Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sanfeliz [Ricardo Sanféliz Permanyer]

Sanfeliz is credited with 41 covers for Commando in the 1960s and 1970s, beginning with Bale Out (Commando #73) in June 1963. He contributed very irregularly: two covers in 1964, one in 1965, three in 1966, one in 1967 and three in 1968. Eleven cover paintings appeared in 1969 and then nothing until the summer of 1971, followed by three covers in 1972 and 1973 and one cover in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 and two in 1978, one in 1979, two in 1980, one in 1981, 1983 and 1986.

Although his contribution to British comics was fairly small, Sanfeliz was much admired in his native Spain. He was born into a military family on 27 April 1921 in the northern Moroccan harbour town of Larache, which had become a Spanish Protectorate ten years earlier. Ricardo Sanféliz Permanyer was educated at the Academia Militar in Zaragoza, in north east Spain, but had also began painting and drawing from a very young age, which led him away from a military vocation. He was able to turn professional in 1939 as an illustrator of juvenile novels for Editorial Molino.

He entered the Academia General Militar—the academy of higher education for the Spanish military—in 1942. His military career took him back to Africa serving with the Dirección General de Promoción de Sahara, formerly the Dirección General de Marruecos y Colonias. He continued to draw whilst based at Ceuta, on the African coast near the Strait of Gibraltar, where he created paintings inspired by the desert and nomads of the Sahara, which were very well received in Madrid, where he sold almost all his paintings during two exhibitions. He was also drawing foot soldiers, tanks, trucks and military equipment which led to him becoming a  regular contributor to the magazine Ejército [Army], which he continued to draw for throughout his career.

Sanfeliz researched the history of Spanish military uniforms and contributed to various publications before joining the Escuela de Estado Mayor—a military staff college—which limited his time for painting. He was still able to win various awards in competitions, including those held by the City of Barcelona and the military museum at the Castle of Montjuïc.

Completing his course at staff college, Sanfeliz worked for the newspaper ABC as an illustrator, following in the footsteps of his uncle, Federico Xaudaró, a cartoonist for the same daily paper. For Barcelona-based Ediciones Toray, he produced covers for Hazañas Bélicas [Feats of Battle] and Rela­tos de Guerra [Stories of War], which led him to seek out the agency Selecciones Ilustradas run by Josep Toutain. Sanfeliz later recalled that he arrived at the door of the agency to find Toutain busy with a broom in hand as teh offices had just been renovated and painted. Toutain told him to call back a few weeks later, and began representing him.

Sanfeliz concentrated almost exclusively on cover illustrations, first in Spain and then for Artima in France; in the UK he produced covers for both 'Chick' Checkley, the editor of Commando, and for Fleetway; and in Italy he drew for Corriere dei Piccoli. When work began to slow down, Sanfeliz returned to painting—horses and riders being a particular subject.

He was commissioned to produce a set of stamps for the Mexico Olympics in  1968 and, between 1973 and 1978, a series of 45 illustrations of military uniforms. He went on to draw collections of postcards and illustrate the book Tres siglos de caballería española [Three Centuries of Spanish Cavalry] (Madrid, Ediciones Enebro, 1978), with text by Luis Martin Prieto. 

In later years he enjoyed painting for relaxation but continued to exhibit and sell his works (primarily in gouache) at the likes of the Museo del Ejercito in Toldedo and the Grifé & Escoda in Barcelona. 

Sanfeliz died at a military hospital in Barcelona on 23 August 1989, aged 68. He was survived by his wife, Isabel Zurita, and children Ricardo, Isabel, Maria Jose, Pilar, Manolo, Cristina and Alfredo.

(* The photograph of Sanfeliz meeting dictator Francisco Franco is from this blog.)

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