Montana knew he wanted to be a cartoonist from the age of seven. Traveling to vaudeville houses in all 48 states before the age of nine, he received his childhood schooling backstage in theater dressing rooms and also learned about comedy and humor writing. During summers, the family stayed in Meredith, New Hampshire, where his father raised vegetables and operated a restaurant. Bob Montana practiced his cartooning by drawing caricatures of the restaurant's customers. When he was 13, his father died of a heart attack, and his mother remarried.
Montana's stepfather had managed a theatrical costume shop in Bradford, Massachusetts. In 1936, the family moved to Haverhill, Massachusetts, and from 1936 to 1939, Montana attended Haverhill High School. When he was 17 and 18 in 1937-38, he kept diaries of local events and news stories, illustrating the diary pages with his cartoons. The students and faculty of Haverhill High later inspired the leading characters in the Archie cast, as revealed in a 1970s Boston Globe article by film critic Gerald Peary.
He spent time in Boston, where his mother and her husband ran a restaurant. On weekends he worked in Boston, drawing and painting Red Cross and WWII posters. In his senior year, Montana moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he graduated from Central High in 1940.
Moving to New York, he studied at the Phoenix Art Institute while freelancing. At the age of 21, he created Archie for MLJ's Pep Comics. The success of the character led MLJ to assign Montana to draw the first issue of Archie.
During World War II, Montana spent four years in the Army Signal Corps, drawing coded maps and working on training films with William Saroyan and cartoonists Sam Cobean and Charles Addams. He was stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where, in 1944, he met a 19-year-old Army secretary, Peggy Wherett, from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Married in 1946, they moved to Manhattan, where Montana was soon drawing the daily and Sunday Archie comic strips for 700 newspapers.
Two years later, the couple moved to Meredith, New Hampshire, and bought an old New England farmhouse where they raised four children, organic vegetables, assorted chickens, horses and sheep. The entire family sometimes lived for extended periods in England, Rome and Mexico.
After hours at the drawing table, Montana relaxed by sailing his Friendship sloop, the White Eagle, on Lake Winnipesaukee, and taking ski jaunts through the back country near his home. He died of a heart attack on January 4, 1975, while cross-country skiing in Meredith.
Date of Birth:
October 23, 1920
Date of death:
January 4, 1975 Favorite Creators:
Bob Montana is a favorite creator of 3 usersAwards:
- 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Winner - Hall of Fame: (Judges' choice)