Ray Moore

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Raymond Stephen Moore
Ray Moore.jpg
Biographical information
Born: February 27, 1905
Died: January 13, 1984
Nationality: Mini usa.gif American
Occupation: Artist

Ray Moore assisted Phil Davis on the Mandrake the Magician comic strip a short periode before he, together with Lee Falk, created The Phantom in 1936.

Life and career

Family background

In 1898 David Yearly Moore (1871-1933) married Martha Stephens (1874-1964). The first years they lived with David's family at Bedford[1] Township, near Troy. Early 1901 the family planned[2] to move to Ellsberry (Missouri), and about 1903 they moved[3] to St. Louis. In 1908 the small family was[4][5] living in Wanette (Oklahoma), before the family bought[6] a home at 6346 Etzel Avenue, St. Louis. In St. Louis David Y. Moore worked as a jeweler.

They had three children: Mary Adelia (1903-1983), Raymond Stepens[footnotes 1][footnotes 2] and David Yearly jr (1916-2006), both Mary and Ray[footnotes 3][footnotes 4] was born in Montgomery City (Missouri).

Early life and career

After graduating Soldan High School [7], he enrolled in the law school at Washington University and played freshman football. But, as he expressed it: "I was kicked out after a year for arguing with a professor." In some years he drove a truck and worked on a street paving gang to earn money for an education. About this time he tried to get in the Air Corps, but failed to pass the written exam by 1.3 points [8]. In 1927 [9] he attended Washington University Art School in St. Louis and studied a year and a half [10] and then got a job as a commercial artist [8].

In 1929 he rented a studio at 114 North 7th Street[11], and from 1930 at 2313 Washington Avenue R211[12]. Interesting R. Wilson McCoy and Chas F. Quest (McCoy & Quest) had a studio at 2313 Washington Avenue R205 and Hugh Hockaday (Hugh Studio) was located at 923 Washington Avenue.

The Creation of The Phantom

Ray Moore - 1941

He started to assist[footnotes 5] Phil Davis [7] (with some of the inking) [13] on the Mandrake strip. Phil Davis made his art with a hard pencil, and Ray Moore traced Davis' pensil lines and filled in the ink.

When Lee Falk needed an illustrator for his new comic, The Phantom [footnotes 6], he asked Ray Moore to handle it. Ray's wife told (in 2004) that he had meetings with four or five St. Louis artists[footnotes 7] a few times a week. Lee Falk came occasionally, they discussed the Phantom's appearance and helped Lee work it out. Some researchers believe that Ray Moore contributed to creation of the wolf Devil, the Phantom's faithful sidekick. Mainly based on Mel Heimer's short biography from 1946:[14] "... at age 5 - my first creation was a wolf, with eyes like headlights - ..". The first daily strip with The Phantom was to be seen on February, 17, 1936. It was followed with a Sunday strip on May 28, 1939.

Claire Lydia Moehlenbrock - 1926

Ray Moore had met Claire Lydia Moehlenbrock, daughter of Frederick William (1869-1949) and Lydia Charlotte Gerdes (1871-1949) Moehlenbrock. During her childhood in Ferguson (Missouri) she was known by her second name, Lydia. In 1934 she started[15] as a case worker in Rolla and then in West Plain. And in 1936 she became[16] a student at the university in Tulana (Louisiana) where her brother Arthur was a member of the faculty.

Monocoupe - Phantom daily 1940

Her thesis[17] from 1936 titled "The Administration of Mothers' Aid in Orleans Parish" outlines the ways in which the parish heavily relied on private charities such as the Family Service Society to provide government aid. Ray and Claire married on June 30, 1939 [18] in Crystal City (Jefferson County, Missouri).

About this time Ray Moore took up his interest in aviation and managed to get a private license and work for an instrument rating for cross-country trips. He bought a Monocoupe and operated out of Lambert - St. Louis Field in 1940 [8].

At the Drawing Board

Ray said[19] that he didn't use models or any other artificial help, he just sat down and drew. He said he usually worked in his shorts and that he often turned out three or four days work in a single night.

Ray draw the Phantom in a realistic style like Alex Raymond and Phil Davis, but with his own personal way. The main focus of the drawings is the characters, made with quick brush strokes. Ray Moore excels especially with his female characters.

different shading

The background is often a few ink strokes or details, floating into black ink or the white paper. Looking at the art week by week one notices that the drawings are of slightly uneven quality. Most likely due to his way of working, as well as time pressure to meet the deadline. When the Sunday version were added this can be especially notice in the daily strips. One also notices that there are periods with more detailed background in the strips, which indicates use of assistants.

One notices that one of his assistant, Wilson McCoy, slowely beginning to influences on some (elements) of the drawings. The characters are drawn with thinner lines and less heavy inking. The backgrounds get more details and lighter inking. The femal characters start looking more like models, than More's more femme fatale characters. Also the hairstyle for the femal characters are different, most noticeable on Diana, the Phantom's sweetheart. One of McCoys trademarks, vertical lines for the eyebrowns, begins to show up.

The WWII Years

Service Pilot Badge
Ray Moore 1943

In 1943 Ray Moore was[19][20] a service pilote and instructor for the glider pilote course at South Plains Army Air field, with the degree lieutenant[21].

He began his training at Kelly Field, where the centralized school to train service pilotes was established in 1942. The first service pilot course at Kelly Field began on September 1. The applicants (between 18 and 42 years) had to have a minimum of 140 hours total flying time and pass a flight test in an Army type airplane. Those with a C.A.A. Airman's certificate could be accepted without the flight test, if they had 200 or more hours.

In the beginning the course was between six to ten weeks, and the candidats was on civil service status drawing $300 a month. Upon completetion of the course they recieved silver wings and commission in the army air forces. They were then assigned as instructors and utility pilots to army basic flying schools or as utility pilots at army advance schools.

Ray Moore 1943

Early 1943 the candidat was given a prescriebed 50-hours course of instruction at the Central Instuctor's School at Kelly Field. The course included instrument and night flying, instruction on basis airplanes and a thorough ground school course. The course was of one month's duration. After the Primary Instructor's course the applicant could be assigned to one of three duties. One a Trainee Instructor status to the basic flying instructor's course or one a civillian status as an instructor at an Army Primary Flying school or as an instructor at a Civilian Pilot Training School. Upon graduation from the basic instructor's course the applicant was eligible to appear before a special board which would pass upon his recommendantion for a commission in the Army of the US with a military rating of Service Pilot.

Looking at the Phantom Sundays it looks like the art is by Wilson McCoy in 1943, and most likely Ray Moore started his training at Kelly Field in November 1942. Other service pilots with degree lieutenant had several courses with a duration of 3 months, so Moore was most likely started his duties at SPAAF about February/March 1943.

Ray Moore - Army Air

A service pilot was to fly only transport, liaison, and other non-combat aircraft outside the theaters of operation. The duties included flight instruction, ferrying aircraft, flying transport and cargo aircraft, and performing messenger and courier duties.

The Abernathy Gremlin

During Moore's service in the Air Force Wilson McCoy became the artist for the ongoing Phantom stories.

Interesting Moore said[19] he before the war offered for publication a strip in which "The Phantom" played a part in war, but the strip was refused at the time. It is unknown if this was one of the later printed Phantom stories with a war theme, or if this is an unknown unpublished story.

There exists a card Moore sent to his family in 1943, with a picture of him in uniform. The card has the text: "The Blue Bird of Dover are flying over... Carrying Greetings to You" and "Somewhere in England 1943 2nd Base Air Depot APO, 635 New York - N.Y.". In 1946 Mel Heimer wrote[14] that Ray Moore flew with the Eight Air Force in the European Theatre. Recently, Gina Moore Reiners shared a letter[footnotes 8] from Ray Moore to his uncle in which he wrote his postal address in February 1944: 310th Ferry SQD, A.P.O. 635 NY NY. The 310th Ferry Squadron was part of the 27th Air Transport Group of the 8th Air Force. And the address APO 635 is Burtonwood air field (England). In this letter he tells that he is now flying bombers to various fields in the British Islands.

The Post WWII Years

After the war he took up his work on the Phantom, first with the daily story "Princess Valerie" (18 February 1946 to 13 July 1946). But during his WW II duty something happened to Ray [footnotes 9], which made him unable to keep on drawing The Phantom full time. He continued with the Sunday stories "The Scarlet Sorceress" (11 August 1946 to 22 December 1946), "The 12 Tasks" (29 December to 29 June 1947), "The Marshall Sisters" 23 November 1947 to 16 May 1948) and the beginning of "The Haunted Castle" (12 September to 13 February 1948). Then Wilson McCoy became the official artist for the ongoing strips.

McCoy's name appears in the byline from early 1949[footnotes 10]. His name is found in the daily strip (with the publication date) from February 21 1949 and on the Sundays from March 13, 1949.

A curiosity is that in the annual directory syndicates, features, news and photo services printed in "Editor and Publisher" Lee Falk and Ray Moore are listed as writer/artist for "The Phantom" and "Mandrake the Magician" in the years 1947 to 1950. And then, in 1951, Phil Davis is listed for "Mandrake the Magician" and Wilson McCoy for "The Phantom".

There are some jokes/gags post cards with western motif with the signature Ray Moore. Looking at the postmark these post cards were sold in the years 1939 to 1949. Below the signature is written Douglas Arizona, and the signature is different from the one used on the early Phantom strips. The artist who made these cards is most likely a man living in Douglas (Arizona), with the same name as Ray Moore.

In 1949 Ray and Claire bought a house on a remote hill in West County. Ray Moore died in 1984 of natural causes. He was survived by his wife, Claire, who passed away in 2005. Ray Moore's former house and studio off Barrett Station Road will be developed into a futher Missouri Dept. of Conservation area called "Phantom Forest".


  1. Ray was born in Montgomery City where his grandparets lived, Dr. George W and Eliza A Stephens.
  2. Previously one assumed that Ray's middle name S was Schettler. But Schettler are the family name of Alwin H Schettler who married Meta C Moehlenbrock, the sister of Ray's wife.
  3. he states the place of birth in his WWII Draft Card from October 16, 1940
  4. a notice in The Montgomery Tribune from April 7 (1905) says that "Mrs. D. Moore and children returned to their home in St. Louis after an extended visit the former's parents here". Ray was 5 weeks old at this time.
  5. Possible early 1935, when adding the Sunday version of the Mandrake strips
  6. Ray called his hero: "the guy in the long underwear" and Diana: "Pudding' Puss"
  7. Claire mentioned Hockaday and later on also some ink work by McCoy. In 1936 they were at: Associated Artists of St Louis: R Wilson McCoy, Wm E Heede, Martin C Kaiser, E Haydn Parks, Elise B Parks, Lester H Willman, J Hamilton Stevens, Fred A Toarper, Marjorie M Lippman, Wm H Cramer, Ralph W Guze. Hugh Studio: Hugh Hockaday, ?
  8. The letter is a V-mail (V-mail), a postal system used to reduce the space needed to transport mail. A special form was used which permits the letter to be photographed in microfilm. Then the small film was transported and then reproduced and delivered.
  9. Lee Falk said nervous disorder - some kind of neuralgia
  10. eg. in "The Daily Record" (Long Branch, New Jersey) on February 14, 1949


  1. 1900 United States Federal Census, Bedford, Lincoln, Missouri
  2. notice in The Montgomery Tribune (Montgomery City, Missouri) 11 January 1901, p 2
  3. notice in The Montgomery Tribune (Montgomery City, Missouri) 29 May 1903, p 8
  4. notice in The Montgomery Tribune (Montgomery City, Missouri) 05 June 1908, p 1
  5. notice in The Wanette Standard (Wanette, Oklahoma) 31 July 1908, p 1
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census, St. Louis, Missouri
  7. 7.0 7.1 Martin, David. "River City Trivia." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) 13 April 2003, p 158
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Wagner, Ted P. "Aviation in St. Louis." St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) 16 February 1941, p 10H
  9. The Hatchet, Yearbook 1927. Washington University, p 373
  10. The Hatchet, Yearbook 1928. Washington University, p 372
  11. Gould's St Louis City Directory 1929, p 1286
  12. Gould's St Louis City Directory 1930, p 1048
  13. "Lee Falk" Cartoonist Profiles No. 27, p 20-24
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Famous Artists & Writers", KFS, 1946, Ray Moore
  15. "New Case Worker with Relief Office Here". The Journal-Gazette (West Plains, Missouri), 16 Aug 1934, p 2
  16. "Ferguson", St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) 01 Mar 1936, p 44
  17. Mothers' Pensions Project
  18. Marriage License, St. Louis, Missouri
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "Creator of "The Phantom" in comic strips is now air corps officer at SPAAF" Lubbock Morning Avalanche (Lubbock, Texas) 10 June 1943, p 2
  20. "The Phantom is Hero in Long Underwear", Fly Paper vol 1 no 20 (Lubbock, Texas) May 20 1943
  21. South Plains Army Air Field, Class book for glider pilot classes 43-10, 43-11, 43-12, 43-13, 43-15, 43-16, pgs 46 and 48

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