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Ramona Fradon, Longtime Force in the World of Comic Books, Dies at 97

Ramona Fradon, who in a long career as a comic book artist added to the mythology of Aquaman and helped create the eccentric superhero Metamorpho, died on Saturday at her home in Ulster County, N.Y. She was 97.

The cause was congestive heart failure, her daughter and only immediate survivor, Amy Fradon, said.

Ms. Fradon is most closely associated with the DC Comics undersea hero Aquaman, whose adventures she drew from 1951 to 1963. Drawing a feature for more than 100 issues is a remarkable achievement in comics; even more noteworthy is that Ms. Fradon was one of the few women working steadily in comics at the time.

“She wasn’t daunted by the all-male industry” because she was doing what she loved, Amy Fradon said in an interview on Monday. “She drew right up to last week,” she continued. “I gave her agent her last seven drawings, and when I took them outside, she said, ‘Those are the last, those are the last seven.’”

Ms. Fradon’s version of Aquaman, a character who first appeared in 1941, modernized him for new readers and gave him the chiseled good looks of a movie star. “When I was drawing him back in the ’50s, he was nice and wholesome, with a nice haircut and pink cheeks,” she said in an interview with Vulture in 2018. “I had a crush on him.”

She worked with many writers on Aquaman, whose stories were one of several features in the anthology series Adventure Comics. In the story “How Aquaman Got His Powers,” published in Adventure No. 260 in 1959, she and the writer Robert Bernstein established the hero’s back story: his father, Tom Curry, was a lighthouse keeper and his mother, Atlanna, was from the undersea kingdom of Atlantis. They later introduced Aqualad, his sidekick.

Ms. Fradon drew the cover for a special 2021 comic celebrating the 80th anniversary of Aquaman’s first adventure. She drew him from 1951 to 1963.Credit…DC

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