I was much saddened to read of the passing of Rich Buckler. Buckler and I started in comics at about the same time, he as a professional and me as a fan. It was clear from the very beginning that Buckler had consummate skills as an artist and that he had absorbed the lessons of many many comics by the great artists.
In this early days at Marvel, Buckler was called upon to use his skills at mimicry to offer up a style similar to John Buscema on The Avengers and to Jack Kirby on Fantastic Four. He also had a knack for making his artwork resemble that of Neal Adams and it was a somewhat fresh take on that style which cleaved most closely to what I assume was his own distinctive look which he broke out on his creation Deathlok the Demolisher.
One of my favorite characters from Buckler is "Demon Hunter", a character who first showed up at the short-lived Atlas-Seaboard and then in an independent form called "Bloodwing" and later still at Marvel but going by the name of "Devil-Slayer". Three names but a distinctive look and mission that clearly identified this peripatetic character as the same guy, a man who stood between this world and dark menacing supernatural one.
I got to meet Buckler once at a local convention. And while I have spent more time talking to someone in the checkout line at a grocery, I still remember my interaction with him. He seemed polite but somewhat weary, like a lot of the pros I met that day. Solid talents in their day who had seen the industry leave them behind a bit. As a guy who is closing in on retirement myself, I very much identify with that emotion. Rich Buckler struck me as a talent who was equal parts artist and craftsman, who hit his marks and produced quality work on a regular schedule, the ideal talent for the comics industry.
Here is a gallery of some of my favorite Buckler covers.
Rest in peace Mr. Buckler.