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Saturday, January 30, 2010


When I first started collecting comics, I fell in love with the stories, and of course the art. John Buscema was one of Marvel comics artists that really came into prominence in the mid-late 60's, becoming one of their heaviest hitters, one of their most popular and dependable. What I didn't realize for several years was how long he (and many of my favorite comic artists) had been working in the comics field...long before I was born!
Ah, the ignorance of youth!

John Buscema had in fact been drawing comics (mostly for Marvel/Timely/Atlas) since 1948. Here he draws Mr. Risk, a pipe smoking crime sleuth who was first introduced in 1942 (and drawn by EC comics genius and MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman in a 1943 story here shown at Pappy's ). Even early on Buscema displays the same skill at creating well proportioned, recognizable characters in that easily accessable style (like a cross between Joe Kubert and Alex Raymond) that I would fall in love with almost 20 years later.

This particular story is from Mr. Risk's first self titled comic book, MR. RISK # 7, 1950.  For some reason, sadly, even though there was plenty of action, socks to the jaw, and solved cases, MR. RISK only lasted for 2 issues.

Remember, chum, when in dire peril, call
Dangerfield 7-7777.
No case too dangerous,
No risk too great.





  1. I really liked John Buscema. I thought "How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way" was the greatest thing ever when it came out.

  2. The ledgend goes that once upon a time Big John was in an interview with a reporter back in 1970 somethin' and he was recieving great praise from this person. His response to all that was to say something to the effect of: "If my work is any good at all it's because I just try to do it the way Kirby would." ( not an exact quote ) Buscema took a lot of knocks for being little more than a Kirby clone, ( and no doubt you can see the kings heavy influence even in this early stuff ) but he had a flair, and nuances all his own. He was just an incredible talent, and a humble guy who wasn't afraid to give credit to his predacessors. Nice to see this Apocolyte... great post!

  3. Buscema was and is my all time favorite Marvel guy! I loved this post to see his earlier stuff. I love Mr. Risk! As a pipe smoker myself, you gotta love a hero that smokes a pipe under any circumstances. Plus, he gives all procedes to the needy! Waht a hero! -- Mykal

  4. Mitchell,
    All the artists who had to step into King Kirby's shoes (Buscema, Romita, etc)knew they had a lot to live up to. It's funny, I've never considered Buscema to be a Kirby clone, though I can see the influence. In the 60's and 70's especially, Kirby was king, and the Marvel way was, basically, let Kirby do it, or do it like Kirby would do it! I always found Buscema a bit more...accessable? Normaller, easier to relate to? Less out-there?

    Pipes are okay for fighting crime with...they are a choking hazard in a fist-fight, but they come in handy for poking the eyes of the bad guys!

    Thanks guys!

  5. I am sorry but I must disagree. I find no resemblance to Buscema and all the usual sources--Wikepedia, Grand Comics Database--and a comprehensive search via Google turned up no reference to Buscema with regard to Mr. Risk.

    After closely examining all the pages for several stories for separate issues of Mr. Risk, I found no signatures except "Doc".

    Other comics, with Buscema art, published about the same time as Mr. Risk present his familiar style as we know it from the early '60s at Marvel large undifferentiated from his later work. And this work did not in any way resemble that of Mr. Risk.

    The quote earlier attributed to Buscema about his stylistic debt to Kirby struck me as surprising, in the light of his familiar comments about his first '60s Marvel--on S.H.E.I.L.D.--offending him because he was told to work from Kirby's layouts. He said he was perfectly capable of doing his own layouts. We may feel that Kirby's layouts were a unique unifying feature of early superhero Marvels, but at least initially, Buscema was not impressed and did not seem to be a humble man of small ego, as earlier stated.

    May I ask on what you based your claim of Mr. Risk being Buscema's work?

    Oops. Dinner time. Gottta gggo

  6. =link,

    here is a 'link' for you -

    GCD list Buscema as the artist. Mr. Risk #7 and #8. The art is such that had I not seen GCD claiming it is Buscema I myself would not have jumped to that conclusion, yet I can see it being possible. In the same regard, if it is proven that it is not, it wouldn't blow my mind, either. According to GCD, the Buscema attribution comes partly from the John Buscema checklist built by Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr and Michel Maillot. I can see some similarity to Buscema's work/art shown at Atlas Tales website from the same era, but as you say, some of his other 50's work looks less like this and more like his later work. I'm just trusting GCD (which can be wrong) and Jim V.

  7. Hello,
    Maybe if you have some experience with early Big John work you can see with no doubt that these stories of Mr Risk are by Big John. Check some faces, some hands, some poses, of course this is not late 50's or late 60's super heores work but Big John is here !
    If you throw a glance in any 1948 book yes you can ask yourself if you are dreaming but not with these ones !
    About Kirby, big John was fair and stated he was inspired by Kirby about storytelling and here and there poses in Kirby Marvel books. Of course he knew how to draw himself but just read all the interviews he did, I don't remember a single one where he should have a great ego. No it was not Big John and if you read anything that should make you think that, read it again you should find John was joking.
    He always said Jack was the king.
    All the best

    1. Michel,
      Sorry for the delayed response...I've been away for a while. Thank you for clearing up the controversy! I never really doubted it!

  8. I haven't read any of Mr Risk before but this that you post here is pretty good and the art is clearly Golden Age, and with it there is no miss step