Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Ink-Slinger Profiles by Alex Jay: Bill Lignante


William G “Bill” Lignante was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 20, 1925, according to Wikipedia. The 1925 New York State Census recorded Lignante as the youngest of two children born to William and Florence. The family resided in Brooklyn at 15 Bay 17 Street.

Lignante has not yet been found in the 1930 census. Passenger lists show Lignante’s father traveling to Havana, Cuba several times. A 1933 list recorded Lignante’s address as 806 East 38 Street in Brooklyn.

The same address was in the 1940 census. Lignante’s father was a traffic manager for shipping brokers. Later that year on August 26, fifteen-year-old Lignante returned from Havana. He was a mess boy on the Honduran steamship Neptune. Lignante’s National Cartoonists Society profile said he served in the navy.

The Brooklyn Eagle (New York), July 27, 1947, noted Lignante’s marriage.
Miss Vivian Longo, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John A Longo, was married yesterday afternoon in Sts. Simon and Jude Church, to William H. [sic] Lignante, son of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Lignante of 806 E. 38th St. A reception was held at the bridegroom’s residence.
Lignante graduated from Pratt Institute in 1949. The school yearbook, Prattonia, listed his address as 156 East 21st Street in Brooklyn.

Lignante was profiled in The Rotarian, August 2003. About his art training it said:

Lignante learned to draw by copying the “Flash Gordon” and “Prince Valiant” newspaper comics. From early on, he knew he wanted to be a cartoonist, though his parents pressed him to choose a more stable adult profession.

“My mother said I was going to be starving in a garret. Where she got that from, I’ll never know,” he says.

After studying architecture, but absolutely hating it (You can’t draw pictures with rulers”), he eventually followed his childhood dream, getting the job drawing “Ozark Ike”…
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Ozark Ike began with Ray Gotto on November 12, 1945. Lignante took the reins in 1954. Using Ed Strops as a pseudonym, Lignante and George Olesen produced the King Features Syndicate strip to its end on September 14, 1958. During 1958, Lignante ghosted Red Ryder. In the 1960s, Lignante drew The Phantom from October 1, 1961 to April 28, 1962. Lignante was the fourth named artist to draw Albert Edward Wiggam’s Let’s Explore Your Mind, which debuted November 21, 1932 with artist Raymond Flanagan. The next two artists were Jack Hamm and Ray T. Chatton. Lignante’s run was from 1963 to January 23, 1971. Lignante also drew the comic book adaptations of The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

Lignante was a member of the Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society.

Lignante moved to Los Angeles some time after his divorce in 1968. Here, Lignante became nationally-known for his courtroom drawings for ABC News. Some of the trials he illustrated were for Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, Patty Hearst, John DeLorean, Angela Davis and Lee Marvin. Lignante’s work for ABC News ended in 1993.

Lignante is retired and lives in California.

Further Reading
The Fabulous Fifties, Let's Explore Your Mind
Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999

—Alex Jay


The current issue of Alter Ego (#144 - January, 2017) has an interview with Gold Key and King Comics editor Bill Harris. He says that Lee Falk owned The Phantom and had final say as to who did the comic books.
"We had one guy. His name was Bill Lignante. He came to me right after I started organizing the book, before publication, and told me he was Lee Falk's pick to do the comic book...I found out later that Lee Falk had indeed sent him over. So we used him. He was the only artist we used for the book at both Western and King Features."
The first comic book was dated November 1962. Could it be that after Sy Barry replaced Lignante on the Sunday strips, Falk fed him Lignante the comic book assignment as consolation?
I have a drawing by courtroom artist Elizabeth Williams showing Lignante at work during the DeLorean trial: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016652882/ (for a bigger version, go here: https://www.loc.gov/exhibitions/drawing-justice-courtroom-illustrations/online-exhibition/introduction/courtroom-artists/ - I think he is the one facing right, appearing to be in the 2nd row)

Sara W. Duke
Curator, Popular & Applied Graphic Art
Prints & Photographs Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-4730
Thanks, Sara.
I’d love to get Bill Lignante sign a phantom Sunday page I own
I don’t see him on any of the comic cons throughout the country
Anyone know how I could get a hold of him?
I’m a big fan. -Jaime diaz New York City
Bill Lignante passed away on February 27, 2018.

-Ray Bottorff Jr
Does anyone know how to reach his wife Alma or their daughter? I'd like to buy one of his sketches.

Does anyone know how to reach his daughter Roselle ( not correct spelling)? Was friends with her from Bethpage NY.

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