WILLIAM H. GRAHAM
William Henderson Graham, born on July 1, 1935 was a Black comics artist best known for his work on the Marvel Comics series Luke Cage, Hero for Hire and the Jungle Action feature "Black Panther”.
A graduate of New York City's Music & Art High School, Billy Graham was influenced artistically by the work of Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Burne Hogarth, and George Tuska. One of his earliest comics projects was illustrating writer Don Glut's "Death Boat!" in Vampirella #1 (Sept. 1969), one of Warren Publishing's influential black-and-white horror-comics magazines. Graham would pencil and self-ink a story in nearly each of the first dozen issues of Vampirella, and an additional tale in issue #32 (April 1970) of its brethren publication Creepy.
Graham eventually left Warren and joined the creative team that launched Marvel's Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, inking the premiere issue (June 1972) over pencilers John Romita Sr. and George Tuska. He either inked or himself penciled every issue of the book's 16–issue run under its original title, and the first as the retitled Luke Cage, Power Man (Feb. 1974).
Graham collaborated with writer Don McGregor on the critically lauded "Black Panther" series that ran in Jungle Action #6–24 (Sept. 1973–Nov. 1976), becoming the series' regular penciler with issue #11 (Sept. 1974) and leaving after penciling the first five pages of issue #22 (July 1976). His cool Marvel Bullpen name was 'The Irreverent' Billy Graham. Even though Jack Kirby created the Panther, Graham will always be the definitive Panther artist. Graham's last comics work was co-penciling, with Steven Geiger, Power Man and Iron Fist (the again-retitled Luke Cage series) #114 (Feb. 1985).
Graham appeared as an extra in TV commercials for products including beer and chewing gum, and played the artist father of one of the lead characters in McGregor's unreleased, low-budget film adaptation of his Detectives Inc. graphic novels. Graham wrote several plays and received awards for his set design work as well. Graham died on April 4, 1997.
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