'Captain Marvel Jr.' #64

Bud Thompson was a British-American comics artist, who first worked on the "illustrated trivia" cartoon panel 'Screen Oddities' (1931-1938, written by Captain Roscoe Fawcett) and its successor 'Star Flashes' (1938-1943). The artist signed his early newspaper strips with simply "Thompson" (also referred to as "Bruno Thompson" by some sources), and then used the pen name "Charles Bruno". He later became a regular illustrator of 'Captain Marvel Jr.' (1944-1953) stories for Fawcett Comics.

Early life
Thompson was born as Bernard Thompson in the United Kingdom (according to Jerry Bails' Who's Who of American Comic Books). It is unknown when the artist moved to the USA, but he was educated at the Minneapolis Art Institute. An article in The Minneapolis Star of 27 July 1937 mentioned that Bud Thompson and his wife Ev were originally from St. Louis Park, Minnesota. By 1937 they lived in the house of the late magician Harry Houdini, in Hollywood, California.

Screen Oddities
In 1931 Thompson began illustrating the daily newspaper panel 'Screen Oddities' (1931-1943) by Captain Roscoe Fawcett. Distributed by the Bell Syndicate, 'Screen Oddities' centered on news about Hollywood and its stars. Everything was told in a comic strip-like format, although there was no actual narrative. Each episode featured random information about celebrities, often the latest news but just as often more trivial biographical info as well. The information was rarely longer than one or two lines. Most of the panels were filled with huge realistically drawn portraits of Hollywood stars, obviously copied from publicity photographs. The other illustrations had a more cartoony style and visualized the written information.

'Screen Oddities' is somewhat comparable to Robert L. Ripley's 'Believe It... Or Not' (1918-....) in format. In terms of content it was more in line with the obscure comic strips 'Star Dust' (1929-1931?) by Westphal and 'Seeing Stars' (1929-1930) by Don Wootton which also featured biographical trivia about Hollywood stars but with focus on one particular star per episode. Another copycat comic was Captain Roscoe Fawcett and Bud Thompson's 'Screen Oddities' (1931-1943), which also told Hollywood-related news in comics format.  Around the same time of 'Screen Oddities', Feg Murray had a similar illustrated Hollywood one-panel cartoon feature, 'Seein' Stars' (1933-1951), while Wiley Padan drew 'It's True' (1933-1947). 'Screen Oddities' was also reprinted in the 'Famous Funnies' comic book by Eastern Color Printing.


'Screen Oddities' panel of 13 January 1933, signed with Thompson.

The Fawcett family
The strip was in fact only credited to the writer, "Captain" Roscoe Fawcett, although the strips carried the autograph "Thompson". Roscoe Kent Fawcett (1913-1999) was the son of Wilford Fawcett (a.k.a. "Captain Bill"), the founder of Fawcett Publications in Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Roscoe Kent Fawcett served as circulation director, and introduced the company into the new comic book market under the Fawcett Comics emblem, which led to the launch of 'Captain Marvel' by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck in 1939. When Fawcett got more involved in the family business, the writing of 'Screen Oddities' was first continued by his brother Gordon Fawcett (1912-1993) in the period 1937-1938. Thompson assumed the pen name Charles Bruno, and took over the writing on 21 March 1938. He wrote and drew the feature under the new title 'Star Flashes' until 13 March 1943.


Star Flashes of 28 May 1942, signed with "Bruno".

Comic book work
In 1944 Bud Thompson made the transition to comic books. It may come as no surprise that he found employment with Fawcett Comics, where he was one of Mac Raboy's successors on the 'Captain Marvel Jr.' feature from 1944 to 1953. The comic was a spin-off of Fawcett's flagship title 'Captain Marvel', and starred the disabled newsboy Freddy Freeman, who received Captain Marvel's superhuman strength, speed and wisdom. Thompson's stories appeared in both the 'Captain Marvel Jr.' title, and in 'Master Comics'. In 1953, Thompson was also drawing for Fawcett's anthology title 'This Magazine Is Haunted'. He also worked on several celebrity comics based on real-life western movie stars in the 1952-1953 period, such as 'Tex Ritter Comics' for Fawcett, and 'Gene Autry' and 'Wild Bill Elliott' for Dell Publications. He also drew a couple of stories with Fred Harman's 'Red Ryder' for the eponymous Dell comic book in 1954-1955.

Later life
Not much is known about Bud Thompson's further life. According to Bails, he was on the staff of the Famous Artists School in 1953.


'The Loco Locomotive' (Captain Marvel Jr. #69).

Series and books by Bud Thompson in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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