'I feel that I haven't done my best work yet.' 93-year-old artist continues drawing after long career in comics
A veteran comic book artist and a veteran of the United States military used to get in trouble for doodling cartoons in school. Now, Joe Giella is the oldest living artist to have worked on Batman.
The 93-year-old East Meadow resident has had a part in bringing heroes and villains - including Captain America, The Flash and The Joker - to life.
"This is a superhero-oriented country," Giella says. "That kept me going. I just love to draw and instead of just drawing like static figures, I like the action, the action of the superheroes. Slam, bang, you know."
Despite being scolded in class and wishes from his father not to be an artist, Giella's determination paid off at 16 when he landed his first job with Hillman Periodicals penciling "Captain Codfish," which appeared in "Punch and Judy" comics.
He then caught the eye of Timely Comics editor Stan Lee, who tapped Giella to work on Captain America comics.
In between assignment, Giella enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He put eight years in the Navy, at times spending 18 weeks of sea.
He later spent much of his career with DC Comics. In the 1960s, Giella helped with the Batman syndicated comic strip series and later drew the Mary Worth newspaper strips for over 35 years.
"That was the pinnacle, that was it," Giella says. "Wow. Work for DC. The only thing better than that was a syndicated strip."
The East Meadow resident retired in 2019 but came back to the drawing board to work on commissioned pieces.
"At my age 93, I feel that I haven't done my best work yet," Giella says. "That's the truth."
His sons followed in his footsteps. Frank Giella is an art teacher in Queens and Dan Giella owns an art gallery in Manhattan.