Born Earl Kulp Bergey on August 26, 1901 in Philadelphia. His father was a band director. In 1919 he began to work as an artist for a Philadelphia newspaper publisher. From 1921 to 1926 he attended night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and in 1927 he began a comic strip called Deb Days for The Philadelphia Ledger.
His first pulp magazine covers were for the spicy pin-up titles, such as Gay Book, Pep, La Paree, Bedtime, Snappy, and Brief Stories.