The Groovy Agent's Pad

Like classic/retro comics, music, tv, movies, sci-fi, fantasy, etc., etc., and etc.? Then hang out with The Groovy Agent as he makes the universe safe for all the cool stuff that has come before...and even makes a little room for cool stuff yet to come!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

What Made Comics Groovy! Part 5: Sal Buscema

You thought Ol' Groove had deserted you, didn't you? Naw, I just decided that the blog was so doggoned time consuming (takes me hours, believe it or not) that I'd make it weekly instead of daily. And to start the weekly blog off with a bang, here's an overview of the first comicbook artist I ever called "my favorite"!

While he didn't receive the critical acclaim of his late brother, John, Silvio "Sal" Buscema was (and still is) one of comics' greatest artists. A master of storytelling, Sal's art crackled with energy reminiscent of Jack (King) Kirby, himself. His speed and dependability were legendary. If an artist missed a deadline, nine times out of ten, the job was saved by "Our Pal" Sal. Because of this, Sal probably drew every Marvel character during the Groovy Age, whether it be in Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-In-One, or their own mag.

Sal Buscema was one of the reasons Ol' Groove got hooked on comics. While Li'l Groove was picking up a comic here and there for most of his life, it was issues 88 and 89 of the Avengers that turned him onto the path of comicbook fiend (at least, that's what his family and friends called him). Those covers leapt out at me, grabbed me by the shirt and screamed, "Buy me!"--so I did. And from then on, I was never the same (hey--you just got the origin of the Groovy Agent--free of charge!). Soon, I found back issues (thanks to aunts and uncles with great taste in reading material) filled with Sal's work. He had been drawing Sub-Mariner, inking Silver Surfer and Conan, and supplying covers galore (even for comics he rarely drew, like Iron Man and Daredevil). Before long, Sal was the regular artist on Captain America, my second favorite title (Avengers being the favorite, natch). From then on there was no separating me from anything Sal had a hand in. Defenders, the aforementioned Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One, the Incredible Hulk, Skull the Slayer, Nova, Ms. Marvel, Spectacular Spider-Man, Tarzan, Rom: Spaceknight, and fill-ins galore. Though many times he was doing "breakdowns" (sparse layouts to indicate what was happening on the page to the "finisher" and/or inker), plus the fact that his style (especially when doing breakdowns) left him pretty much at the mercy of whomever was inking him, I could always depend on "Our Pal" to entertain me. Whether it was groundbreaking superhero drama (his work with Steve Englehart on Captain America), all-out superheroics (Avengers, Nova) or superhero insanity (literally!--meaning his run with Steve Gerber on the Defenders), Sal packed every page with drama, action, and fun.

He's in semi-retirement, now, after having made new fans and admirers even past the Groovy Age (well into the 1990s). Sal has always stood for quality comics. Sal, we salute you, pal!!

--Agent Out!

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