Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Allen Bellman, 92, always knew he wanted to be an artist.
Allen Bellman - Age 2 Photo: Allen Bellman"It was natural, a feeling within me as a young child of 6 or 7 years of age," says Bellman. "I would draw on anything that was open. My dad had a bakery and I drew on the paper bags. I guess I created the first commercial bag!"
Allan in his father's bakery - Age 15 - 1939 Photo: Allen Bellman
When Bellman was 18 years of age, he answered a help wanted ad in the New York Times for comic magazine inkers wanted.
The New York Times classified ad - 1942 (Possibly the original) Image: Timely Atlas Comics Blogspot / Dr. Michael J. Vassallo"It was Columbus Day, 1942," says Bellman. "I told my dad since it was a holiday, I'll go tomorrow. He told me, 'no, you'll go today.' I am glad I listened to him because I got the job within 10 minutes of being there. I guess fathers know best!"
Bellman started off at Timely Comics for $25 a week doing backgrounds for Captain America. He said it was boring, but fortunately for him it didn't last long.
Allen at Timely Comics - Age 21 - 1945 Photo: Allen Bellman
In an interview he did last year with the New Times Newspaper, Bellman said, "Stan Lee was not even there yet; he was in the Army. In a short time they were giving me my own scripts which I was penciling and inking. The first one I did was called 'The Patriot.' He died as soon as the war ended. I guess they didn't need him anymore."
Stan Lee and Allen Bellman - 1992 Image: Allen Bellman"Working at Timely/Marvel was beautiful," said Bellman. "I was doing what I wanted to do and I was treated very well by my editor Stan Lee."
In addition to working on The Patriot, Bellman also worked on The Destroyer, The Human Torch, Jet Dixon of the Space Squadron among others.
Image: Monomythic.com"I created the back-up crime feature Let's Play Detective," says Bellman. "I also contributed to pre-Code horror, crime, war and western tales for Atlas." He worked in the comics field until the early 1950s. Shortly after, Bellman packed up and left New York City for South Florida. In Florida he went to work for the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Allen at the South Florida Sun Sentinel Photo: Allen Bellman"At the newspaper, I was in the art department," says Bellman. "I did cartoon for the newspaper. I was the one who created Summer Santa Claus with short pants! I eventually retired from the newspaper, but I wanted to continue doing something creative. So I got into photography. I loved shooting people and landscapes. I traveled all over the world photographing amazing places like Hawaii, the Canadian Rockies, Russia, Israel - all over. I even won second prize in a Photographic Society of America World Wide Competition for a photo I took in China." When asked about his thoughts on the direction Captain America has taken since he last worked on him, Bellman says, "The art is superb, but I think the fans love the old style. The way I or other Golden Age artists used to draw." Bellman said that he thought The Walt Disney Company has done an excellent job and "improved" on the movie end of the Marvel Universe. "After all, they have the movie making experience." When he was working for Timely/Marvel, he never felt he was working on something 'big'. "Who ever thought I would reach 92 years of age," said Bellman.
Example of a recent commission by Allen BellmanBellman also does commissions for anyone and says that Captain America is still his most request commission. "I always want people to remember that Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby," says Bellman. "They are the greatest team in comic book history!" When asked if there was anything else he would like to add he said, "Comics will rock and roll for a long time!" They will indeed Allen. They will indeed! Allen will also be the subject of a documentary, “Shoot First, Ask Questions Later.” The documentary, which is being produced by ArcMedia Studios, is expected to be completed in 2017. Filmmaker Steve Black told The Sun-Sentinel, "There would be no 'Avengers' film or sequels without the work of Allen Bellman and other pioneers of the comic book industry in the 1940s. Allen (Bellman) is my super star, so once I learned about his contribution to the success of 'Captain America' and other comic book heroes, I knew that I wanted to film a documentary about his life." According to the newspaper, Black hopes to sell the documentary to the History Channel cable television network.