Monday, March 23, 2009

Jose Casanovas, Sr. (1934-2009)

Jose Casanovas, whose artwork appeared in 2000AD, Starlord, Starblazer and elsewhere in the UK, died at the Hospital de Mataró, in the Maresme district of the province of Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday, 14 March, only a day after the death of his countryman, José "Pepe" González. His funeral took place two days later at the cemetery of Sant Pere de Badalona in Barcelona.

José María Casanovas Magri, born in Barcelona in 1934, began drawing for Spanish comics in 1957, after serving in the army. His early work included "El Pequeño Mundo" for Futuro (1957) and "Superfuerte" for Super-Strong (1958), both published by Ferma. He began inking the adventures of "El Jabato", written by R. Martin (Victor Mora) for Bruguera in 1961 before taking over the artwork fully in 1962.

Even at this stage of his career his highly detailed, intricate style was emerging and was best seen in his adaptations of classic stories in the pages of Historias Selección ("Las Indias Negras" by Jules Verne, 1966) and Joyas Literarias Juveniles (various titles, including "Un Descubrimiento Prodigioso" (1978) and "El Perro de los Baskervilles" (1982)). Some of this work was created for markets outside Spain and Casanovas notably drew one of Spain's most famous characters "El Capitán Trueno" but for German publication. Thus it was that Casanovas never really gained the reputation he could have, since his work was seen in many countries but often only briefly. Fans looking for his strips would need to search in Spain, the U.K., Italy, Finland, Germany, America and Holland. For the Dutch weekly Tina he drew the adventures of "Pollyanna" in the late 1960s.

Here in the U.K., his name became known through the pages of 2000AD and Starlord when credits began appearing in the late 1970s. He had actually begun contributing anonymously as early as 1962, producing artwork for various romance libraries, including True Life, Love Story and Star Love until the end of the decade. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s his work was appearing in June & Schoolfriend, Tammy, Sandie, Jinty, Lindy, Penny, Emma and Mandy.

Although he only occasionally drew Judge Dredd, he became associated with another denizen of Mega-City One, Max Normal, whom he drew for various editions of the Judge Dredd Annual in the early 1980s. Busy elsewhere in Europe, much of his work here was one-off strips, mostly for 2000AD ("Tharg's Future Shocks" and "Time Twisters", some scripted by Alan Moore and Pete Milligan), Scream!! and Eagle.

He drew half a dozen longer stories for Starblazer, amongst them the Mikal Kayn adventure "Supercop" (1988). With his son (also called Jose Casanovas), he drew "Sam Slade Returns" in 1991 and was one of the regular Robo-Hunter artists until 1993.

In 2004-05 his work could be found in the German series Geisterjäger John Sinclair, about a ghost hunter.

Note: information on Casanovas' Spanish work is derived from various Spanish websites and blogs, but particularly from here.

(* Artwork from "Earn Big Money While You Sleep", Starlord, 26 August 1978 © Rebellion; with thanks to David Roach for notes on Casanovas' work in romance comics.)


  1. Sad news Steve...
    I was always a big fan of Mr. Casanovas's Max Normal work...

    Another great Catalan artist gone... :-(


  2. Strange how he seems to have been forgotten from 2000AD history, over shadowed by others. But I really liked his work in 2000AD (and Starlord) when I was a kid and looking at the page above it still seems fresh, vibrant and exciting to me.

  3. I couldn't place the name but I DEFINITELY remember that page. The wife turns over and is a giant bug as poor Max's brain is now twisted.

    Great stuff and happy childhood memories :)

    So long Jose!

  4. Never got a chance to know about his works so far, but looking at the image, he is sure to have been a master of intrigued details in art panels.

    May his soul rest in peace. I only wish the modern day artists take cue from legends like him, rather doing only pencil work and leaving the rest to be mowed over by computer softwares.




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