Monday, March 11, 2013
Thunderbolt By George!
When Dynamite Comics got hold of the Peter Cannon Thunderbolt license they unleashed the typical avalanche of alternate covers for the debut issue. Most are sadly unremarkable cash-grabs, but the image above by the late great George Tuska is special for a number of reasons.
Pete Morisi, better known as "P.A.M." (he remained incognito to keep his job as a NYPD cop) created Thunderbolt for Charlton's "Action Hero" line-up. Morisi had been one of Charlton's mainstay artists for years working on westerns and other projects over that time. Thunderbolt was his chance to shine, to bring out his own special vision of what a hero could be. Morisi's style is instantly identifiable, but it has its root in the early work of George Tuska. Morisi was a fan of Tuska's work and in his early days slavishly followed the style of the somewhat more experienced artist, with, according to some reports, a degree of approval from Tuska himself.
As the years rolled by, Morisi's work became more and more stylized, and while the Tuska influence never goes away, it becomes more and more muted behind Morisi's catalog of fixed poses and shots. At Marvel Tuska's work had opened up, infusing the broader action championed by Jack Kirby. But in P.A.M. we see the Tuska of an earlier era yet refined to its essential elements.
So it's oddly appropriate that George Tuska would ultimately create a Thunderbolt cover, closing one of comics most unusual creative circuits. And it doesn't hurt that it's a striking image to boot.