During her work on Aquaman, she was the one who visualized Aquaman's "modern" origin, as well as his sidekick, Aqualad. Her uber-clean line and bold, dynamic layouts set a visual standard for the character.
I have been fortunate enough to meet Ms. Fradon at comic cons three times; the first two times resulting in some sweet, sweet sketches for my sketchbook. They are among my most treasured pieces.
So when I saw her again at the 2008 New York Comic Con, I thought about asking her this time if she'd be willing to do an interview with me for the Shrine.
But I was very hesitant to do--first off, she was always very busy at her table, talking to fans. Second, she's been interviewed so many times just about Aquaman that I figured she'd be bored to tears doing one more. So every time I got near her table, I wandered away, having chickened out.
Then, while I at the con, I ran into my blogging pal Richard Bensam (he of the blog Estoreal), who I had never met in person. After talking a little while, I told him of my desire to talk to Ramona, but couldn't muster the courage.
Richard then gave me half a dozen reasons why she'd probably be willing to talk to me, and I should go ahead. Having someone back me up was just enough for me to go up to her, at a moment where I saw she was alone.
Of course, Ramona couldn't have been nicer and friendlier. She agreed to talk to me for the Shrine, as long as I "kept it short." No problem there--even though in the following questions I don't ask her anything she hasn't been asked before, I feel like The Aquaman Shrine wouldn't be complete without a word or two from the legendary Ramona Fradon:
The Aquaman Shrine: Did you pursue working in comics?
Ramona Fradon: I had never thought of working in comics. I submitted a sample to some comic houses because my husband and I were living on the G.I bill at the time and we needed money.
AMS: Even today, comic books are a heavily male-dominated field. Did DC--or any other publisher--offer any resistance to hiring a woman artist when you were getting started?
RF: I never experienced any resistance while I was working in comics. My impression was that editors and writers were only interested in whether you could do the job.
AMS: You got into comics just a lot of people were getting out, were you doing other kinds of illustration work to make a living?
RF: I didn't realize that, maybe that explains why it was so easy for me to get a job.
AMS: Do you remember how you ended up with the Aquaman assignment?
RF: I had never heard of Aquaman. One day Murray Boltinoff, the editor at DC who had hired me and gave me work, handed me an Aquaman script and I drew it for the next seven or eight years.
AMS: Did you have much interaction with the writers, like Jack Miller and Robert Bernstein?
RF: The only writer I ever interacted with, let alone met, was Bob Haney when we worked together on Metamorpho.
AMS: You drew the first appearance of Aqualad. Was there a lot of direction on what he should look like, or was it completely up to you?
RF: No. I just muddled through by myself.
AMS: Was there a particular comics assignment or character (Super Friends, Aquaman, Metamorpho) that you had the most fun working on?
RF: I enjoyed drawing Plastic Man because he was goofy--not "serious" like other superheroes. I liked drawing mysteries, too, because I was able to exaggerate the drawing and make it melodramatic.
I particularly liked drawing funny comics for Bongo and Nickolodeon and wish I had done more of that kind of thing during the years I drew for publication.
It's a real honor to have talked to Ramona Fradon, and I thank her so much for her time and all her fantastic work over the decades.
And I also have to thank Richard for the pep talk; without him, I wouldn't have done it at all. Thanks Richard!
For Further Reading: For a much longer, career-spanning interview with Ms. Fradon, check out TwoMorrows' Alter Ego #69, which you can order here.
Conducted by Jim Amash, its chock-filled with beautiful Fradon art, along with (as you can see) a new Aquaman cover by her!
It also features an interview (perhaps the last one ever?) with Aquaman's co-creator Paul Norris. So for those of you who missed it when it came out last year, the Shrine recommends this issue to any and all Aqua-Fans!