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Monday, July 16, 2018

Illustrators #22 (Spring 2018)

Running a little late, but well worth the wait, is issue 22 of Illustrators, a Bardon Art special written for the most part by Diego Cordoba, but with an introduction from Dave Gibbons.

For those of you who don't know Bardon, it has been one of the busiest agencies of the past sixty years, funneling fantastic Spanish and British artwork to and from the UK and Spain to Europe, Africa and the Americas. Set up in 1957, it was a joint venture from former Amalgamated Press editor Barry Coker and Spanish artist Jordi Macabich. By the 1970s they represented over 70 artists and maintained a healthy relationship with Fleetway and DC Thomson into the 1980s and 1990s, despite the contracting market. It eventually closed when Barry retired in 2010.

From Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland in the UK, to key 2000AD artists like Carlos Ezquerra, Bardon has represented a broad range of artists. At one time they had seven strips running in national newspapers, including 'Friday Foster' drawn by Jordi Longaron, one of the subjects of this issue.

 
Barry Coker himself takes readers through the history of the company and some of its successes before we meet some of the key artists who have worked for the company. It's one of those books that could have been ten times as big because even some of the minor names associated with the company produced plenty of stunning artwork. Given the limits of a 96-page magazine, we get to look at five. But what a five!

Jordi Penalva is best-known for his covers for Cowboy Comics and, from 1963, the Fleetway war libraries – producing over 200 covers; two years later he also began painting covers for Commando, making Penalva one of the faces of British war comics during the 1960s.

Three artists can be grouped together because Matias Alonso, Luis Bermejo and Jose Ortiz were all part of the Valencian group of artists who found work in the UK in the 1960s, producing pages for Eagle (filling-in for Bermejo on 'Heros the Spartan') amongst others. Alonso lived in the UK for thirty-five years, drawing chiefly for Commando and DC Thomson's girls' comics.

 
Bermejo could have an issue devoted to him... he's one of my favourite artists. From his work on Thriller Picture Library, through Boys' World and Eagle to Fantastic, he showed an astonishing range of styles and talent with both pen and brush. Later he showed an equal talent for strips and illustrations aimed at the very young in the pages of Once Upon a Time and Treasure.

Jose Ortiz also had an amazing career in British comics, drawing the newspaper strip 'Caroline Baker', working for the original Eagle and the revived Eagle, Top Spot to 2000AD, War Picture Library to Wildcat.

That leaves Jordi Longaron, whose early strip work gave way to painted covers for the British and Spanish markets before he launched into a four-year run on the 'Friday Foster' newspaper strip.

For more information on Illustrators and back issues, visit the Book Palace website, where you can also find details of their online editions, and news of upcoming issues. Issue 23 will feature the work of illustrating legends N C Wyeth and Virgil Finlay, alongside features on Bobby Chiu and Anne & Janet Grahame Johnstone.

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