Veteran Pioneering Comic Book Artist, Lily Renee Philips, dies at 101

Lily Renee Philips or Reney, was an Austrian-born American artist who was best known as one of the earliest women in the comic-book industry, beginning in the 1940s period known as the Golden Age of Comics. Lily was born on May 12, 1921, in Vienna, Austria.

She also escaped from Nazi-occupied Vienna to England and later New York City, and she found work as penciler and inker at comic publisher Fiction House, working on such features such as “Jane Martin”, “The Werewolf Hunter”, “The Lost World” and others.

Pioneering Comic Book Artist, Lily Renée Phillips, Dies at 101

In the year the 1940s few people reading the comic book adventures of Señorita Rio, a stylish spy working for U.S. intelligence in South America, appreciated just how much the artist drawing her was putting into those vivid images and many even don’t know that artist was a woman.

“Señorita Rio got clothes that Lily couldn’t have,” the artist, Lily Renée Phillips, told the comic book artist and historian Trina Robbins in the Year 2006. “She had a leopard coat, and she wore those high-end shoes and all of this and had adventures and she was very daring, beautiful, and glamorous.”

Golden Age comic book artist Lily Renée, who was one of the first women to draw mainstream American comics, passed away on August 24, 2022. The news was confirmed by her family, through a social media post from acclaimed cartoonist Trina Robbins. Lily was 101 years old. Her contributions to American comics went largely unnoticed for more than decades, until the 1980s, when she got a bit of resurgence, largely as a result of fans and many creators who wanted to celebrate underrepresented creators from the Golden and Silver Ages of comics.

“It is with great sadness that my sister and I regret to inform you of the passing of our mother,” Rick Phillips said in his message. “She died peacefully at home, as it was her wish, yesterday after living a full life of more than 101 years. There is time for all of us and her death comes on the heels of the birth of her third great-grandchild earlier this year. We plan on holding Celebration of Life in September.” It was written on the social media handles of Lily’s Son.

Let’s Know about Lily Renee Philips Family and Early Life

Lily was raised by middle-class Jewish parents in Vienna, Austria, in the 1930s. Her father was Rudolf Willheim who worked as a manager at Holland America line which was a transatlantic steamship company. As a child, Lily was involved in art museums and often drew as a hobby.

lily renee philips family

At age 14, Phillips boarded the kinder transport, leaving her parents behind in Nazi-occupied Austria she arrived in Leeds, England, and there she lived there for two years, working as a servant and candy striper while waiting for her parents’ escape. When she was aged 16, she received a letter from her parents that they had immigrated to the United States. After some time she went to her family and lived in a rooming house on West 72nd Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, She was also involved in arts at that time.

Who is the husband of Lily Philips? Know about him

Lily had an early first marriage that was annulled and after that, she later married Eric Peters who was another Viennese refugee and cartoonist whose work appeared in such glossy magazines as Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post. Then after some time of marriage, they divorced.

After that marriage ended and she said in 2006, “My only real marriage was to Randolph Phillips,” who was a politically active financial consultant in the 1940s and he also directed American Civil Liberties Union’s national committee for conscientious objectors. After their marriage, the couple had one daughter named Nina, and a son named Rick.

How Lily became Successful in her Comic-Book Industry Career?

From her childhood, she was very interested in Arts and she went to Fiction House, which had sought for women to replace its male artists who had been drafted into World War II. And at that time, she worked as a penciler and inker alongside other female comic illustrators and writers including Nina Albright and also Fran Hopper.

In the late 1940s using her first and middle names as a pen name, Renée was assigned Fiction House feature “Jane Martin” who was starring a female pilot working in the male-dominated aviation industry. She also worked on feature, whose scripts are credited to possibly pseudonymous “F.E. Lincoln”, ran in Wings Comics #31-48.

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And in 1948, after Fiction House moved out of New York City, Renée and her second artist husband, Eric Peters, began working at St. John Publications and they also shared penciling and inking duties on Abbott and Costello Comics, illustrating the majority of issues from #2-34 (April 1948 to Dec. 1955).

After many years as a comic book writer, she left comics and Renée said she also “did some children’s books and also wrote some plays”, one was the black comedy Superman in Sleep’s Embrace at Hunter College in Manhattan.

In the Year 2007, she attended Comic-Con International in San Diego, where Friends of Lulu nominated Lily to its Hall of Fame.