The untold origins of Invisible Scarlet O'Neil - ORDER NOW!

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  Russell Stamm - Creator of 'The invisible Scarlet O'Neil'

Russell Arthur Stamm was born April 16, 1915 in Chicago, IL.  He was the youngest of five brothers and two sisters.  He reportedly discovered art at an early age and was often drawing while he worked alongside his brothers at a local gas station. 


Stamm?s uncle was Stanley Link, creator of the comic strip Tiny Tim. Link took an active interest in the young cartoonist?s work and introduced him to Sidney Smith, creator of The Gumps.  In 1934, Russell went to work in the art department of the Chicago Tribune and served as an assistant to Link.  The next year, he earned the coveted role of assisting Chester Gould on Dick Tracy.


During this time, Stamm was still helping out at his brothers? service station and it was here he met Marjorie Dingman.  On April 22, 1939 Russell and Marjorie were married and took up residence just outside the city in Oak Park.  Now that he was a husband and homeowner, Russell decided it was time to leave the role of assistant and create his own strip.


Exactly how and why Russell came up with the concept of Invisible Scarlet O?Neil is a mystery.  Super-powered heroes were fashionable, but they were all males.  The genre was in need of strong female role models, and Scarlet definitely was designed to help fill that gap.  She was a raven-haired beauty, but she had the heart of an angel.  Having worked on Dick Tracy for years, Stamm chose not to have his heroine violently shooting it out with criminals.  Scarlet helped people in a mild manner and she was particularly drawn to children and the less fortunate.



On November 2, 1942, Russell and Marjorie had a son, William Paul.  Russell was fortunate to have spent nearly a year and a half with his family before he was drafted into the U.S. Army on March 22, 1944. Following a month of basic training, PFC Stamm served 17 months as a Photo Retouch Artist with the Army Air Corp. 


His work included training film illustrations, emblem designs, and a nationally displayed poster for the Helicopter Division.  Promoted to corporal, Russell spent his last three months of service as art editor and director of the Army Air Force newspaper.  During his service and years after, he helped promote the bond program for the Treasury Department to great success.  Due to his commitment to Scarlet, Russell had to turn down the opportunity of attending Officer Training School and he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army on December 6th, 1945.


Russell and Marjorie?s second son, Russell Jr. was born February 21, 1946.  Maintaining his daily and weekly strip workload without assistance was difficult, but Russell still found time to be an active father to his two boys.  However, life in the world was different after World War II, and Russell tried hard to adapt the strip to the changing times to little or no avail.


There were many reasons for the loss in Scarlet?s popularity.  Reader interest in super-powered characters (particularly female heroines) had been decreasing since the end of the war.  Many readers were discovering the wonderful world of television. A paranoid American public declared that comics led to juvenile delinquency and many publishers and creators were going out of business.  Newspaper editors were confused trying to figure out their readership, which led to some conflicts with comic strip creators.  Russell Stamm himself was growing tired of creating straight adventure stories and tried to remodel the strip, but was met with resistance from his editor.

One change that was approved was the introduction of a new character, ?Stainless Steel - Public Hero Number 1.?  The character was popular, so much so that the title of the strip was renamed ?Stainless Steel? in 1955 and the syndication jumped from 126 to 148 newspapers worldwide.  Russell hired an assistant, Emery Clarke, to help with the strips.  He had met Clarke during his time with the Army Air Corp film unit, and in the 50?s, Clarke spent months living at the Stamm family home collaborating. Clarke?s work eventually earned him a name credit on the Sunday strips.


Despite the success and the assistance, Russell was growing weary of the editorial conflicts and asked to be released from his contract with the syndicate.  Field Enterprises agreed and in 1956, the strip came to an end.


Russell?s career was hardly over.  Stamm decided to embrace the new medium of television and opened ?Russ Stamm Productions? in Chicago, creating designs, storyboards, and animation.  He produced some of the first Jolly Green Giant and Charlie the Tuna commercials and created the Hostess Cup Cake Twins.  His company earned numerous awards and he worked right up to his untimely death of a heart attack on August 2, 1969.


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