John Buscema started out as an avid reader of Prince Valiant, Flash Gordon and Tarzan comics. Classic newspaper comics inspired him to begin his career in 1948 at Timely Comics, which later became Marvel. Buscema stayed on the staff of Timely for a year and a half, illustrating western, crime and romance titles and afterwards he worked freelance for a variety of companies. It was from this epoch that he worked on Charlton and Gold Key titles like 'Roy Rogers' and 'The Deputy'.
Since the comics market started shrinking during the fifties, John left the comics field in 1958 and went into advertising. He worked there until 1966, when his old boss Stan Lee convinced him to come back and work for Marvel. Subsequently, Buscema worked on all of Marvel's major characters. After an episode of 'Nick Fury' in Strange Tales, he became the regular artist on 'The Avengers', scripted by Roy Thomas. Later on, he illustrated titles like 'The Incredible Hulk' (1966-67), 'Sub-Mariner' (1968-70), 'Silver Surfer' (from 1968 onward), 'Captain Marvel' (1969), 'Thor' (1970), 'Warlock' (1972) and 'The Fantastic Four' (1971-73).
In 1971, he drew an episode of 'Ka-Zar' in Strange Tales, and he continued working with the character in the eponymous comic book three years later. In the 1970s, Buscema began his own art school and wrote the best-selling book, 'How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way', with Stan Lee. About the same time he succeeded Barry Windsor Smith as the artist of 'Conan the Barbarian', a series on which he worked exclusively.
In addition, he did artwork for titles like 'Wizard of Oz' (edited by DC/MGM in 1975), 'Tarzan' (DC, 1977-79) and 'Kull the Conqueror' (Marvel, 1983-89). In the 1980s, he also drew some new episodes of 'The Avengers' and 'The Fantastic Four', and became a regular on 'Wolverine' in 1988. Starting in 1993, he also drew some episodes of 'The Punisher'.
John Buscema retired from doing full-time comics work in 1996, and died of cancer on 10 January 2002.