Skip to main content

George Davis Wilson Jr.

PFC in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co A


Born 1921 in NY, Died 1998


County of residence at enlistment: Niagara County, NY
Other residence(s): Buffalo, NY; Richmond, VA; Kenmore, NY; Hollis, NY; Hastings-On-Hudson, NY
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: unskilled foundry occupations, n.e.c.
College education before the war: Pratt 3 years
Notes: Rank per Army final payment worksheet
Source: Photo of 603rd Company A, 13 May 1945; Teddy Katz Co A Roster; portrait of George Wilson by Joseph Mack, fellow Ghost Army artist, courtesy of his son Steve Mack

George Wilson was born on August 2, 1921 in Buffalo, NY, the second of two children. His father was an architect.

In an interview conducted shortly before his death, he described his career path. "I knew what I wanted to be when I was 16. . . . Even when I was a little kid, I used to get up on a Saturday morning and sit on the couch and draw on the back of the dust jackets the rental library gave out."

George's mother died when he was 16, and soon afterwards he moved to Richmond, VA to live with his older sister and study at the Richmond Art School. In about 1939, George moved to Brooklyn, NY to study art for three years at the Pratt Institute. He registered for the draft on February 15, 1942, during his time at Pratt, and enlisted on September 29. Like many other Pratt art students, he was assigned to the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion, and saw service in Europe during the war.

He was discharged on October 21, 1945 at Camp Sibert, AL, and returned to New York. Over the next fifty plus years, he worked as a commercial illustrator for ad agencies and for publishing houses such as Dell Publications, Bombay Boomerang, Jove, Avon, Western Publishing's Gold Key, and Harlequin Books. He produced illustrations for books, such as The Hardy Boys Series and Wild West and romance paperbacks. "From '83 to '92, almost 10 years, I was doing paperback romances for Harlequin. Funny thing . . . I thought I'd get tired of doing them . . . It's just one clinch after another . . . but would you believe I never did. It paid pretty well."

He began his work as a cover painter for Dell Comics in 1955. He produced 121 Tarzan covers, 13 Phantom covers, 20 Twilight Zone covers, 24 Ripley's Believe It or Not covers, 32 Star Trek covers, 54 Space Family Robinson covers, and many others.

Later in his career he did work for a World War II magazine and one called Wild, Wild West. He described a painting he did of the Battle of the Bulge "with a couple of Americans moving up through the woods trying to sneak up on the Germans. I tried to hook on something particular to make it more interesting than an ordinary battle scene."

A 2022 post in the Warehouse Find blog described his work as follows: "His illustrations featured realistically rendered people (males mostly) doing battle against some kind of foe, be it human, animal, robot, dinosaur, or some mythical creature. There were also covers with people being menaced by ghosts, monsters, or aliens. He did covers depicting scenes from conventional war to outer space battles. . . . Wilson's covers were all full color painting, not line art with color fill."

He produced art in pen and ink, as well as acrylics and oils. The contracts for most of his comic book art required that the illustrations be unsigned, so the general public never knew the man behind the work. The habit became so ingrained that he frequently forgot to sign commissioned work when he could have done so.

Not much else is known about George's life, outside his artwork. He married Elizabeth (Judy) Putnam Low, a New York City school teacher, on December 18, 1971. At the time he was living in Hollis, NY; later moving to Hastings-on-Hudson. He was also a competitive rifle shooter and an active member of the Society of Illustrators.

George died on December 7, 1998 and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, NY.


1925 NY state census

1930 census

1942 draft card

1942 enlistment record

1971 wedding announcement in Verona-Cedar Grove Times (NJ),0.34440053,0.754862,0.49010843&xid=3398&_gl=1*v35km9*_gcl_au*MTQ5NzYxMTQxMy4xNjk0ODEzMzMx*_ga*MjA0MDkxODIxLjE2OTQ4MTMzMzI.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*NTY3MDQ5NmUtYmRhNS00ODgyLTljNzItZjhhNTdlMjM2ZGU3LjMuMS4xNjk1NDE0Mjg2LjE4LjAuMA..*_ga_LMK6K2LSJH*NTY3MDQ5NmUtYmRhNS00ODgyLTljNzItZjhhNTdlMjM2ZGU3LjMuMS4xNjk1NDE0Mjg2LjAuMC4w&_ga=2.126341773.165626407.1695414186-204091821.1694813332

1993 US Public Records index

1998 Social Security applications and claims index

1998 Find a Grave record*y9s8y3*_gcl_au*MTY5NDk3NDIxLjE2OTI0NjcwMjg.*_ga*MzE3NDkzMTk2LjE2OTI0NjcwMjk.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*Zjg2MjBiZjYtMWUzYy00MTkyLThiNTYtYmYzNzFlN2RhYTg1LjEzLjEuMTY5MzUxNzQ2OC41NS4wLjA.

2002 interview by Ed Rhoades, entitled "The Phantom Painter," appearing in Comic Book Artist 22, October 2002

2022 Warehouse Find blog; article entitled "George Wilson, The Great Cover Painter," by Jim "Dr. Dim" Fitzsimons

Entry in Lambiek Comiclopedia

2023 (September 3) GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet from researcher Steve Keeley

Please Support Our Ongoing Efforts

The soldiers of The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Ghost Army Legacy Project is ensuring that these men and their accomplishments are never forgotten.

Give via credit card by clicking the yellow “Donate” button.

Or, send a check to:

Ghost Army Legacy Project
1305 S. Michigan Ave. #1104
Chicago, IL 60605

All donations are tax-deductible!