Creator of Superhero 'The Flash' Dies

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Harry Lampert (search), the illustrator who created the DC Comics (search) superhero "The Flash" (search) and later became known for his instructional books on bridge, died Saturday. He was 88.

Lampert, who had been suffering from cancer, died at Boca Raton Community Hospital, according to his family.

He began drawing professionally at 16, inking cartoons at Fleischer Studios in New York for characters such as Popeye, Betty Boop and KoKo the Clown.

Six years later, Lampert created the DC Comics original "Flash Comics 1" in 1940, collaborating with writer Gardner Fox. The first-edition featuring the physics-defying superhero has become a classic among comic book collectors.

"He based it on the character in mythology (Hermes) ... the wings on his feet," said daughter Karen Lampert Akavan. "He had no idea how big it would be."

Lampert received a steady stream of fan mail and requests for his early 'Flash' drawings. But his favorite illustrations were gag cartoons, which appeared in publications including Time, Esquire, The New York Times, Saturday Evening Post and Saturday Review.

"Up to the last week he was redrawing 'The Flash' and selling it to people," his daughter said.

Lampert spent much of his life as a cartoonist, and he taught at the New York School of Visual Arts. He also started an advertising agency in New York, which won several awards, including The Golden Lion at Cannes.

After retiring in Florida, Lampert was known as an avid bridge player. He became president of the American Bridge Teachers Association, and wrote several books on the subject including "The Fun Way to Serious Bridge," largely considered a bible of the game.

Besides his daughter, Lampert is survived by his wife, Adele Lampert; and two grandsons.

Calls to DC Comics in New York were not immediately returned early Sunday.