Comics Herstory: Ramona Fradon
Ramona Fradon’s comics career began in 1950 after she graduated from Parsons School of Design. She is one of the most notable artists of the Silver Age, and has created and helped shape a number of characters in DC’s lineup.
Fradon was hired by DC following her graduation, and began working on Shining Knight. Shortly after, she became a regular artist on Aquaman. She gave life to Topo, Aquaman’s intelligent octopus sidekick, and was a co-creator of Aqualad. Aquaman was a signature character for Fradon, whose graceful art fit the character well. She worked on Aquaman for a full decade, from 1951 to 1961. During this time, Fradon and Marvel artist Marie Severin were the only women drawing superhero comics for a mainstream publisher.
After taking a break in the 1960s to raise her daughter, Fradon returned to co-create the DC character Metamorpho, whose powers stemmed from his ability to control elements. She drew the first several issues of Metamorpho before taking another leave. Fradon returned full-time in the 1970s, again drawing for DC. Once back at DC, Fradon worked on several issues of Plastic Man and House of Secrets. She also penciled most of the run of Super Friends, a successful tie-in comic to the animated television show.
Throughout the 1980s, Fradon moved from comic books to strips, and penciled Brenda Starr after the strip’s creator, Dale (Dalia) Messick, retired in 1980. Fradon drew Brenda Starr until her own retirement in 1995, citing women’s interest as the reason for the strip’s longevity and popularity. Since her retirement, Fradon has still worked in illustration and has contributed to a number of anthologies. According to Catskill Comics, she is still accepting commissions at age 89. She is also set to be a guest at San Diego Comic Con this year.
Ramona Fradon’s contributions to comics are undeniable. Her art is iconic, and defined the classic Aquaman. She humanized these larger-than-life beings, giving them expressive faces and bodies that portrayed recognizable emotions and expressions. Her talent was and is still widely recognized, and she was the third woman to be inducted into the Eisner Hall of Fame with her inclusion in 2006.