Comic Artist Sinnott, Veteran Share WWII Bond


At 17 years old, Joe Palmieri decided to join the military, against his parents' wishes, to fight in World War II.

Palmieri's father asked him to wait for the draft, wait for the war to be over, but he couldn't do that.

"Pa, you can't do that to me," the York resident said he told his father. Some seven decades later, this story isn't just Palmieri's.

It's also how Marvel comic book inker Joe Sinnott's war story begins.

Some 65 years after returning home from World War II, Palmieri and Sinnott, both now almost 86, formed a friendship connected by their time spent in the 139th battalion of the Navy SeaBees.

A few months ago, one of Palmieri's relatives was reading a newspaper article in upstate New York that spoke about Sinnott's life, including his experience in the military during World War II. Sinnott, who lives in Kingston, N.Y., worked on Marvel comics such as "The Fantastic Four," and "The Amazing Spider-Man."

When Palmieri heard about the article, he was shocked -- this had been his story. The two men had been in the same outfit, might have passed each other as they both drove ammunition trucks, but never met.

"Hell, I don't know the guy," Palmieri said. "But I wind up calling him anyway."

Palmieri said Sinnott was excited that they found one another. They began talking every few days about everything, and exchanging letters in the mail. Sinnott sent some drawings of his, while Palmieri sent photos from the war that Sinnott had been wanting to see for a long time.

When Palmieri landed in Okinawa, Japan, as part of the SeaBees, he said, his biggest fear was dying. He drove big army vehicles, where he needed a step ladder just to get into the truck; they were that big, he said.

After the war, he came home -- one of few from his hometown along the New York/Pennsylvania border -- and started his life.

Then, about 1972, Palmieri moved down to Baltimore and worked in the Maryland city for about 30 years. In 2002, Palmieri moved closer to family and retired in Conewago Township.

"When you look around this little town, it is quite amazing that they get so much done," Palmieri said. "I enjoy it here."

Sinnott said he never drove a car in civilian life before joining the fight in his teens, but there he was, driving an ammunition truck. He said he wanted to be on a big boat when he enlisted in the Navy, and ended up being part of the SeaBees in Okinawa.

After he came back from overseas, he went to college in Manhattan at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, now known as the School of Visual Arts.

After working with his mentor, Tom Gill, drawing westerns, romance and war comic book stories, he said he went to Marvel Comics' headquarters in New York City to apply for a job. Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel, took him in, and he stayed with the company for more than 40 years.

Sinnott is best known for his long stint with "The Fantastic Four," being the inker for artist Jack Kirby. Sinnott also has done "The Avengers," "Mighty Thor" and most recently "The Amazing Spider-Man" Sunday comic strip. He also draws likenesses, including those of the Beatles, Babe Ruth and many presidents.

Sinnott, who still resides in New York state, said he has drawn more than 3,000 pages in his lifetime and has no plans of stopping.

"I draw all the time," he said.

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