Jim Steranko was born in Reading Pennsylvania in 1938. The son of a tinsmith, Steranko grew up poor, in a household that mostly derided his artistic interests. His drawing talent manifested early and he bought himself art supplies by collecting cans and bottles for the deposit money. He eventually went to work for a local printing company in Reading which he used as a springboard to get a job at an advertising firm. During his early years he held down a succession of jobs, teaching himself escapology, and learning enough sleight of hand technique to find work as a nightclub stage magician in New York. He kept up his stage magic, eventually garnering enough prestige to be inducted into the New York Witch Doctor's club. In 1971 Jack Kirby created the character of Mister Miracle, inspired by Steranko's exploits as an escape artist. Steranko was also a musician, playing guitar under an assumed name with several different rock bands.
Steranko's first comics work was for Harvey Comics. Editor Joe Simon was attempting to launch a line of superhero comics for the publisher of Richie Rich, Little Lotta, and Casper The Friendly Ghost. Needless to say it was not a good fit and the project was scrapped after just a handful of issues. Steranko did however get a chance to meet with Roy Thomas, Sol Brodsky and eventually Stan Lee, who gave him his first ongoing assignment for Marvel, inking over Jack Kirby's pencils on the SHIELD segment of Strange Tales. The pairing didn't work well, however and rather than fire Steranko from the book, Lee and Kirby left to concentrate on other projects. Steranko took over the writing and art chores on the SHIELD stories, becoming one of the first auteur creators to work for the "big two". During his tenure on Strange Tales, and later on the follow up series, Nick Fury Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Steranko experimented wildly with the storytelling possibilities inherent in graphic art. He brought graphic design elements such as linear spacing, different type fonts and coloring techniques, and mixed them with current trends in the pop art movement spearheaded by Andy Warhol. The result was an all too brief series of masterworks that raised the bar for graphic storytelling. His design sensibilities proved extremely popular with both creators and fans, and they are still used by artists and writers to this day.
Steranko eventually withdrew from comics after several clashes over editorial strictures placed on his work by The Comics Code Authority and Marvel Editorial. He produced the first few issues of Marvel's in house fanzine FOOM, and eventually pared his comics work down to strictly cover art. In 1969 Steranko created his own publishing house, Supergraphics, and when he later left comics work he continued editorial duties on his pop culture magazine Comixscene. Eventually Comixscene mutated into Mediascene and finally Prevue as Steranko became more focused on cinema. Currently, he has come full circle back to comics and is working with Radical Publishing, designing characters for their toy and comics lines.
- 1995 The Golden Age Of Comic Fandom; Hamster Press
- 2000 Wally Wood Sketchbook; Vanguard
- 2001 John Buscema Sketchbook (introduction); Vanguard
- 2002 DC Comics Guide To Coloring And Lettering (introduction); Watson-Guptill
- 2002 Steranko Arte Noir; Semana Negra
- 2003 Visual Storytelling: The Art And Technique; Vanguard
- 2008 Brush With Passion: The Art And Life Of Dave Stevens (introduction); Diamond
Steranko worked as a freelance cover artist for Lancer Paperbacks in the late '60s and early '70s. He created covers for several series over the years, including: G8 And His Battle Aces, The Wildcat O'Shea Westerns, and the Eric John Stark Novels. In 1975 He designed the logo and typeface as well as drew the first two covers for Byron Preiss' illustrated Weird Heroes series. He also served as the long-running cover artist for Pyramid's paperback series of The Shadow.
- 1981 Raiders Of The Lost Ark (conceptual illustrations, uncredited)
- 1992 Dracula (project conceptualist)
- 1993 Dinosaur Movies (executive producer)
- 2003 Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked (interview)
- 2005 Sin City (special thanks credit)
- 1968 Best Pencil Artist
- 1968 Best Cover - Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6
- 1968 Best Feature Story - "Today Earth Died", by Jim Steranko, Strange Tales #168
- 1968 Hall of Fame Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., by Jim Steranko
- 1969 Best Cover - Captain America #113, by Jim Steranko
- 1969 Best Feature Story - "At the Stroke of Midnight," by Jim Steranko, Tower of Shadows #1
- 1970 Outstanding Achievement by an Individual: Jim Steranko (for his book The Steranko History of Comics)
- 2006 The Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame
Characters Created by Steranko