Karl Kesel
Born (1959-01-07) January 7, 1959 (age 65)
Victor, New York
Area(s)Writer, Inker
Notable works
The Adventures of Superman
Fantastic Four
Harley Quinn
Hawk and Dove vol. 2 and 3
Superboy vol. 3
Superman vol. 2

Karl Kesel (born January 7, 1959[1]) is an American comics writer and inker whose works have primarily been under contract for DC Comics. He is a member of Periscope Studio and is best known for his collaborations with fellow artist Tom Grummett on The Adventures of Superman, Superboy, and Section Zero, as well as the first Harley Quinn comic title.


DC Comics

After a friend at college complimented his inking, Karl Kesel began submitting his portfolio to Marvel Comics and DC Comics.[2] Kesel's first work for DC Comics appeared in New Talent Showcase #4 (April 1984).[3] He soon became the inker on Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes[3] — so soon, in fact, that he suspected that he was assigned New Talent Showcase #8 as a test run to see how well he jelled with Tales of the Legion penciller Terry Shoemaker.[2] Kesel was discouraged that inks which looked smooth and clear on his original pages appeared clunky in the printed comics, and with some guidance from Dick Giordano he studied how to draw in a way that would appear better on the printed page.[2] Kesel worked on the lighthearted 'Mazing Man series, as well as providing inks over the pencils of George Pérez on History of the DC Universe and John Byrne on Legends and Superman vol. 2.[3] With his then-wife Barbara Kesel, he co-wrote a Hawk and Dove miniseries in 1988 which was drawn by Rob Liefeld.[4] Kesel and artist Tom Grummett are the creators of the modern Superboy character, Kon-El, who debuted in the "Reign of the Supermen" story arc, starting from The Adventures of Superman #500 (June 1993).[5] An ongoing Superboy series was launched by Kesel and Grummett in February 1994.[6] In 1996, Kesel and artist Stuart Immonen produced The Final Night limited series.[7] That same year, Kesel was one of the many creators who contributed to the Superman: The Wedding Album one-shot wherein the title character married Lois Lane.[8] Kesel wrote the Batman and Superman: World's Finest ten-issue limited series[9] (April 1999–Jan. 2000) which explored the Post-Crisis history of the two with each of the ten issues taking place one year after the other. He and artist Terry Dodson launched a Harley Quinn ongoing series in December 2000.[10]

Marvel Comics

Kesel's first work for Marvel Comics was inking a Vision story in Avengers Spotlight #23 (Oct. 1989).[3] He inked Mark Bagley's cover art for the Japan-exclusive Super Famicom video game The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes in 1995. Kesel wrote Daredevil issues #353–364 (June 1996 – May 1997)[3] and in 2002 wrote the story "Remembrance of Things Past" in which it was revealed that Ben Grimm, the Thing of the Fantastic Four, is Jewish.[11] Kesel wrote and drew a "lost" Captain America comic strip from the 1940s which was published on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.[12] In 2011, he scripted a Hulk and the Human Torch story which had been plotted by Jack C. Harris and drawn by Steve Ditko in the 1980s. It was published by Marvel as Incredible Hulk and the Human Torch: From the Marvel Vault #1 (August 2011).[3][13]

Dark Horse Comics

Kesel worked with comic book illustrator Brandon McKinney on issues #6 and #13 of the comic series Aliens: Space Marines published by Dark Horse Comics, which accompanied alien figures in the first line of Alien figures released by Kenner in 1992.

Gorilla Comics

In 2000, Kesel and his former Superboy collaborator Tom Grummett created Section Zero as part of the Gorilla Comics imprint at Image Comics. Gorilla Comics was intended to be a creator-owned company financed by a comics-related website, eHero.com.[14] The website proved to be a financial failure, leaving the creators to personally finance their own books. Along with the other Gorilla Comics creators, Kesel and Grummett attempted to continue the series they started, but these efforts proved to be unsuccessful.[15] In January 2012, Kesel announced that he and Grummett would be relaunching Section Zero as a webcomic on the Mad Genius Comics website.[16][17] The previously published stories were posted on the site and new material was added as it was completed.[18] A Kickstarter campaign in 2017 will allow Kesel and Grummett to finish the story.[19][20]

Personal life

For several years, he was married to fellow comics writer Barbara Kesel (née Randall), with whom he wrote Hawk and Dove; they have since divorced.[21]


Kesel was nominated for the Eisner Award for "Best Inker" in 1991[22] and 1992.[23]
In 2016, he was nominated for Inkwell Awards Favorite Inker.[24]


Comics work (as writer unless noted) includes:

Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

DC Comics and Marvel Comics[edit]

  • Challengers of the Fantastic #1 (1997)
  • Spider-Boy Team-Up #1 (1997)

Image Comics

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics and DC Comics[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Iola, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on February 18, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Greenberger, Robert (April 2014). "New Talent and Bonus Babies". Back Issue! (71). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 69–71.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Karl Kesel at the Grand Comics Database
  4. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1980s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 234. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. Written by Barbara and Karl Kesel and drawn by future superstar Rob Liefeld, this five-issue miniseries reestablished the famous pair for a new generation. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 259: "The issue also featured four teaser comics that introduced a group of contenders all vying for the Superman name...A cloned Superboy escaped captivity in a yarn by writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett."
  6. ^ Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 265: "Superboy set up camp in picturesque Hawaii in his new ongoing title written by Karl Kesel and with art by Tom Grummett."
  7. ^ Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 274: "In this four-issue miniseries by writer Karl Kesel and artist Stuart Immonnen, the heroes of the present united with the Legion of Super-Heroes and the New Gods in an attempt to stop a 'sun-eater'."
  8. ^ Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 275: "The behind-the-scenes talent on the monumental issue appropriately spanned several generations of the Man of Tomorrow's career. Written by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, David Michelinie, Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern, the one-shot featured the pencils of John Byrne, Gil Kane, Stuart Immonen, Paul Ryan, Jon Bogdanove, Kieron Dwyer, Tom Grummett, Dick Giordano, Jim Mooney, Curt Swan, Nick Cardy, Al Plastino, Barry Kitson, Ron Frenz, and Dan Jurgens."
  9. ^ Manning "1990s" in Dolan, p. 289: "Batman and Superman reunited in April [1999] in the ten-issue limited series World's Finest...The series was written by Karl Kesel."
  10. ^ Cowsill, Alan "2000s" in Dolan, p. 297: "Written by Karl Kesel and drawn by Terry Dodson, the double-sized first issue dealt with Harley's twisted relationship with the Joker."
  11. ^ Kesel, Karl (w), Immonen, Stuart (p), Koblish, Scott (i). "Remembrance of Things Past" Fantastic Four, vol. 3, no. 56 (August 2002). Marvel Comics.
  12. ^ Hudson, Laura (March 5, 2010). "Exclusive: 1940s Captain America Strip Coming Daily at Marvel Digital". ComicsAlliance. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  13. ^ Armitage, Hugh (April 22, 2011). "Lost Steve Ditko Comic Unveiled". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on April 25, 2011. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  14. ^ Yarbrough, Beau (December 28, 2000). "State of the (Ape) Nation: How Healthy is Gorilla?". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on June 3, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  15. ^ Dean, Michael (June 8, 2001). "The Case of the Disappearing Gorilla: The Banana Trust Explains How Not to Start a Comics Line". The Comics Journal #234. Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  16. ^ Parkin, JK (January 3, 2012). "Kesel and Grummett's Section Zero returns as a webcomic". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on March 14, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  17. ^ Kesel, Karl (January 2, 2012). "Back to ZERO!". MadGeniusComics.com. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  18. ^ Kesel, Karl; Grummett, Tom (2012). "Archive for Section Zero". MadGeniusComics.com. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  19. ^ Staley, Brandon (May 3, 2017). "Kesel & Grummett's Section Zero Finds New Life in Kickstarter Campaign". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on May 4, 2017. Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett's Section Zero may get a second shot at life if a Kickstarter campaign gets the required funding.
  20. ^ Kesel, Karl (2017). "Section Zero: Ultra-Cool Collector's Edition". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on August 11, 2017. 1,049 backers pledged $65,140 to help bring this project to life.
  21. ^ Eury, Michael (July 2017). "Hawk and Dove: Birds of a Different Feather". Back Issue! (97). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 44–45.
  22. ^ "1991 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 12, 2015.
  23. ^ "1992 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees and Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 12, 2015.
  24. ^ "Inkwell Awards Winners, 2016". Inkwell Awards. 2016. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016.
Preceded byJerry Ordway The Adventures of Superman writer 1993–1999 Succeeded byLouise Simonson Preceded byn/a Superboy vol. 3 writer 1994–1996 Succeeded byEddie Berganza Preceded byJ. M. DeMatteis Daredevil writer 1996–1997 Succeeded byJoe Kelly Preceded byBarbara Kesel Superboy vol. 3 writer 1998–2000 Succeeded byJay Faerber Preceded byn/a Harley Quinn writer 2000–2002 Succeeded byA. J. Lieberman Preceded byCarlos Pacheco, Rafael Marín, and Jeph Loeb Fantastic Four writer 2002(with Carlos Pacheco and Rafael Marín in early 2002) Succeeded byAdam Warren Preceded byMark Waid Fantastic Four writer 2005 Succeeded byJ. Michael Straczynski Preceded byMatt Fraction Fantastic Four writer 2013–2014(with Matt Fraction) Succeeded byJames Robinson