George Tuska was a longtime comic book journeyman, coming into the industry in its first days and working for several decades at his drawing board. He drew comic books, but in his career he also drew newspaper comic strips Scorchy Smith, Buck Rogers and World's Greatest Superheroes.
My personal preference for Tuska's art wasn't his superhero work, but his stories in comics like Crime Does Not Pay. "Butt Riley, King Of the Hoodlums" is from Crime Does Not Pay #48 (1947). (Butt gets his name from his style of fighting, and yeah, it's a funny name.) It presages the superhero stage of Tuska's later career by showcasing his ability to draw muscular figures in action. His anatomy—unlike the muscular monsters some of today's artists draw that pass for superheroes (my opinion)—looks to be correct. He gets to show off his skill because Butt Riley doesn't wear a shirt for the first four pages.
Crime Files #5* (1952) features another Tuska story. Grand Comics Database uses their famous ? to indicate they're not sure Tuska drew the story, but I'm sure. At least he penciled it; the inks appear to be by someone else. Tuska's strong sense of composition and storytelling stand out for me.
Tuska died in 2009 at age 93, his legacy assured by the thousands of comic book pages and comic strips he drew over his career.
*Actually #1, if you remember I told you that Standard started all their titles with #5 to trick retailers into thinking they had a track record.
Crime did not pay for Bob Wood
On an August afternoon in 1970 I sat down with Otto Binder in his Chestertown, New York, home and talked over a wide range of subjects, but mostly about his work in the early comic books. It was a time when many of the early comic book men were still alive and able to share their memories; talking with Otto made for a very special afternoon for me. During the wide-ranging conversation Otto mentioned a particular incident with "...it was when Wally Wood's brother went to prison for killing his wife." It was the first I'd heard that, and it startled me. Otto quickly got off onto another conversational tack before I had a chance to ask him further questions. I found out later that Otto was mistaken, under a false impression.
It would be easy to be confused, even for someone in the business at the time, because I can think of four Woods from the Golden Age: Wallace, of course, Dick and Dave Wood, writers who were not related to Wally, but brothers who had scripted the newspaper strip, Sky Masters, which Wally Wood inked for Jack Kirby, and comic book editor/cartoonist Bob Wood. Bob was also not Wallace Wood's brother. I don't know if he was related to Dick and Dave.
And Bob Wood did not kill his wife, but a girlfriend, after an 11-day alcoholic binge in a New York hotel. The details, or what is now known of them from contemporary newspaper reports, is available in Blackjacked and Pistol-Whipped: Crime Does Not Pay. The article on Wood and his business partnership with Charles Biro, working for publisher Lev (Leverett) Gleason, and their infamous Crime Does Not Pay comics, takes only 11 pages of the 220+ page book. The rest of the volume is made up of excellent full color reprints of stories from that magazine. It's edited with an eye toward the more lurid and violent tales. There were many of those over the history of that groundbreaking comic book, but also many that aren't quite so over the top, as shown by the George Tuska story above.
It's a trade paperback, designed by Kitchen, Lind and Associates, for Dark Horse Comics. The book is available from the usual booksellers, affordably priced at $19.99.
I have a Claw story written and drawn by Bob Wood for Daredevil Comics coming up next Monday.