Monday, July 04, 2016
Angel Nadal Quirch (1930-2016)
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.
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.
‘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).
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.
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.”
In the mid-1960s, Nadal added ‘Birk ’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.
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 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 (angelnadaldibuixant.com), 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.