the storyteller

Jesse Marinoff Reyes:

Farewell to Tony DeZuniga (1932-2012), Silver Age comics artist and co-creator of the DC Comics characters Jonah Hex and the Black Orchid. DeZuniga was the first of the so-called “Filipino Invasion” (comic artists with established careers in the Philippines, who “seemed” to appear en masse in the pages of American comics—both at DC and at Marvel—simultaneously in the 1970s), a group that included the likes of Alfredo Alcala, Nestor Redondo, and Alex Nino (and many, many more).

---I think he did a bit of finishing on Kubert for Bronze Age war titles and maybe on some of the Edgar Rice Burroughs stuff. I think Kubert's schedule was more than a bit overstocked—and if you're going to have anyone "ghost" Kubert, Redondo would be a smart choice.--- JMR

DeZuniga had studied commercial art at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines and in New York City, and had been working in advertising and in the comics in the Philippines before returning to New York in the late-1960s to pursue comic book work here—and opening the door for a legion of his countrymen. All of the Filipino artists were accomplished storytellers (a boon to American publishers, no one needed to be “broken-in”) but DeZuniga’s graceful and sophisticated brushwork set him apart from the more heavily dense line of his countrymen (contrasting DeZuniga to Alcala for example would be akin to comparing Tom Palmer to John Severin) and made his work more broadly applicable, as appropriate to Horror and the Supernatural as it would be to Fantasy, Superheroes, or Westerns.

Indeed, this difference put him in the stylistic boat of another international contributor to American Comics, the “Spanish Invasion” artists led by Esteban Moroto, Sanjulian, and José Gonzalez (mainstays on Jim Warren’s Vampirella to you readers not in-in-know). Salamet Po Maestro Tony, you will be missed.

The example posted here (a Jonah Hex commission) is suggestive of how thoroughly accomplished DeZuniga’s work was, and how he would have effortlessly been an editorial illustrator as he had been a comics master. Thanks to Nathan Evans of Comic Art Fans.com for the scan. Source: http://www.comicartfans.com/GalleryPiece.asp?Piece=281263&GSub=23211

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