Ruth Atkinson
Born (1918-06-02)June 2, 1918
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died June 1, 1997(1997-06-01) (aged 78)
Pacifica, California
Nationality American
Area(s) Penciller
Notable works Millie the Model
Patsy Walker

Ruth Atkinson Ford née Ruth Atkinson and a.k.a. R. Atkinson (June 2, 1918 - June 1, 1997[1][2][3]) was an American cartoonist and pioneering female comic book artist who helped create the long-running Marvel Comics characters Millie the Model and Patsy Walker.


Her creation Patsy Walker would become the superheroine Hellcat in 1976, but Ruth Atkinson was drawing Hellcats long before then. From Wings Comics #45 (Nov. 1944).

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Ruth Atkinson as an infant moved with her family to upstate New York.

One of the first female artists in American comic books, she entered the field doing work for the publisher Fiction House beginning either 1942 or 1943, and either on staff or, as noted by the Connecticut Historical Society, through the Iger Studio, a comic-book "packager" that produced comics for publishers on an outsource basis. Fellow female artists Fran Hopper, Lily Renée, and Marcia Snyder also worked for Iger, where one of the business partners was a woman, Ruth Roche. Atkinson's first confirmed, signed work is the single-page "Wing Tips" featurette in Wings Comics #42 (Feb. 1944).

Atkinson continued to pencil and ink that airplane-profile featurette, as well such Fiction House features as "Clipper Kirk" and "Suicide Smith" in Wings Comics, "Tabu" in Jungle Comics, and "Sea Devil" in Rangers Comics. At some point, she became the Fiction House art director, but left the position to freelance after finding that the managerial position left little time for her art.

She went on to launch the feature "Patsy Walker", for Marvel Comics predecessor Timely Comics in Miss America #2 (Nov. 1944). She would draw that humor/romance feature for two years, as well draw the premiere issue of the long-running series Millie the Model. Some sources credit her with creating both characters, while others list them as co-creations with writer and Timely editor-in-chief Stan Lee.

Atkinson later drew true-life adventures for Eastern Color Comics' Heroic Comics, as well for some of the first romance comics comics, including Lev Gleason Publications' Boy Meets Girl, through the early 1950s.

Atkinson retired from comics sometime after her marriage. She was living in Pacifica, California, at the time of her death from Cancer.


Her brother, horse-racing Hall of Fame jockey Ted Atkinson, died in 2005.[4]

See also


  1. McGeehan, Ed (October 3, 1997). "Ink Blots". Column from Comic Artists Professional Society monthly newsletter, via "Cartoon News and Views" (column; ed. Daryl Cagle), Archived from the original on May 9, 2008.  Includes obituary for Ruth Atkinson Ford, giving date of death date as June 1, 1997.
  2. Miller, John Jackson. "1997: The Year in Comics: Sidebar: 'Passages: 1997'". CBGXtra. Archived from the original on September 7, 2007.  Additional WebCite archive. Gives date of death as June 1, 1997.
  3. Date of death given as May 31, 1997 at the Ruth Atkinson entry at the Lambiek Comiclopedia (WebCite archive) and at "Newswatch - Atkinson Ford Dead at 79". The Comics Journal (198): 31. August 1997.  The Social Security Death Index entry for Ford, Ruth, Social Security Number 073-14-6513, gives a date of June 15, 1997, and states verification came per a family member or someone acting on behalf of a family member, rather than an observed death certificate. Family members sometimes inadvertently submit filing dates or burial dates.
  4. Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame: Ted Atkinson. WebCite archive.u


Further reading

  • Bails, Jerry, and Hames Ware, The Who's Who of American Comic Books (Detroit, Mich.: J. Bails, 1973–1976), entries, pp. 6 & 93
  • Robbins, Trina, and Catherine Yronwode Women and the Comics (Eclipse Books, 1985), index entries, pp. 52, 55, 56, 64, 66
  • Robbins, Trina. A Century of Women Cartoonists (Kitchen Sink Press, 1993), index entries, pp. 83, 101-102, 104, 109, 111, 121
  • Robbins, Trina. The Great Women Superheroes (Kitchen Sink Press, 1996), index entry, p. 86
  • Duin, Steve, and Mike Richardson. Comics Between the Panels (Dark Horse Comics, 1998), entry, p. 30
  • Robbins, Trina. From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Comics from Teens to Zines (Chronicle Books, 1999), index entries, pp. 26, 35, 61, 67
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