Underappreciated Inker and Artist Tony DeZuniga

I  was always fond of the body of work done by Tony DeZuniga. I was mostly familiar with him as a result of the Marvel Magazine line in the ’80s. Particularly his inks over John Buscema’s pencils in Savage Sword of Conan.

Conan by Tony DeZunigaTony was one of the many Filipino artists that in that decade came to the fore, again mostly in Marvels black and white magazines. Alfredo Alcala, Nestor Redondo and Alex Nino come to mind. Tony was instrumental in leading the way for these other artist and certainly counted these men as friends as well as being inspired by them.

I always found Tony’s style interesting. He didn’t have quite as heavy a hand when inking over others as perhaps Alcala and Redondo, and I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. Whoever he was inking still shone through his inks and the penciler was quite easily identifiable.

I have recently been looking through some of my Savage Sword of Conan(SSOC) collection, and I have primarily focused on the issues that were inked by him, Alcala and Buscema. My favorite being Buscema first, DeZuniga second followed closely by Alcala. Where Alcala really did have a heavy hand and ofttimes had such a heavy line that Buscema was only visible some of the time. Primarily in the storytelling rather than the figure drawing.

Tony would convey Buscema’s dynamism better and also his anatomy with a fine line that allowed for the movement in Big Johns figures.. He also still let the beauty of Buscema female characters shine through, and Big John drew beautiful women to say the least. When you think about it , he inked some of the most dynamic storylines in SSOC. A Witch Shall Be Born from SSOC 5, Conan the Conqueror in SSOC 10. The Epic full length adaptation of “Conan the Buccaneer” by Decamp and Carter in Issues 40-43. A fantastic story with superlative artwork!

Conan Splash RecreationMarvel Premiere 16 was a tour de force over Gene Colan’s pencils on a character called Hodiah Twist, which was an interesting take on a Sherlock Holmes type character.

These are just a few of my favorite examples but I would love to hear yours. Tony was also co creator of Jonah Hex and the Orchid for DC . He did the origin of the Punisher in Marvel Preview 2 as well as a year later he returned to the Punisher in Marvel Super Special 1.
Tony had a long run as well over Buscema on the monthly Thor comic as well. In later years Tony began work as a video game designer, painter and teacher.

In early 2012 Tony suffered a stroke and soon after passed away from complications which arose.

I have one piece of his Original Art in my personal collection, a revisioning of the opening Splash page to SSOC # 40, “A Dream of Blood”. He really did have a beautiful line .

I hope you take a look at some of these issues if you have never seen them and if you have, I hope you see them with fresh eyes as I have recently. Beautiful work!

Continued Happy Collecting!

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Dennis De Pues
Dennis is an admitted "Son of the Silver Age", having grown up with the influences of Silver Age greats: Kirby, Colan, Romita and Buscema.Three decades later, he is the creator of Crash!! and Galloway Park. More is definitely on the way.
Articles: 260

5 Comments

  1. I met Tony @Calgary show in 2011 and what a fine gentleman . we talked each day before the show opened about a myriad of things , but especially about his SCOC back in the day . while we talked , he was doing a Conan commission for someone and had no other time to do one for me , much to my regret since he passed away the next year . also , he had his wife there , but she didn’t say anything , so , I wasn’t sure if she could speak English . the commission he was doing was just incredible , the shading was out of this world , the piece was going to be outstanding! I’m sure whoever got the piece was blown away . his talent was just superb .when I think of all the talent we’ve lost over the last 20 years it’s a little disheartening . I’m glad someone else has an appreciation for Tonys’ talent

  2. Dennis, my favorite work by Tony was the Weird Western Tales comics. Another Filipino artist that comes to mind is Ernie Chan-underrated in my opinion.

  3. I agree that the talent we have lost is very disheartening.There are a lot of good new artists but so many of them have great skill in the technical sense , but very little originality.I fondly recall being able to tell the penciller and the inker based upon their unique style and storytelling ability. Tony was indeed in this class. Truly masters in their abilities.

  4. Ed, I never followed Weird Western Tales, but think it is time to check it out.Ernie Chan did an incredible volume of work as well.He had a heavier hand than was my preference but was and is a very talented artist.

  5. It took me awhile to appreciate Tony’s inking on John Buscema. But it grew on me fast. I loved Tony’s work on Marvel’s B & W Doc Savage . After that I was hooked I own like 21 pages from Marvel Preview #9. Featuring Man-God , I’m still looking for the other 31 pages. I got to know Tony through a few long phone conversations. And many e-mails with him & his lovely wife Tina.

    Marvel only published part I of Man-God in Dec of 76/ Jan 77. I had plans to have Tony finish part II for me. I still hope to have it finished one day soon. Roy Thomas plotted part II for me two & half years ago. If I can ever raise the $$. And have it finished then hopefully get Marvel’s approval to reprint part I too. As a GN soft & hardcover editions. I’m always looking for pages from this issu by Tony.

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