13 Groovy GEORGE TUSKA Marvel Comics NUMBER ONE Issues

A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE: The late artist was born 106 years ago…


If I could talk to artist George Tuska right now, I’d apologize to him.

See, as a kid, he was always there. He was always in the comics I read and quite a lot of them. I took him for granted. I didn’t really appreciate his art. Today, I look over his career and everything he did, and I’ve gained the appreciation I should have had back then. Born 106 years ago on April 26, 1916, he was a true workhorse of the industry, an artist who could literally handle any genre, and with professionalism. And he had a unique style—that right there should have been enough to gain my appreciation, but I guess I was being dazzled by the Kirbys and the Adams and the Aparos…

George, I’m here now. I appreciate you. Here’s a little tribute from me that’s way overdue, a look at a whole slew of #1s that you did for Marvel (and its predecessors) over the decades. Happy Birthday.

Man Comics #1 (1949). Funny name, cool anthology comic typical of the era. I’m not sure if this was George’s first #1 for Marvel, but he got to do a Western tale called “The Man Who Didn’t Count” for it.

Strange Tales #1 (1951). It began here, the legendary Marvel book that went from an anthology to giant monsters and then to superheroes—and George was there in the beginning with a weird story called “A Call in the Night” about a TV repairman whose dreams become reality.

Space Squadron #1 (1951). The book only lasted five issues but was one of Marvel’s very first science fiction mags. George put in the work on three stories for it, with a character named Capt. “Jet” Dixon, and is even credited for penciling the cover. Man, does it look fun.

Adventures Into Weird Worlds #1 (1952). Another of the sort-of horror books that got everyone into trouble before the Code days. George checked in with a five-pager titled “The World That Vanished” for it.

War Adventures #1 (1952). War anthologies were prevalent in the 1950s, and George was there for them, this time contributing a tale called “Battle Fatigue,” about a soldier who doesn’t believe such a condition exists until it happens to him.

Menace #1 (1953). Great title, great-looking book. It didn’t last long, but George was in on the first issue with “The Man Who Couldn’t Move,” which was a bit more exciting than its title implies.

Outlaw Fighters #1 (1954). George jumped back into another Western No. 1 with this mag, drawing a little ditty with the title of “Sheriffs Die Young!”

3-D Action #1 (1954). Under the Code, Marvel was experimenting with stuff just like everyone else, and thus this one-issue wonder that actually came with a pair of 3D glasses. George’s four-page contribution was called “The Fire.”

Hero For Hire #1 (1972). We make a long jump now into the Seventies, but what a jump. Revel in all its glory, Marvelites, and know ye that George Tuska was there when the legend was launched! (Click here for an INSIDE LOOK at the classic ish!)

Shanna the She-Devil #1 (1972). Maybe not as legendary as Hero for Hire, but still noteworthy is this early example of a heroine holding her own title in the Marvel Era. George worked with writers Carole Seuling and Steve Gerber on this one.

Vince Colletta inks

Planet of the Apes #1 (1974). For this black and white magazine-size book, George kicked off the comic adaptation of the first Apes film with writer Doug Moench. A year later it was reprinted in color in the comic-size mag Adventures on the Planet of the Apes… which gave the artist yet another Number One.

Mike Esposito inks. (Taylor’s face re-drawn by John Romita throughout.)

Super-Villain Team-Up #1 (1975). Wonderful title, great mag. I was there and can confirm this is a real comic, and that George really did draw the first few pages of it.

Black Goliath #1 (1976). This one is real, too; I swear. And George penciled the whole thing — in fact, he did the first three issues of the five-issue saga.


— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite GEORGE TUSKA Stories and Covers. Click here.

— 50 YEARS LATER: The INSIDE STORY of the Birth of LUKE CAGE. Click here.

JIM BEARD has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.

Check out his latest releases: a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting, his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding World, Running Home to Shadows about Dark Shadows, and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season One, Biff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. That’s some neat stuff. I went searching for the pre-70s issues online, and some of those covers are pretty great. This is kind of an aside, as he didn’t draw too many of them. The cover to Man Comics #1 is crazy! It shows a dude beating up his kid!

    Tuska’s art was fantastic. I especially like that splash page from Man Comics #1. The line work and the bold inking really highlights his talents.

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  2. The guy in the background of Strange Tales #1 looks like Abe Vigoda. I used to love the Super-Villain title. Great fun.

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  3. I like the way DR.DOOM spits out the word “Amphibian” !

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