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Jack Binder

Real Name
John Binder
Jack Binder; Max Plaisted


Date of Birth
August 11, 1902

Date of Death
March 6, 1986

Place of Birth

First publication


Personal History

He was the brother of writer Otto Binder.

Professional History

John "Jack" Binder (August 11, 1902 – March 1986)[1] was a Golden Age comics creator and art packager. A fine artist by education, Binder had a prolific comics career that lasted primarily from 1937 to 1953, through his most concentrated work was through 1946. He was the creator of the original comic book Daredevil, for Lev Gleason Publications. One of Binder's younger brothers was comic book writer Otto Binder.


Born in Austria-Hungary, Binder emigrated to America in 1910, where he settled with his parents and five siblings in Chicago.[2]

During the 1930s, Jack Binder wrote and drew the comic Zarnak by Max Plaisted, a Jack Binder pseudonym, which appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories magazine.[3]

Moving to New York City, Binder worked for three years for the Harry "A" Chesler studio, one of the early comic-book "packagers" that supplied complete comics on demand for publishers entering the new medium. Binder left the Chesler studio in 1940 as the firm's art director.

In the early 1940s Binder drew for Fawcett Comics, Lev Gleason Publications, and Timely Comics; during this period he created the Golden Age character Daredevil (not to be confused with the Marvel character of the same name) for an eight-page backup feature in Lev Gleason Publications' Silver Streak #6 (Sept. 1940), and along with Stan Lee, co-created the Destroyer in Timely's Mystic Comics #6 (Oct. 1941).

File:Thrilling-Wonder-Stories, Aug. 1936.jpg

Wonder Stories become Thrilling Wonder Stories in Aug. 1936


The first If---! produced June 1937[4]

If---!: a picture feature

Six months after the debut of Thrilling Wonder Stories, its June 1937 issue contained a picture feature by Jack Binder entitled If---!.[5] Binder's earlier training as a fine artist[6] helped him create detailed renderings of space ships, lost cities, future cities, landscapes, indigenous peoples, and even ancient Atlantins. If---!'s pen and ink drawings are hand-lettered and rendered in black and white.

If---!'s one-to-two page studies presented readers with possible outcomes to early twentieth century scientific quandaries in an age when anything and everything seemed possible. Directed at science fiction enthusiasts and the scientifically-minded, readers ventured visually into the unknown to ponder scientific possibilities in architectural and schematic detail. Major catastrophes never result in the complete destruction of the human race; humans simply immigrate to new planets, create a work around solution, find a scientific way out, or just start civilization over again.

A partial catalog of If---! (June 1937–Sept. 1940)

  • IF Another Ice Age Grips the Earth![7] (June 1937) — Binder's first picture feature is tucked in between "The Chessboard of Mars" by Eando Binder and J. Harvey Haggard's "Renegade: The Ways of the Ether are Strange When a Spaceman Seeks to Betray." Ice Age offered renderings of glaciated cities, infra-red ray guns, and a floating city alongside underground habitations — "the safest and most practicable retreat!" for chilly humans. It ends with the announcement: "Next Issue: If Atomic Power were Harnessed!"
  • IF the Oceans Dried![8] (April 1938) — Sailing vessels are museum pieces enshrined in huge bubble cases since the ocean floor is now home to meandering train tracks. All manner of minerals are mined to the benefit of mankind and the lost city of Atlantis (if real) is exposed. All ocean life becomes extinct and the earth's climate undergoes dramatic, yet positive, change.
  • IF Science Reached the Earth's Core[9] (Oct. 1938) — Neutronium allows humans to penetrate to the earth's core, which is not molten, but a gravity-free haven where "vacationers enjoy the thrill of being weightless." If---! is credited with the first use of the phrase "zero-gravity," a science fiction mainstay,[10] where
Space Travel is solved. Starting at the zero-gravity of Earth's core, accumulative acceleration is easily built up in a four-thousand-mile tube. The ship's reach Earth's surface where gravitation !
  • IF Earth's Axis Shifted[11] (April 1940) — An astronomical telescope points towards the night sky revealing that the planets have aligned and caused the earth's axis to shift. Tidal waves sweep cities away. North America in now a tropic zone, while Siberia is balmy and Antarctica swarms with immigrants wanting to harvest the now accessible coal and metal. "Next Issue: IF the World were Ruled by Intelligent Robots!"

Jack Binder Studio

By 1942 Binder had formed his own studio, with over fifty artists, in a Fifth Avenue Manhattan loft.[12] Later, Binder moved his studio to Englewood, New Jersey, to the upstairs loft of a barn, where it produced material for publishers like Fawcett, Nedor Comics, and Lev Gleason Publications. Features the studio worked on included the Fighting Yank, Mister Scarlet and Pinky, Bulletman, Ibis the Invincible, Captain Battle, the Black Owl, and the adapted pulp magazine features Doc Savage and The Shadow. In addition to running the studio, Binder drew layouts for Fawcett Comics stories which other artists finished for him.

Artists employed by Jack Binder Studios included Ken Bald,[13] Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane,[12] Pete Riss, Kurt Schaffenberger,[14] and Bill Ward. Bald eventually became the studio art director.

After closing his studio in 1946, Binder continued to work casually in the industry until he fully retired in 1953 and returned to fine and commercial art. He made his home in Chestertown, New York, at the time of his death,


Gil Kane: "Binder had a loft on Fifth Avenue and it just looked like an internment camp. There must have been 50 or 60 guys up there, all at drawing tables. You had to account for the paper that you took."[12]


  1. John Binder at the Social Security Death Index. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012.
  2. Bridwell, E. Nelson "In Memorium: Otto Oscar Binder," The Amazing World of DC Comics #3 (Nov, 1974), p. 30.
  3. Bleiler, Everett (1998). Science Fiction: The Gernsbeck Years: a Complete Coverage of the Genre. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. pp. 521. ISBN 0873386043. http://books.google.com/books?id=PbMdeizaCNcC&pg=PA521&lpg=PA521&dq=%22Jack+Binder%22+thrilling+wonder+stories&source=bl&ots=ODyfliKHPE&sig=ASW0lcCsSQF7XeCxH2RH3Ot3rnQ&sa=X&ei=MWw1UP-REsX9iwL_6oGYCQ&ved=0CDQQ6AEwCDg8#v=onepage&q=%22Jack%20Binder%22%20thrilling%20wonder%20stories&f=false. 
  4. Binder, Jack (June 1937). "If---!". Thrilling Wonder Stories 9 (3): 87. http://www.unz.org/Pub/ThrillingWonder-1937jun-00087?View=PDF. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
  5. Nahin, Paul (1999). Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction. New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. 261. ISBN 0387985719. http://books.google.com/books?id=39KQY1FnSfkC&pg=PA261&lpg=PA261&dq=%22Jack+Binder%22+thrilling+wonder+stories&source=bl&ots=EyeYhB4NNs&sig=0X91069M77lCDnZaqH0t1ZtNarU&sa=X&ei=hWg1UJXfHorxigK1w4DoCw&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=%22Jack%20Binder%22%20thrilling%20wonder%20stories&f=false. 
  6. Hamerlinck, P.C. (2001). Fawcett Campanion: The Best of FCA. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 120. ISBN 1893905101. http://books.google.com/books?id=E8z-CaR1OdcC&lpg=PA120&ots=L1u8TRNBOB&dq=%22Jack%20Binder%22&pg=PA3#v=onepage&q=%22Jack%20Binder%22&f=false. 
  7. Binder, Jack (June 1937). "IF Another Ice Age Grips the Earth!". Thilling Wonder Stories 9 (3): 87. http://www.unz.org/Pub/ThrillingWonder-1937jun-00087. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  8. Binder, Jack (April 1938). "IF The Oceans Dried!". Thrilling Wonder Stories 11 (2): 104–105. http://www.unz.org/Pub/ThrillingWonder-1938apr-00104. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  9. Binder, Jack (October 1938). "IF Science Reached the Earth's Core!". Thrilling Wonder Stories 12 (3): 98–99. http://www.unz.org/Pub/ThrillingWonder-1938oct-00098. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  10. Joyce, C. Allen (2009). Under the Covers and Between the Sheets: The Inside Story behind classic characters, authors, unforgettable phrases, and unexpected endings. New York: Penguin. pp. np. ISBN 1606520342. http://books.google.com/books?id=GSbb8QcrP9YC&lpg=PT27&ots=lQR-Lp4m75&dq=%22Jack%20Binder%22&pg=PT27#v=onepage&q=%22Jack%20Binder%22&f=false. 
  11. Binder, Jack (April 1940). "IF Earth's Axis Shifted!". Thrilling Wonder Stories 16 (1): 78–79. http://www.unz.org/Pub/ThrillingWonder-1940apr-00078. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Interview with Gil Kane, Part I". Excerpts from The Comics Journal (186). April 1996. Archived from the original on February 26, 2000. http://web.archive.org/web/20000226010440/http://tcj.com/2_archives/i_kane.html. 
  13. Steranko, Jim. The Steranko History of Comics 2 (Supergraphics, 1972).
  14. "Jimmy Olsen's Pen-Pals," Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #155 (Jan. 1973).

External links


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