William Merle Allison was born January 27, 1880 in Ottawa, Kansas. His father, William George Allison, was born 1840 in Indiana. His mother, Caroline "Carrie" Elizabeth Richards, was born 1847 in Indiana. He was their only child. They lived at 203 East Street in Iola, KS. His father was a printer for the Allen County Probate Court.
He completed grammar school in Iola, Kansas. Afterwards he studied at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis from January 1902 until May of 1904. The school was located at 16th and Pennsylvania Streets.
In 1907 he studied at the Chicago Art Academy. Afterwards he worked as a staff artist in a Chicago advertising company.
His father died in 1909, after which he and his widowed mother moved to New York City. He worked at the George Butler Advertising Company, on 38th Street and Seventh Avenue in NYC.
During the 1910s his advertising art appeared in nationwide periodicals, such as St. Nicholas, Judge, and Boy's Life.
On September 12, 1918 he reported to his draft board and was recorded to be of medium height, medium build, with brown eyes and black hair. At that time he was thirty-eight years of age, so he did not serve in the Great War.
In 1921 he illustrated Heroes of Liberty by Grace Humphrey, published by Bobbs Merrill Co.
In 1925 he opened an art studio at 118 East 28th Street in Manhattan, where his business was listed and advertised in a nationwide artists directory.
In 1927 he illustrated The Authentic Life of Billy The Kid by Pat Garrett for Macmillan Publishing Co.
He drew many pen and ink story illustrations for pulp magazines, such as Ace High, Frontier Stories, Lariat Stories, The Lone Ranger, Short Stories, Western Round-Up, and Western Trails. These were often signed with only his initials, "W.M.A."
In 1930 he was fifty years old and unmarried. He lived with his widowed eighty-two-year-old mother in a prosperous home they owned at 8916 196th Street in Hollis, Queens, NY.
In May 1931 his work appeared in one of the first American comic books, The Comics Magazine.
On May 8, 1934 his mother died at the age of eighty-six. He sold the house in Queens and moved to 140 East 27th Street in Manhattan.
He also did the covers of the first Western comics, Star Ranger and Western Picture Stories of 1937. He drew comic books for Chesler Studio, Iger Studio, and Funnies Inc. He drew Ace & Deuce, Blood & Iron, and Rustler Hunt for Centaur Comics, Target, Chameleon, and Dan'l Flannel for Novelty Comics, Texas Tyler for Harve Comics, and Captain Bill of the Rangers for DC Comics.
On April 26, 1942 at the age of sixty-two he registered with the selective service as required by law, at which time he was recorded to be five-foot-six, 140 pounds, with brown eyes, and gray hair. His record also states, "wears glasses."
He spent weekends visiting an old friend, who was an advertising director, Robert Leavitt, at his upstate home in Kinderhook, NY.
His closest friend was Lucy Turner of 307 West 107th Street in Harlem on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
William M. Allison died in New York at the age of eighty-four on November 16, 1964.
© David Saunders 2011