Jack Burnley

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Jack Burnley while cartooning. Reproduced from Find a Grave.

Jack Burnley (January 11, 1911 - December 19, 2006) was an influential comic book artist of the twentieth century who eventually retired to Charlottesville. Jack was his pen name; he was born as Hardin J. Burnley.


Burnely was born in New York City on January 11, 1911. He commenced his career working for the King Features Syndicate, producing cartoons for the sports section of newspapers and illustrations for advertisements. In 1929, he became the then-youngest artist to have a syndicated feature.

In 1938, Burnley began to freelance in the comic book world, producing "single-page sports fillers" for DC Comics. He would later be hired by the company in 1940, with his first published assignment being the cover illustration for New York World's Fair 1940 (depicting Superman with Batman and Robin, marking the first time that the trio had ever appeared together in print). Burnley eventually became the company's top ghost writer, working on main characters and titles as well as pencilling over 100 covers and numerous comic strips. He also co-created the superhero known as Starman alongside writer Gardner Fox.

Tombstone of Burnley at Saint Georges Cemetery in Scottsville. Reproduced from Find a Grave.

Burnley was the first artist (with the exception of the character's co-creator Joe Shuster) to draw Superman in comic books. “I gave Superman a lot more muscle than he had originally,” he told The Daily Progress during an interview in 2000. “When I came into comics I had a background in drawing the musclemen and heroes of sports, so it was rather easy for me to make the transition to drawing the comic figures.”[1]

Burnley left the comic book field in 1947, going on to work for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph for four years and then the San Francisco News until his retirement in 1976. He then relocated to Charlottesville with his wife (the former cabaret dancer Dolores Farris) in 1981. Burnley died at the Heritage Hall senior facility on December 19, 2006, following a fall that broke his hip.[2] He was buried at Saint George's Cemetery in Scottsville.[3]


  1. Web. Jack Burnley (1911 – 2006), Pennsylvania College of Technology
  2. Web. Hardin ‘Jack’ Burnley passes away, The Daily Cartoonist, 12/28/2006
  3. Web. Hardin “Jack” Burnley, Find a Grave