Born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, Cole — the third of six children of a dry goods-store owner and amateur-entertainer father and a former elementary school-teacher mother — was untrained in art except for the Landon School of Cartooning correspondence course. At age 17, he bicycled solo cross-country to Los Angeles, California, an adventure he recounted in his first professional sale, the self-illustrated non-fiction story "A Boy and His Bike", in the Boy Scouts of America magazine Boys' Life in 1935. By that time, he was back home and working at a factory job for the manufacturer American Can while continuing to draw at night.
In 1936, having married childhood sweetheart Dorothy Mahoney soon after graduating high school, Cole moved with his wife to New York City's Greenwich Village. After spending a year attempting to break in as a magazine/newspaper illustrator, Cole in 1937 began drawing for the studio of the quirkily named Harry "A" Chesler, one of the first comic-book "packagers" who supplied outsourced stories to publishers entering the new medium. There, Cole drew such features as "TNT Todd of the FBI" and "Little Dynamite" for such Centaur Publications comics as Funny Pages and Keen Detective Funnies. He produced such additional features as "Circus", "King Kole's Kourt" (under the pseudonym Geo. Nagle), "Officer Clancy", and "Peewee Throttle" (under the pseudonym Ralph Johns).
After becoming an editor at Lev Gleason Publications and revamping Jack Binder's original Golden Age Daredevil in 1940, Cole hired on at Quality Comics. There he worked with future legend Will Eisner, assisting on the writer-artist's signature hero The Spirit — a masked crime-fighter created for a weekly syndicated, newspaper Sunday-supplement, with his adventures reprinted in Quality comics. At the behest of Quality publisher Everett "Busy" Arnold, Cole later created his own satiric, Spirit-style hero, Midnight, in Smash Comics #18 (Jan. 1941). Midnight, the alter ego of radio announcer Dave Clark, wore a similar fedora hat and domino mask, and partnered with a talking monkey — questionably in place of the Spirit's young African-American sidekick, Ebony White. During Eisner's World War II military service, Cole and fellow great Lou Fine were the primary Spirit ghost artists; their stories were reprinted in DC Comics' hardcover collections The Spirit Archives Vols. 5 to 9 (2001-2003), spanning July 1942 - Dec. 1944.
By the decade's end, however, Cole's feature was being created entirely by anonymous ghost writers and artists — including Alex Kotzky and John Spranger — despite Cole's name being bannered. Progressively floundering, the comic Plastic Man was cancelled in 1956.
In May 1958, Cole realized one of his life's ambitions when he created his own daily syndicated newspaper comic strip, Betsy and Me, which chronicled the domestic adventures of nebbishy Chester Tibbet, his wife Betsy, and their 5-year-old genius son, Farley. By the end of the summer, it was appearing in 50 newspapers.
That morning, he had mailed two suicide notes, one to Dorothy (who at a coroner's inquest testified that he had given his reasons) and one to his friend and boss, Playboy editor-publisher Hugh Hefner. The letter to his wife was never made public, and the reasons for Cole's suicide have remained unknown. Dorothy never again spoke with her late husband's family nor with Hefner, and remarried approximately a year later.
REVEALED Ink Redible Secrets of Ewan's Five Roses; TATTOO ARTIST COMES CLEAN ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND STAR'S STUNNER; McGregor's Amazing Body Art Is a Floral Tribute to Wife and Daughters
Apr 14, 2013; Byline: Amanda Keenan The needle artist who inked Hollywood star Ewan McGregor has revealed the secrets of his stunning tattoo....