Comic Book Creator Profiles: Robert Kanigher

Robert Kanigher was an amazing guy, and if you’ve ever read a war comic, it was likely either written by him or directly inspired by his work. This is a guy whose¬†creations include Black Canary, The Haunted Tank. The Metal Men, Sgt. Rock and even Poison Ivy from Batman (you know, the character who makes up half of every female cosplay duo). The guy had runs on All-Star Western, Batman, Phantom Stranger, Wonder Woman and dozens of other books for long runs.

Sgt. Rock #362, Cover Art by Joe Kubert, Written by Robert Kanigher
Cover art by Joe Kubert

But that isn’t enough to just make him an interesting guy. No – Robert Kanigher is also a real life bad-ass of the highest degree.

  1. Robert Kanigher climbed and drove mountains in his spare time. When he was diagnosed with anoxia, a condition where you lack oxygen in the blood than can kill you, he was told not to go above 5300 feet. He continued to climb just below that limit.
  2. Robert Kanigher almost died fencing. You know, the sport where the guys in padded costumes use those thin swords? In his own words, “Fenced a fencer from NYU, who, I had been warned, used a very stiff blade. The tip of his blade whipped up the padding protecting my throat. If I hadn’t parried his next thrust, he would have given me a tonsillectomy instead of throat whiplash”. He would later say that fencing was like “Playing chess on horseback with a blade”.
  3. Robert Kanigher invented the Metal Men in a single day. He wrote the first issue in 10 hours, and then got issue drawn, colored, and lettered in a 10 day marathon with the art team. And if you aren’t familiar with the Metal Men, this isn’t just a solo superhero book – this is a team book with diverse characters and that first issue was made in the 60’s before the small modern page count.
  4. Robert Kanigher wrote 40-100 pages a week, and edited a dozen or so romance titles at the very same time. We feel glad to whip up three pages of articles every week.
  5. In his free time, Robert Kanigher broke wild mustangs for a friend. And wild mustangs for those who are like “Oh, he trained horses” are feral horses that survive against bears and mountain lions. But I still can’t sell it so in Kanigher’s words: “I was a riding master once, for my friend Murray. I rode a horse we didn’t give to riders… He was so strong, the only time¬†I dared give him his head was when I galloped him uphill.”
  6. Most impressively, despite writing and editing titles for over 40 years, he never missed a deadline in his life. And now all of the Nerdcenaries team feels pretty inadequate. Thank you.

Most of these facts culled from this interview by the Comics Journal online resource. It’s an excellent interview, and a rare glimpse into the opinions of such an interesting and reclusive writer.

Ziah Grace

Ziah works at a comic shop and has seen Space Jam. You can contact Ziah at zbg333 [at] gmail [dot] com