Friday, April 27, 2007

The invincible George Tuska

Today, Comic Art Friday salutes veteran comic book artist George Tuska, who celebrated his 91st birthday yesterday.

One of the genuine legends in the comic art field, Tuska's career stretched from 1939 through the 1990s. He was still drawing commissioned projects as recently as a couple of years ago. Tuska's drawing style is energetic and powerful — as I'm certain I've mentioned before, he was one of the first artists whose work I learned to recognize instantly when I was a mere comics-reading stripling.

For 10 years or so, Tuska was the primary penciler on Marvel Comics' Invincible Iron Man. The Golden Avenger remains the character with whom most readers will associate him even today. Tuska also demonstrated a then-uncommon affinity for African American characters, as one of the main artists on such series as Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (later Luke Cage, Power Man) and Black Goliath. After shifting his focus to DC Comics in the late 1970s, Tuska worked extensively on Superman, both in comic books and in the daily newspaper strip.

I currently own only one Tuska original (I've had a couple of others that have since moved on to others' collections), but it's a dandy: Tuska's signature Shell-Head engaged in pitched battle with ol' Greenskin, the Hulk.

One of the features I always loved about Tuska's Iron Man is the way he gives the character expression, even though he's wearing an inflexible metal mask. It doesn't make logical sense, but within the context of Tuska's style, the effect works perfectly.

Speaking of Iron Man, USA Today published an article this week previewing the upcoming Iron Man feature film, directed by Jon Favreau (who played Foggy Nelson in Daredevil) and starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. The article premiered the first publicly released photo of Downey in character:

Happy birthday, Gentleman George! And that's your Comic Art Friday.


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