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Friday, February 20, 2009

This Week's Suspended Animation - Comics Legend Sal Buscema

Sal Buscema began his career in comics in 1968 when he landed an inking job with Marvel Comics. He started out inking his brother, John Buscema’s, artwork, and went on to become a penciler himself. In the beginning, he drew in a “house style”. However, the “look” of Sal’s pencils developed to a point at which they characterized the company, rather than the other way around. It’s fair to say that Buscema also influenced at least one (perhaps two) generations of comics fans and artists.

Remembered most favorably for his work on the characters Spider-Man, The Hulk, Captain America, The Defenders and Rom: Spaceknight, the artist is also known for his long individual runs on two titles in particular: The Incredible Hulk and The Spectacular Spider-Man, and for his speed, at one time drawing as many as four comics a month!

Buscema’s art was and is characterized by a rich fluidity, and possessed an almost manic quality, both of which made it ideal for the high-octane, slam-bang action common to superhero fare. This is not to say that his style only serves action scenes well, however, as he has pretty much mastered comic book art in all of it’s forms, whether frantic or subdued. In fact, I don’t think it’s out of bounds to call Sal Buscema one of the best comic book artists of all time.

Throughout the years, his art has been served best by particular inkers, making it appear more three-dimensional. Of note, the talents of Rudy Mesina (The Rampaging Hulk, No. 9), Bill Sienkiewicz (The Spectacular Spider-Man, Nos. 220-229), Ernie Chan (The Incredible Hulk, Nos. 210-212, 214-220), and Gerry Talaoc (The Incredible Hulk, Nos. 291, 293, 294, 297-309) have all proven wonderful matches for Sal Buscema’s pencils.

The art of Sal Buscema is highly recommended. And, because he has been so prolific over the years, it’s not hard to come by, price-wise. Check your local comics shop and online auctions and retailers for single issues as well as collections.

Mark Allen