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Filipino-born comic book artist Tony DeZuniga has passed away. With the late John Albano, DeZuniga co-created DC Comics Western hero Jonah Hex and Black Orchid. Wikipedia notes of DeZuniga that, “He 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.”
Dezuniga started his career at 16 as a letterer for a weekly Filipino magazine where Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo also worked. His first American work was under Joe Orlando in Girl’s Love Stories #153, followed by a story he pencilled and inked in House of Mystery #188, September/October 1970.
Co-creating Jonah Hex with Albano and Black Orchid with Sheldon Mayer, DeZuniga opened the doors for many Filipino artists to follow him getting work in the comics industry, at both DC and Marvel. He relocated from the Philippines to New York in 1977. His career continued for 18 years, with work on X-Men and Spider-Man.
Jonah Hex has had a long and storied legend with DC. One of DC’s successful Western titles in the ’70’s. A fish out of water in the future in the Hex title. Then returned to his own timeline, and established as a Batman colleague on both Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Brave and The Bold. Currently in All-Star Western, he appears to be a resident of historic Gotham City.
Late in his career he worked on TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons. In 1989, he illustrated The DragonLance Saga Book Three with Roy Thomas.
His final work was the Jonah Hex graphic novel tie-in to the Josh Brolin film, Jonah Hex: No Way Back.
In April of this year, he suffered a serious stroke. Fellow comic creators organized sketch fundraisers to help with his medical expenses.
Tony DeZuniga passed from a final stroke at the age of 71. His biography doesn’t list a birthdate, simply the year he was born. His age is listed at either 70 or 71.
DeZuniga leaves behind a legacy of opening doors for fellow Filipino artists and an incredible body of work, plus accolades from Neal Adams and Neil Gaiman.