Grell studied at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, and took the Famous Artists School correspondence course in cartooning. His entry into the comics industry was in 1972, as an assistant to Dale Messick on the Brenda Starr comic strip.
In 1973 Grell moved to New York, and began his long relationship with DC Comics. His first assignment at DC was on Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, a high-profile assignment for an artist with no prior experience illustrating a monthly comic book. Grell says he got that job because he was walking in the editor's door to ask for work, literally, as the previous artist was walking out the door, having just quit. These stories were written by Cary Bates and Jim Shooter. The Bates/Grell/Shooter run on the title is very well-regarded today by Superboy/Legion fans, who consider it one of the high-water marks in the character/team's history. Grell's work on SATLOSH is widely thought to be some of the best beefcake/cheesecake ever committed to comic book pages, and is affectionately referred to as the 'disco Legion' in retrospect by fans of the title.
A writer as well as artist, Grell cemented his status as a fan-favorite with his best-known creation, The Warlord, one of the first sword and sorcery comics, and reportedly the best-selling title published by DC Comics in the late-1970s.
The character first appeared in 1st Issue Special #8 (Nov 1975) and was soon given his own ongoing title (The Warlord #1, Jan/Feb 1976). In this book, Air Force pilot Travis Morgan crash-lands in the prehistoric "hidden world" of Skartaris (a setting highly influenced by Jules Verne's A Journey to the Center of the Earth and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Pellucidar). For years thereafter, Morgan engages in adventures dressed only in a winged helmet, wristbands, boots, and breechclout, and armed with a sword and (years before Dirty Harry handled one) a .44 Auto Mag.
At DC, Grell also worked on titles such as Aquaman, Batman, and the Phantom Stranger, and with writer Dennis O'Neil on the re-launch of the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series in 1976.
Grell wrote and drew the Tarzan comic strip from July 19, 1981 to February 27, 1983 (except for one strip, February 13, 1983, by Thomas Yeates). These strips were rerun in newspapers in 2004 - 2005.
 First Comics: Jon Sable Freelance and Starslayer
Cover to Jon Sable Freelance #7. Art by Mike Grell.Through the 1980s Grell developed creator-owned titles such Jon Sable Freelance and Starslayer. Jon Sable Freelance was published by the now-defunct First Comics. Starslayer, a space-born science fiction series, started at Pacific Comics, but shifted to First.
The titular character of Jon Sable Freelance was a former Olympic athlete, later a African big-game hunter, who became a mercenary. First appearing with a cover date of June 1983, Jon Sable Freelance was a successful non-super-hero comic book in an era when successful non-super-hero comic books were almost unheard of, and a graphically violent comic sold in mainstream comic book stores in an era when such was as rare. Jon Sable was a precursor to what would eventually be called, by some, "the Dark Age of Comics," when even long-established super-heroes would become increasingly grim and violent.
The character was heavily influenced by Ian Fleming's James Bond novels as well as drawing on pulp fiction crime stories. Also, many of the stories of Sable's hunting exploits in Africa were influenced by Peter Hathaway Capstick's novels. At a convention in the late 1980s, Grell stated that his idea for Sable was "something like a cross between James Bond and Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer."
Sable was adapted into a short-lived television series and the character's origin tale, "A Storm Over Eden," from the comic book, was expanded and novelized by Grell under the title Sable, which was publ
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