Artist Spotlight - Art Saaf
Having grown up in a comic book family, I am always interested to hear the stories of other people who have had family in the industry. One such person I have been fortunate to converse with is Steve Saaf, the son of the incredibly talented romance artist -- Art Saaf. Among other things, Steve has put together a highly informative website -- artsaaf.com, about his father. The site features a bio (my abbreviated version below), detailed indexes and galleries.*
Art Saaf was born in Brooklyn on December 4th, 1921 to parents of Czech and Swedish ancestry. Like many artists, his interest in drawing developed early, and his talents were nurtured at P.S. 26. Art made his way as a young man during the Great Depression by working as a messenger on Wall Street and by proof-reading bonds for the American Bank Note Company. He began his art career by freelancing for McFadden Publishing in the late 1930s, and started his formal training soon after at the Pratt Institute -- which he attended from January 1941 through April 1942. Art refined his technique at both the School of Arts and Mechanics and the Art Students League.
During World War II, Art worked for various studios honing his illustrative work as well as freelancing. After the war, he did work for Timely and Dell, and took on full-time work for Standard Comics in 1946. In the mid-1950s, Art began a career in the blossoming television industry as an art director on storyboards for such programs as The Jackie Gleason Show. In the late '50s, Art could be found freelancing as a storyboard artist -- primarily for television advertisements.
Art returned to comics in the late 1960s and was assigned by DC to work his magic on war, horror and superhero titles, and of course -- romance comic books! His artwork can be seen in issues of most every DC romance title of the late '60s/early '70s, and it sure is lovely!
Steve Saaf has done a really thorough job of tracking down the stories his father worked on and identifying his artwork -- much to the benefit of us all! During an email conversation, Steve told me he became engrossed in identifying his father's work when Art began coping with the effects of Parkinson's disease. After years of distance, the two reconnected and Steve instantly delved into learning more about his father's career.
Creating the indexes identifying his father's comic work was what Steve described to me as a "step-by-step hunt for everything he did." Since Steve was relatively new to the comic book world, he sought out field experts such as Michelle Nolan to assist with the identification of Art's romance work. Steve learned to recognize his father's style and purchased comic books for reference. Steve's identifications were also aided by the fact that he had not only pages of original art by his father to go off of, but many of Art's financial records and invoices from his comic book days as well.
Below are various examples of Art Saaf's later DC romance work, inked by a variety of artists. Personally, I am most drawn to the Saaf pencils accompanied by Colletta inks.
Steve disclosed that his main motivation for going through the painstaking process of identifying his father's work was that it "was not recognized" and in his opinion (and many others), he could "keep up with 'acclaimed' best of his contemporaries." I wholeheartedly concur!
I am really grateful and truly inspired by Steve's diligence in preserving his father's legacy. Steve's experiences serve as an excellent reminder of the importance of gathering the stories of comic book creators before those pieces of information become distant memories or worse yet, lost altogether.
*As of February 2017, artsaaf.com is no longer online.
For more romance comic book goodness, read How to Go Steady!