Harry Lampert, 88, the artist who first drew the DC Comics hero The Flash and author of four books on bridge, died of a cerebral hemorrhage Nov. 13 at Boca Raton Community Hospital in Florida. He lived in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Mr. Lampert, a New York City native, was inking cartoons at Fleischer studios in New York when he drew the initial "The Flash" in 1940. He received $10 for each of the 15 pages in the comic book.
By 1995, the first "Flash" comic was selling for $40,000. But Mr. Lampert had moved on after only a few episodes and didn't keep his original work.
He spent his life as a cartoonist, drawing "The King" and "Red, White and Blue," selling gag cartoons, teaching cartooning at the New York School of Visual Arts and eventually founding an advertising company. The ad firm did well and won industry awards, and its clients included Olympic Airways, Hanes Hosiery, Seagrams, the Netherlands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
After retiring in 1976, Mr. Lampert turned his hobby of contract bridge into a career, writing about and teaching bridge and lecturing on the game aboard many cruise ships.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Adele Lampert of Deerfield Beach; a daughter, Karen Akavan of Plainview, N.Y.; and two grandsons.
It wasn't until the 1990s that an acquaintance told Mr. Lampert that he was famous among comic book collectors, who avidly sought pristine copies of the first-edition comic he drew.
"I made it my business the next year to go to San Diego for the comic book convention," he told his nephew, Eugene L. Meyer, a Washington Post reporter who wrote about Mr. Lampert in 1996. "There I was hailed. I couldn't believe it. I was on this panel. People were coming up to me for autographs!"
A DC Comics representative didn't seek his signature but rather his Social Security number. A few weeks later, Mr. Lampert received checks of $1,600 and $5,000 in the mail from the comic book giant, which published a newer version of "The Flash."
Mr. Lambert, noting the prices being offered for the first "Flash," immediately made plans to start drawing original re-creations of his work, which he sold at conventions for hundreds of dollars. But as to the "original" originals, he told The Washington Post: "Isn't it terrible? I don't have any work I've done. I didn't buy a 'Flash.' It was too expensive."