Tony DeZuniga

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Tony DeZuniga
Tony DeZuniga.jpg
DeZuniga on June 19, 2011
BornAntony de Zuñiga
(1932-11-08)November 8, 1932
Manila, Philippines
DiedMay 11, 2012(2012-05-11) (aged 79)
Las Piñas, Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Area(s) Penciller, Inker
Notable works
Adventure Comics (Black Orchid)
Arak, Son of Thunder
Jonah Hex
Weird Western Tales (Jonah Hex)

Antony de Zuñiga [1] (November 8, [2] 1932 [3] – May 11, 2012) [2] who worked primarily under the name Tony DeZuniga, was a Filipino comics artist and illustrator best known for his works for DC Comics. He co-created the fictional characters Jonah Hex and Black Orchid.


DeZuniga was the first Filipino comic book artist whose work was accepted by American publishers, paving the way for many other Filipino artists to enter the international comic book industry. [4] [5] [6]


Early life and career

DeZuniga was born in Manila, Philippines, [1] and began his comics career at the age of 16, [4] 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. [4]

When he returned to New York City in the late 1960s, DeZuniga entered the American comic book market under 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 U.S. debut as a penciler came with a self-inked horror story for House of Mystery #188 (Sept./Oct. 1970). [7]

DC and Marvel Comics

Weird Western Tales #14 (DC, Nov 1972). Cover art by DeZuniga Weird western tales 14.jpg
Weird Western Tales #14 (DC, Nov 1972). Cover art by DeZuniga

DeZuniga became a regular contributor at DC. With writer John Albano, he co-created the long-running western character Jonah Hex, [8] and with Sheldon Mayer the first Black Orchid. [9] DeZuniga 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. [10] 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. [10] He was responsible for the discovery of artist Steve Gan and was Gan's United States art agent in charge of importing his artwork to Marvel from the Philippines. [11] DeZuniga inked John Buscema's penciled artwork for MGM's Marvelous Wizard of Oz (1975). This comics adaptation of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film was the first joint publishing venture between Marvel and DC Comics. [12]

DeZuniga relocated back to New York from the Philippines in 1977. [13] He worked for industry leaders Marvel and DC for 18 years. [7]

Later career

DeZuniga later became a videogame conceptual designer, spending a decade with the United States and Japan divisions of Sega. [14] He did freelance work for McGraw Hill and the Scholastic Corporation, [2] and illustrated for TSR's Dungeons & Dragons game in books such as In Search of Dragons . [15] In 1989, he illustrated The DragonLance Saga Book Three , written by Roy Thomas. [16]

Upon retirement, DeZuniga began to do commissioned paintings and to teach art. His work has been the subject of at least one gallery exhibition. [17]

He returned to Jonah Hex with Jonah Hex: No Way Back , a graphic novel released to coincide with the Jonah Hex film. [18]

Illness and death

In April 2012, DeZuniga suffered a life-threatening stroke. [19] 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. [5] 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. [20] [21]

On May 11, 2012, at 1:25 a.m., DeZuniga died from the stroke having led to his subsequent brain damage and heart failure. [22]


After DeZuniga's death, Marvel Comics issued a statement saying, "Tony DeZuniga stands as a historic figure in comics, a singular voice of his own making. His legacy will be seen and felt in the multitude of fans he leaves behind and the incredible body of work of which he remained justifiably proud to his final days." [23]



Most of his work at comics was an inker, except where noted:

Archie Comics

DC Comics

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics/DC Comics

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  1. 1 2 "Tony DeZuñiga (b. 1932)". Grand Comics Database. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  2. 1 2 3 Ringgenberg, Steven (18 May 2012). "Tony DeZuniga, First of the Filipino Comics Wave, November 8th, 1941—May 11, 2012". The Comics Journal . Seattle, Washington: Fantagraphics Books. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. DeZuniga also broke into the lucrative videogame industry, working as a conceptual designer at Sega for 10 years. Among his other freelance accounts were McGraw Hill, Scholastic, and TSR.
  3. Uy, Jerald T. (14 May 2012). "The secret life of Tony De Zuñiga". Rappler. Archived from the original on 23 May 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2012. Various news sites have initially reported that De Zuñiga, locally known as 'Mang Tony,' was 71 years old, probably basing on previous records that he was born in 1941. But his wife, Tina, clarifies that De Zuñiga was actually 79 years old and was born in November 1932.
  4. 1 2 3 Valmero, Anna (2 July 2010). "Jonah Hex creator is a hero for Filipino comic book artists". Filquest Media Concepts, Inc. Archived from the original on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 11 May 2012. As the first Filipino to ever do illustrations for comic book juggernauts Marvel and DC comics, De Zuniga is dubbed the 'Father of Filipino Invasion in US Comics.'
  5. 1 2 Johnston, Rich (24 April 2012). "Neal Adams Talks About Tony DeZuniga". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  6. Ubalde, Mark Joseph (30 October 2007). "Tony de Zuñiga: The 'legend' in Pinoy invasion of US comics". Quezon City, Philippines: GMA Network. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2012. In August [2007], Tony quite literally received his own stamp of approval after the United States Postal Service honored one of his works, Spider-Woman, and is now part of Marvel Superheroes’ stamp collection.
  7. 1 2 Tony DeZuniga at the Grand Comics Database
  8. McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 151. ISBN   978-0-7566-6742-9. The Western comic had all but ridden off into the sunset, until the arrival of Jonah Hex gave the genre a new face...A tale by John Albano and drawn by Tony DeZuniga immediately presented the bounty hunter as a cold-blooded killer.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. 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."
  10. 1 2 Duncan, Randy; Smith, Matthew J. (2009). "The Power of Comics: History, Form & Culture". Continuum. Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. DeZuñiga accompanied Infantino on a recruiting trip to the Philippines in 1971, beginning the recruitment of talented contributions from one nation's comics industry to another's.
  11. De Vera, Ruel S. (2 August 2014). "Steve Gan finally in the spotlight". Philippine Daily Inquirer . Manila, Philippines. Archived from the original on 20 February 2016.
  12. Abramowitz, Jack (December 2012). "The Secrets of Oz Revealed". Back Issue! . Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing (61): 29–32.
  13. "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel Two-in-One #35 (Jan. 1978).
  14. "Tony DeZuniga". Lambiek Comiclopedia. 29 July 2012. Archived from the original on 15 April 2016.
  15. "Tony DeZuniga :: Pen & Paper RPG Database". Archived from the original on 11 March 2005.
  16. Clute, John, ed.; Grant, John (1999). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 944. ISBN   978-0312198695.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  17. Alanguilan, Gerry (17 January 2007). "Tony DeZuniga Exhibit, Jess Jodloman". Komikero Komiks. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Lots of news, first and foremost being, Tony DeZuniga's art exhibit at Megamall. I went there for the opening last night and it was like a reunion of old and new comics people.
  18. Mahadeo, Kevin (17 June 2010). "DeZuniga Rides With Jonah Hex". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
  19. Ubalde, Joseph Holandes (11 May 2012). "Legendary US comics illustrator 'Mang Tony' de Zuniga, 79". Mandaluyong, Philippines: InterAksyon. Archived from the original on 28 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012. Zuniga, the first Filipino to do illustrations for the Marvel and DC brands, suffered heart and kidney failure after being rushed to the Las Pinas Doctors Hospital at 1:30 a.m., Tina, his third wife, told InterAksyon. He suffered a stroke on April 10 that paralyzed his left side.
  20. Ringgenberg: "Filipino cartoonists pooled their talents on Free Comic Book Day in May to sell sketches and t-shirts to raise money for DeZuniga and his family."
  21. Papa, Micaela (5 May 2012). Comic book fans, nagsama-sama sa fund raising activity para kay Tony Dezuñiga [Comic Book Fans Come Together in a Fund Raising Activity for Tony Dezuñiga] (news program segment). Quezon City, Philippines: GMA Network. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015.
  22. Agustin, Jon Lindley (11 May 2012). "Comics artist Tony de Zuñiga dies at age 79". Quezon City, Philippines: GMA Network. Archived from the original on 23 May 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2012. De Zuñiga died at 1:25 a.m. after suffering from stroke, heart failure, and brain damage, his wife Tina told GMA News Online. She said the doctors attempted to resuscitate de Zuñiga but could not because his heart and brain have already malfunctioned.
  23. Beard, Jim (24 May 2012). "Marvel Remembers Tony DeZuniga: A look back and the life and career of this acclaimed artist". Marvel Comics. Archived from the original on 6 January 2016.
  24. "Inquirer interviews Tony DeZuniga". Komix 101. 21 June 2010. Archived from the original on 23 May 2016.
  25. "Inkpot Awards". San Diego Comic-Con International. 2015. Archived from the original on April 23, 2015.