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TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Origins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 George . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Dorothy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Marriage and Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 The Golden Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Eisner-Iger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Will Eisner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Nick Cardy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Harry “A” Chesler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 Fiction House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29 Jim Mooney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 World War II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Standard / Better . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Lev Gleason . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Marvel Comics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Timely . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 John Romita . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 The House of Ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 John Romita Part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Captain America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 Roy Thomas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 The X-Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 The Incredible Hulk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 Marie Severin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Daredevil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Gene Colan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 The Invincible Iron Man . . . . . . . . . . .60 Roy Thomas Part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 Gene Colan Part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63 Mike Esposito . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64 Bob Layton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67 Sub-Mariner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 Jim Mooney Part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71 Luke Cage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72 Spider-Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 John Romita Part III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 Roy Thomas Part III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74 Heroes and Villains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 The Magazines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 Mike Esposito Part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 Roy Thomas Part IV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Sketchagraphs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 DC Comics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81 Paul Levitz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 Romance Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84 Challengers of the Unknown . . . . . . .85 Teen Titans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 Nick Cardy Part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87 The Legion of Super-Heroes . . . . . . . .88 Justice League of America . . . . . . . . . .89 Masters of the Universe . . . . . . . . . . . .90 Green Lantern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91 Horror Stories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93

The Other Guys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94 Simon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95 Joe Simon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95 Archie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97 Dell / Gold Key . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .97 Harvey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .98 Tower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .98 Warren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99 The Strips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101 Scorchy Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102 Buck Rogers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103 The World’s Greatest Superheroes . . .105 Paul Levitz Part II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105 “Retirement” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .108 Fan Mail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109 Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109 Nick Cardy Part III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110 WildStorm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110 Today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111 Gallery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113 Afterword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119 Index of Tuska Art . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120 BONUS: Inking Tuska . . . . . . . . . . . . . .126 BONUS: 1997 Interview . . . . . . . . . . . .131


Digital Edition Exclusives On Pages 126 & 131


George and Dorothy Tuska are classic examples of what Tom Brokaw has called “The Greatest Generation.” Children of immigrants and humble beginnings, both George and Dorothy overcame adversity to achieve the American dream—a steady income, a comfortable home and a loving family.

George George Tuska as a young boy George Tuska is a gentle giant. At his peak, George was 6 feet 2 inches tall. He lost his father at an early age and the strength his mother showed was an inspiration to her son. He is quiet and pensive and universally well liked. He is a family man who was fortunate enough to be able to do something he loved for a living. George started drawing eighty years ago and he is still drawing, some say better than ever. We talked with George about his background and family and foray in the field of comic art: Cassell: What is your full name? When and where were you born?

In time, they moved to Connecticut. Once she was in Hartford, she bought property. When I was a kid, my mother worked for an electrical company. She had some relatives in Patterson, New Jersey and we went to visit one time. While my mother was in Patterson, she looked around and decided to set up a restaurant. She did her own cooking and all that. She was a good cook. I used to make out the menus. There were two shifts in the restaurant. She would get as much sleep as she could, get up early in the morning for the first shift, take a nap before the next shift, and stayed until about ten o’clock at night. There was a silk factory nearby. There was no other restaurant there. All these people, when they were able to get out or have time off, they would come over. Cassell: What about your father?

Tuska: George Tuska. I was born in Hartford, Connecticut on April 26, 1916. Cassell: What was your mother’s name? Tuska: Anna Onisko. She was eighteen years old when she emigrated from Russia to New York City, where she met my father.

Peter and George Tuska on the beach in Miami


Tuska: My father was from Russia, too. His name was Harry. In Hartford, he was a foreman at an automobile tire company. He passed away when I was fourteen. He had bleeding ulcers. That’s where I got them. Fortunately, the kids don’t have it. My mother later remarried.

Cassell: And what about your brother and sister? Tuska: My brother was Peter and my sister was Mary. My brother was oldest and my sister was in between; I am the youngest. They were born in New York. Mary had a son. Afterwards, the doctor warned her not to have any more children, but somehow, it happened and she didn’t make it— the child and my sister. She passed away. We were very close. She lived here in Jersey. We lost touch with my nephew— never heard from him. Cassell: How did you get interested in art? Tuska: My first interest in art was looking at my brother’s pulp magazine illustrations. Then when I was about eight years old, I had an appendix operation in the hospital, and after the operation, when I was able to walk around, an elderly patient called me over. He was in bed. He showed me how to draw Uncle Sam, cowboys and Indians. That was popular in those days. I was fascinated with the way he penciled them. He gave the drawings to me. As soon as I got out of the hospital,

I went home and went to the kitchen table and started drawing. Cassell: Was anyone else in the family artistic? Tuska: No. I was the only artist. Cassell: Did your mother ever discourage you from drawing? Tuska: Never. Whatever I did, my mother loved me. She didn’t tell me, “Do this, do that.” I was free. Of course, she was strict, a very strict person. I felt close to her.

When George was young, he would travel with his mother to a farm ten miles north of Hartford, where they would pick tobacco. It was a thin, fine leaf, used for the outside wrapping on cigars. What

Preliminary sketch of a cowboy by Tuska

Hand studies



One of his earliest contributions to the Golden Age was Shark Brodie 19

Chronicling the complete output of George Tuska during the Golden Age is a challenge, for several reasons. One, of course, is the understandable difficulty of recollecting precisely what transpired almost sixty years ago. You’ll note, too, that the recollections of George and his peers sometimes differ. For my part, I can rarely recall what I had

“Spike Marlin” page from Speed Comics

for lunch the previous day. Even more difficult, though, is discerning all of the contributions of this prolific artist. At the same time that studios were producing artwork for various publishers, the publishers themselves sometimes contracted

with freelance artists directly. For example, Tuska provided artwork to Fawcett both through the Chesler studio as well as freelance. While not representing a precise chronology, hopefully this account illustrates the depth and breadth of his contribution to the Golden Age of comics. In the early days of comic books, when they transitioned from reprints of newspaper strips to original stories, several studios were founded that specialized in producing finished comic book artwork—penciled, inked and lettered. Publishers would contract with these studios to buy complete stories for publication in their comic books. A studio artist might work on a story for Fawcett one day and a story for Street & Smith the next day. Some studios, like the one run by Harry “A” Chesler, also published their own comic books. Like many artists who got their start in the era that would become known as “The Golden Age,” George Tuska began his comic book career at perhaps the most famous studio of them all—the one run by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger.

Eisner-Iger In 1936, Will Eisner invested $15 and formed a partnership with Jerry Iger. Eisner was the creative force behind the team. Iger was the businessman. The idea was to have an in-shop staff to create new comic book stories, start to finish. Eisner is quoted as having said that the shop ran like a “Roman galley.” The studio produced comics for a variety of publishers, including Fox, Fiction House, Harvey and Quality Comics. After splitting with Iger, Eisner would go on to create the 20

character for which he is probably best known—the Spirit. We talked with George about working at the Eisner-Iger studio:

Cassell: How did you get started with Will Eisner? Tuska: I went to art school at the same time I was doing costume jewelry design. I put in an application with a professional agency in New York City. I told them I could do cartooning, drawing. A week later, I got a call from Eisner-Iger, asking me to submit some samples. I brought the samples to Eisner. He said, “That’s pretty good, but we don’t do that stuff.” He showed me a comic book and said, “This is what we want.” I asked, “Is it okay for me to try it?” “Sure” he said, “Go ahead.” I went home and made a page—a whole story on one page. When I brought it back, he bought it for $5. He said, “We’d like to have you work for us.” That’s how I got started. That was my first professional work. I gave up the school. They kept me pretty busy, day and night. Iger would give me something to take home, besides the office work, to bring back tomorrow. I made $10 per week. Cassell: How was Will Eisner to work with? Tuska: We both were equal, in a way— common sense and all that, you know. I got along mostly with Eisner, being that Iger was the boss. Eisner was the editor and art director. I liked him. We talked about a lot of things, Eisner and I. I would go into his office and talk about a story—“Shark Brodie” or “Spike Marlin” or something like that. And he would give me ideas and I would give him some ideas and he would say, “That’s pretty

good.” He would leave it up to me to write a story and he would check it out, see what could be corrected or see if I could add more. It went along for quite a while working like that. It was good working with him. I didn’t mind so much the hard work. I was glad to be doing something I had looked forward to for so long, illustration or something in the art form.

“Zanzibar the Magician” from Mystery Men Comics

Cassell: So you actually wrote your own scripts at Eisner-Iger? Tuska: “Shark Brodie,” “Zanzibar the Magician.” It was half and half. I plotted the story with Eisner. As time went by, Iger kept coming in and watching everything that was going on. I didn’t mind that much. In the very beginning it was Bob Powell, Lou Fine, and Eisner had his brother and then it was Eisner and Iger. It was a small place on 42nd and 3rd Avenue. Later, it expanded. We moved

Panels from Science Comics #1


Will Eisner

up to 44th Street and 3rd Avenue. And we got more fellas—Charles Sultan, John Celardo, Nick Cardy, Toni Blum and some others. An artist would have three or four stories to do a month. Small stories— four pages, five pages, something like that. All of us had that. Nothing too popular like we have today. Then, somebody gets up and leaves. He has about five stories. Iger would take the stories and give them out to each one of us. It’s more for me, it’s more for this guy, it’s more for that guy, to get done each month. Then another guy quits. Same thing again—Iger doles out this one, this one, this one. He would come by and want me to do it faster. Deadlines were everything with him. Finally, I had it. I went with the fellas out to lunch. After

lunch, I was standing there and the fellas looked around and said, “Are you coming up?” And I said, “Yeah, I’ll be right up.” I never came back. Cassell: So that was the last time you worked for Eisner? Tuska: After Chesler, I worked for Eisner alone. Eisner had a studio of his own in Tudor City. That’s where I did “Uncle Sam” and some other things. I also penciled The Spirit.

George has said that one of his fondest memories of the early days was discussing story lines and ideas for characters with Will Eisner when he first started drawing.

Will Eisner “Shark Brodie” splash page

Will Eisner is an icon in the field of comic art. He defied the odds and numerous skeptics to help found an enduring medium that has brought joy to young and old alike. Just prior to his death, we talked with Will about the “Golden Age” and Tuska: Cassell: Do you recall when George first came to work for you? Eisner: He came to work for me in 1936, 1937 in the Eisner-Iger Studios. I was the owner of the company and George came to work as a member of the staff. We had a writer on staff and she would write the scripts, as I remember it. Now, this was a long time ago. You’ve got to understand. My memory is burdened by years and years of distance. I haven’t seen or talked to George in many years. Cassell: He is doing great. He is 88 now. He plays golf a couple of times a month. Eisner: Oh, he was a magnificently structured human being. He was the handsomest guy in the shop. (laughter) Cassell: How did you find George to work with? Eisner: Oh, a wonderful guy. Very, very eager to please. Easy to work with. He understood what I wanted him to do and he did it well. He was good. A good man. I enjoyed working with him. He was an easy man to work with in the shop. He was very cooperative. Cassell: I noticed he did a lot of different kinds of strips for you.


“U.S. Rangers” panel from Rangers Comics

Cassell: How long were you in the service? Tuska: Almost a year. The sergeant came over and said, “@*&%!” I said, “What’s the matter?” “They’re going to take you out.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “You’re going home.” I didn’t want to show him that I was happy. I said, “Really? Awww.” Cassell: They didn’t want you to go? Tuska: No. Because I was drawing pictures for them. Cassell: What kind of pictures? Tuska: (George just smiles and laughs)

George used to feel bad watching the guys dragging back in after a march, dogged tired, while he had been inside working. George wasn’t in any action and he was honorably discharged. Unfortunately, no photographs and few drawings from his service during World War II still exist. But all was not in vain. Later in his career, George would have an opportunity to illustrate war comics for several publishers, bringing to bear his knowledge of artillery learned drawing plans during the war.

Standard / Better Ned Pines started Standard Publishing in 1932 after graduating college, and he made a name for himself publishing pulp magazines. One of his editors was none other

than Mort Weisinger, who would later become a fixture at DC Comics. Standard—which also published under the imprints of Better and Nedor—produced its first comic book in 1939. Best Comics #1 was an oversized magazine that had to be read sideways. It was not well received. Pines abandoned the experiment and switched to a standard comic format with Thrilling Comics, the first issue of which featured a character called “Doc Strange,” of no relation to the Sorcerer Supreme that would later bear his name. Strange was a hit and was followed in subsequent Standard comics by heroes with names like the “Black Terror” and “Fighting Yank.” George recalls his relatively brief tenure with Standard:

Cassell: How did you get on at Standard?

Circa 1950s painting of a soldier by Tuska

Tuska: Mike Peppe was working at Standard. Mike told me I ought to come over. I had a space at Standard. I was there a very short while. Cassell: So you worked under contract with Standard? Tuska: No contracts. Cassell: But you got paid a salary? 33


Tales of Suspense commission by Tuska in ink and wash



Sketch of Timely publisher Martin Goodman

The Atlas logo appeared on the cover of early Timely comics

Tuska illustration from one of Goodman’s men’s magazines


The origins of Marvel Comics lie with a company called Timely. Timely Comics was run by Martin Goodman, who also owned his own distribution company, Atlas Magazines. Timely was founded in 1939 and they were not unlike their many competitors at the time. If one company put out a comic book that proved successful, then every other company would put out a book with a similar character, hoping to capitalize on the craze. (This practice is still in vogue today with television networks.) The production process resembled a factory. The emphasis was frequently on quantity, rather than quality. At its peak, Timely was publishing some 75 titles a month. There were certainly exceptions. The premiere issue of Marvel Comics included the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, as well as Ka-Zar. In 1941, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created Captain America and Bucky. These characters enjoyed tremendous popularity during World War II, fueled by growing patriotism, as they battled against Hitler, the Axis powers and the fictional Red Skull.

George started doing freelance work for Timely Comics in the late Forties. While drawing for Timely, George worked on a variety of books, especially westerns. With titles like Arizona Kid, Black Rider, Gunhawk, Gunsmoke Western, Kid Colt Outlaw, Red Warrior, Tex Morgan, Texas Kid, Two-Gun Kid, Western Outlaws, and Wild Western, the comics conjured up exciting images of the old west. Owing in part to the enduring popularity of Tarzan, jungle comics were also abundant and George contributed to titles like Jungle Action, Jungle Tales, and Lorna the Jungle Girl. War comics remained a fairly strong seller, too, due in part to U.S. involvement in Korea. George illustrated Battle and

Marines in Battle. George typically inked his own pencils at Timely. At one point toward the mid-1950s, Goodman was persuaded that it would be more economical to farm out the distribution of his publications and so he closed the doors of Atlas and signed on with American News Company. Timing, as they say, is everything and Goodman had the misfortune to sign with ANC just before they folded. Goodman scrambled to find a new distributor. Within about a month, he was able to strike a deal with Independent News Company, but it came with a price. IND was also the distributor for DC (and owned by them) and they did not want to create undue competition, so they limited Goodman to 8 comic titles a month. Goodman had been running the “factory” full-steam to not only produce 75 titles a month, but to create a backlog of stories in reserve. With the new limit on distribution, Goodman found his revenue stream dramatically reduced and more than enough inventory. So, he let most of the staff go, with the exception of editor Stan Lee. Former Timely staffers grimace at this recollection, often referred to as “the purge.” Among those adversely affected was George Tuska. While working for Timely, George had formed a close friendship with Stan Lee, which would serve him well a decade later when George returned to the company, now called Marvel Comics. For the time being, though, George’s destiny lie in the funny pages.

John Romita Long-time Marvel Comics artist and Art Director John Romita, Sr., best known for his definitive work on Spider-Man, shared with us some of his recollections of Tuska and Timely. Aaron Sultan conducted the interview with John Romita.

Gunslingers in action in this “Gunhawk” splash page

Sultan: Do you remember when you were first exposed to George Tuska’s work? Romita: Yeah. I even remember the name of the feature. It was a strip called “Shark Brodie.” I can still see the splash theme with a guy—a sailor—with bellbottoms, wearing a T-shirt, overlooking a bay. When you’re ten years old and you’re reading comics, most of the stuff was so primitive that when you saw something with a little bit of quality, it immediately popped up and made itself noticeable. I immediately responded. The same response I had when Kirby’s Captain America came out, about the same time. Sultan: Did you know that it was George Tuska at the time or did you just know it was a good artist? Romita: I don’t know if I saw it signed or I came to know it as the issues came by or I may have seen his name later on. Or two years later I might have seen his name on something and recognized the style. All I remember is that I was aware of it. So I would follow “Shark Brodie,” even if I didn’t know the name of the artist.

John Romita


saw the shapes he used and the stuff Carmine Infantino used. I just used it, whatever tricks they used. Simplify the outline. Carmine once told me just keep the silhouette very simple, don’t make it ugly. Keep it graceful. And that was Jack Kirby’s trick. If you look at Jack Kirby’s stuff, his silhouettes are cardboard cutouts. But inside is all the power in the world. The simplicity of the outline makes the backgrounds easier. So I learned from everybody. From the time I was ten years old, I was learning how to draw comics. I used to draw comics everywhere when I was a kid, based on Joe Shuster and Jack Kirby and Alex Raymond and George Tuska.

Over his long tenure with Marvel Comics, George illustrated virtually every major inhabitant of the “Marvel Universe.” In the following pages, we review the main characters he drew, the contributions he made, and hear from his colleagues.

Captain America Much in the same way that Steve Rogers’ career as Captain America was reborn when he was discovered frozen in ice by the Avengers, so the career of George Tuska took on new life when he came back to work for Marvel Comics in the late 1960s. George had made a very meaningful contribution to the Golden Age of comics, but the Silver Age would prove to be his most historic, and prolific, period of artistic endeavor. George’s return to Marvel was actually a gradual one. In 1964, Tuska penciled and inked a backstory for one issue of Tales of Suspense that featured the Watcher, the enigmatic character who would later become a regular companion feature in the Silver Surfer. Stan Lee and the gang were riding high on the success of their new line of superheroes, among them a revitalized Captain America who had joined the ranks of the Avengers to once again battle the evil that threatened this country and the world. In 1965, Tuska stepped in to ink the pencils of the legendary Jack Kirby, who had defined the Golden and Silver Age incarnations of Captain America. Tuska inked five issues of Tales of Suspense, wherein Cap faced off against the Nazi minions of the Red Skull. In these issues, Kirby and Tuska introduced us to the robots of the Red Skull, called the Sleepers, for the very first time. Several years later, Tuska inked Kirby again in an “album issue” of Captain America, where Cap and Bucky’s past

adventures were related by Tony Stark through a series of flashbacks. The story featured some of the classic Golden Age villains as well as a retelling of the return of Captain America from issue #4 of the Avengers. Tuska returned to the book, then called Captain America and the Falcon, in the late 1970s to pencil yet another recap of the career of Steve Rogers and origin of Captain America. In 2001, the American Association of Comicbook Collectors (AACC) honored George Tuska for his contribution to the legacy of Captain America. The ninth annual awards dinner was held on July 21 in the Manchester Room of the Hyatt Regency San Diego. Among the other honorees were John Romita, Sr. and Gene Colan, both of whom also had memorable stints on Captain America. Also in attendance at the dinner were Carmine Infantino, Irwin Donnenfeld, Ramona Fradon, Sam Glanzman, Don Rosa, Julie Schwartz, Marie Severin and John Buscema, in what would be one of his last public appearances before his death. AACC Vice President and Dinner Chairman David Armstrong said “We are honored to have such great artists as our guests… all three guests were active in the Golden Age as well and, together, represent more than 150 years of work in the comic book business.” After George and Dorothy went up on stage to receive the Hall of Fame Award, Julie Schwartz got up from his table and helped

Tuska inks Jack Kirby’s pencils on Captain America

Stan welcomes George back in this caption from the Tales of Suspense Watcher story


George down from the dias. Julie chided him, “I’m older than you are.” We asked George about Captain America, Jack Kirby, and receiving recognition from the AACC: Cassell: When you inked Jack Kirby on Captain America, did you ink his pencils directly or were you working from a photostat? Tuska: Directly. Kirby’s work was penciled and that’s what I inked. He did real rough figures. With me, when it comes to figures, I still do good figures, but I don’t concentrate much on backgrounds. But I really like backgrounds. Whenever I see photographs in magazines that give me ideas for backgrounds, I try to cut them out. I’m still searching for something different. Not what the comic books have today. I want something of my own, something different. Cassell: Was it easy to follow Jack’s pencils? Tuska: Oh, yeah. He was clear. His pencils were very clear. Cassell: In 2001, you went to San Diego to get the Hall of Fame Award, particularly because of your work on Captain America. You and John Romita and Gene Colan. Tuska: Yeah. I did a Captain America commission and they put it up for auction. In fact, I did two of them. Preliminary sketch of Captain America and the Red Skull

Cassell: How did you feel about being recognized for your work at that awards dinner? Did you enjoy that? George: (George grimaces) I didn’t want to get up and make a speech. I didn’t care much for it for some reason— I don’t know what it was. I tried to have a good time. Dorothy: He’s very humble.

The Avengers

A classic scene re-envisioned by Tuska 46

It was somehow fitting that since George had an opportunity to work on Captain America, that he also got a shot at the Avengers. To capitalize on their existing stable of heroes (and recognizing the success of their Direct Competitor’s Justice League), Marvel launched the Avengers in 1963. The initial team consisted of the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man and the Wasp, but the roster would change regularly over the years. George joined the Marvel Bullpen on a full time basis in 1967, following the demise of Buck Rogers. One of his first assignments was to ink John Buscema’s pencils on several Avengers stories, including a cross-over with the X-Men and the second appearance of the Masters of Evil with Ultron. George also penciled and inked the issue that introduced the new Black Knight. In the Seventies, George took over the penciling for several issues that included the origin of the Vision and recruitment of the Beast. George also contributed to several Avengers covers.

Cassell: When you were doing production type stuff and corrections, do you recall having to do much correction work on Iron Man? Severin: No. I had to do a lot of touch up stuff on artwork—not mistakes, but little things—but I don’t remember a major problem with his work at all. He had a great line. Nice pen line, pencil line. And good action. The only time, if anything would have happened with George’s work, was sometimes the editor might want to change something. That would happen with just about anybody. Stan would sometimes say, “Oh, I want to change this because next issue it’s going to be a story on the subway, so let’s take that panel out about the subway and switch this or change this around, so he’s going to New York instead of Chicago.” You might change a panel or shift a sign in a panel or something like that. Minor things. Stan, in the early days, had a hand in a lot of it, but as things got bigger and bigger and bigger, he needed help and that’s why he got in Roy. Roy was top notch and Stan needed help with somebody who could dive in. No, George was not a problem. He could draw and he’s a storyteller and he was very efficient. Cassell: One of the books you were famous for was Not Brand Ecch. Have you ever seen George’s humorous interpretation of the Marvel characters? Recreation of cover from Iron Man #9 featuring the Jade Giant

Severin: I love his style. It is a shame we can’t see him doing more humor. His stuff is snappy, stylish and fun to look at. Top notch cartooning.

Tuska went on to illustrate the Hulk in several other books, including the Defenders and a guest appearance in Iron Man.


Detail from Defenders #57 56

Matt Murdock was still a boy when he had the misfortune of coming face to face, literally, with a drum of radioactive material (the bane of so many Silver Age super-heroes) while trying to save a blind man from an oncoming truck. Murdock lost his sight, but gained heightened senses of hearing, smell and touch, as well as a sort-of radar sense that enabled him to distinguish people and objects. Murdock studied to be an attorney, but when his father was murdered, he trained in acrobatics and adopted a costume that was designed to strike fear into his enemies, while exhibiting none himself. Daredevil first appeared in 1964, illustrated by Bill Everett. John Romita was later tasked with penciling Mr. Murdock

gave me a whole bunch of comic books of Spider-Man. He wanted me to think about it. It didn’t work out.

Heroes and Villains George Tuska did a lot of “utility” work for Marvel, filling in wherever he was needed. As a result, George has made some brief, but noteworthy, contributions to a variety of Marvel titles, illustrating some classic heroes and villains. George commented on his versatility: Cassell: If you were doing a new character, how did you know how to draw it? Black Widow Tuska: Usually, I copied the muscles and the body and then I put the armor on it or whatever costume, depending on what kind of hero or villain it was. Like Doctor Doom. There’s not much muscle or anything of his own that you can see, but somehow the figure moves like a human being. Cassell: You drew almost every major character for Marvel. You were all over the place. Tuska: Yeah, I know, that’s why I’m famous. (laughter)

Doctor Strange

Commission of Doctor Strange


Stephen Strange was a gifted, but arrogant, surgeon whose hands were injured in an accident. Seeking a cure that would enable him to resume his career, he sought out the Ancient One in Tibet, who taught him instead to become the Master of the Mystic Arts. The good doctor got his start in the pages of the split book, Strange Tales, but went on to earn a solo title that enjoyed a good run. He remains a mainstay of the Marvel Universe and was even the subject of a mediocre made-for-TV movie starring Peter Horton. Tuska only illustrated one issue of Strange Tales,

which was later reprinted in Giant-Size Doctor Strange.

Doctor Doom Victor Von Doom may have damaged his face during a laboratory experiment, but the damage to his psyche was far more severe. Doom clothed himself in armor, armed himself with sophisticated weapons and set about to wreak havoc on anyone who stood in his way, especially his arch-nemesis Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic. Doom first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four, but he later received solo coverage as one half of the split book Astonishing Tales. He also partnered with the Sub-Mariner for a couple of years in the pages of Super-Villain Team-Up. Tuska penciled a couple of issues of each title.

Shanna the She-Devil Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, was an enduring (and visually endearing) character during the Golden Age. In 1972, Marvel decided to launch a similar character called Shanna the She-Devil. Given his prior association with Fiction House, it is clear why they chose George Tuska to illustrate the first issue of Shanna. To add to its appeal, Jim Steranko did the cover artwork. Alas, in spite of the talent rendering her adventures, her series proved to be short-lived, cancelled after only five issues.

Ghost Rider One of the Champions, Ghost Rider, has actually been moderately successful in his own titles. Ghost Rider was initially designed to capitalize on the success of popular stunt driver Evel Knievel. The original story featured Johnny Blaze, a stunt cyclist who had the gift (or perhaps a curse) to transform into the flaming Ghost Rider, a transformation he ultimately controlled at will. Although a bizarre premise, the character has endured through the years. A Ghost Rider feature film is under development. Tuska illustrated a handful of Ghost Rider issues during the third year of its initial run.

The Champions Arguably the most bizarre super-hero team that Marvel ever conceived, second


DC advertising art by Tuska for the World's Greatest Superheroes newspaper strip 81

Detective Comics was started by Harry Donnenfeld and Jack Liebowitz. In 1937, Donnenfeld and Liebowitz partnered with Major Wheeler-Nicholson, who owned National Allied Publications, and the following year they bought out his share in the company. Major WheelerNicholson had been the first to publish comic books with all new material. The resulting company was called National Comics (which would later be changed to National Periodical Publications.) However, then and now, the company would be best known as DC. In 1938, DC launched Action Comics. The first issue featured a story provided by M.C. Gaines at the McClure Syndicate that had previously been rejected by numerous publishers. The story introduced a superhero created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster called “Superman.” From there, DC went on to create icons in the comic book industry like Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and many more. With the success of Superman, DC Comics set the stanThe DC character George illustrated most was Superman

Paul Levitz

dard for everyone else to follow and set in motion a revolution in entertainment. During the Silver Age (and beyond), the DC approach to creating comics differed significantly from that of Marvel. Each of the DC books was assigned an editor, who tightly controlled the content and format of the books. DC artists were given complete scripts to work from, explaining how to illustrate each panel, with little regard to continuity between the books. DC saw tremendous growth during the Silver Age as well, but it was not until the end of the Silver Age that Tuska made a significant contribution to DC. George worked with some of the giants at DC, including Julie Schwartz, Carmine Infantino and Paul Levitz.

Paul Levitz Paul Levitz, now the President and Publisher of DC Comics, worked with George at DC as both writer and editor. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Paul regarding DC and Tuska. Cassell: When did you first become aware of George’s work? Did you ever read any of the early comics or newspaper strips he did? Levitz: Probably when he was doing Iron Man for Marvel… I’m way too young to have read George’s early work in any medium. Cassell: When did you first meet George? Levitz: I think Vinnie Colletta recruited George to come over to DC in the midSeventies while Vinnie was Art Director here, and I met George during those discussions. Cassell: You worked with George at DC as both a writer and editor. How did you find George to work with?


Although it never appeared in print, here’s a look at a Tuska version of Deadman

living on “borrowed time,” the four adventurers banded together to form a team committed to helping others, no matter the risk. The Challs (as they are affectionately called) first appeared in 1957, four years before the Fantastic Four. While the Challengers didn’t have any super-powers, there were a number of similarities between the origins of the two teams, including the personalities of the team members, the circumstances of their fateful accident and their subsequent decision to devote their lives to altruistic pursuits. Tuska illustrated several issues of the Challengers of the Unknown in their own title, beginning in 1970, and then returned to illustrate a couple of additional stories when the Challs resumed a decade later in Adventure Comics, including a

retelling of their origin. One of his bestknown Challengers stories was entitled “To Call a Deadman” and featured a guest appearance by Boston Brand, a.k.a. Deadman. Arnold Drake created the character Deadman, but it was Neal Adams who really defined the distinctive appearance of the ethereal avenger. In the Challengers story, Adams gave Deadman the classic look from Strange Adventures. The result is a hybrid of styles that works surprisingly well. We asked George a couple of questions about the Challengers/ Deadman story: Cassell: When you did the Deadman issue of “Challengers of the Unknown,” did you pencil Deadman on the splash page or did Neal Adams do it? Tuska: No. [Looking at the splash page] This is Neal Adams. That’s not mine. Cassell: Apparently, you did the first half of the story and Neal Adams did the second half. The first half doesn’t have Deadman in it, except on the splash page. Tuska: You know what I used to notice, when Adams worked for DC? He would do small sketches, very small sketches, and he would have it blown up. Right there in DC. That’s the way he worked.

The Challengers/Deadman story was reprinted in issue #230 of World’s Finest. Teen Titans on the run in this splash page

Teen Titans The Teen Titans had their origins in the Brave and the Bold. The story began with Robin, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash forging an alliance to battle evil, while still maintaining their sidekick status in their regular books. (Speedy, the young partner of the Green Arrow, later replaced Aqualad.) By 1970, though, DC Comics had also recognized the greater social consciousness of its readership and refocused many of its titles to capitalize on this previously ignored demographic. The most famous example of topical relevancy at DC was issue #76 of Green Lantern, written by Denny O’Neil and illustrated by Neal Adams, in which Oliver Queen as the


ries of the Masters of the Universe and enjoyed doing the books. Other publishers would later produce comics based on Masters of the Universe, including a Marvel adaptation of the motion picture that was penciled by George, but the DC miniseries is widely regarded as the best and most successful of the comic book incarnations.

Green Lantern As the story goes, a test pilot for Ferris Aviation named Hal Jordan was exercising a flight simulator when the cockpit tore away from its footing and soared out the open window, with Jordan in tow. Its destination turned out to be a crashed spacecraft with a dying alien pilot who sought out Jordan as the most worthy candidate to take possession of a ring of power from the planet Oa, thereby passing the mantle to a new Green Lantern. The Emerald Gladiator was one of the legendary Golden Age comic book characters that were reborn in the Silver Age under the watchful care of DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz. The new Lantern began his reincarnation in issue # 22 of Showcase, but quickly earned his own title through the fantastic storytelling of John Broome and Gil Kane. As the book entered the 1970s, Jordan teamed up with Oliver Queen, the Silver Age incarnation of Green Arrow, and the stories took on a new social consciousness with the artistic gifts of Neal Adams. Through the years, a number of other talented creators would take their turn at rendering Jordan and his peers in the Green Lantern Corps, including George Tuska. George penciled several Sunday strips where the Emerald Gladiator appeared alongside Superman that were

surreptitiously shelved, for reasons not fully understood. George was charged with illustrating issue #s 166—170 of Green Lantern in the

He-Man comes face-to-face with Skeletor

Tuska art from Green Lantern # 168


catches the eye of the Guardians of Oa, who decide that he exhibits qualities that would make him a good recruit to the ranks of the Green Lantern Corps. When the Guardians present him with the offer, his is tempted by the power of the ring, but is quickly put to the test when the Guardians task him with rescuing his most bitter enemy. In the spirit of the marvelous mantra “with great power comes GL rises to the challenge, leaving behind his dark past (and love interest) and becoming a protector of the universe. It is not clear why the story never saw print. The story was fully penciled by George, who roughed in the dialogue as well. Some of the pages were even partially inked, but it was never finished. We briefly asked George about the GL “cat people” story: Cassell: When you were working for DC, you did a Green Lantern story with cat people that was never published. Do you know why? Tuska: The one I penciled? I don’t know what happened. Anything that I did for DC, it was strictly from the script. It was not my idea or anything like that. When I did Superman for the newspaper, I did a few and they canceled it because of the story for some reason and they changed it into a different team and I had to redraw it. Unpublished Tuska Green Lantern page


1980s. In those issues, Hal Jordan faces an elaborate test by the Guardians of Oa. But Tuska also drew a tale of the Green Lantern Corps that featured the Guardians recruiting a new GL from among a race of… cat people. In this feline foray, we meet a band of space traveling marauders who ruthlessly raid their fellow cat people. In spite of their felonious ways, the leader of the pack

Cassell: When you had to redraw something, did they pay you any more? Tuska: No, it was part of the job.

Oddly enough, this wasn’t the only time DC Comics would veto a Tuska Green Lantern story. The other notable occasion


Sunday strip from World’s Greatest Superheroes

Unpublished World’s Greatest Superheroes Sunday strip 101

Comic strips have always been enormously popular, whether they were love stories, tales of adventure or political commentary. For an artist, comic strips were a source of steady income and a means of having your work seen and enjoyed by millions of readers who regularly read the newspaper, but might not have been caught dead Associated Press publicity for Tuska and Scorchy Smith

reading a comic book. George availed himself of the opportunity to work on a variety of comic strips, among them Scorchy Smith, Buck Rogers, and The

World’s Greatest Superheroes, as well as tryouts that were never published.

Scorchy Smith In March of 1930, the Associated Press launched a comic strip called Scorchy Smith. The lead character was patterned after Charles Lindbergh, who had completed his solo flight across the Atlantic three years earlier. Scorchy operated a plane for hire, which led him into a variety of adventures. Within a couple of years, the strip was running in 200 papers. John Terry, whose brother founded the animation studio Terrytoons, was first to illustrate Scorchy Smith. Health problems forced Terry to withdraw in 1933 and the strip was taken over by Noel Sickles, who really brought the character into his own. When Sickles left in 1936, the strip was illustrated by a series of artists including Bert Christman and Frank Robbins. Tuska took the lead on Scorchy in 1954, both writing and drawing the airman’s adventures. We asked George about working on Scorchy: Cassell: So how did you get the Scorchy Smith strip? Tuska: Mike Peppe told me about Associated Press and Scorchy Smith. I brought some samples. Mike and I went up there. The guy liked my work. And I worked freelance for Associated Press. We were living in Hicksville when I did Scorchy Smith. Cassell: You wrote Scorchy Smith, too, right?



Icons of the Golden and Silver Age at Berndt Toast Gang luncheon

George displays a large cartoon board in his studio


To suggest that George has retired from comic art would be untrue. He may not be working against a deadline any more, but he still gets up every morning and spends time at his drawing table. He enjoys painting and cartooning. Sometimes he illustrates something specific and other times it is more like doodling, but rarely does it involve super-heroes. He usually reserves his heroic efforts for commissions requested by fans.

Fan Mail George has received lots of fan mail over the years, which he has faithfully answered and kept. It has come from fans of all ages and as far away as Germany. Sometimes, the letters are requests for commissions, but often they are simply heartfelt expressions of appreciation for the work George has done and what it has meant to them. Here are some excerpts from the letters George has received: “At this time of year it is natural to think of those who have touched our lives… Your work has meant a great deal to me, and I could not allow another year to end without my expressing my admiration and appreciation for all the good work you have given us over the years… your work (both new and old) still thrills and delights me, in a way that makes me feel like a kid again.” “For many years I have been a fan of your art—especially the work on the Iron Man series… thank you for having been an inspiration throughout my life as an aspiring comic book illustrator.” “I’m so happy to see that you are getting more attention and recognition for the work that you have done in comics. You are one of the masters and truly deserve it.” “Your dynamic style and incredible realism made the heroes ‘Super’! Personally, I find comics as a reward, which helped me learn to improve my reading skills, and expand my imagination. Thank you again, for bringing all the comic heroes to life!”

The recognition from fans is very much appreciated by George and Dorothy. Fans wanting to correspond with George can contact the author or Mike Gartland for more information. Then there are the conventions.

Conventions The credit for getting George (and Dorothy) started in attending comic book conventions goes to David Siegel. Siegel persuaded the Tuskas to come to the Comic-Con International in San Diego in 1997. The Comic-Con was planning to give George, along with Dick Ayers,

George sketching Iron Man for a fan


GALLERY Here is a small sample of the numerous commission drawings and published art George has done over the years.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents portfolio piece 113

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

George renders Sub-Mariner and his DC counterpart Aquaman

Eskimos 114

Splash page from Shanna the She-Devil #1

INKING TUSKA Inkers generally come in one of two types—the inker who attempts to faithfully follow the rendering of the penciler, and the inker who imposes their own style over that of the penciler. The former approach is not necessarily better, although the result will more closely reflect what the penciler intended. The latter approach can also produce a favorable result that is a blending of the composition of the penciler with the style of the inker. In some cases, an inker was assigned a job precisely because they would exert their style. Over the years, the pencils of George Tuska were inked by a variety of artists. On the pages that follow, you will see examples of both types of inkers. There is also an example of Tuska inking his own pencils—a situation most artists preferred if given a choice. That situation was definitely the exception, though, when it came to Tuska. Publishers typically preferred to have him do his usual tight penciling job and then hand the pages off to whatever inker was available. Even a weak or inexperienced inker could ink Tuska’s pencils, although the examples that follow are mostly veteran inkers.

(right) Dick Ayers inks Ayers used a fine line in inking this last page from the 1971 Angel backup story in Ka-Zar #3, allowing Tuska’s rendering to clearly shine through. (below) Vince Colletta inks Colletta has frequently been criticized for his inking of Kirby, but when it came to the World’s Greatest Superheroes strip, his inking over Tuska’s pencils reflects details that would not even have been visible when reproduced in the newspaper. This Christmas strip from 1981 is a good example.



Digital Edition Exclusive



Digital Edition Exclusive

This is an interview that was done with George Tuska on July 20, 1997 at the San Diego Comic-Con, where he received the Inkpot Award. He was 81 years old at the time the interview was conducted. Permission was granted by Comic-Con International to transcribe the interview and excerpts were included in issue #99 of Alter Ego, but it has not previously been published in its entirety. The transcript has been edited for clarity. (Note that the timeframes George cites are not precisely accurate.) The interview started with George making some opening remarks. Tuska: At the age of eight, I was in the hospital for an appendix operation. After the operation, I was able to walk around the hospital and an elderly person showed me how to draw Uncle Sam and cowboys and Indians. That was the start. My first job in comics was with Eisner and Iger. I got it through a professional agency. Eisner called for me to bring some samples. I did individual cartoons, funny characters, and I showed it to him, and he said, “That’s not the thing we do.” He showed me a comic book. I asked him if I could have another chance to do it. He said, “Sure.” So I went home and I came back the following day with a completed story. I did the whole thing, backgrounds, lettering, panels. He liked it. It was a story about the mounted police capturing a

criminal. He bought it for five dollars and asked me if I wanted to work in the office. I said, “That would be fine.” It was small.

Tuska commission drawing for a fan


Crime Does Not Pay #68

There were four fellas then—Bob Powell, backgrounds. The pay wasn’t tremendous, Lou Fine, Will Eisner, and Will Eisner’s but I didn’t mind anything. I was looking brother, and Jerry Iger. It was a nice forward a lot to it. Most of all, Eisner was bunch to start together with. Later on, as the one who really helped my work. time went by, we moved from 42nd Street to 44th Street. They expanded and there SDCC: Did he do the layouts or did you do were more artists and cartoonists. I was the entire page? together mostly with Eisner. We were both talking about stories. There wasn’t much Tu uska: I did. The layouts, drawing, comIF YOU ENJOYED THIS PREVIEW, CLICK THE LINK writing for artists then. I got along with plete. But I didn’t do the lettering and inkBELOW THISmyBOOK! Eisner. He told me, “Hit this guy and TO ORDER ing. I made own borders and how throw a bomb at this guy y.” And I said, many panels per page. I would write the “Fine, I can do that.” I wrote all the story story first and from there drew one panel, down. And I drew everything, two panels, three panels. I would follow all that up and then I would show it to Eisner, and he would say y, “Well, this could be changed a litFully remastered, full-color comprehensive look at tle or that could be changed, but GEORGE TUSKA’S personal and professional life, includthis is good.” It helped a lot. It ing early work at the Eisner-Iger shop, producing controversial crime comics of the 1950s, and his tenure with built up my interest more. I Marvel and DC Comics, as well as independent publishwould go back and do it over. I ers. Includes extensive coverage of his work on IRON MAN, X-MEN, HULK, JUSTICE LEAGUE, TEEN TITANS, felt good about that.


BATMAN, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS, and others, a gallery of commission art and a thorough index of his work, original art, photos, sketches, unpublished art, interviews and anecdotes from his peers and fans, plus the very personal and reflective words of George himself! BONUS: New section on Inking Tuska, and an unseen 1997 interview with George, both exclusive to this Digital Edition. Written by DEWEY CASSELL with AARON SULTAN and MIKE GARTLAND.

SDCC: Tell me what you liked about Eisner.

Tuska: He had a lot of imagination. He was a producer and director (140-page FULL-COLOR, REMASTERED DIGITAL EDITION)and $5.95 actor on paper. It was very good working together with him. I was 22 or 23. Eisner was about my age. I didn’t know much about Jerry [Iger]. SDCC: Iger was 12 years older. Did you know any other artists? Tuska: There were no other artists I knew w, just the ones that were already in the office. Later on, I went from one office to another. I was quitting this and working for that, going to another office. The more I did that, the more I got to know more artists that way and they got to know me. SDCC: Where did you go after Eisner and Iger? Tuska: [After Eisner left] I quit because Iger had about, oh, ten artists. Each one had about five, six stories to do a month. The pages were not much per story— five, six, seven pages. If somebody dropped out, an artist dropped out, Iger couldn’t get another artist to replace him, so he took his work and distributed


Profile for TwoMorrows Publishing

The Art of George Tuska  

Fully remastered, full-color comprehensive look at GEORGE Tuska’s personal and professional life, including early work at the Eisner-Iger sh...

The Art of George Tuska  

Fully remastered, full-color comprehensive look at GEORGE Tuska’s personal and professional life, including early work at the Eisner-Iger sh...