Friday, October 16, 2009

R.I.P. George Tuska (1916-2009)

George Tuska was not Jack Kirby. George Tuska was not Will Eisner. George Tuska was not Siegel & Shuster. George Tuska was George Tuska. He was simply a talented artist who worked in comic books almost since its infancy. He contributed artwork for countless publishers on countless titles for decades. I'd be surprised if there were more than a small handful of artists who pencilled as many comic book pages as Tuska. His art was easily identifiable - very vibrant and subtlety powerful. Although many people I know who grew up in the 70s and 80s felt that his work was substandard - I've always thought the he was a very engaging storyteller who drew handsome men and lovely women. There was something very 'classic' about his artwork, and I probably could have (or should have) guessed that he was from a different generation than many of the artists I was raised on in the late 70s and early 80s.

It's not a crime not to be Jack Kirby, but many people tend to be overly critical of the non-Kirbys in funnybook land. This is unfair to those who served in the trenches, producing quality work in a timely manner year after year. I'll lump Tuska in with Dick Dillin, Don Heck and Mike Sekowsky here: artists that never really get their due, even though they helped to form the backbone of the industry. Tuska designed wonderful covers, he knew how to lay out a page, he kept the reader's eye moving and could tackle any and every genre. These are the things that we tend to forget as being the real artistry of comic book art. He was a handsome man who live and full and long life and, from everything I've heard, he was a true gentleman. From the jungles of Fiction House to the newspaper strip action of World's Greatest Super Heroes, George Tuska made a lasting contribution to the world of comic books. He should be celebrated and remembered fondly for that. In addition, the man drew my favourite cover of all-time (at left). Thanks for everything, Mr. Tuska.


Dan said...

I know you topped your 12 Days of Xmas list on CBR with that cover in December, but I'm almost positive I know it from sometime before that ... possibly as an example of a classic Golden Age cover, period.

Anyway, that's the image I think of when I think of Tuska the Golden Age artist as being, for whatever reasons, leagues beyond Tuska the Bronze Age artist (i.e. the version I'm familiar with).

While he wasn't a favorite of mine at the time those comics were coming out, the hell with it -- he was an extremely able, dependable craftsman who in his own right would be worth any 10 of the lazy, narcissistic "superstar" artists today who plague comics today.

Bret Taylor said...

One of the best, in my opinion. Distinctive style, masterful storytelling, great anatomy and body language.

He'll definitely be missed.

Aaron Bias said...

George Tuska was a very good artist and he will be sorely missed. And though I love Jack Kirby's work, I am amazed how overlooked and under appreciated Don Heck is.

benday-do/craig said...

Scott, that was simply a lovely rememberance of a wonderful man in whom we all might find something to admire. I thank you. Craig.

HannibalCat said...

George Tuska was one of my formative Marvel artists. Along with John Romita and Jack Kirby his was the art that I first saw for a particular character; in this case Iron Man. His version of the armour has always been my favourite - the proper armour, for me. He was an extremely talented artist and it is very sad to think he will not be drawing any more.