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Monday, July 04, 2016

Angel Nadal Quirch (1930-2016)

For almost  a decade and a half, British comics owed a great debt to the humour of Spanish artists who filled the pages of Knockout, Buster, Valiant in the 1960s and continued to provide pages well into the 1970s for new titles Whizzer & Chips, Cor!! and Whoopee!. In their native Spain, Nadal and his contemporaries are remembered as  the Bruguera School of artists, their numbers including Juan Rafart, Jordi Ginés, Martz Schmidt and others who also found work in British humour titles.

None were more prominent than Angel Nadal, who was one of the main artists for Buster from its debut issue and who took over drawing the front page adventures of the title character in 1962, drawing the flat-capped hero of ‘Buster’s Diary’ and ‘Buster’s Dreamworld’ for twelve years.

Although many of his British strips were reprinted in Spanish comics (‘Diario de Buster’ in La Risa, ‘The Nutts’ as ‘La Familia Chorlito’ in El DDT, and as ‘Los Nueces’ in La Risa, for instance), Nadal was somewhat forgotten in his native Spain.  It was only in 2009 that one of his most successful strips, ‘Pascual, criado leal’, was reprinted from the pages of Pulgarcito, where it had appeared in 1953-60. The strip, about the relationship between a butler and his master, was one of his most successful, as the two reflected social issues of the time.

Angel Nadal Quirch was born in Barcelona on 2 August 1930, the son of a baker, and began his career in comics as an assistant to cartoonists Antonio Ayné and Emili Boix in 1944. In 1946 he published several books of adventures for Editorial Fantasio, but soon redirected his talents to comic humour, drawing cartoons for the magazine Chispa and several issues of the collection Colorín (Editorial Grafidea) and Parvulín (Ameller Editor).

In 1948 in the pages of Pulgarcita he created ‘Casildo Calasparra’, a mediocre, submissive clerk with a large nose and three hairs, dominated by his rotund, authoritarian and unforgiving wife, Berta—although she grew more curvaceous over time. His adventures continued in the pages of Super Pulgarcito, Magos de Lápiz (1949) Magos de la Risa (1950) and, from 1951, in El DDT. It was the first time that Nadal explored family relationships at length and it was not without its dangers; the censors hinted that their continuous war was not the image of the family that the Franco regime wanted to foster.

But it was a subject that Nadal would return to in El DDT. ‘Matildita y Anacieto, un matrimonio completo’, concerned a couple of newlyweds struggling with post-war life where it was all but impossible to get money and gain independence. The strip debuted in 1954 and later appeared in Can Can and Sissi, Revista Femenina a few years later; Sissi also published another relationship strip by Nadal in ‘Maripili y Gustavito, todavia sin pisito’ (1958).

‘Rosita, la Vampiresa’ (El DDT, 1951, and elsewhere) highlighted Nadal’s talents for drawing stylish, elegant women and he continued to draw female-centred strips and cartoon pages throughout the 1950s, others including ‘Las mujeres de Nadal’ [The Women of Nadal] (El DDT, 1954), ‘Las chicas de Nadal’ [The Girls of Nadal] (Can Can, 1958) and ‘Marillín, chica moderna’ (Tio Vivo, 1959).

In 1959, two key creators from the British comic Knockout,  editor Arthur Bouchier and staff writer Ron ‘Nobby’ Clark, were asked by their group manager Monty Haydon to create a dummy for a new paper similar to Knockout. Their work coincided with the takeover of their employers, Amalgamated Press, by Mirror Group Newspapers, and the dummy was passed to new director (and himself a former sub-editor on Knockout), Leonard Matthews.

Matthews introduced a new character, ‘Buster, Son of Andy Capp’—intended to link the comic to the highly successful daily newspaper strip then running in the Daily Mirror. Matthews put production of the dummy into the hands of Trevor Newton and Clark was sent off to Spain with Barry Coker and Keith Davies of Bardon Art.

The trip resulted in a number of Spanish artists immediately finding work in British comics, with Nadal’s ‘Laugh in a Line’ leading the way in the pages of Film Fun, where Rafart and Gin were also to find work. Nadal was brought over to work at Fleetway House for a month in May 1960, during the launch of Buster, and became a great friend of Clark’s.

Nadal’s early half-page strips in Buster included ‘Uppsy Daisy’, about a sweet young girl, ‘Big ’Ead’ about a show-off who always gets his come-uppance; Nadal was also responsible for drawing the cartoons to be found in the ‘Make Buster Laugh’ readers’ jokes feature. Nadal was also drawing ‘Professor Knockout’, a professor whose inventions usually back-fire, and ‘Barney Bluffer’, another arrogant, boastful character, for Knockout.

In May 1962, Nadal took over the front page of Buster, drawing ‘Buster’s Diary’. With only the occasional break, and a change of title in 1968 to ‘Buster’s Dreamworld’, he remained on the strip until June 1974. The stories for the weekly Buster strip were the work of Nobby Clark, who would send his scripts in illustrated form. Recalling their years of friendship, Christopher Clark, Nobby’s son, says: “He and his young family became firm friends of ours and I would spend many a long summer with them in Cadaques and later, as a student of Spanish, several months in their Barcelona home. Dad's scripts and rough drawings would arrive weekly at Angel's house and if I was around, I would translate the scripts and then watch the detailed pen and ink drawings evolve.”

As well as his regular work on Buster, Nadal also drew the long-running ‘The Nutts’ for Valiant, about the extended Nutt family confined in one over-packed house known as the Nuthatch, where Dad’s money-saving schemes always ended up costing more than he saved.

In the mid-1960s, Nadal added ‘Bird ’n’ Ed’ (Hurricane, 1965), about two deadbeat Scousers, and ‘Ug and Tug’ (Buster, 1965), to his weekly workload, although both strips were short-lived. He later drew jokes for Jag and ‘Minnie’s Mixer’ for the newly launched Whizzer & Chips in 1969.

Nadal’s last two new strips were ‘Dogsbodies Academy’ in Cor!! (1970) and ‘Penny Pincher’ in Buster (1973-74).

The demise of many papers  in the UK in the early 1970s and the reliance on reprints in the survivors, meant that many Spanish artists turned to other markets. In Nadal’s case, this was the Disney market and he was able to draw ‘Goofy’ and ‘Mickey Mouse’ in 1971-72 for the Danish company Gutenberghus, also briefly drawing ‘Donald Duck’ in 1983-84.

From 1972, Nadal’s main output was for German magazines published by Kauka-Verlaag, beginning with the series ‘7 Schnuckeln’ (Pepito, 1972-74), about seven goblins living in the attic of a house in a small German town. He soon transferred to the pages of Bussi Bär, featuring the adventures of Bussi, an orange bear, and his constant companion, a blue dog named Bello.

Other strips drawn for Germany have included ‘Viva la Revolution’ (Primo, 1974) about a small South American country in a constant state of battle between revolutionaries and the country’s dictator, which was revived in Zack in 1976 under the title ‘San Tomato’.

After briefly working on ‘Fix and Foxi’, two foxes who starred in their own magazine, in 1978, Nadal was amongst the artists who continued the adventures of ‘Fridolin’, another animal strip created in 1961 by Kara (Branko Karabajic), which he continued to draw occasionally until 1981.

Nadal continued to draw strips for Fix und Foxi comic, now working via Comicon, an agency run by two of Rolf Kauka’s former employees, Peter Wiechmann and Fred Kipka, concentrating on work for Sachen Kauka-Comics and Bussi Bär.

Nadal continued to work for Bussi Bär for many years and, in 2008, replaced Karabajic as the longest-serving artist to work with Rolf Kauka’s various comics. He retired in 2013 at the age of 83, but his work was remembered through exhibitions in La Massana (Andora) in late 2013 and in Cadaqués in the summer of 2014. In retirement he enjoyed playing cards and fishing, although for a while he continued to take on small commissions for artwork via his website (, although this was closed when he became ill.

Nadal died on 26 June 2016, survived by his wife, Carmen Nadal Montiel, children David, Ana, Carmen, Angeles and Xavier, seven grandchildren, and his sister, Maria Nadal. Another son, Lluis predeceased him.

1 comment:

Kid said...

Shame about his passing. He was one of the very best.