a tribute published on 3 March 2012 that Moldoff was the last surviving artist to have contributed to Action Comics #1, perhaps the most collectable of all comic books; although Moldoff did not contribute Superman's debut, he did contribute artwork to that issue – a sports strip filler on the inside back cover. It was his first professional appearance.
Born in Manhattan, New York, on 14 April 1920, Sheldon Douglas "Shelly" Moldoff was the son of Russian-born immigrants Ben Moldoff (Baruch Moldanski) and his wife Kate. He was raised in The Bronx. After teaching himself to draw, he was introduced to comics by illustrator Bernard Baily, who lived in the same apartment house as Moldoff and his family. At 17, he broke into the comic book industry, selling his first strips to Vincent Sullivan, the editor at National Periodicals.
Moldoff drew covers for
the first appearances of The Flash (Flash Comics #1) and Green Lantern (All-American Comics #16) in 1940. In April 1940 he created the character Jon Valor, The Black Pirate, for Action Comics (#23) and took over the artwork (from Dennis Neville) for Hawkman (in Flash Comics #4). In All Star Comics (#5, Jul 1941) he introduced Hawkgirl.
Moldoff subsequently took his dummies back to Fawcett, who paid him $100 for the titles (the latter became Strange Suspense Stories when it launched in 1952) and offered him as much work as he wished to take on. Fawcett folded the titles in 1953 and Moldoff became the assistant to Bob Kane, ghosting Kane's Batman comic strips. Although the work was anonymous – the strips were signed as by Kane – it was steady work; Moldoff also sold strips to DC Comics independently and thus kept himself busy until 1967.
During this period, he helped create the original Bat-Girl (Betty Kane), Batwoman, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Clayface and, as the stories began to grow more outlandish, Bat-Mite, Ace the Bat-Hound, Zebra Batman and the Merman Batman.
Moldoff also continued to draw the occasional strip, drawing giveaway promotional comics for Big Boy and Red Lobster restaurants, Blockbuster Video and others. His last work for DC Comics appeared in 2000's World's Funniest one-shot where he illustrated a chapter of Evan Dorkin's Superman and Batman tale.
Moldoff was "outed" in 1991 when Julius Schwartz admitted at a convention "All the years I was buying artwork from Bob Kane, I wasn't buying it from Bob Kane, I was buying it from Shelly Moldoff." Moldoff became a regular at conventions, selling drawings and signing autographs.
Moldoff and his wife, Shirley, retired to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he died. Shirley predeceased him in 2002; he was survived by his children, Richard Moldoff, Kenneth Moldoff, Ellen Moldoff Stein and seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Examples of Sheldon Moldoff's artwork can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.