The Rich Creativity of Spanish Comic Book Art
Masters Of Spanish Comic Book Art is a joyful celebration of Spain’s rich comics legacy. Featuring more than 80 artists and 500 images, it’s a fascinating survey of an extremely relevant but mostly overlooked facet of global graphic literature. It’s also an astute investigation of these creative talents with respect to their country’s culture. And taken as a whole, it’s an excellent means of moving forward with the spirit and meaning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15th to October 15th.
The book’s artwork is beautifully reproduced on quality paper stock, with the majority of these images hand-scanned from the original artboards. This makes it much like a prestige artists’ edition volume, only affordable. The author, David Roach, has been a comics pro himself since the late 1980s when he produced strips for Britain’s 2000 AD, and his firsthand perspective informs his entertaining and enlightening writing. He also supplements his study with examples of the artists’ paperback covers and other commercial work, much of which bears a striking resemblance to the mid-century American illustrations of Robert McGinnis.
The Golden Generation
Roach begins his history with Madrid’s and Barcelona’s turn of the 20th century humor magazines and goes on to chronicle its development and expansion to England, the States, and worldwide. It concludes with Spain’s contemporary gifted innovators like David Aja, Javier Olivares, and Guillem March. But his primary focus is on the 1970s and ’80s, an era he terms the “Golden Generation.”
This was when Spanish artists first caused a sensation in America, as Warren magazines began to publish Esteban Maroto, Luis Bermejo, Fernando Fernández, Jose Ortiz, and many others in its Creepy/Eerie/Vampirella horror comics line.
It was here that fans first became captivated by their exotic, stunningly detailed renderings, the likes of which they’d never seen before. Masters… includes profiles of these and other influential legends such as Jordi Bernet and Alfonso Font, but it’s also greatly enriched and enhanced by the addition of relative unknowns as well as others like Enric Sio and Joan Boix who are honored and well-respected in Spain, and even internationally, but whose works have not been translated into English. Not yet, anyway. Fingers crossed. America’s awareness of the rich heritage of Spanish comic book art needs to be an ongoing and ever-expanding process.
Click on the images to enlarge them.
Josep Maria Beà
Josep Maria Beà
Auraleón (Rafael Aura Leion)
Leopoldo Sanchez Ortiz
Carlos Sanchez Ezquerra
Luis García Mozos
paperback covers by Noiquet (Joan Beltran Bofill), left and Carlos Sanchez Ezquerra, right
Ángel Badía Camps
Domingo (Jose Domingo Alvarez)
Juan Sole Puyal
José “Pepe” González
art: Enrich. The Eiffel Tower on a Spanish Art book cover? WTF?
About Michael Dooley
Michael Dooley is the creative director of Michael Dooley Design and teaches History of Design, Comics, and Animation at Art Center College of Design and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is also a Print contributing editor and author.View all posts by Michael Dooley →