Obituary: Janice Valleau Winkleman / Drew for Archie comics, painted for her family

Nov. 6, 1923 - Dec. 8, 2013

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Ellen Winkleman was 8 years old and buying an Archie comic book when she found out her mother had her own relationship with Archie's gang.

Her mother, Janice Valleau Winkleman, was a young woman at the time. Fresh out of the Phoenix Art Institute she moved to New York City and found a job with MLJ Publications where she worked as an artist and inker on the Archie comics.

Mrs. Winkleman died Sunday at the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville, Fla., after suffering multisystem failure. She was 90.

Ellen Winkleman always knew her mother was an artist. Her mother had a studio in the basement of their Upper St. Clair home when Ellen was growing up. There Mrs. Winkleman would work in watercolors, a medium in which she worked for the rest of her life. She never had a formal showing, but her paintings filled her home.

At one point, after Mrs. Winkleman and her husband, Edward, who died in 2009, moved to Ponte Vedra, Fla., where one of her paintings was hung in the mayor's office. But mostly her work was for her family, lining the walls of their homes in Upper St. Clair, where they lived from 1963 until 1982, and in Florida.

As a girl in New Jersey she had polio. She wore a brace through school and drew. She was 16 years old when her work appeared in Smash Comics in 1939. By 1940, after studying at the Phoenix Art Institute, she was helping to create Archie Comics and, in 1945 her own character creation, Toni Gayle, a glamorous female detective, appeared in Young King Cole Comics.

She was featured in the book "The Ten-Cent Plague" about the attack on comic books by Fredric Wertham, a psychiatrist who wrote the book "Seduction of the Innocent" in 1954. Conservative moralists rallied around the book and began burning comic books in school yards. Mrs. Winkleman, who was married by then, left the industry in 1955 and never went back.

Instead she painted. Her work now hangs in the homes of her children.

In addition to her daughter, Ellen of New York City, she is survived by another daughter, Dale Campbell of Orlando, Fla.; a son, Daniel Winkleman of Jacksonville Beach, Fla.; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The funeral will be private.

Memorial donations may be made to Community Hospice Foundation, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.

 

Correction (posted Dec. 14): A previous version of this story had an incorrect name in the headline. 


Ann Belser: abelser@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1699.

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