Thursday, August 23, 2018

 

Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Mike Arens


Mike Arens was born Howard Harmon Anderson on December 2, 1914, in Yreka, California. Clues to Arens’ birth name were found on his World War II draft card which said “Michael Howard Harmon Arens” and in the 1940 U.S. Federal Census which recorded him as “H Michael Arens” and his mother as “Dorothy Anderson”. The birth information was on Arens’ draft card. However, the California death index and Social Security Death Index have the birth year as 1915.

Arens has not yet been found in the 1920 census. The 1930 census said Arens, as Howard H. Anderson, and his Kentucky-born mother, a divorcee and real estate agent, resided in Beverly Hills, California, at 203D South Realtor Road.

It’s not known why Arens changed his surname but it happened as early as 1936 when he registered to vote as “Howard H Arens”. The California Voter Registrations, at Ancestry.com, said he was an artist and Democrat who lived on Strawberry Canyon in Oakland.

Illustration Art Gallery said Arens joined Walt Disney Studios as a production artist in 1937.

In the 1940 census, Arens and his mother resided in Glendale, California at 300 North California. Arens was an artist at a picture studio and earned $1,820 in 1939. He had completed four years of high school.

Arens served in the military during World War II. On his draft card, Arens was described as five feet ten inches, 190 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. His employer was Walt Disney Studios. According to Arens’ Beneficiary Identification Records Locater Subsystem death file, he enlisted July 20, 1943 and was discharged December 13, 1945.

Before Arens enlisted, he married Barbara Marie King on December 30, 1942 in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, according to the marriage index at Ancestry.com.

The 1950 voter registration listed Arens as a Democrat residing at 4719 Tujunga Avenue in Los Angeles. At some point he switched to the Republican party.. In 1954 he lived at 37 Cherryhill Lane in Los Angeles. His addressed changed a few more times during the 1950s. The 1960 Redondo Beach city directory listed Arens at 205 Avenue C in Beverly Hills. He was an artist at the Whitman Publishing Company.

American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Arens was one of several artists to draw Roy Rogers, which started December 12, 1949. Arens’ time on the series was from 1953 to the end of December 1961. In Comic Book Artist #11, January 2001, Alex Toth said he ghosted for Arens, “…then a brief stint on Roy Rogers, subbing for Mike Arens when he was ill.”

Arens drew Drift Marlo from July 17, 1965 to January 1, 1966. The General Features series began May 29, 1961 with artist Tom Cooke. Phil Evans was the writer and I. M. Levitt the technical consultant. Arens also drew several Disney strips including Dumbo and the Christmas Mystery, Mickey Mouse, Scamp, Snow White’s Christmas Surprise, and Uncle Remus and His Tales of Br’er Rabbit.

In Jack Kirby Collector #71, Spring 2017, Mark Evanier said, “There’s a lineage, by the way, of lettering. Mike [Royer] learned to letter from Mike Arens. Mike Arens learned lettering largely from a man named Rome Siemon, who was the house letterer at Western Publishing, on the West Coast books for years….”

Arens also worked in animation during the mid-1960s into the 1970s. 
Arens’ career is detailed at Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999.


Arens passed away June 19, 1976, in Los Angeles as recorded in the California death index at Ancestry.com. Illustration Art Gallery said the cause of death was a motorcycle accident at Soldedad Canyon. The Social Security Death Index said Arens’ last residence was in Bellingham, Washington.


—Alex Jay

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