and inked or just inked by the great John Severin.

In the late 1980s, Tim Truman and some of his partners started a publishing / packaging company called 4Winds, to publish some of their work and the work of some creators they admired. One of those creators was Sam Glanzman (as you can tell from the influence of Glanzman on some of Truman's work). So Glanzman wrote and drew two graphic albums featuring Attu for them. This was a science-fiction series, similar in feel to the Kona series he did for Dell. Lavishly illustrated, interestingly told, well worth seeking out. You can read the introduction by Steve Bissette here.

Glanzman continues to work to this day, well into his 70s. In the last decade he's done a new USS Stevens story for DC, some work with Tim Truman and Joe Lansdale, inking over Truman's pencils, on features such as Jonah Hex and Turok, plus illustrating several Lansdale stories solo for a few DC/Vertigo anthologies, such as Weird War Tales and Weird Western Tales, and other publishers like Mojo Press, including the graphic novel Red Range. He's also done some Robin Hood stories for Roger Broughton's A-Plus comics, though apparently only the first of four completed issues of the Thief of Sherwood series came out.

More recently he did an auto-biographical story for Streetwise, where some of the info on this page comes from, and did a western comic (West of the Dakotas) and other work for an online publisher available at (which also has details on ordering the print version of the western).

He's also done a 4 page story for DC's 9-11 benefit book, "Tears in Her Eyes".

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