Tony DeZuniga : biography
Tony DeZuniga (November 8, 1932 – May 11, 2012) was a Filipino comics artist and illustrator best known for his works for DC Comics, who co-created the fictional character, Jonah Hex and Black Orchid with John Albano.
DeZuniga was the first Filipino comic book artist whose work was accepted by American publishers, paving the way for many other Filipino artists to do break into the international comic book industry.
- 1997 Sega Presidents Award for Excellence.
Early life and career
DeZuniga began his comics career at the age of 16, as a letterer for Liwayway, a Filipino weekly magazine whose contributors included comic book artists Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo, who would later become his mentors.
He eventually received a Bachelor of Science degree in commercial art from the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines. In 1962, he came to the United States to study graphic design in New York City. He returned to his native country to work in advertising and to freelance for Filipino comics.
When he returned to New York City in the late 1960s, DeZuniga broke into the American comic books market under the editor, Joe Orlando, at DC Comics, inking pencil art by Ric Estrada on a romance comics tale for Girl's Love Stories #153. DeZuniga's American-comics debut as a penciler came with a self-inked horror story for House of Mystery #188 (Sept./Oct. 1970).
DC and Marvel Comics
DeZuniga went on to become a regular contributor at DC. With writer John Albano, he co-created the long-running western character Jonah Hex, and with Sheldon Mayer the first Black Orchid.McAvennie "1970s" in Dolan, p. 156: "Very little was known about the Black Orchid, even after writer Sheldon Mayer and artist Tony DeZuniga presented her so-called "origin issue" in Adventure Comics." DeZuniga also served as an introduction to what would be a 1970s influx of Filipino artists to American comics, prompting Orlando and DC publisher Carmine Infantino to visit the Philippines in 1971 to scout talent.Duncan, Randy and Smith, Matthew J. The Power of Comics: History, Form & Culture (Continuum, 2009). Among the artists found there who would soon become mainstays of both DC and Marvel Comics were Alfredo Alcala, Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo, and Gerry Talaoc.
DeZuniga relocated back to New York from the Philippines in 1977."Marvel Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Two-in-One #35 (Jan. 1978). He worked for industry leaders Marvel and DC for 18 years, drawing such prominent Marvel characters as the X-Men and Spider-Man.
DeZuniga later became a videogame conceptual designer, spending a decade with the U.S. and Japan divisions of Sega. He had also done freelance work for McGraw Hill and the Scholastic Corporation, and for TSR's Dungeons & Dragons game on books such as In Search of Dragons. In 1989, he illustrated The DragonLance Saga Book Three, written by Roy Thomas.
Upon retirement, DeZuniga began to do commissioned paintings and to teach art. His work has been the subject of at least one gallery exhibition. (Jan. 27, 2007)
He also returned to Jonah Hex with Jonah Hex: No Way Back a graphic novel released to coincide with the Jonah Hex film.
Illness and Death
In April 2012, DeZuniga suffered a life-threatening stroke. Doctors were able to save him, but numerous complications quickly arose. Both the Philippine and international comics community made an effort to raise funds for his treatment. During Free Comic Book Day on May 5, 2012, Filipino comic book artists banded together and launched a sketch drive, t-shirt sale and auction to help raise funds.
On May 11, 2012, at 1:25 a.m., DeZuniga died from the stroke having led to his subsequent brain damage and heart failure. The doctors attempted to resuscitate him but could not.
Accolades for DeZuniga started pouring in after his stroke, even before he died. Fellow comic book creators, Neal Adams and Neil Gaiman, were all praises for him as they encouraged comic book aficionados all over the world to help out with DeZuniga's hospital expenses.
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