John Tartaglione

John Tartaglione (January 14, 1921 – November 12, 2003),[1][2] a.k.a. John Tartag and other pseudonyms, was an American comic book artist best known as a 1950s romance-comics artist; a Marvel Comics inker during the Silver Age of comic books; and the illustrator of the Marvel biographies The Life of Pope John Paul II, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the first of which at least sold millions of copies worldwide in several languages.

John Tartaglione
Born(1921-01-14)January 14, 1921
DiedNovember 12, 2003(2003-11-12) (aged 82)
Notable works
Collaborations with Jim Steranko
The Life of Pope John Paul II


Early life and careerEdit

Raised in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, Tartaglione studied at that borough's Pratt Institute,[3] and at the Traphagen School of Fashion[3] in Manhattan.

Comics-creator credits were not routinely given in the early days of comic books, up through the 1960s, making a comprehensive listing of Tartaglione's credits difficult to compile. His first confirmed work as a comic-book inker is the six-page story "The Mad Monk!" in Amazing Detective Cases #6 (May 1951), from Atlas Comics, the 1950s forerunner of Marvel Comics. His first confirmed penciling art is the six-page story "The Man Who Walked The Plank", for the same publisher's Young Men #11 (Oct. 1951). Tartaglione thus began a long association with Marvel that found him penciling suspense, adventure, sports and crime stories — signing his work a variety of ways including "Tartag", "Tar", "Leone" and "JT" — though he was most prolific in romance titles, illustrating more than 120.[4]

Silver Age of comic booksEdit

Tartaglione also freelanced for DC Comics, Charlton Comics and for Gilberton Publications, where he illustrated the Classics Illustrated adaptations Won by the Sword and Tom Brown's Schooldays. From 1963 to 1966, he penciled several Movie Classic adaptations for Dell Comics — from Jason and the Argonauts to Beach Blanket Bingo — as well as TV series tie-in comics (Ben Casey, Burke's Law, The Defenders, Dr. Kildare) and other work, including the presidential biographies John F. Kennedy (inked by Dick Giordano; year n.a.), and Lyndon B. Johnson (1964).[4]

Back at Marvel — where he sometimes went by "John Tartag", with and without a period — the wide-ranging Tartaglione had a long run inking Dick Ayers on Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #27-42 (Feb. 1966 - May 1967) and other issues, plus two annuals. Following this, interspersed with other titles and characters across the Marvel line, Tartaglione spent a year as the regular inker for one of Gene Colan's signature series, Daredevil, embellishing issues #29-35, 37, and 40-41 (June 1967 - June 1968), plus Daredevil Annual #1 (Sept. 1967). His work as a Marvel inker includes three stories with the highly influential penciler Jim Steranko: Writer-artist Steranko's final Nick Fury story, "What Ever Happened to Scorpio?", in the much-reprinted Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #5 (Nov. 1968),[5] and the Arnold Drake-written X-Men #50-51 (Nov.-Dec. 1968).[4][6]

Other comics and commercial artEdit

With the exception of an occasional item such as the cover of Dazzler #12, Tartaglione returned to penciling for the first time in years with the 64-page Marvel Comics biography The Life of Pope John Paul II (1982), written by Steven Grant and Mieczyslaw Malinski, and inked by Joe Sinnott. A 1984 follow-up profiled Mother Teresa, with the same artists and writer David Michelinie. Comics historian Mark Evanier wrote that Tartaglione at Marvel "became the 'go-to' guy when a project came along that required historical research and/or spiritual themes. He was therefore the perfect artist when, in 1982, Marvel issued a comic-book biography of Pope John Paul II that through various religious channels sold well into the millions, leading to a follow-up book on Mother Teresa".[3]

During this period, Tartaglione was on staff at Marvel, doing art corrections.[7]

Marginalia includes the Catholic-oriented comic book Treasure Chest, distributed in parochial schools, and religious comics for publisher Ned Pines' Standard/Better/Nedor imprints; inking some Western comics for Skywald Publications' short-lived comic-book line in 1971; and Marvel's adaptation of the movie Dragonslayer (June 1981).[4]

Later careerEdit

Tartaglione's last known comic-book work was inking Ron Randall on the cover and in the 22-page story of Marvel's Wonder Man #29 (Jan. 1994)[4] The artist, who circa 1980 had assisted Alex Kotsky on the newspaper comic strip Apartment 3-G,[8] then turned to inking The Amazing Spider-Man daily comic strip in 2003.[citation needed] That November he died at home[9] from throat cancer, which had left him unable to speak. The day before his death Tartaglione had mostly finished inking a week of Spider-Man strips.[3] According to family friend and comics creator Billy Tucci, Tartaglione's artist daughter, Mary Beth,"actually finished this week's inks on the Spider-Man strips today and sent them out, closing out his last job."[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Aside from his daughter Mary Beth, Tartaglione had a son, John C. Tartaglione, a Centerport, New York, painter born in Brooklyn in 1968.[10][11]


  1. ^ Comics Buyer's Guide #1650; February 2009; Page 107
  2. ^ "United States Social Security Death Index," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 Mar 2013), John Tartaglione, 12 November 2003.
  3. ^ a b c d Evanier, Mark. "John Tartaglione, R.I.P." / "More on John Tartaglione", POV Online (column) November 14, 2003. WebCitation archive.
  4. ^ a b c d e John Tartaglione at the Grand Comics Database. WebCitation archive.
  5. ^ Reprints include Nick Fury Special Edition #2, Jan. 1984, and the 2001 trade paperback Nick Fury: Scorpio, ISBN 0-7851-0766-5
  6. ^ Reprinted in the 2002 trade paperback Marvel Visionaries: Jim Steranko, ISBN 0-7851-0944-7
  7. ^ Cohen, Lynn E. "Bullpen Bulletins," Marvel comics cover-dated January 1984.
  8. ^ John Tartaglione entry, The Comic Strip Project, "Who's Who of Comic Strip Producers", T-Part 1. WebCitation archive.
  9. ^ a b Tucci, Billy, quoted in "In Memoriam: John Tartaglione", Scoop (e-newsletter), Diamond Galleries, November 25, 2003.WebCitation archive.
  10. ^ "Biography" at (official site for son). WebCitation archive.
  11. ^ "John Tartaglione" at Gives middle initial. WebCitation archive.

External linksEdit