The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 311 | Filipino artist spotlight: Jose Matucenio, Rudy Mesina, and Yong Montaño

Leaving Proof 311 | Filipino artist spotlight: Jose Matucenio, Rudy Mesina, and Yong Montaño
Published on Friday, June 10, 2016 by
In today’s Filipino artist spotlight: G.I. Combat and House of Mystery illustrator Jose Matucenio, Marvel Classics Comics artist Rudy Mesina, and Marvel horror and sword-and-sorcery artist Yong Montaño.

Author’s Note: Readers who have been following me on Tumblr will know that I’ve recently started a series of weekly posts highlighting the the “Filipino Wave” artists who worked on the horror, sci-fi, western, war, fantasy, and sword-and-sorcery comics published by DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Warren Publishing, and other outfits in the 1970s and 1980s. Today’s column is a collection of the most recent posts in the series.  

As with all the art I post in this blog, the images below are being shared in the spirit of fair use.

Jose Matucenio

Jose Matucenio (sometimes credited in his American comics work as “Joe Matucenio”) got his start in American comics inking fellow Filipino artist Nardo Cruz, first on a five-page short that appeared in DC Comics’ Ghosts #63 (April 1978), and later, a George Kashdan-written three-pager for House of Mystery #277 (February 1980):

Matucenio’s first solo outing as an artist for DC Comics was illustrating a five-page strip written by Paul Kupperberg for Weird War Tales. This would start a trend for Matucenio, as he contributed mostly to DC’s war-themed comics anthologies for the remainder of his American comics career. All in all, he drew 17 strips for DC’s war and “weird war” titles between 1980 and 1986, including the following seven-page story written by Arnold Drake which appeared in G.I. Combat #228 (April 1981):

Matucenio’s linework would occasionally come out looking somewhat indistinct and blobby partially because of the limitations of color printing technology in the early 1980s, as seen in the side-by-side comparison of the original art for the first page of “Return to Hell” (from G.I. Combat #235, November 1981) and the full color, printed result:

return to hell comparison

Like a number of his Filipino Wave peers, Matucenio got his chance to really showcase his skills through Warren Publishing’s various publications. The black & white format and larger page dimensions of Warren’s comics magazines offered the artist the opportunity to flash his ink wash skills and his predilection for detailed rendering, as seen in the following example from Warren’s 1994 #27 (October 1982):

Matucenio freelanced for DC up until the mid-1980s, after which he focused on creating material for the Filipino komiks market.

Jose Matucenio’s American comics bibliography (excludes reprints):

  • “Annabel Lee!”: 1994 #27 (October 1982, Warren Publishing)
  • “Monster of the Wehrmacht”: DC Special Series #22 (September 1980, DC Comics)
  • “Low Man on the Totem Pole”: Elvira’s House of Mystery #10 (December 1986, DC Comics)
  • “The Other Side of War”: G.I. Combat #223 (November 1980, DC Comics)
  • “The Wind Is My Pilot”: G.I. Combat #225 (January 1981, DC Comics)
  • “Many Happy Returns… of the War”: G.I. Combat #228 (April 1981, DC Comics)
  • “One-Man Assault Force”: G.I. Combat #230 (June 1981, DC Comics)
  • “Funeral for a Frogman”: G.I. Combat #232 (August 1981, DC Comics)
  • “Return to Hell”: G.I. Combat #235 (November 1981, DC Comics)
  • “Loser Takes All”: G.I. Combat #237 (January 1982, DC Comics)
  • “The Prince of the 3rd Platoon”: G.I. Combat #239 (March 1982, DC Comics)
  • “Hero without Glory”: G.I. Combat #240 (April 1982, DC Comics)
  • “A Soldier’s Secret Friend”: G.I. Combat #245 (September 1982, DC Comics)
  • “Bad-Luck Booty”: G.I. Combat #252 (April 1983, DC Comics)
  • “Dead Man’s Bluff”: G.I. Combat #271 (November 1984, DC Comics)
  • “The War’s Greatest Hero”: G.I. Combat #277 (May 1985, DC Comics)
  • “Secret of the Phantom Marshal”: Ghosts #63 (April 1978, DC Comics) [note: inks only]
  • “Measure of Treachery”: House of Mystery #277 (February 1980, DC Comics) [note: inks only]
  • “Think Like a Tiger”: House of Mystery #299 (December 1981, DC Comics)
  • “The Mad Bomber”: House of Mystery #307 (August 1982, DC Comics)
  • “We can manage some primitive existence, if we pool our resources with other survivors!” (The Day After Doomsday): House of Mystery #318 (July 1983, DC Comics)
  • “Imaging War”: Secrets of Haunted House #43 (December 1981, DC Comics) [note: inks only]
  • “Wired for Action”: Sgt. Rock #412 (October 1986, DC Comics)
  • “Date to Die”: Sgt. Rock #415 (April 1987, DC Comics)
  • “The Once and Future War”: Weird War Tales #84 (February 1980, DC Comics)
  • “The Head of the Battalion”: Weird War Tales #112 (June 1982, DC Comics) [pencils only]

Rudy Mesina

One of a handful of Filipino Wave artists whose American work appeared solely in publications from Marvel Comics and its affiliate Curtis Magazines, Rudy Mesina was a professional artist with about a decade of experience in the Filipino komiks industry by the time he made his American comics debut inking over Ron Wilson’s pencils on a Sons of the Dragon story in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #29 (October 1976).

Mesina’s first solo art credit for Marvel was the lead story in Marvel Classics Comics #28, a 24-page adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic classic The Pit and the Pendulum:

He followed this up with his second (and final) solo art credit, a 48-page adaptation of H. G. Wells’ 1901 proto-science fiction novel The First Men in the Moon:

Mesina’s American comics career was relatively brief, spanning all of two years and a dozen credits, although he did get to collaborate with comics art luminaries such as John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, and in the example below from John Carter Warlord of Mars #6 (November 1977), Gil Kane:

In the early 1990s, Mesina worked for Graz Entertainment, doing storyboard clean-up for animated TV series such as X-Men.

Rudy Mesina’s American comics bibliography (excludes reprints):

  • “Flesh of My Flesh!”: The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #29 (October 1976), Curtis Magazines [note: inks only]
  • “The Air-Pirates of Mars, Chapter 6: Hell in Helium!”: John Carter Warlord of Mars #6 (November 1977), Marvel Comics [note: inks only]
  • “The Invisible Man”: Marvel Classics Comics #25 (1977), Marvel Comics [note: co-credited with Dino Castrillo]
  • “The Pit and the Pendulum”: Marvel Classics Comics #28 (1977), Marvel Comics
  • “The First Men in The Moon”: Marvel Classics Comics #31 (1978), Marvel Comics
  • “Robin Hood”: Marvel Classics Comics #34 (1978), Marvel Comics [note: co-credited with Alfredo Alcala]
  • “Earth Shall Have a New Master!”: Rampaging Hulk #8 (April 1978), Curtis Magazines [note: inks only]
  • “To Avenge the Earth”: Rampaging Hulk #9 (June 1978), Curtis Magazines [note: inks only]
  • “Tarzan Rescues the Moon”: Tarzan #7 (December 1977), Marvel Comics [note: inks only]
  • “The Man and the Mangani”: Tarzan #8 (January 1978), Marvel Comics [note: inks only]
  • “Fangs of Death!”: Tarzan #12 (May 1978), Marvel Comics [note: inks only]
  • “The Changeling”: Tarzan #13 (June 1978), Marvel Comics [note: inks only]

Yong Montaño

Like Rudy Mesina, veteran Filipino komiks illustrator Yong Montaño (alternatively spelled “Yong Montano”) worked exclusively with Marvel Comics and its magazine affiliate Curtis Magazines during his stateside run. Montaño had something of a reputation as a horror specialist before his arrival in the American comics scene, so it only made sense that his first US work was for one of Curtis Magazines’ horror titles—he debuted as the artist on an eight-page “weird war”-style story (penned by Gerry Conway) that appeared in Haunt of Horror #4 (November 1974):

The following year saw Montaño create some of his best black & white work for Curtis Magazines: A beautiful ink-wash collaboration with the legendary Alfredo Alcala in Tales of the Zombie #9 (January 1975), a solo artist contribution to a three-part story in Dracula Lives! #12 (May 1975), and the nine-pager reproduced below, from Vampire Tales #11 (June 1975):

Montaño also worked on Marvel Comics’ full color comics publications, but the limitations of the color printing technology of the time and the poor quality newsprint paper did a disservice to his linework, occasionally rendering it a gloppy, muddled mess. Of his solo artist color comics output, the best is arguably his work on the comics adaptation of the Iliad, published in Marvel Classics Comics #26 (1977):

As an inker collaborator, Montaño is probably best known for his work on Marvel and Curtis’s sword-and-sorcery publications, with the best among them his collaboration with penciler John Buscema on the Roy Thomas-scripted adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s The Phoenix on the Sword which appeared in Conan Annual #2 (1976) and was most recently reprinted in a digitally recolored format in 2008 in Dark Horse Books’ The Chronicles Conan, Vol. 15:

Montaño’s foray into American comics was relatively brief, spanning only three years, but it was a a very productive period: he amassed 26 individual credits (although eight of those credits were really individual sections of two longer stories). He continued to work in the Filipino komiks industry in subsequent years.

Yong Montaño’s American comics bibliography (excludes reprints):

  • “Prologue”: Conan Annual #2 (1976), Marvel Comics [NOTE: inks only]
  • “The Phoenix on the Sword”: Conan Annual #2 (1976), Marvel Comics [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Talons of the Man-Tiger (Part 3)”: Conan the Barbarian #67 (October 1976), Marvel Comics [NOTE: inks only; actual issue credit is for “The Tribe”]
  • “Parchments of the Damned! (Part Two: The Stealer Of Dracula’s Soul”: Dracula Lives! #12 (May 1975), Curtis Magazines
  • “When the Moon Dripped Blood!”: Giant-Size Werewolf #4 (April 1975), Marvel Comics
  • “The Plunder of Paingloss”: Giant-Size Werewolf #5 (July 1975), Marvel Comics
  • “Deathwatch!”: Haunt of Horror #4 (November 1974), Curtis Magazines
  • “The Tiger in the Moon”: Kull the Destroyer #16 (August 1976), Marvel Comics [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Talons of the Devil-Birds”: Kull the Destroyer #22 (August 1977), Marvel Comics [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Demon Shade!”: Kull the Destroyer #23 (October 1977), Marvel Comics [NOTE: inks only]
  • “… Magic is Alive!”: Marvel Chillers #1 (October 1975), Marvel Comics
  • “War of the Worlds”: Marvel Classics Comics #14 (1976), Marvel Comics [NOTE: pencils only]
  • “The Iliad”: Marvel Classics Comics #26 (1977), Marvel Comics
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart”: Marvel Classics Comics #28 (1977), Marvel Comics [NOTE: pencils only]
  • “The Arabian Nights”: Marvel Classics Comics #30 (1977), Marvel Comics
  • “Snowbird In Hell”: Monsters Unleashed! #9 (December 1974), Curtis Magazines
  • “A Taste of Mutant Hate (Chapter 3)”: Planet of the Apes #25 (October 1976), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Corsairs against Stygia”: The Savage Sword of Conan #8 (October 1975), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Abode of the Damned”: The Savage Sword of Conan #11 (April 1976), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Abode of the Damned, Part 2: The Country of the Knife”: The Savage Sword of Conan #11 (April 1976), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Abode of the Damned, Part 3: Swords in the City”: The Savage Sword of Conan #11 (April 1976), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Abode of the Damned, Part 4: The Jewel from Beyond”: The Savage Sword of Conan #11 (April 1976), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Abode of the Damned, Part 5: Slaves and Slaughter!”: The Savage Sword of Conan #11 (April 1976), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “Abode of the Damned, Part 6: When the Sun Fell”: The Savage Sword of Conan #11 (April 1976), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: inks only]
  • “A Day in the Life of a Dead Man (Chapter 2)”: Tales of the Zombie #9 (January 1975), Curtis Magazines [NOTE: co-credited with Alfredo Alcala]
  • “Hobo’s Lullaby”: Vampire Tales #11 (June 1975), Curtis Magazines
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