George Tuska, R.I.P.

Tony Isabella is reporting that long-time comics artist George Tuska has passed away yesterday at age 93.

Another piece of my childhood has vanished. I first encountered George’s work when he replaced Gene Colan as artist on Iron Man and then stayed with the book for years. A versatile artist with a distinct style, you knew you were looking at a page of his work. His real people looked like real people and his action sequences moved with power. While never a graceful artist, he was a natural one, adept at the demands of the story regardless of genre.

It was many years later before I learned George really made his name on the crime comics of the late 1940s, including Crimes does not Pay. He vanished from comics for most of the 1950s and early 1960s, working in comic strips, notably Scorchy Smith and then taking over Buck Rogers until it folded, which led him to Marvel.

George drifted to DC in the late 1970s and did the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes comic strip in addition to runs on World’s Finest Comics, Challengers of the Unknown and various other DC properties until changing tastes reduced demand for his work and he retired to New Jersey, producing commissions and making occasional appearances.

I never got to know George, mostly because he rarely traveled into New York. By the time I was at DC, George had lost most of his hearing. When I wanted to commission Who’s Who pages, I dealt with his pleasant wife, Dot, who would accept on his behalf. The work always came in on time and was exactly what was request – a true pro.

Most recently, I read his introduction to the latest Marvel Masterwork Iron Man volume and wished he spoke a bit more about what it was like back then. Now we’ll never know.

6 comments

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  • I remember one time that George was in the office (when his hearing problems were common knowledge) and one of the editors was pretty much yelling his comments as he was going over the art George had brought in. Finally, George said to him, “Why are you shouting? I’m not deaf, you know.”

  • Fred Bittick

    I fondly remember George’s Iron Man work as my introduction to him. Iron Man has always been my favorite Marvel character and I loved the artwork in it. Seeing his name in the credits of a book meant I was going to buy the book. It’s a suitably gray and dreary day for me to hear this news.

    RIP, Mr. Tuska, and thank you for the many hours of enjoyment you’ve given me, now and in my youth.

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  • Sheldon Wiebe

    As a kid, I always enjoyed the work of two artists: Mike Sekowsky and George Tuska. They both drew people who looked like people – people who crumpled into a heap when struck; people who felt relatable.

    Of the two, I preferred Tuska’s layouts and, let’s call it tact. Sekowsky’s characters ofter seemed overwrought [appropriate for something like Justice Leage of America with its over-the-top villains], while Tuska’s were dialed back a bit, but seemed to have more inner tension.

    I guess my first look at Tuska’s work was his Buck Rogers stuff in 1959 [I was eight]. He may not have been as realistic as Alex Raymond on Flash Gordon, but I believed in the characters in Buck Rogers.

    I still recall, as vividly as when I first saw it, a villain threatening Rogers with an ancient six-gun which had physical bullets that would not be stopped by Buck’s defensive force field – and the way the ancient weapon backfired, destroying itself [and, probably, the villain’s gun hand and forearm].

    There aren’t too many artists who equalled the impact of the frame, in my memory.

    I join Mr. Bittick in thanking him for many hours of enjoyment/entertainment his work provided me.

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