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John Buscema (American, 1927-2002)

Comic Book Art

John Buscema (American 1927-2002) was an American comic book artist, who is known for his versatility and speed during the Bronze and Silver Age of comics. Buscema is perhaps most celebrated for his work on the Avengers, Silver Surfer, and Conan the Barbarian. In fact, Buscema is responsible for penciling at least one issue of almost every major Marvel title. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, John Buscema had a proclivity for comics thanks to the Sunday strip heroes like Flash Gordon or Tarzan. These heroes inspired Buscema to register for drawing classes at the Brooklyn Museum Art School, and later on, to graduate in life drawing and design from the Pratt Institute.

John Buscema’s entrance into the comics industry was somewhat accidental. Buscema was training as a boxer during the late ‘40s, and he was supporting this lifestyle by doing various illustration odd jobs. In 1948, one of Buscema’s odd jobs was working under editor-in-chief, Stan Lee, at Timely comics. The artist was all over the place, from crime comics to jungle comics, he drew it all, even some romance fiction.

In the 1950s Buscema continued to work for Timely, who at that point had changed their name to Atlas, as well as Quality Comics, Ace Comics, St. John Publications, and Ziff-Davis. He also did a good amount of work for Dell Comics’ Roy Rodgers, Four Color film adaptations, and Charlton Comics’ Ramar of the Jungle and Nature Boy.

After an eight year stint in the commercial-art industry, Buscema was back in comics. In 1966, he was a staple penciler for many different Marvel comics until he found a home working on The Avengers. In 1968, Buscema and Lee launched The Silver Surfer series in which John penciled all but one of the issues.

John Buscema’s Conan the Barbarian run is still considered one of the most rich and creative runs for an artist on a single character. On top of the hundreds of issues Buscema supplied the Conan world, he went further and did everything from newspaper comic strips to storyboard illustration for the 1982 Conan movie.

Buscema’s work proved so in-demand in the mid-seventies, that he launched the John Buscema Art School which advertised for students in the pages of many Marvel titles. Stan Lee made appearances as a guest lecturer at Buscema's school and the two collaborated on the wildly popular book How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way, Simon and Schuster, 1978.

The artist continued drawing on many different stories until his death in 2002. Buscema died from stomach cancer at the age of 74. He was inducted into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2002.

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