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Paul Norris Papers

An inventory of his Papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DW
Date: May 1980

Biographical History

Paul Norris (1914-2007) was an American cartoonist who co-created the superhero Aquaman and drew the comic strip Brick Bradford.

Paul Norris was born April 26, 1914 in Greenville, Ohio. After briefly working as a card writer for the J.C. Penny Co, Norris, at the suggestion of his cousin, who was a professor of journalism at Midland Lutheran College in Fremont, Nebraska, moved to Fremont, Nebraska in 1934 to attend Midland Lutheran. Norris served as the college yearbook art director and drew caricatures of every graduating senior. However, Norris left college and returned to Ohio to work on the proposed syndicated comic strip Hobo Cupboard but the strip was never published.

Norris took a job in a machinery factory in Dayton, Ohio and finished his studies at night at the Dayton Art Institute. He then went on to work for the Dayton Daily News where he drew a photography themed comic, Scoop Lens for their supplement Camerica. At the suggestion of Milton Caniff, in 1940 Norris moved to New York City where he worked for comic book companies Prize Publications and National and co-created the character Aquaman. Norris’ first experience drawing a newspaper strip came when he took over Vic Jordan for the New York Daily PM in 1941.

Norris worked as an Army artist during WWII and drew propaganda materials dropped on Japanese civilians. Norris was transferred to the psychological warfare division of the Tenth Army where he worked with a Japanese POW to ensure the accuracy of the material in propaganda leaflets and increase their effectiveness.

After the war, Norris began working the for King Features Syndicate where he worked on comic books and drew the strip Secret Agent X-9 until transitioning to the Jungle Jim Sunday strip in 1948. In 1954 Norris took over the science fiction strip Brick Bradford from artist Clarence Gray which continued until April 25, 1987.

In 2006, Midland Lutheran College hosted an exhibit of original Norris cartoons. Paul Norris retired in 1988 and died November 11, 2007.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Paul Norris Papers primarily contain original daily and Sunday cartoons from the Brick Bradford comic strip from 1955-1962. There are approximately 2,228 original cartoons. Materials used include pen, ink, blue pencil, watercolor, illustration board and zipatone screening. The Sunday strips often contain a notation to drop the top row for newspapers wishing to carry it in a two-row format.

Brick Bradford features science fiction storylines often set in space or in isolated areas that continue for several weeks. Each sequence has an individual title and when main character Brick Bradford returns from one successful mission, he smoothly transitions to another. Norris often marked the passage of time within a strip and portrayed simultaneous action in several panels within a single strip.

Also included are clippings related to Norris' personal life and career. Of particular interest is material related to Norris' work during WWII as a propaganda artist. The Propaganda series contains an original WWII era propaganda cartoon by Norris in Japanese. There is a translation for this cartoon as well as a report from an interrogation interview between Norris and a Japanese POW who was a commercial artist.

Arrangement of the Collection

The Paul Norris Papers are arranged in three series: Cartoons, Propaganda, and Clippings. Daily and Sunday cartoons are arranged separately in chronological order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has collections of over one hundred cartoonists. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Norris, Paul.

Corporate Bodies

King Features Syndicate.

Associated Titles

Brick Bradford (comic strip)


American wit and humor, Pictorial.
Caricatures and cartoons -- United States.
Cartoonists -- United States.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Science fiction -- caricatures and cartoons.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Propaganda.

Genres and Forms

Cartoons (humorous images)
Clippings (information artifacts)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Paul Norris Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Paul Norris, 1967-1968.

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