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Clarence C. Beck

Clarence Charles Beck was born in June 1910 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After completing an art correspondence course he studied at the Chicago Academy and the University of Minnesota. He joined Fawcett publications as a staff artist in 1933, but also produced illustrations for the popular 'pulp fiction' magazines of the '30's. When Fawcett publications began producing comic books in the Fall of 1939 Beck was assigned to draw a character created by writer Bill Parker, "Captain Thunder". After a single sample issue was published the character's name was changed to "Captain Marvel".

Captain Marvel rapidly grew in popularity and Fawcett used spin-offs of the original character to create new comics series. As demand grew Beck opened a comics studio in New York City in 1941, expanding to Englewood, New Jersey in 1944. Beck favored a clean, simple style to make it easy for other artists to provide artwork for the strip. Although not the only Captain Marvel artist he was essentially the series artistic creator. He also drew other Fawcett series including "Spy Smasher" and "Ibis".

D.C. comics had initiated a suit against Fawcett for copyright infringement in 1941, claiming that Captain Marvel was a copy of Superman. The suit was dismissed in March of 1948, but appealed and Fawcett discontinued its comics line in 1953, citing legal expenses. Beck closed his comics shops and moved to Florida where he returned to his preferred field, commercial art. He later opened his own studio of art and design.

In 1966 Milson Publications hired Beck along with Marvel alumni Otto Binder, Rod Reed and Wendell Crowley to produce a new comics line, but the line folded after only a few issues.

Ironically D.C. Comics had obtained the rights to Captain Marvel and introduced a new series in February of 1973 under the title "Shazam", hiring Beck as artist for the new strip. Always opinionated and never completely satisfied with comics art, Beck's disagreements with D.C. editors led him to quit after 9 issues. The series continued sporadically, most recently under the title, "The Power of Shazam", but is no longer in publication.

Clarence Beck returned to live in semi-retirement in Florida, where he wrote a regular column of opinion, "The Crusty Curmudgeon", until his death November 22, 1989.

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