Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Illustrators #34 (Summer 2021)

In this latest issue, Illustrators brings together features on four artists, two Spanish, one Italian and one Argentinean. Three are well known names to fans of comics in the UK, while one, although also a comic artist, will probably be unfamiliar.

The issue leads off with a look at the work of Jesus Blasco, of whom I am an unashamed fan and have been since childhood when I discovered a tiny signature in the corner of a panel of The Steel Claw, which I mistakenly read as Blascot.

For over twenty years, Blasco helped fill British comics with his masterfully suspenseful images when drawing Dick Turpin, The Steel Claw, The Indestructible Man or Invasion, or with whimsy in a series of delightful fairy tales and series like Edward and the Jumblies and The Wombles.

When Blasco's artwork began appearing in the UK, he was one of only a handful of foreign artists introduced into British comics as expansion meant that more artists were required to fill the pages of a wider range of titles. Although only arriving six years later, F. Solano Lopez debuted in a very different field.

After making his debut in comics in his mid twenties, Lopez had worked with Hector Oesterheld drawing for Hora Cero and Frontera, most famously on the science fiction epic 'El Eternauta'. When Oesterheld's publishing company collapsed in 1959, Lopez travelled to London and established himself with Fleetway, drawing war pocket libraries. His first was chosen as the launch issue of Air Ace.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Lopez was kept incredibly busy, clocking up a number of strips that would run to hundreds of episodes, including 'Kelly's Eye', 'Galaxus', 'Raven on the Wing', 'Nipper' and 'Adam Eterno'. His artwork is unmistakable.

Eugenio Sicomoro is well known in Italy and France, but unknown in the UK. Bruno Brunetti began using the pen-name Sicomoro because his break came with a rival to the publisher he was unhappily working for. Sicomoro is known for his realistic painted illustrations, using ecoline (liquid watercolour) to create the impression of airbrush. He was the co-founder of the Scolo Sperimentale del Fumetto in Rome where he also taught for a while.

Sicomoro's most notable works include the series Rouletabille (later Marc Jourdan), with Claude Moliterni for Dargaud, SIDA Connection for Bagheera and Lumière Froide with Pierre Makyo for Glenet. The examples of his illustrations and covers displayed here makes me wish that his books were available over here in translation.

The fourth and final artist this issue is another whose best work appeared in the UK for many years. Victor de la Fuente was almost unknown in Spain until he began drawing 'Haxtur' in 1971 after a decade of drawing mostly war stories in the UK. After another thirty-five years working for Spain, France and the US (the Warren magazines), Fuente gave up comics in favour of painting. Thankfully, some of his comics remain in print, and he will be featured in a Rebellion Treasury of British Comics some point in the future.

A brief interview with fantasy artist Arantzazu Martinez wraps up another superb issue.

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 35 will have features on Alex Raymond, Bob Eggleton and Jacques Terpant.

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