January 26, 1936
Brooklyn, New York City, New York
|Notable works||Captain America
Silvio "Sal" Buscema (born on January 26, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York City, New York) is an American comic book artist, primarily for Marvel Comics, where he enjoyed a ten-year run as artist of The Incredible Hulk. He is the younger brother of comics artist John Buscema.
Early life and career
Sal Buscema was the youngest of four children, preceded by brothers Al (b. July 28, 1923; deceased) and John (1927–2002), the latter of whom become a celebrated comic-book artist; and sister Carol (b. June 22, 1929; deceased). Their father, who was born in Italy and died in 1973, was a barber. Buscema grew up a fan of Hal Foster's Prince Valiant comic strip, of George Tuska's comic-book art, and of commercial illustrators such has Robert Fawcett, Al Parker, and Norman Rockwell, and called his artist brother John "greatly responsible for me pursuing drawing. ... John was definitely an inspiration". Like John, Buscema attended the High School of Music & Art, graduating in 1955. He got his start as a comic-book inker in the early 1950s when his brother agreed to let him ink comics pages; this led to Sal helping John by doing occasional background art on Dell Comics series John was drawing.
After high school, Buscema found work at "a small, two-man advertising art studio in Manhattan" but was fired after three months of doing mostly production work. He went on to a larger commercial-art studio, where he was a gofer and a delivery person. He quit, then spent less than a year filling wedding-ring orders for the jewelry manufacturer J. R. Wood and Sons before being drafted into the peacetime U.S. Army in 1956. Classified as an "illustrator", he served with the Army Corps of Engineers stationed at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. He spent 21 months doing film strips and charts as training aids before discharged after two years. He attained the rank of specialist 3rd class, which he called "equivalent to corporal." After briefly returning to New York City to assist at a one-man art studio, an Army connection found him work at the large Creative Arts Studio in Washington, D.C.. There he did illustrations for government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense. After living with his godparents for three months, Buscema and an Army buddy became roommates in Alexandria, Virginia.
He started dating Joan, a secretary where he worked, in February 1959, and the two were married in May 1960. Their first son, Joe, was born in 1968, followed by Tony and Mike.
In 1961, a call from his brother John brought Buscema to New York City to work with him at the advertising agency Alexander Chaite, Inc. Buscema and his wife stayed for a year-and-a-half before it became evident that the company was not doing well and would close down. John Buscema returned to the comic-book industry while Sal Buscema joined a friend and colleague from Creative Arts Studio, Mel Emde, who was opening his own company, Design Studio. There Buscema worked until 1968, when he broke into Marvel Comics, for which his brother was already established as a freelance artist.
Buscema by this time had spent "every night for about a year" teaching himself "how to produce a dynamic page" in the Marvel Comics storytelling style, enduring harsh critiques from his Marvel-artist brother John. As Buscema recalled in the late 2000s,
Once I got the hang of it I made up ... six sample pages of pencils [i.e. penciled, uninked art pages], which I regret, because I wanted to be an inker. I didn't want to pencil. My first few jobs for Marvel were inking jobs, but I did those while working for Design Center. I wanted to work full-time for Marvel, so it was out of necessity that I penciled. [Editor-in-chief Stan Lee] loved [the samples]. He asked me to come on up to New York, which I did, and I went through the most fantastic interview of my life. Stan was leaping on his chair and his desk, just to relate to me physically what he wanted on a comic-book page. It was fascinating and it was charming all at the same time. He made the sound effects, the whole nine yards. ... He demonstrated every other way you could possibly demonstrate what he wanted on those pages — the dynamics and so on.
The interview had come about after Buscema, at his brother's urging, had first written to Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky to introduce himself and his work. Brodsky had no assignments for him at the time, and Buscema "called him a couple of times just to bug him a little bit and let him know that I was still alive, and eventually the first job came through" in June 1968. That job, from Brodsky, was a 10-page Western feature, "Gunhawk". "I think they just said, 'Sal, here's the plot, go to it,'" Buscema recalled in 2003. That story, "The Coming of Gunhawk", by writer Jerry Siegel and penciler Werner Roth, was eventually published in the omnibus title Western Gunfighters #1 (cover-dated Aug. 1970). Buscema's first published comics work had come before that: inking John Buscema's pencil art on four 39- to 40-page stories in the superhero comic The Silver Surfer #4-7 (Feb.-Aug. 1969); and inking Larry Lieber's pencils on the regular-sized, 20-page Western The Rawhide Kid #68 (Feb. 1969).
John Buscema specifically asked for his brother as inker on The Silver Surfer, at the time a high-profile project dear to writer-editor Lee, who gave the character an unprecedented for the time double-sized, 64-page (with ads and covers) solo series priced at 25 cents, more than twice the price of the standard 32-page, 12-cent comic. Sal Buscema recalled,
Joe Sinnott inked the first three Silver Surfer [issues]. John was not happy with the inking Joe was doing on that. Joe is ... one of the greatest [inkers] of all time. But he did not ink John well ... because Joe's style of inking was somewhat overpowering, and at the end it ... didn't look like John Buscema anymore. John did not like that, because he was knocking himself out on this character, because this was a very important project that Stan had come up with. ... John told [Stan], 'I don't want Joe inking my work. He's losing my penciling.' ... Stan was very reluctant, but he said, 'Okay, who do you want?' He said, 'I want my brother,' and that's how I got it. ...[H]e knew that I knew how to ink his work. He was a little spotty on my first issue, but after that he was absolutely delighted with what I did.
Within a year, Buscema was penciling the superhero-team comic The Avengers, and for the next thirty years, he was one of the most prolific artists at the company. He recalled in the late 2000s, "At first I was very slow. If I knocked out six or eight pages a week I was happy. Then I started getting a little bit better, and I could probably do a couple of pages a day. But once I hit that five-year transitional period, I was like a machine. I could grind the stuff out. ... Everything just fell into place, and all of a sudden I found it very easy to do."
Buscema is known for stints on Captain America, with writer Steve Englehart; a 10-year run on the The Incredible Hulk vol. 2, with writers Len Wein, who he called his favorite writer — "It was uncanny, how in tune we were ... incredible mesh" — as well as Roger Stern and Bill Mantlo; the Defenders, with Wein and Steve Gerber; Thor, with Walt Simonson and John Workman; and various Spider-Man titles with Gerry Conway and J.M. DeMatteis. From 1988 through 1996 Buscema penciled and mostly inked a 100-issue run on the title The Spectacular Spider-Man. Unlike some fellow Silver Age artists, Buscema's style evolved to meet the grittier, sharper-edged look favored beginning in the 1990s.
Buscema usually inked his own work, starting in the late 1970s. In the late 1980s, he returned to inking others' work, again notably over his brother John Buscema's work on an Englehart-scripted run on Fantastic Four. His ability to meet quick deadlines and produce fast work has meant that in addition to his numerous regular titles, he has also pencilled or inked many emergency fill-in issues for Marvel.
From 1997 to 1999, Buscema did a small amount of work for rival DC Comics, including penciling Batman, Superman, and Superboy stories, and inking Creeper, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman and other characters' stories. He recalled, "[T]he short time I worked for DC, they were giving me all these young guys that could hardly hold a pencil in their hands, and asking me to 'tweak it.' In cases like that I would definitely put a lot of myself into it and change whatever I felt needed to be changed."
Buscema returned to Marvel inking Pat Olliffe on Spider-Girl 1999, the summer annual of that series, and did work for both companies briefly before becoming regular inker on The Incredible Hulk vol. 3, #11-20 (Feb.-Nov. 2000) and inking a smattering of other titles. In 2003 he described himself as "retired for three years ... and I'm still inking jobs for Marvel!" That very year he returned to comics full-time inking Oliffe on Spider-Girl #55 (March 2003) and then launching into a long stint inking or doing finished over pencil layouts by Ron Frenz from issues #59-100 (June 2003 - Sept. 2006). He continued to fully ink the series' when it was relaunched as The Amazing Spider-Girl #1-30 (Dec. 2006 - May 2009). He then continued to ink Spider-Girl stories, over Frenz's pencils, in the omnibus title Web of Spider-Man vol. 2, #1-7 (Dec. 2009 - June 2010) and continuing in the four-issue miniseries The Spectacular Spider-Girl vol. 2 (July-Oct. 2010) and the one-shot Spider-Girl: The End! #1 (Oct. 2010). As of 2011, he is regular inker, over Frenz, on the five-issue superhero miniseries Thunderstrike vol. 2.
Comics work (interior pencil art) includes:
- Batman Chronicles #8, 13-14 (1997–98)
- Creeper, vol. 3, #8 (1998)
- DC Retroactive: Flash - The '70s #1 (2011)
- DC Universe Holiday Bash #1 (1997)
- Detective Comics Annual #10 (1997)
- Superboy, vol. 3, #37, 42-44 (1997)
- Superman: The Man of Steel #65 (1997)
- Alpha Flight #33-34 (1986)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #154-155, 198-199, 266, 272 (1976–86)
- Avengers #68-72, 78, 86, 88-92, 127-134, 156, 158-159, 169, 172-173, 193, 227 (1969–83)
- Balder the Brave, miniseries, #1-4 (1985)
- Battlestar Galactica #8-9, 18 (1979–80)
- Captain America #114 (along with John Romita, Sr.), 146-163, 165-181, 185, 188, 218-223, 225-237, 284-285 (1969–83)
- Captain America, vol. 3, #50 (among other artists) (2002)
- Chamber of Chills #22 (1976)
- Chamber of Darkness #6 (1970)
- Conan the Barbarian #92 (1978)
- Daredevil #139-140, 218, 238, 356 (1976–96)
- Defenders #1-29, 31-41, 62-64, 119, 127, 148 (1973–85)
- Doctor Strange, vol. 2, #75 (1986)
- Eternals #1-9 (1985–86)
- Fantastic Four #182-183, 190, 207-208, 299, 302, 313, Annual #13 (1977–88)
- Fantastic Four Roast (among other artists) (1982)
- Ghost Rider #11 (1975)
- Hulk #5 (1989)
- Incredible Hulk #194-203, 205-217, 219-221, 223-229, 231-243, 245-248, 250-278, 280-309, Annual #5, 8, 14-15 (1975–86)
- Incredible Hulk vs. Quasimodo, one-shot (1983)
- Immortal Iron Fist #4 (among other artists) (2007)
- Iron Man #129, 198, Annual #3 (1979–85)
- John Carter, Warlord of Mars Annual #1 (1977)
- Journey into Mystery #512-513 (1997)
- Kull the Conqueror, vol. 2, #8 (1985)
- Marvel Comics Super Special (Kiss) #1 (among other artists) (1977)
- Marvel Graphic Novel: The Pitt (1988)
- Marvel Holiday Special (Thor) #1 (1991); (X-Men) #1994
- Marvel Premiere (Falcon) #49 (1979)
- Marvel Preview (Kull the Conqueror) #19 (1979)
- Marvel Spotlight (Son of Satan) #20-24; (Spider-Woman) #32 (1975–77)
- Marvel Team-Up #20-22, 32-46, 48-52, 56-58, 82-85, 88, 130, 132-133, Annual #1-2 (1974–83)
- Marvel Two-in-One (Thing team-ups) #3-5, 7-8, 17, 19-20, 24, 42, Annual #1, 3 (1974–78)
- Marvel: Heroes & Legends #1 (among other artists) (1996)
- Master of Kung Fu #32, 41 (1975–76)
- Ms. Marvel #10-12 (1977)
- New Avengers #8 (along with Steve McNiven) (2005)
- New Mutants #4-17, 54 (1983–87)
- Nova #3-14 (1976–77)
- Power Man #31, 53 (1976–78)
- Rampaging Hulk #3, 9 (1977–78)
- Red Sonja #14 (1979)
- ROM #1-55, 57-58; Annual #2 (1979–84)
- Savage Sword of Conan #37, 39, 44, 116 (1979–85)
- Skull the Slayer #4-8 (1976)
- Spectacular Scarlet Spider #1 (1995)
- Spectacular Spider-Man #1-5, 7-10, 12-20, 38, 134-212, 215-238, Annual #4, 14 (1976–96)
- Spider-Girl #74 (2004)
- Spider-Man Super Special #1 (1995)
- Spider-Man: Funeral for an Octopus, miniseries, #3 (1995)
- Spider-Man Team-Up #7 (1997)
- Spider-Man Unlimited #11 (1996)
- Star Wars #93, 102 (1985)
- Sub-Mariner #25-36 (1970–71)
- Super-Villain Team-Up #2 (1975)
- Tarzan #19-29, Annual #2-3 (1978–79)
- Thor #214, 239-240, 355, 368-369, 371-379, 381-382, Annual #6 (1973–87)
- Web of Spider-Man #7, 12, 34 (1985–88)
- What If? #12, 44 (1978–84)
- X-Factor #22 (1987)
- X-Men #66 (1970)
- "Podcast 56: Honoring Sal Buscema with Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz". Spider-Man Crawl Space. January 15, 2009. Archived from the original on February 10, 2011.
- "Sal Buscema interview". Comic Zone Radio. June 14, 2004. Archived from the original on February 12, 2011.
- Miller, John Jackson (June 10, 2005). "Comics Industry Birthdays". Comics Buyer's Guide. Archived from the original on October 29, 2010. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- "He Renders ROM: 'Our Pal' Sal Buscema," "Space Notes," ROM #6 (Marvel Comics, May 1980).
- Amash, Jim, with Eric Nolen-Weathington, Sal Buscema: Comics' Fast & Furious Artist (TwoMorrows Publishing, 2010), ISBN 978-1-60549-021-2 (trade paperback), ISBN 978-1-60549-022-9 (hardcover), p. 6
- Amash, p. 8, 10
- Amash, p. 9
- Hatcher, Greg (July 18, 2003). "San Diego, Day One: Sal Buscema Still Having a Ball After All These Years". ComicBookResources.com. Archived from the original on February 10, 2011. (requires scrolldown)
- Amash, p. 12
- Amash, pp. 6-7
- Amash, pp. 10-11
- Amash, pp. 12-13
- Amash, p. 14
- Amash, pp. 14-15
- Amash, p. 15
- Amash, p 16
- Amash, p. 18
- Amash, p. 27
- Sal Buscema at the Grand Comics Database
- Amash, p. 28
- Amash, p. 26
- MacDonnell, Clare (January 1, 1998). "Fit as a Fiddler at Little Theatre". Arlington Catholic Herald (Arlington, Virginia). Archived from the original on December 6, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2009.
John Romita, Sr.
|Captain America artist
|The Defenders artist
|Marvel Team-Up artist
|The Incredible Hulk artist
|Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man artist
|Captain America artist
|Rom Spaceknight artist
|Spectacular Spider-Man artist
|Amazing Spider-Girl inker