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    Matt Baker
Search for 'Matt Baker' on Amazon

Also Credited As:
Bakerino, Matt


Bio:
Clarence Matthew Baker is commonly regarded as the first African-American comic book artist. He specialized in so-called "good girl" art, and drew the wrath of Dr. Frederick Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent for his suggestive cover to Phantom Lady #17.

Despite his reputation for "good girl" art, he contributed heavily to the western genre, and was beginning to develop his science fictional style when he suddenly died at the age of 37. He had been weakened by rheumatic fever as a child, and his heart simply gave out at a much earlier age than it otherwise might've. He died as he lived: a stylish bachelor.

Getting the St. John treatment
While Baker had long relationships with several comic book publishers, and is arguably most famous for his connection to Victor Fox, his relationship with St. John was particularly noteworthy. Archer St. John brought him onboard in late 1948, and in many ways built his company around Baker's talents. Though he gave Baker work in a variety of genres—indeed, there are few St. John's comics which don't include Baker art—it was editor Marion McDermott who utilized his talents most regularly. As chief editor of the romance division, she made Baker her lead artist, and found back-up artists to complement his style. Under her guidance, his style matured, becoming ever more detailed and subtle. It would not be unfair to suggest that her influence was to gently nudge him from "good girl" art to plainly good art.

With the confidence of both publisher Archer St. John and the editor of his most lucrative division, it is unsurprising that Baker was chosen to illustrate one of the company's best-remembered projects. Soon after establishing his reputation at St. John, Baker was tapped to pencil It Rhymes With Lust, often noted as America's first graphic novel.

Other artists' praise
Arnold Drake, co-writer of It Rhymes With Lust, had a passing working relationship with Baker, and claimed to have met him three times. In 2004, he described the chance for the "first Black artist in comics" to draw his story as "a special kick for me". He also called Baker "the hippest dresser I had ever seen (and I knew Dizzy and Miles and a wonderful piano man, Walter Bishop, Jr.). He put together outfits that guys did not wear for another 30 years or so." Drake also said, "Women were crazy for him; all sizes, shapes and colors."

His love of women seems to have been confirmed by a singular quote from Baker himself: "Why make one woman miserable when I can make many women happy?"

Audio information
Phantom Lady and Matt Baker's role in drawing her was recently highlighted in an episode of The Golden Age of Comic Books podcast. Click here to listen.

Date of Birth: 10 December 1921
Birthplace: Forsyth County, North Carolina USA
Date of death: 11 August 1959



Favorite Creators:
Matt Baker is a favorite creator of 2 users


Awards:

  • 1999 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Hall of Fame
  • 2005 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Hall of Fame
  • 2009 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Hall of Fame: (Voter's choice)

Notes:
Baker's only known pseudonym, Matt Bakerino, is a combined one. It indicates collaborated work with inker Jon D'Agostino done at Charlton.

Disputed death?
There may be some dispute about his death. Although there is wide agreement that he died on 11 August 1959, one source claims he had a stroke in 1957 and died of a subsequent heart attack in 1963. Given the overwhelming agreement about his date of death, however, we'll leave it as 11 August 1959 unless other sources can corroborate the later death date.

Signature
Baker's signature is largely absent on his work, as was typical of most work done by all artists in the Golden Age. However, where it appears, it does so with great variety. He never developed a standard, stylized signature, as is common of artists today. The most common variant is seen at top right, done in an unassuming, clear, cursive script. However, sometimes he printed his name, "Matt Baker". On some work he printed in all upper-case, "MATT BAKER", and on still others he just printed his last name, "BAKER". Rarely, as with the cover to Crown Comics #7, he printed his initials, "M.B."





View a chronological listing of this creator's work

Writer:

Penciller:
Alarming Tales (1957)
All Top Comics (1946)
Anchors Andrews (1953)
Atomic Comics (1946)
Battle Stories (1963)
Blackthorne 3-D Series (1985)
Classics Illustrated (1941)
Comics Buyer's Guide Presents 100 Sexiest Women in Comics (2011)
Comics Buyer's Guide Presents The Greatest Comic Book Covers of AllTime! (2012)
Cowboy Action (1955)
Daring Adventures (1963)
Fightin' Marines (1951)
Fightin' Marines (1955)
Frontier Western (1956)
Fugitives from Justice (1952)
Golden Age Greats (1994)
Good Girl Art Quarterly (1990)
Good Girl Comics (1994)
Gunsmoke Western (1955)
Horror Tales (1969)
It Rhymes With Lust (1950)
It Rhymes With Lust (2007)
Jerry Iger's Famous Features (1984)
Journey Into Fear (1951)
Journey Into Mystery (1952)
Jungle Girls (1989)
Knockout Adventures (1953)
Lassie (1950)
Love Romances (1949)
Lovers (1949)
Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Tales to Astonish (2006)
Movie Comics (1946)
My Love Story (1956)
My Own Romance (1949)
Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds (1956)
The Official Golden-Age Hero & Heroine Directory (1997)
Out of This World (1956)
Phantom Lady (1947)
Phantom Lady (1994)
Pictorial Confessions (1949)
Pictorial Love Stories (1952)
Planet Comics (1940)
Pulp Fiction (1997)
Quick-Trigger Western (1956)
Rangers Comics (1942)
Roy Thomas Presents: Classic Phantom Lady (2013)
Seduction of the Innocent 3-D (1985)
Seven Seas Comics (1946)
Sky Gal (1993)
Space Adventures (1958)
Spook (1953)
Stories of Romance (1956)
Strange Tales (1951)
Sweethearts (1954)
Tales from the Tomb (1969)
Tales of Justice (1955)
Tales to Astonish (1959)
Teen Angst: A Treasury of '50s Romance (1990)
Thrilling Planet Tales (1991)
Torrid Affairs (1988)
True Secrets (1950)
True Tales of Love (1956)
Two Gun Western (1956)
Two-Gun Kid (1948)
Unusual Tales (1955)
Vooda (1955)
Voodoo (1952)
Wartime Romances (1951)
Weird (1966)
Weird Adventures (1951)
Western Outlaws (1954)
Western Tales of Black Rider (1955)
Wild Western (1948)
Witches Tales (1969)
World of Fantasy (1956)
Zoot Comics (1946)

Inker:
All Top Comics (1946)
Anchors Andrews (1953)
Atomic Comics (1946)
Battle Stories (1963)
Blackthorne 3-D Series (1985)
Cowboy Action (1955)
Daring Adventures (1963)
Fightin' Marines (1951)
Fightin' Marines (1955)
Frontier Western (1956)
Fugitives from Justice (1952)
Ghost Comics (1951)
Golden Age Greats (1994)
Good Girl Art Quarterly (1990)
Gunsmoke Western (1955)
Horror Tales (1969)
Jerry Iger's Famous Features (1984)
Journey Into Mystery (1952)
Jungle Girls (1989)
Lassie (1950)
Love Romances (1949)
Lovers (1949)
Movie Comics (1946)
My Love Story (1956)
My Own Romance (1949)
Out of This World (1956)
Phantom Lady (1947)
Pictorial Confessions (1949)
Pulp Fiction (1997)
Quick-Trigger Western (1956)
Roy Thomas Presents: Classic Phantom Lady (2013)
Seven Seas Comics (1946)
Sky Gal (1993)
Spook (1953)
Stories of Romance (1956)
Strange Tales (1951)
Tales from the Tomb (1969)
Tales of Justice (1955)
Teen Angst: A Treasury of '50s Romance (1990)
Thrilling Planet Tales (1991)
Torrid Affairs (1988)
True Secrets (1950)
True Tales of Love (1956)
Two Gun Western (1956)
Two-Gun Kid (1948)
Vooda (1955)
Voodoo (1952)
Wartime Romances (1951)
Weird (1966)
Weird Adventures (1951)
Western Outlaws (1954)
Western Tales of Black Rider (1955)
Wild Western (1948)
Witches Tales (1969)
Zoot Comics (1946)

Colorist:

Letterer:

Cover Artist:
All Top Comics (1946)
Alter Ego (1999)
Amazing Ghost Stories (1954)
Approved Comics (1954)
Atomic Comics (1946)
Authentic Police Cases (1948)
Canteen Kate (1952)
Classics Illustrated (1941)
Comic Book Marketplace (1991)
Crime Reporter (1948)
Crown Comics (1944)
Diary Secrets (1952)
Fight Comics (1940)
Fightin' Marines (1951)
Fightin' Marines (1955)
Going Steady (1954)
The Hawk (1953)
It Rhymes With Lust (1950)
It Rhymes With Lust (2007)
Jo-Jo (1947)
Jungle Girls (1989)
Love Romances (1949)
Love Secrets (1953)
Men of Mystery Comics (1999)
Nightmare (1953)
Phantom Lady (1947)
Pictorial Confessions (1949)
Pictorial Love Stories (1952)
Pictorial Romances (1950)
Romantic Marriage (1953)
Roy Thomas Presents: Classic Phantom Lady (2013)
The Saint (1947)
Seven Seas Comics (1946)
Teen-Age Romances (1949)
Teen-Age Temptations (1952)
The Texan (1948)
Torrid Affairs (1988)
True Love Pictorial (1952)
Unusual Tales (1955)
Wartime Romances (1951)
Western Bandit Trails (1949)
Zago (1948)
Zoot Comics (1946)



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