ISO: About the Strip

“Action – without blood and thunder! Adventure – exciting but human! Fantasy – but with a humorous twist!” -Chicago Sun-Times

Widely recognized as America’s first female superhero comic strip, Russell Stamm’s Invisible Scarlet O’Neil ran in the Chicago Times from 1940-56.

“(Scarlet) also appeared in Sunday strips, and her adventures were reprinted in Famous Funnies comic books. It is estimated she appeared in over 100 newspapers around the world in the middle 1940’s…. She would also be the main subject of a couple of “Big Little Books,” and an illustrated prose novel published by Whitman Books. Figures of Scarlet and other characters from her adventures were available as paper doll cut-outs and unpainted plaster figures. She was a back up feature in Black Cat Comics and eventually starred in her own monthly book from Harvey Comics.” (http://www.invisiblescarletoneil.com/original.asp)


The creator of “Invisible Scarlet O’Neil,” Russell Arthur Stamm, was born on April 16, 1915 in Chicago, IL. He had five brothers and two sisters. After graduating from Crane Technical High School in 1933, through a series of fortuitous introductions, Stamm came to the attention of Chester Gould, an American cartoonist best known for the “Dick Tracy” comic strip. He assisted Gould on “Dick Tracy” from 1935-40, during which time he also met and married his wife, Marjorie. In 1940, Stamm created “Invisible Scarlet O’Neil,” which ran in the Chicago Times from June 3, 1940 to 1956. The groundbreaking heroine, Scarlet O’Neil, was an investigative reporter who used her ability to make herself invisible to solve crimes.

His son, Russell A. Stamm, remembers the process: “Since my father worked from our home most of the time, I have vivid memories of growing up by his side as he worked away at his drawing board creating Scarlet and her cohort of characters. There were numerous times when he would ask me to model a position or stance so he could better visualize perspectives for his creative art. When a strip would appear with a picture of a character’s foot that I had modeled for I would proudly tell everyone I met that it was my foot in the newspaper.”

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