Friday, May 11, 2012


Last night I came home very late and happened to catch online that my dear acquaintance, the master comic book artist TONY DEZUNIGA had passed away in the Philippines, where he recently moved back to retire. 

Tony and his wife, Tina, were two of the sweetest people I've met along the way through my adventures in comics. Just great salt-of-the-earth, laid back people, not afraid to be themselves. It was always a pleasure catching up with Tony and Tina at a convention. I was proud to have known Tony during the last four years of his life. I will miss him greatly.
CRYING MACHO MAN cartoonist JOSE CABRERA, myself, and TONY DEZUNIGA when the  DeZuniga's lived in Monrovia, CA. This happened to be April 21, 2008, a year to the day that Jose and I (both Angelenos) met in San Francisco...NO, not what you're the APE (Alternative Press Expo at the Concourse) Convention, silly!
TINA DE ZUNIGA was very proud of her husband's art, and as you can see from this portrait of his lovely wife, Tony's chops were still in top form. Thanks to the ramp-up to the JONAH HEX movie a couple of summers ago, he was able to be reunited with his co-creation on a lavishly designed graphic novel called JONAH HEX: NO WAY BACK and he proved to the comic book world that they should never have left Tony leave the book.

And by the way, Tina can cook! She whipped up a multiple-course meal of Filipino dishes for Jose and myself that were delicious. AND she used to run a restaurant up in Northern California (which is how she met Tony).

 Tony DeZuniga was a no-nonsense guy who wasn't afraid to talk bluntly and honestly about his days working for DC Comics. He also didn't care for the JONAH HEX movie (surprise, surprise) that was a valiant attempt to capture his signature co-creation on film but fell short, despite a great cast that included Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox.

That's Tina's niece in the middle. Sorry it's sideways, this new program is doing something funky!

Here we all are again, sideways but happy. Maybe by this point, we've had too much to drink (just kidding - no alcohol was served at this dinner....just some intoxicating stories Tony shared from working with Joe Orlando and Carmine Infantino during DC's Bronze age....along with sharing some of his intoxicating artwork!)

The DeZunigas moved around a bit during their L.A. days, and I did not get to see them as often as I would've liked. However, I'm grateful for the memories of the times our lives intersected. And I have several DC Showcases worth of Tony's art in collections of PHANTOM STRANGER, where he did some excellent quasi-psychedelic art on the Dr. Thirteen feature, JONAH HEX, and various HOUSE OF MYSTERY/HOUSE OF SECRETS collections filled with his glorious DC horror work.

For BACK ISSUE MAGAZINE, I got to interview Tony for an article in their monster issue, regarding his work on the short-lived STRANGE TALES: THE GOLEM....and regarding the Phantom Stranger back-up feature, DR. THIRTEEN, on which Tony produced some amazing

By the way, this past week has been brutal, between Tony's passing and the death of ADAM "MCA" YAUCH of one of my top all-time favorite bands, THE BEASTIE BOYS. Beloved children's book author MAURICE SENDAK also passed away, although I did not really grow up reading his work so my emotional attachment was not as strong with his work (loved the WHERE THE WILD THINGS movie, though...)

I haven't had time to share my reflections on what MCA and the Beastie Boys meant to me, but I will be sharing those thoughts really soon.

RIP Tony.

1 comment:

pinguino said...

oh man. didnt realize you guys were friends. sorry for your loss.