Friday, December 10, 2021

Comic Cuts — 10 December 2021

Researching the history of British comics can turn into a global escapade, trying to chase down information on artists from around the world. I must confess that it's one of the aspects about British comics that I find the most fascinating, that we not only had hundreds of talented artists here in the UK, but publishers also had the pick of the best talents from Europe and South America, too.

I've spent a couple of weeks working up some biographical material about some of the Argentinian artists who worked on Action, including Horacio Altuna, Horacio Lalia (who deserves a pretty big footnote in the history of the origins of 2000AD) and, just finished, the three brothers Villagran. My digging has uncovered quite a few interesting little snippets, including the fact that Lalia was a previously unidentified contributor to one of my favourite war comics from the Sixties, 'Trelawny of the Guards', a strip I have been banging on about for donkey's years.

Lalia was working in the UK via F. Solano Lopez, whose name shouldn't need any introduction (Kelly's Eye, Raven on the Wing, Janus Stark, Nipper, Galaxus, Adam Eterno, etc., etc., etc.). Lopez was introduced to the UK by no less a person than Hugo Pratt, who had  moved to London in the late 1950s. Although many of these artists only worked briefly in the UK, it does mean that there are some memorable stories tucked away in the pages of British comics by Pratt, Alberto Breccia, Arturo Del Castillo, Jose Luis Salinas, Carlos Freixas, Jorge Moliterni, and, in more recent years, artists like Quique Alcatena.

Sometimes this research uncovers oddments that leave us scratching our collective heads. For instance, while looking into the work of Carlos Villagran, I discovered that Lambiek notes that "He has also produced artwork for publications in Germany, Italy and Britain." But where?

I'm not sure where this work was meant to have appeared, but it is known that Carlos ghosted strip work (backgrounds, mostly, but often whole strips) for his brother Enrique, and it might be that this was his contribution to the UK, as Enrique was a regular on Dredger in Action. The only stray work outside of Action that we know of is a single cover for Commando (our column header) that was painted by Ricardo Villagran. Quite why Villagran only produced that one cover for Commando isn't known, although he also produced a couple of covers for Halls of Horror around the same time. Maybe he was offered work elsewhere. I might try asking, as he's still around.

We're still trying to fill a few gaps in the Action checklist, and a name suggested by David Roach for an as yet unidentified episode of 'Dredger' is Torre Repiso, who later drew strips for Spellbound and Debbie in the late 1970s. I now need to see what my powers of Google-Fu can turn up on him and whether it is possible to confirm his contribution.

You can't say my life is dull when I spend two or three days a week looking at fantastic artwork by incredible talents. It's better than the other half of my life, which is currently defrosting the fridge ahead of stocking up for Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Before getting into comics, Lalia was a football player. He apprenticed under Breccia. When Breccia worked on the series Mort Cinder he couldn't find a 'face' for the main character, having based the character of Ezra Winston on himself, although much older. When Lalia came to visit him at his studio, Breccia saw Lalia under shadows and found the face he was looking for the character of Mort Cinder. Lalia would later do adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft and Poe stories.



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