by Don Mangus
Heritage Auctions Comic Art and Illustration Specialist
A sterling talent has passed on - sadly, another link to the Golden Age has slipped away.
Ernest "Ernie" Schroeder received his early art instruction at the Art Students League, studying under noted art-world figures George Bridgman and George Grosz.
In the mid-forties, Mr. Schroeder began his comics career working for another Golden Age great, Bob Powell. Mr. Schroeder turned out exhilarating tales for such Harvey Comics super-folk as Captain Freedom and the Spirit of '76. Revisit any of the Ernie Schroeder originals found in the Heritage Auction Archives and you are sure to be swept away by the free-wheeling spirit and high-energy action that infused his storytelling.
During his World War II military service, Mr. Schroeder continued cartooning and drew gag cartoons for his Fort Blanding, Florida camp newspaper, The Bayonet.
Perhaps Mr. Schroeder's most fondly remembered comics work was done in collaboration with Ed Cronin on the Airboy and The Heap features for Hillman Periodicals. These yarns were unsigned and years after their publication, indefatigable comic-art sleuth Hames Ware was able to identify Mr. Schroeder's hitherto anonymous art using a few scant clues garnered from credited pulp magazine illustrations. At last, the long sought-after identity of the anonymous "good artist" on The Heap became known to fandom at large - Ernie Schroeder.
Meanwhile, Mr. Schroeder had retired from comics. In the late fifties he operated his own marina. In the sixties, Mr. Schroeder produced commercial art for Boeing. In the seventies, he was active in creating specialized designs for the Franklin Mint. A skilled artist and hard-working craftsman, Mr. Schroeder was accomplished in sundry art-related fields. He personally built forty boats, a public fountain, and even a full-sized saber-toothed tiger display for a natural history museum.
For those who wish to read much more about this modest man with a most remarkable talent, comics historian Jim Amash published a heart-warming interview with Mr. Schroeder in Roy Thomas' Alter Ego #42 (November, 2004). It's a rewarding read.
We extend our sincere best wishes to Mr. Schroeder's family and friends. We comic book fans will long treasure the joyous legacy of excellence he left us.