Today marks the anniversary of the death of American comics writer Robert Kanigher, one of the most prolific comic book writers of the last century, who died in 2002.
A US Army veteran, Robert “Bob” Kanigher was involved with the Wonder Woman franchise for over twenty years, taking over the scripting from creator William Moulton Marston. He’s perhaps best known as creating the character Sgt. Rock, although he seemed loathe to take all the credit, with artist Joe Kubert for DC Comics, who first appeared in Our Army at War in 1959. But he created many other characters too, including Black Canary in 1947, with artist Carmine Infantino, the Metal Men with Ross Andru, in 1962, Enemy Ace with Joe Kubert in 1965, and Ragman, also with Joe Kubert, in 1976.
According to an interview with Christopher Irving in 1999, Kanigher, who had a reputation for being somewhat volatile and eccentric and certainly forthright about the comics business, would write a hundred pages a week. And it showed: after writing for the Blue Beetle at Fox Features Syndicate and Steel Sterling and the Web at MLJ/Archie, he moved over to DC Comics where he became a writer-editor – and basically wrote for every single property that DC had at the time. And then he went on to create more for them.
“I did about 420 stories about Rock and Easy,” he told Irving in 1999. “They were so realistic that I received mail from servicemen who claimed to have served with Rock. I received a letter from Vietnam; the sergeant said he was calling himself Sgt. Rock, they had renamed themselves Easy Company, and the other men were taking the names of the characters that I created: Little Sureshot, Loudman, Bulldozer, Canary (Canary sings the birds out of the trees). Anyways, they changed the names of an entire frontline company!”
Robert Kanigher, born 18th June 1915, died 7th May 2002
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A good overview of the writer’s work
• Kanigher’s Galleries of War – Contemporary Obituary (Wayback Machine)
This site offers an exhaustive and brilliant history of Kanigher’s work – check the “Back Issues” tab at the top of the page for the whole series
Here in the UK, Tim Bateman and Steve Whitaker interviewed Robert back in 1989, but the long and wide-ranging interview wasn’t published until 2013, by FAOnline