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LI comics artist Frank Springer dead at 79

Frank Springer, a longtime Long Islander who was a prolific comics artist for such strips as "Terry and the Pirates" and "Rex Morgan, M.D.," died Thursday at his home in Damariscotta, Maine, of prostate cancer. He was 79. Springer was a gregarious and practical man who labored for hours a day in his backyard studio, said his son, Jon Springer of Brooklyn. "He'd be out there basically all day long, morning until dinnertime." The artist would listen to jazz and opera while he worked, and he never got too high-minded about his outstanding talent, his son said. "He was a normal, conservative kind of guy," Jon Springer said. Frank Springer drew for a wide variety of companies, including DC Comics and Marvel. He also illustrated an adult-themed satire, "The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist," a comic that Springer considered one of his best works. "Very few people could surpass him as an artist, as a gentleman, and as a true gentleman in my field," said Stan Goldberg, who draws the "Archie" comics. "When you see a Frank Springer job, you know it's going to be the best job in the world." Frank Springer was born Dec. 6, 1929, in Jamaica, Queens. After earning a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Syracuse University, he joined the Army during the Korean War and drew maps at Fort Dix, N.J. He and his wife, Barbara, lived in Lynbrook, Massapequa Park and Greenlawn before moving to Maine in 1995. Barbara Springer said her husband loved Long Island, and the couple had planned to move to the North Fork before his cancer suddenly progressed. Frank Springer was past president of the National Cartoonists Society, and a founding member of the Berndt Toast Gang, the society's Long Island chapter. He won the society's Reuben Award three times. Adrian Sinnott, chairman of the Berndt Toast Gang, said Springer was known as much for his draftsmanship as for his personality. "Frank was a character in the industry," Sinnott said. Mort Drucker, a fellow artist who has drawn many Mad Magazine covers, said Springer will be missed. "He was a handsome guy, he was talented, and he was very social," Drucker said. "A very, very talented artist." Besides his wife of 52 years and his son Jon, Springer is survived by four children: Barbara Edwards of Asheville, N.C.; Bill Springer of Fairfax, Va.; Jennifer Dills of Fairfax, Va.; and Christopher Springer of White Plains; and seven grandchildren. He was predeceased by a sister. A memorial service is planned for later this spring on Long Island.

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