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Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice – Jesse Marsh

by  in Comic News Comment

Every day this month I’m going to feature the work of a great artist, only instead of me picking the artist to feature, they will be picked by their peers, fellow professional comic book artists who are picking out artists (from the past and present) who they think deserve special attention. Do note that most artists I asked about this gave me multiple answers and I picked out one choice out of a number of suggestions, so these are not definitive answers, like “Artist X likes Artist Y and he thinks all other Artists are terrible!” Here is an archive of the artists featured so far!

Today, we have the pick of Paul Gulacy, who is, of course, practically a comic book legend, having been a star artist for the past three decades, ever since he began an acclaimed run on Master of Kung Fu with writer Doug Moench. Here is his website.

Paul’s pick is Jesse Marsh.

Like the late, great Carl Barks, Jesse Marsh also got his start working for Walt Disney. Marsh began as an artist working on animating Disney cartoons, but soon moved on to working more as a story writer for Disney, assisting on such classic Disney films as Pinocchio and Fantasia.

In the late 1940s, Marsh got a gig that he would do for basically the rest of his life, taking on the ongoing comic book based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic adventure character, Tarzan. Besides Hal Foster (and Rex Mason on the Sunday strips), Marsh became the first artist to draw Tarzan regularly. Marsh would do the book from 1948 until 1965, staying with the title when it went from Western Publishing distributing Dell to when Western did their own comics (Gold Key).

Here are some pages from Tarzan #1 by Marsh…






As you can see, Marsh was an excellent storyteller who also put an unbelievable amount of detail into his work for a guy who produced a vast amount of work (in his early days as a freelance comic book artist, he even maintained his gig at Disney!!!).

He was also, as Gulacy notes, particularly known for how well he drew animals. Here’s a great dynamic pin-up from #1 that shows off as much…


Sadly, Marsh died from complications due to diabetes in the mid-1960s (he was succeeded on the title by his friend, the great Russ Manning). In the later issues (particularly the Gold Key issues), Marsh clearly was not the same artist, but Marsh at 80% was still better than most other artists at 100%.

Here are some of his Tarzan issues from that period…






and…





and…




To give you a better idea of what Marsh was like in his prime, though, here are some pages from Gene Autry Comics (a title that Marsh also did for many years, and was actually the first comic book project he did, even before Tarzan)…





and John Carter of Mars (another Burroughs character)…







I especially love how naturalistic Marsh makes aliens look!

Marsh passed away in 1966, just shy of the age of 60, from complications from diabetes. He was sorely missed.

Here‘s a fan site devoted to Marsh.

Thanks to Paul for the pick!