Friday, 16 October 2009

George Tuska

Just heard we lost George Tuska yesterday. It's always a shame when one of the elder statesmen pass on. As Stan himself once famously said to an interviewer: If you have any questions for the guys who started it all, you'd better ask them quick! And that's the sad truth.
George was already a working pro when he joined Will Eisner's studio in the '40's and worked alongside Lou Fine and a very young Jack Kirby. ( All immortalized in Will's book The Dreamer, of course, including the bit where Tuska punched out Bob Powell, a story George was apparently embarrassed by every time a fan brought it up. )
But we knew Tuska in The Bronze Age too, obviously. For starters, he drew Iron Man for almost as long as Gene Colan ( ie. forever ), but what made me a Tuska fan was his work on Luke Cage. For a guy who seemed the epitome of white bread americana, he sure could draw the Christmas out of a blaxploitation strip, and he's a big reason why Lucas was one of my favourites throughout the '70's.
These two issues are my favourites, ish 20, the conclusion of a two parter where Cage tries to take down a slimy heroin dealer, that bursts with action, and absolutely fits the strip's remit of being comics' answer to Shaft.

And this classic, inspired by then TV show Kolchak:The Night Stalker, where Luke hunts a vampire, and I'm fairly sure, doesn't sit down or pause for breath for as much as a single panel.
Tuska was great at the body in motion, as alternately ungainly as Frank Robbins and as action packed as Kirby, and here Cage leaps all over the page. Wish I still had this issue so I could post the whole damn thing.

In many ways, George owned Luke Cage for the time he was doing the book, and his is the version I always think of. Here's some great single illo's of the toughest guy in Harlem.

Sweet Sister! This one seems to follow the last one!

And finally, here's a brilliant piece with Cage taking on Ol' Shellhead AND Black Goliath. Fan-Freakin' Tastic.

God bless, George, and good journey.


  1. I'm sorry to say that I never really appreciated Tuska's work when I was a kid: I always lumped him in with Don Heck, Frank Robbins and other artists I didn't "get" at the time. With hindsight I can see what a craftsman he was and what a distinctive style he had.
    RIP George.

  2. blimey, I missed this. seems like every day I sit down at my computer, someone else has gone and died. it's a great shame. I don't think George ever got anywhere near the praise he deserved - he was always one of those "difficult" artists, you either loved him or hated him, but George's run on Planet of the Apes was, and still remains, one of my fave comic moments. gawd bless ya, George!

  3. Tuska always had a distinctive style, although I think it was watered down by inkers such as Mike Esposito. The Tuska/Graham combination was very effective on Luke Cage, and one of his better assignments in the 1970s.

    Tuska had a very long and productive career in comics. His crime work is always cited, but he was also great at romance, western and jungle stories as well, including many I've seen for Timely/Atlas. I also enjoyed his inking over artists such as Don Heck and John Buscema.

    Nick Caputo