Friday, October 16, 2009

RIP George Tuska.

Above, four pages (actually, the last four- apologies if I've spoiled a FORTY YEAR OLD COMIC STORY) from Iron Man #11, cover dated March of 1969, which featured the resolution of a two-part thriller that pitted the Armored Avenger against the Mandarin yet again. Script by the great Archie Goodwin, inks by the great Johnny Craig...and pencil art by the late GEORGE TUSKA, who has died at the age of 93, according to various sources around the Web. These four pages illustrate what I thought Tuska did best, at least in my experience with his work- dynamic action, with expressive faces and gestures, and a grounded, not too flashy, but still visually unique style. Love panels 2 & 3 of that first page.

Personal reminisce department: This Iron Man run was the first time I remember being impressed by his art- I remember a short fill-in stint on Avengers earlier in 1968, and perhaps he had work in one of the Warren magazines as well, I'm not sure. He wasn't a favorite of mine, sorry to say, although I was never unhappy to see his art in any comic I chose to take home. I remember sitting in the hairdressers', reading the comic above while waiting impatiently for my Mom to get her hair done...I had probably just turned, or was soon to turn, nine years old at the time. For some reason, I kinda lost interest in Iron Man comics by the end of the year; I think I only bought three more issues. Not Tuska's fault, though. He went on to do many more issues of Iron Man, as well as the early issues of Luke Cage, Hero for Hire and many other jobs for both Marvel and DC. It wasn't until just recently that I became aware of his pre-60's Marvel efforts; what I've seen looked very good- no better than many of his peers at EC and places like that, but certainly better than the run of the mill back then. The style that I became familiar with as a kid didn't develop until much later.

Anyway, that's pretty much all I have to say about the guy. He was a hell of an artist. Don't know what Marvel would have done without him.

ETA: Evan Dorkin has an amusing, yet completely appropriate obit up in which he brings up a couple of points I meant to make but as so often is the case forgot until I read it in posts by better writers- Tuska's habit (in his 60's-70's work, anyway) of drawing big teeth on most of his characters, as well as his foreshortening tendencies, especially when drawing limbs (or lack thereof).

Others: Tom Spurgeon, Mark Evanier. And in this case, anyway, the Onion A.V. Club is full of shit.

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