John Tartaglione, 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.
Early life and career
Raised in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, Tartaglione studied at that borough's Pratt Institute, and at the Traphagen School of Fashion in Manhattan, where his studies would inform the details of his period stories. In the early 1940s, he became an assistant at Harvey Comics and later at comics artist and comic-book packager Bernard Baily's Bailey Publications.
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 was most prolific in romance titles, illustrating more than 120, employing a naturalistic approach using friends and family as models.
Silver Age of comic books
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).
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 most enduring work as a Marvel inker may be his three stories with the legendary comics writer-artist Jim Steranko: 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), and the Arnold Drake-written X-Men #50-51 (Nov.-Dec. 1968).