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George Gladir, R.I.P.

George Gladir died last night. Obits will note him as one of the most prolific comic book writers of all time and quote staggering, hard-to-fathom estimates of how many pages he wrote just for the Archie line. I don't know what number they'll say but it'll probably be true…or too low. George wrote an awful lot of Archie. They will also note that he was the co-creator of Sabrina the Teen-Aged Witch — also true — and a major contributor to Cracked magazine over the years. True as well.

Here's what else I can tell you about him: He was born in 1925. He got into cartooning as a teenager and worked in 1943 for the Eisner-Iger Studio with Will Eisner, mainly as a letterer and errand boy. He graduated from the New York School of Visual Arts and set his focus on gag cartooning — single-panel drawings for magazines. He did it with much success through the fifties when, as he put it, "the market simply went away on me." By then though, it was a sideline.

Just when he started writing for Archie is hard to nail down. The way he told it, he was given the opportunity to submit cover gags for the Archie line of comics, did that, then segued to writing the insides and never left. He was probably still writing stories for them earlier this week. When did he commence? Historians have spotted what appear to be Gladir scripts as early as 1944. If it wasn't then, it was a year or two after…and then the flow only stopped once for a brief time. He did manage to dash off the occasional script while serving overseas in the Korean War but even George couldn't dash off a Jughead adventure during the time he was a Prisoner-of-War. When he was freed though, he resumed.

Even when they had no credits, you could generally spot a George Gladir script. They were a little wackier, a little sillier, a little more human in their humor. And oh, yes — they were usually fresher than the ones crafted by younger writers. George never got around to getting stale on the job. For his amazing, too-often-uncredited work, we presented him in 2007 with the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. It was one of those picks that made everyone nod in agreement.

George was a delightful man. The longest time I got to spend with him was one year when he was signing comics (Sabrina, mostly) at the L.A. Times Book Festival up at U.C.L.A. It was about a million degrees — Fahrenheit — but George kept a cheery manner, sounding nothing like a man his age. You could talk with him about Archie comics but he had witty, incisive things to say about every subject and I liked him a lot. So did his friend Batton Lash, who has written this lovely remembrance of the man. I agree with every word of it, especially the parts about missing George.