While working for Fawcett, Beck created pulp magazines. When the company began producing comic books in autumn 1939, Beck was assigned to draw a character created by writer Bill Parker called "Captain Thunder". Before the first issue starring Captain Thunder came out, though, the character's name was changed to Captain Marvel. And so the humor magazine Captain Billy's Whiz Bang spawned a comic book in 1939. Only now, Captain stood for Captain Marvel; Billy stood for Billy Batson; Bang was the sound of the thunderbolt that turned Billy into the Captain; and the whole thing was called Whiz Comics.
Besides Captain Marvel, Beck also drew other Fawcett series, including the adventures of Spy Smasher and Ibis the Invincible.
His early Captain Marvel stories set the style for the series. Beck favored a cartoony versus realistic rendering of character and setting, which also came to be reflected in the whimsical scripting (by Otto Binder and others). The Captain Marvel stories boasted a clean style which facilitated Beck's assistants and other Fawcett artists emulating Beck's style (one exception was Mac Raboy whose work on Captain Marvel, Jr. was more in the style of Alex Raymond).
The popularity of Captain Marvel allowed Fawcett to produce a number of spin-off comic books and Beck to open his own New York City comics studio in 1941. He later expanded his studio, adding one in Englewood, New Jersey. In this capacity Beck oversaw most of the artwork in the Marvel Family line of comics and ensured they adhered to the style he originated. They also did commercial art, most prominently a series of advertisements in comic strip form starring Captain Tootsie promoting Tootsie Roll. Done in the style of the Marvel Family books and similarly whimsical (this Captain had a large T on his shirt instead of a lightning bolt), the ads appeared in comic books (published by both Fawcett and its rivals) and in Sunday comic strip sections of newspapers.
After years of litigation due to a suit lodged by DC Comics against Fawcett for copyright infringement claiming that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman, Fawcett in the early 1950s (partly in response to flagging sales) reached a settlement with DC in which it agreed to discontinue its comic line.
After Fawcett Comics folded, Beck produced infrequent work for comics, a few issues for the short lived Milson Publications in 1966 and a handful of issues of the new revival of Captain Marvel entitled Shazam!, ironically published by DC comics, in 1973 (Beck illustrated only the first 10 issues of the series before leaving). In 1967 Beck created a new character named Fatman the Human Flying Saucer that appeared in three comic books. This character was almost the inverse of Captain Marvel in appearance and coloration, but with very different powers. Beck later relocated to Florida where, in his retirement, he produced a regular opinion column for The Comics Journal entitled "The Crusty Curmudgeon". One of his chief topics was his objections to what he saw as the growing realism in comics art (versus the simpler style he had employed). Some see him prefiguring the exaggerated style most associated with Image Comics.
In the 1980s, until he died, C.C. Beck published a newsletter called FCA/SOB, which stood for Fawcett Collectors of America/Some Opinionated Bastards. The latter referred to himself, and he meant it in a funny way.
Date of Birth:
June 8, 1910
Date of death:
November 22, 1989 Favorite Creators:
Clarence Charles Beck - 'C.C. Beck' is a favorite creator of 3 usersAwards:
- 1993 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Hall of Fame
Photo by Alan Light.