Fran Matera

Last updated
Fran Matera
Fran Matera
Born December 9, 1924
Francis A. Matera
DiedMarch 15, 2012 (2012-03-16) (aged 87)
Nationality American
Area(s) Cartoonist, Artist, Inker
Notable works
Steve Roper and Mike Nomad

Francis A. "Fran" Matera (December 9, 1924 – March 15, 2012) [1] was an American comic strip artist best known for his King Features Syndicate adventure strip Steve Roper and Mike Nomad from 1984 to 2004. [2] In addition to his extensive experience in newspaper strips, Matera also spent many years in the comic book industry, particularly for Charlton Comics. His influences include Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Al Capp, and Bud Fisher. [3]

Comic strip short serialized comics

A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions. Traditionally, throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, these have been published in newspapers and magazines, with horizontal strips printed in black-and-white in daily newspapers, while Sunday newspapers offered longer sequences in special color comics sections. With the development of the internet, they began to appear online as webcomics. There were more than 200 different comic strips and daily cartoon panels in South Korea alone each day for most of the 20th century, for a total of at least 7,300,000 episodes.

King Features Syndicate American print syndication company

King Features Syndicate, Inc. is a print syndication company owned by Hearst Communications that distributes about 150 comic strips, newspaper columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles, and games to nearly 5,000 newspapers worldwide. King Features Syndicate is a unit of Hearst Holdings, Inc., which combines the Hearst Corporation's cable-network partnerships, television programming and distribution activities, and syndication companies. King Features' affiliate syndicates are North America Syndicate and Cowles Syndicate. Each week, Reed Brennan Media Associates, a unit of Hearst, edits and distributes more than 200 features for King Features.

<i>Steve Roper and Mike Nomad</i>

Steve Roper and Mike Nomad was an American adventure comic strip that ran from November 23, 1936, to December 26, 2004.



Early life and career

While in high school in Connecticut, Fran Matera visited New York City at the recommendation of comic-strip artist Alfred Andriola, to whom the fledgeling Matera had previously sent a fan letter and art samples. Through a meeting that Andriola arranged with editors at Quality Comics, Matera was promised a staff position starting after graduation. (During this period, Matera also studied with the Correspondence Art Institute.) [3] Following his graduation in 1942, Matera returned to spend eight months with Quality, though his credits for that time are spotty due to the industry's then-prevalent practice of rarely crediting comic-book creators.

Connecticut state of the United States of America

Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport. It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the Tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".

Alfred Andriola cartoonist

Alfred James Andriola was an American cartoonist best known for the comic strip Kerry Drake, for which he won a Reuben Award in 1970. His work sometimes appeared under the pseudonym Alfred James.

Quality Comics

Quality Comics was an American comic book publishing company which operated from 1937 to 1956 and was a creative, influential force in what historians and fans call the Golden Age of Comic Books.

World War II

Matera left to study at the Art Institute of Chicago, quitting after a year to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. During basic training, he was assigned to the Parris Island base's public relations department to help create a camp newspaper, the Parris Island Boot, and he drew the Marine Corps' comic strip Ship to Shore. Requesting combat service, Matera was sent to for additional training in Virginia and eventually shipped out on the USS Augusta, where he drew a portrait of the visiting President Harry Truman. [4] [5]

Art Institute of Chicago art museum and school in Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, founded in 1879 and located in Chicago's Grant Park, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Recognized for its curatorial efforts and popularity among visitors, the museum hosts approximately 1.5 million guests annually. Its collection, stewarded by 11 curatorial departments, is encyclopedic, and includes iconic works such as Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, and Grant Wood's American Gothic. Its permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art is augmented by more than 30 special exhibitions mounted yearly that illuminate aspects of the collection and present cutting-edge curatorial and scientific research.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island military base

Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island is an 8,095-acre (32.76 km2) military installation located within Port Royal, South Carolina, approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Beaufort, the community that is typically associated with the installation. MCRD Parris Island is used for the training of enlisted Marines. Male recruits living east of the Mississippi River and female recruits from all over the United States report here to receive their initial training. Male recruits living west of the Mississippi River receive their training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, but may train at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island by special request.

Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising. But now advertising is also a part of greater PR Activities. An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article. The aim of public relations is to inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favorable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions. Public relations professionals typically work for PR and marketing firms, businesses and companies, government, and public officials as PIOs and nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit organizations. Jobs central to public relations include account coordinator, account executive, account supervisor, and media relations manager.

Comic strips

Fran Matera and Chad Kelly's Mr. Holiday (August 12, 1950) Mrholilday81260.jpg
Fran Matera and Chad Kelly's Mr. Holiday (August 12, 1950)

Upon his military discharge in 1947, Matera found work assisting Andriola on the dramatic strip Kerry Drake (1943–83). Matera went on to draw the strip Dickie Dare (1932–57) from 1947 to 1949, succeeding strip creator Milton Caniff and consecutive artists Coulton Waugh and Odin Burvick. [4]

<i>Kerry Drake</i>

Kerry Drake is the title of a comic strip created for Publishers Syndicate by Alfred Andriola as artist and Allen Saunders as uncredited writer. It debuted on Monday, 4 October 1943, replacing Norman Marsh's Dan Dunn, and was syndicated continuously through 1983.

Milton Caniff American cartoonist

Milton Arthur Paul "Milt" Caniff was an American cartoonist famous for the Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon comic strips.

Coulton Waugh American comics artist

Frederick Coulton Waugh was a cartoonist, painter, teacher and author, best known for his illustration work on the comic strip Dickie Dare and his book The Comics (1947), the first major study of the field.

In 1950, Matera and comic book writer Chad Kelly teamed to do the short-lived Mr. Holiday (1950–51), about do-gooder Mr. Holiday and his young assistant Rod O'Keef, who is concerned about the state of holidays: "Last New Year's showed a steep increase in hangovers... Lovers' quarrels on Valentine's Day... Tree chopping on Arbor Day... Hunger at Thanksgiving... Even the ground hog refused to live up to his tradition." The strip was "not successfully distributed" by the syndicate, the George Matthew Adams Service, according to Matera's website. [4]

Matera ghosted for credited artist Darrell McClure on Little Annie Rooney (1927–66) in 1951; drew the portly private detective series Nero Wolfe (1956–65) in 1957, between artists Mike Roy and Jim Christiansen; ghosted for credited artist Marvin Bradley on Rex Morgan, M.D. (1948-  ) from 1976 to 1978; drew the movie tie-in Indiana Jones (1981), and, assisted by Dick Kulpa, the martial-arts strip The Legend of Bruce Lee (1982), written by Sharman DiVono. He additionally had brief stints ghosting Judge Parker and Apartment 3-G . From 1974 to 1975, he worked on the strip Galexo for the international market. [6]

Ghostwriter writer who writes speeches or texts in the name and commissioned by another person

A ghostwriter is hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches, or other texts that are officially credited to another person as the author. Celebrities, executives, participants in timely news stories, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, memoirs, magazine articles, or other written material. In music, ghostwriters are often used to write songs, lyrics, and instrumental pieces. Screenplay authors can also use ghostwriters to either edit or rewrite their scripts to improve them.

Darrell McClure cartoonist

Darrell Craig McClure, was an American cartoonist and illustrator best known for his work on the comic strip Little Annie Rooney from 1930 to 1966. The strip took its name from an 1890 song by Michael Nolan.

<i>Little Annie Rooney</i> American comic strip

Little Annie Rooney is a comic strip about a young orphaned girl who traveled about with her dog, Zero.

Beginning with the strip for April 8, 1985, Matera began his two-decade run drawing Steve Roper and Mike Nomad, which had been titled simply Steve Roper from 1947 to 1969. The series originated as the comedy strip Big Chief Wahoo in 1936, but supporting character Steve Roper edged into the title in 1944, with the dramatic adventure renamed Chief Wahoo and Steve Roper. Wahoo was written out in 1947, and Nomad was added in 1956. Matera additionally wrote the final year of Steve Roper and Mike Nomad, following writer John Saunders' death in November 2003. The final strip ran December 26, 2004. [7] [8]

Fran Matera/John Saunders' Steve Roper and Mike Nomad (January 25, 1986) SteveRoperMikeNomad Matera.jpg
Fran Matera/John Saunders' Steve Roper and Mike Nomad (January 25, 1986)

Comic books

Between 1950 and 1976, Matera drew hundreds of comic book stories and covers. In the 1950s, he contributed to St. John Publications' Fightin' Marines and Charlton Comics' Gabby Hayes and Speed Demons. In 1959, he helped initiate the Catholic school comic book Treasure Chest , drawing all the editorial content in the Treasure Chest Advance Edition comic given to teachers and school administrators in introduce the concept. He was the initial artist on writer-creator Max Pine's long-running feature "Chuck White" (later "Chuck White and His Friends"), contributing to that schoolboy's naturalistic family drama through 1971. [9]

For Marvel Comics, he inked penciler Ron Wilson's 46-page story "The Boy Who Cried Hulk!" in the black-and-white comics magazine The Hulk #11 (Oct. 1978), and inked Sal Buscema's 33-page story in Tarzan Annual #2 (Nov. 1978). [9]

A Florida resident in his later years, Matera was a guest at that state's Tampa Comic Book & Toy Convention on November 11, 2007. [10]

Personal life

After marrying his wife Patricia, Matera moved with her to Delray Beach, Florida, where they lived in a two-story house nicknamed White Haven. The couple had three children, sons Fran Jr., Chris and Guy. The family later moved to Safety Harbor, Florida. There Patricia died in 2004. [5]

Matera died from prostate cancer on March 15, 2012. [2]

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  1. Francis A. Matera at the Social Security Death Index via Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  2. 1 2 "Epilogue: Cartoonist Fran Matera drew 'Steve Roper' adventure series". Tampa Bay Times . Florida. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-19.
  3. 1 2 Bails, Jerry; Hames Ware. "Matera, Fran". Who's Who of American Comic Books 1928-1999. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 "Biography". Fran Matera official site. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Additional on February 4, 2010.
  5. 1 2 Ackerman, Sherri (August 7, 2009). "Pinellas cartoonist drew a piece of WWII history". The Tampa Tribune . Archived from the original on October 8, 2012.
  6. Fran Matera at the Lambiek Comiclopedia. Note: Gives birth date of December 12, without attribution and at odds with that in the Social Security Death Index.
  7. Mike Nomad at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived October 25, 2011.
  8. "Roper Out, Fuzzy In on Blade Comic Pages". The Toledo Blade . Ohio. December 26, 2004. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010.
  9. 1 2 Fran Matera at the Grand Comics Database
  10. "Next Show: Sunday, November 28, 2008". Tampa Comic Book & Toy Convention. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. 10/7/08 - Added Pablo Marcos, Fran Matera....