Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
I’m still in a Spidery mood, so, what the heck. If you don’t mind, I’d like to turn your attention to another terrific comics artist who never got his proper due. And yeah, he drew a huge Spider-Man run. And a huge Hulk run. And a huge… oh, you’ll see.
128. Sal Buscema
Our Pal Sal is the best “workhorse” artist in comics. He’s drawn everything in the Marvel Universe a thousand times over, thanks to his astonishing work ethic, ability to meet deadlines, and incredible spirit. He’s got a solid, unique style that has served him well when drawing Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, the Avengers, and even (and especially!) ROM, Spaceknight. He was the go-to fill-in artist for years and years. I’d say, however, that he’s gone unappreciated.
Sal is, after all, John Buscema’s younger brother, and it took him a while to break free of his brother’s shadow, but he certainly did. It wasn’t through sheer volume of work, though to list out all the issues he’s drawn would take pages, but rather through his gorgeously crafted, rock-hewn style. He’s never been a show-off like some other artists, but his work is amazingly well-done. I am using many adjectives. Mr. Buscema is worthy of them. As a youngster, I never cared much for his work, but I was looking for flashy stuff. I’m kicking myself for being so stupid. I love Sal’s work now.
Sal’s run on Spectacular Spider-Man with writer J.M. DeMatteis is, for me, the highlight of his career. Sal pencilled 100+ straight issues of the title (and inked most of those, too– uncanny), but yeah, the ones with DeMatteis writing were the strongest. Thanks to the storylines, Mr. Buscema was able to showcase his skills as an expert draftsman, handling both heavy action and heavy emotion with ease.
I’d say no one inks Sal’s work better than Sal himself, though I did enjoy the handful of issues with finishes by Bill Sienkiewicz. Anyway. I have scans again. Let’s hope they did not come out too huge this time:
Sal’s Hulk is the definitive Hulk. There. I said it. Working with the brilliant Bill Mantlo, among other writers, Sal gave us a Savage Hulk with a ton of heart and an explosive rage. It’s a beloved, classic era of Hulk, and Sal contributed a great deal to the mood and the, well, greatness. A fantastic gallery of original artwork for Hulk can be found at this website. There’s some Defenders stuff on there, too. Yes. He drew Defenders, too. Including the Elf with a Gun bits. Like I said, he’s done everything. Here’s a Hulk page, by the way:
Let’s not count out Thor, either. Many people might not realize that Mr. Buscema drew quite a bit of Walt Simonson’s terrific run, including one of my favorite single issues of the title, #355. Have a page:
I could go on and on, with examples from every Marvel title ever (including, yes, ROM, which I adored, and which was one of Marvel’s best titles at the time), and a couple DC ones. Like I said, Sal’s drawn everything. And it’s all been good. The man is a quality machine.
I read somewhere, I think in an old “Marvel Vision,” that Sal considered pencilling to be work, but inking to be fun. I suppose that’s why, even in his “retirement,” he can still be found inking Spider-Girl every month.
Thanks for everything, Sal. You’re not just “our” pal– you’re the very comics medium’s pal. You’re a master of the form– and, hopefully, you’ll be appreciated well into the future.
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.