Mike Esposito who sometimes used the pseudonyms Mickey Demeo, Mickey Dee, Michael Dee, and Joe Gaudioso, was an American comic book artist whose work for DC Comics, Marvel Comics and others spanned the 1950s to the 2000s. As a comic book inker teamed with his childhood friend Ross Andru, he drew for such major titles as The Amazing Spider-Man and Wonder Woman. An Andru-Esposito drawing of Wonder Woman appears on a 2006 U.S. stamp.
Esposito was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2005.
Early life and career
Born in New York City, New York, Mike Esposito graduated from the High School of Music and Art, where one of his classmates was future comics artist Ross Andru. Originally Esposito dreamed of becoming an animator at Disney. This ended when his father did not want him to leave New York for the West Coast.
Following his military service, Esposito entered the comic-book field drawing for the publisher Fiction House and later for later for industry giant DC Comics, then called National Comics. Because writer and artist credits were not routinely given during that era of comic books, a comprehensive account of his work is difficult to ascertain. His first confirmed work is as penciler and inker of the war comics story "Heat Of Battle" in Men's Adventures #6 (Feb. 1951), from Atlas Comics, the 1950s forerunner of Marvel Comics.
He and Andru co-founded the studio Mike/Ross Publications in the early 1950s. The two artists became longtime collaborators, working together on various projects over a span of four decades. Their first known credited collaboration was the cover and a 24-page story, "The Jungle That Time Forgot" in the whimsical adventure comic Mister Universe #2 (1951; no month given, but published between the July and December issues). This five-issue series was the sole title from a comic book company they founded, Mr. Publications. The two also co-founded Mikeross Publications in 1953, which through 1954 produced one issue each of the 3D romance comics 3-D Love and 3-D Romance, two issues of the romance comic Heart and Soul, and three issue of the satiric humor comic Get Lost.
Esposito freelanced for Marvel Comics, starting with his uncredited inking of industry giant Jack Kirby's cover of Fantastic Four Annual #3 (1965). For his inking of Bob Powell in the "Human Torch and the Thing" feature in Strange Tales #132, and his inking of Don Heck's "Iron Man" in Tales of Suspense #65 (both May 1965), he took the pen name Mickey Demeo (occasionally given as Mickey Dee or Michael Dee) to conceal his Marvel work from his primary employer, DC. He also occasionally worked under the pseudonym Joe Gaudioso for the same reason.