Sid Check was born around the same time as fellow comic book artists Wally Wood (1927), Joe Orlando (1927), Frank Frazetta, (1928), Al Williamson (1931) and Angelo Torres (1932). Child of Tomorrow: And Other Stories (2013) said Check lived in Brooklyn, New York where he attended the Mark Twain Junior High School.
With this information I began my search for Check.
In the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, there was a ten-year-old Sidney Check who resided in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York at 3001 West 29 Street. (No other boys named Sidney Check or Sydney Check were found in Brooklyn.) Check lived with his uncle and aunt, Morris and Rose Applebaum. Morris worked in children’s clothing. The census said Check was born in New Jersey around 1930 and, in 1935, lived in Newark, New Jersey.
A Social Security application, transcribed at Ancestry.com, was filled out by Sidney Charles Check who was born August 2, 1930 in Newark, New Jersey. His parents were Abraham Check and Ida Applebaum.
Check’s parents were found in the 1930 census which was enumerated in April, four months before Check’s birth. Check’s parents were Polish emigrants who arrived in 1926. The census recorded their address as 217 Harrison Avenue in Newark, New Jersey. Check’s father was a tailor at a clothing house. Also in the household was Morris Applebaum, Ida’s brother. What happened to Check’s parents is not known. At some point Check was in the care of his uncle and aunt.
The Mark Twain Junior High School (known today as Mark Twain Intermediate School 239 for the Gifted and Talented) is located in Coney Island, Brooklyn at 2401 Neptune Avenue, less than a ten minute walk from Check’s home that was about a mile west of the train station.
Check graduated from the School of Industrial Art (SIA) in Manhattan. Below is the 1948 yearbook photograph with his name, address and major: “Check, Sidney; 2995 West 29 Street; Brooklyn, 26[?], New York; Cartooning.” Check lived on the same street and near his previous address. Check may have known Orlando, who was in the Class of 1945, and Torres, a 1951 graduate.
Check’s earliest comic book work dates to 1950 according to Who’s Who of American Comic Books 1928–1999 and 1951 in the Grand Comics Database. Against the Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood (2003) said “Working off and on with Wood since 1949, Check was a huge comic book fan while growing up in the Thirties and Forties. He held Wood, Williamson, [Roy] Krenkel and Frazetta in high regard and eventually became friends with these talented giants.”
Child of Tomorrow said “Check grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he and Frank Frazetta knew each other as boys in the same neighborhood.” In the 1930 census, Frazetta lived at 1203 Avenue Y in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn which was about three miles east of Check’s home. Frazetta’s address in the 1940 census was 2435 East 11th Street, about a block-and-a-half from his old home. Frazetta studied at Michele Falanga’s Brooklyn Academy of Fine Arts and did not mention Check as a student there. Frazetta attended Abraham Lincoln High School, in Brooklyn, when Check was at SIA. It’s not clear when and where Check and Frazetta first met as boys.
The New York City, Marriage License Indexes at Ancestry.com said a Sidney Check and Betty Green obtained a Brooklyn marriage license in 1952. The couple were granted an August 1957 divorce in Russell County, Alabama. There was no mention of Check’s marital status by his friends and colleagues.
Check’s name and address were recorded in a 1964 Brooklyn voter registration enrollment book: “Check Sidney C. 2995 W 29th st 1868762—D”.
Child of Tomorrow said “Sometime in the early 1970s, Torres bumped into Check on the street. ‘He told me he had a regular job and wasn’t involved in comics anymore. I never saw him again after that,’ Torres said.” Years later, some of Check’s possessions in a storage locker were sold.
According to the Social Security Death Index, Check passed away June 19, 2002. His last residence was Coney Island, Brooklyn at the 11224 ZIP Code.
(Next post on Monday: School of Industrial Art’s Comic Book Artists, 1939–1956)