May 1, 2021

Sam Kweskin WWII Soldier War-Time Artist Post-War Atlas Marvel Artist A Life Lived To The Fullest!

Hi all!  Today's post is about a man I met through my search for daddy's WWII Army unit. This will be one of many posts no doubt because a man with such talents can't be covered in just one. 

Sam was a soldier, an artist who had a post-war art career that spanned many companies including  Atlas which later became Marvel.  I mean the man worked with Stan Lee!  They were both lucky to have worked with each other. Sam was also known by his pen name Irv Wesley.

February 24, 1924 - June 23, 2005

Sam and I first met at an 83rd Chemical Mortar Bn Reunion.  I met many WWII heroes from the unit and it is true you know they are/were the greatest generation!  Each one had a very unique and unforgettable personality. 

Sam was so entertaining and welcoming to us being new to the 83rd family members.  He kept saying that he was way too young to have served in the army and kept telling me jokes along with showing me the historical information about the 83rd.  We kept in touch after meeting and he even wrote a story at the time that I published on a military site. 

Today I'm sharing a piece of his artwork that is very unique.  He was ingenious when he combined many battles fought by the  83rd into one painting. This painting tells many stories.

Thanks to Jean Kweskin of  Kweskinart Group and Kweskinart Page for this art and the description

Talk about talent and he had to have put his whole heart into this one having lived it

*(See LST 422 my notation at the bottom of the page)

Picture of Original Notes
(I typed the information below for easier reading)

Notes on the Painting "In Honor of the 83rd"

In the dark, early hours of July 10, 1943 companies A, B, and C of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion hit the beach below the town of Gela, Sicily, in support of rangers. Company D, further south, came ashore as artillery with elements of 1st Division, exiting from LCIs.  As the sun began to slowly lighten the dark beaches, mortar crews went into action immediately directed by forward observers.  At one point, acting as infantry, a bazooka team from 83G crippled a German tank.

Shown in montage, at the upper left, is the tragedy of LST 366 off Anzio Harbor in Italy.  which sank with 283 men of HG and D, struck by a bomb off a German plane. (The tragedy was compounded when another LST 422 after picking up survivors hit a mine".

The center painting depicts a crew on a firing mission during the cold winter of  1944-45, in the Vosges mountains of France, while the art at the upper right is that of the landing by gliders of 83G soldiers into Southern France in August 1944. 

Notes on the Artist

Sam Kweskin joined the 83rd Chemical Mortar Bn in the late summer of 1944, having served from April to September with the 3rd Chemical Mortar Bn as a communications private and mortar crewman.
He was transferred from "D: Company in November 1944 to HQ/HQ to assist Lt. Robert Brimm in publishing "Muzzleblasts".  Given a free moment, Kweskin was likely to be found among the alphabet companies either scrounging up personal or company news for the newspaper or sketching a soldier whose picture would go to his hometown newspaper.
He and S/Sgt Eugene Plassmann (HQ/HQ co.) Illustrated the history, "Rounds Away", in 1945.  In 1949 the artist graduated with BFA (Ed.) at the Art Institute of Chicago, after which he worked on four local television cartoon shows.
In 1953, he and his family moved to New York City where he worked as an illustrator and art director for advertising agencies and magazines.  His illustrations graced magazine covers, as well as many pages of Marvel Comics.  He also illustrated the internationally celebrated medical research book, the Merck Therapy Manual, and painted covers for fiction and non-fiction books and paperbacks.
He moved to Boca Raton, Florida almost eight years ago, and recently was commissioned to do a cover for VFW Magazine. (info that is in the small photograph above).

I chose to add these war comics below to correspond with Sam's WWII experiences. I personally never knew they had war comics. This was a learning experience for me.

Dead-Reckoning by Michael Vassallo talks about Sam Kweskin & other contributors Atlas At War

Sam worked on two stories in the book shown above.  The City of Slaves and The Butcher of Wulfhausen!

This is timely since April 29th marked the 76th Anniversary of  The Liberation of Dachau and most importantly one in which Mr. Kweskin, as well as my daddy Carl Johnson Mr. Wheeler, and others of the 83rd Chemical, participated in.   In fact, their unit was first in!

“This collection not only portrays warfare in grimmer terms than comics of both earlier and later times, but the stories explore some dark subject matter, including several stories involving the Holocaust. Two stories by artist Sam Kweskin stand out here. The majority of these comics’ creators were veterans themselves, with firsthand experience of the wars they depicted, but for Kweskin, the stories were even more personal. From a Polish Jewish family, Kweskin served in the U.S. Army 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion and was involved in the liberation of Dachau. Two of Kweskin’s stories, both pre-code, not only depict the horror of concentration camps in brutal, horrific detail but are also violent revenge stories in which Kweskin gives the camp victims the agency to rise up against their oppressors and have more success than those of the actual camp revolts.”  * Taken from an article Atlas At War review by Michael W. Hankins

Photo credit
The Liberation of Dachau 76 years since April 29,

A very sad time in our history but Sam, my daddy, and many others lived it.
We do not want to forget what happened and be so very proud of our WWII heroes

Irving Samuel Kweskin aka Irv Wesley had an illustrious career.  He was a wartime artist that which I'm familiar with in doing the research for the 83rd Chemical.  I also am proud to be the owner of three of his originals. 

Post-war he worked at Atlas the 1950's precursor of Marvel Comics. He met with the then Editor-in-Chief Stan New York City.  Stan Lee sent him scripts and told him, "Of course he could do more work if he moved there."  Sam continued to do some work from Chicago, but soon he, his wife, and their children moved to New York City.  

He did well and then a downturn in the comic industry led to his then work being an Art Director for an Advertising Agency making many films and illustrations for medical Merck.  He later returned and did work for the then Marvel Comics.  Read more about it here.

He also did some work with Sam Singer a Walt Disney Animator doing a children's cartoon series.  then he left to do his own local children's tv programming.

You can see more about this at Marvel Database here
Sam Kweskin Atlas Tales here

This is from a story by Joel Kweskin Sam's son.  
It was published in the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion Veterans Association Newsletter

I picked up one of these recently 

See more about Sam 

A patch made at a later time

The 83rd Chemical never wore this patch I'm told as they were a secretive unit

Sam was a military artist contributing to military articles in The Muzzleblasts and Rounds Away Wikiwand has an extensive article covering him here and it is well worth the read.

This post is loaded with links that are full of history and information. It may seem like a history lesson and in fact, it is but still interesting reading.

I know I'm prejudiced with my father fighting battles covering most of the same ground as Sam, but I am so proud of them and what they accomplished.  Sam never knew my father but I met a friend in him and I'm glad to have known him.

I'll end today by saying the man and his talents could fill a huge book.  I'll be back with more fun facts about his Atlas Marvel Comic book days and maybe more WWII info he shared with me in time. Oh and I almost forgot I'll have to share the three original WWII drawings I have that Sam did.

Sam has a family of artists and I know he had to be proud!

Thank you again Jean Kweskin-Siegel 

Some 83rd CML Mortar Bn Links

Edited by Lee Steedle 
Illustrated by Sam Kweskin 

A History of the 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion in WWII
by Terry Lowry

Sam Kweskin Wikipedia

*Notation:  The sinking of the LST 422 the Landing Ship that my father Carl Johnson Jimmie Wheeler and others from the 83rd chemical Mortar Bn were on board.  I have a first-hand account from Mr. Wheeler about his and my daddy's experience in the sinking here on WWII True Story: Sinking Ship, Leaky Life Vest, Two Men Hanging On!

The LST that picked up some survivors was The United Kingdom's LST 366.
I met a man from England that was aboard the LST 366 and one day I may tell his story of picking up survivors and then hitting a mine.  Nothing like a tragic sinking and then being rescued only to hit another mine.  Unimaginable isn't it?


  1. I just came upon your post, courtesy of my sister Jean. And all I can say is, thank you very much for your thoughtful and touching tribute to your Dad...and mine, Sam Kweskin.

    1. Hi,
      It is so great to hear from you! Your Dad was such a special and talented person. I'm glad that he became a friend to me. Thank you so much for letting me know.
      We share a bond with our fathers war connection. They were indeed two very courageous men! Your father preserved the history in his paintings. I know you and Jean are so proud!