The last week has been a very fortunate one for Warren fans, or at the very least fans of the Spanish artists who dominated the Warren magazines in the 1970's as we have seen not one, but two different publications issued on them. It seemed a fitting time to make my first post at this blog in almost two years.
First we have "Masters of Spanish Comic Book Art" by David Roach. Roach should be well known to any current fan of Warren, as not only being a co-author of the Warren Companion, but also being responsible for several Vampirella books from the character's current publisher, Dynamite, including a book focused on the covers of the Warren years and a book focused on principal Vampirella artist Jose Gonzalez. Roach by all accounts is the pre-eminent English speaking expert on these artists and its great to see more work from him on this subject.
First and foremost, it should be said that this is not really a book about Warren Publishing, but rather the Spanish comic artist community that Warren's magazines primarily brought to the American comic fan's eye in the 70's and 80's. The book provides a detailed history of Spanish comic book artists, starting from the beginnings of comics in the early 1900's, and taking us through matters such as the Spanish art agencies that developed, their role in British romance and war comics and other countries throughout Europe before their eventual arrival to the United States. In fact the chapter on their role at Warren is pretty brief, a mere 3 pages long. The narrative continues beyond the Warren years throughout the 80's and to the present day.
This book is primarily an art book; of its 270 pages approximately 50 provide a history for the Spanish comic artist community and the remaining 200+ is focused on providing an art gallery for a wide variety of the artists, just over 75 in fact. 18 of the artists have a written feature on them, while for the remaining ones we are just treated to samples of their art. These artists focused on mediums other than just comics, and that is made clear here as the art samples are not simply interior comic book pages but also a wide variety of paintings and book covers. The written features cover most of the well-known artists who worked for Warren, including Esteban Maroto, Jose Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Manuel Sanjulian, Enrich Torres, Jose Ortiz, Luis Bermejo, Jose Bea, Rafeal Auraleon and Fernando Fernandez. I was happy to see pretty much all of my favorites with write ups. We also get write ups for Victor de la Fuente (who had only 1 original Warren story, but numerous reprinted stories in his Haxtur and Haggarth series in the late years of Eerie), several artists who had only 1 story or cover for Warren (Alfonso Font, Jordi Longaron, Jordi Bernet, Jose Miralles) and a couple of artists who to my knowledge never did anything for Warren, Angel Badia Camps and Manfred Sommer.
Learning of other Spanish artists beyond just those who worked for Warren was a highlight of the book for me, there are artists here like Enric Sio (featured a lot in my coverage of Dracula), Marika, Joan Boix and others who I'd love to learn more about now. But it’s not just that, getting to see a lot of other work from artists I'm already familiar with is a great benefit and hopefully a great starting point in discovering more of these artist's works.
Ultimately, this book leaves me wanting more, but then I want to learn so much more about these artists that any book was probably going to leave me feeling that way. Having write ups for more artists would have been great, particularly for ones with large bodies of work at Warren such as Ramon Torrents, Isidre Mones, Martin Salvador and Leopold Sanchez. There are many artists who only have a single page of their work featured and more would have been appreciated (Mones in particular, as well as Zesar Lopez, who while never that prolific at Warren was an artist I really enjoyed). The vast majority of the Spanish artists that provided work for Warren are featured, although there are a few notables missing such as Jaime Brocal Remohi, Pepe Moreno Casares and Jose Gual. A few less notable artists that did some work for Warren that are also missing include Jorge Galvez, Jesus Suso Rego and Rubio.
In the overall scheme of things though, these are longings from an obsessed fan who wants to learn as much about these artists as possible. I totally understand that there are editorial and length restraints and think that the author in almost all cases has made the correct choices about what to include and what not to include. This is a great book for any fan of these artists and highly recommended by me.
(note: You can also read a modified version of this review that I have posted on Amazon for this book)
Next we a special edition of Illustrators Magazine, titled "Warren Magazines - The Spanish Artists". I'm not too familiar with this magazine, but upon discovering that they were working on this issue around 6 months or so ago I quickly put in a pre-order for this. This magazine is principally written by Diego Cordoba. I first came across Cordoba over at Amazon.com where he has written numerous detailed reviews on the Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella archives being published by Dark Horse and Dynamite. Having worked with Josep Toutain and Seleccionnes Illustrada, there's hardly anyone out there who can bring the personal knowledge and expertise that Cordoba brings to the table on this subject. David Roach also has some contributions here.
Unlike Roach's book, which provides small glimpses at numerous artists, this publication instead provides detailed focus on a much smaller amount of artists. After an initial feature on Josep Toutain, it provides articles on Enrich Torres, Manual Sanjulian, Jose Gonzalez, Esteban Maroto, Luis Garcia and Jordi Bernet. Each article is around 20-30 pages long with numerous examples of artwork from each artist. While there are examples of their Warren art here, we have a lot of other stuff showcased as well. For example, for Enrich, we have approximately 40 pieces of art of his that I had never seen before. The publication also features some behind the scene pictures, some examples directly from the original artwork themselves, and even an excerpt from a never published Warren story drawn by Jose Ortiz. Where Masters of Spanish Comic Book art leaves you wanting more, this publication provides a lot more depth and satisfaction for each artist, granted a much smaller number.
Hopefully this publication ends up being a good seller, as I'd love to see Cordoba produce a second or even third edition focusing on additional artists. You can buy the issue here: http://bookpalace.com/acatalog/info_ILLUSTRATORSSPA.html