Introduced to the editors by Bob Kane, a friend of Arnold's brother, Drake started at DC writing scripts for Batman, Showcase-Tommy Tomorrow, and My Greatest Adventure. Drake also created Stanley and His Monster, a long-running feature in the Fox and the Crow magazine, which he scripted while at DC. He also wrote issues of Marvel Comics' X-Men and Fantastic Four in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and created The Guardians of the Galaxy with artist Gene Colan. Drake is also notable for writing It Rhymes with Lust, perhaps the first American graphic novel ever published, in 1950, with Matt Baker, the first African-American comic book artist to gain prominence in mainstream comics.
In the late 1960s, Drake suddenly found his writing assignments at DC growing sparse, without explanation from his editors. Coincidentally or not, this was on the heels of Drake having served as a spokesman for many of the company's writers in their bid to acquire better page rates and medical insurance...a move which DC's management grimly viewed as an effort to unionize the writers. Many believed that Drake and several other longtime writers (such as Gardner Fox and Bill Finger) were punished with less work as a result of these efforts.
Drake was also notable during his tenure at DC Comics for writing running story lines for the Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis humor comics. DC Comics halted production on those titles shortly after he went to Marvel Comics in the late 1960s.
In the 1970s, Drake wrote several issues of Little Lulu for Gold Key Comics (he drew storyboards for Little Lulu, drawing the pages as they would appear, in contrast to his straight script work at DC Comics, where he collaborated with many legendary Silver Age artists such as Carmine Infantino, Bob Oksner and Bruno Premiani). He also wrote O.G. Whiz, Star Trek,Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Starstream: Adventures in Science Fiction and Welcome Back Kotter during his time at Gold Key.
In 2005, Mr. Drake was given the first annual Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comics Writing. It was, in a way, a lifetime achievement award for the thousands of comics he had written since 1950 at St. John, DC Comics, Marvel Comics and Gold Key Comics.
He received several awards for his comics work, including the 1967 Alley Award for Best Full-Length Story ("Who's Been Lying in My Grave?" in Strange Adventures #205 with Carmine Infantino), the 1967 Alley Award for Best New Strip ("Deadman" with Carmine Infantino in Strange Adventures), the 1999 Inkpot Award at the San Diego Comic-Con and the 2008 Eisner Award at the San Diego Comic-Con.
Most recently, Drake's work was featured in a book entitled, Growing Older Without Growing Old: The Art of Ageing, where he published several single-frame comics from his latest creation, The Goldens' Age. His brother, noted songwriter Ervin Drake, also contributed to the book.
Drake wrote the screenplay for the 1964 horror film The Flesh Eaters, which he also produced and directed. He also wrote the screenplay for "Who Killed Teddy Bear," a 1966 release starring Sal Mineo and Juliet Prowse.
Mr. Drake also wrote lyrics for several musicals, notably co-writing G&S, or the Oils of Araby, with brother Ervin Drake, an acclaimed songwriter whose credits include It Was A Very Good Year. Drake also wrote lyrics for two children's musicals, Smart Aleck (a biography of Alexander Graham Bell) and You'll Never Get It Off the Ground (a retelling of the story of the Wright Brothers' first flight).
He wrote the book for a musical entitled Harry Warren's Lullaby of Broadway. Shortly after the appearance of that musical off-Broadway, the better-known musical based on Harry Warren's music, 42nd Street, opened on Broadway.