Calkins, Dick

Tagged: Comics | Art

Working name of US Comic-strip illustrator Richard T Calkins (1895-1962), who was born in Grand Rapids and studied at the Art Institute in Chicago. Beginning in 1929, Philip Francis Nowlan scripted and Calkins illustrated Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, a comic strip based on Nowlan's "Armageddon – 2419 A.D." (August 1928 Amazing) and "The Airlords of Han" (March 1929 Amazing), later published together as Armageddon – 2419 AD (1962). Some sources describe Calkins as an uncredited co-author of the strips, and he also wrote scripts for the Buck Rogers Radio series (1932-1946). Though Calkins's artistic style was stiff and amateurish by today's standards, the strip was extremely popular in the 1930s and 1940s, and its quality improved when Rick Yager joined him in some of the chores from the 1930s. When Calkins retired in 1948, Calkins succeeded him as the strip's artist during its final decade. Calkins's strong, simple lines, though unsophisticated, were well suited to fast-paced narratives, and along with the artist for the similar strip Flash Gordon, Alex Raymond, he has been identified as a strong influence on the visual style of the early comic books. After his death, a selection of Buck Rogers adventures was published as The Collected Works of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (graph coll 1969; rev 1977), and a small press has recently undertaken to republish all of the strips in a chronological series of compilations. [JG/PN/GW]

Richard T Calkins

born Grand Rapids, Michigan: 12 August 1894

died Tucson, Arizona: 13 May 1962

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