William Ekgren was born in Oslo, Norway on June 6, 1918. He moved to Sweden when he was young, and after fighting in the "Winter War" between Finland and The Soviet Union in 1940. Returning to Norway in 1941, he ended up arriving mere days before the German Invasion.
Eventually working as a crewman on a ship bound for South America, he became ill with Malaria and as left behind at a hospital in Buenos Aires to recover. Once he recovered, he enlisted as a crewman on the American oil tanker 'Ben Brush' which was torpedoed by an Italian submarine and sank. He and most of the crew were rescued (save one man) and after almost 3 months in Brazil, the crew was transported to New York. After several more visits, in 1946 he decided to stay.
Ekgren made a living as an art instructor when he was not crewing ships, and in the Spring of 1952, at an outdoor art show in Greenwich Village, his stall was visited by a group of three men and one woman, who were impressed one of his works in particular, and they bought the publication rights to it for $100 dollars. One of those men was Archer St. John, founder of St. John Publications. The woman was Marion McDermott, editor for St. John. Ekgren reported that after they had the painting for a week, they returned it to him so that he could sell it again.
They came back twice more, each time buying the publication rights to one of his paintings, and then returning it to him later. Those three paintings became the covers of one issue of Strange Terrors, and two of Weird Horrors.
The paintings had not been commissioned as comic book works, but were merely three of the stranger works in his regular portfolio.
A review of an exhibition by William Ekgren in 1948.
Ekgren admitted later to suffering schizophrenia, but managed it, he claimed, through using it to fuel his creativity.
The artist is still alive and living in Sweden.