Sunday, May 27, 2012

British Girls' Comics: Diana Annual 1977 - Fabulous Four by Enrique Badia Romero

Last year Out Of This World featured examples of stories and sequential art to be found in the excellent but now extinct British girls' comic, Diana. One of the stories featured in that post was "For Love of Leni", drawn by Enrique Badia Romero, better known for his work on the Modesty Blaise newspaper strip:

That Romero's celebrated style turns up in Diana is interesting in and of itself. I only have a few Diana annuals, none of the weekly comics, but in those annuals there is a regular feature called 'The Fabulous Four', a girls' sci-fi futuristic adventure story. Artistically it is probably the best piece in a book that is generally full of high quality art. Below is the Fabulous Four story from the 1977 Diana Annual - enjoy!

I think we lost a lot when romance comics and these girls' comics went by the wayside. What is interesting also, to me, is that there were comics (and such high quality comics at that), produced for girls in the UK. We'd still have them today if there was a market, but they're gone, presumably because girls stopped buying comics. We've talked about this before, but perhaps somehow the publishers lost their audience by being unable to go with them wherever it was that they went, in terms of what they were looking for in entertainment.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Latino/Spanish Artists at Charlton: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (3) - For Lovers Only 68

The December 1972 issue of Charlton's For Lovers Only (issue 68) has a beautifully illustrated tale entitled "A One-Sided Affair". Garcia-Lopez's art is fully mature in style, and fortunately the story is not too bad either, simple but okay. Charlton used the splash page from the story for their panel cover, not surprisingly actually, because the artist really knows how to draw a beautiful woman.

As seems rather typical for these late 60s/early 70s romance stories drawn by Latino/Spanish artists, we're not looking so much at lower socioeconomic communities. Although the protagonist, Eve, is a secretary, she works for a firm of architects, and mixes with educated professionals. The scenario is also somewhat realistic and also something you'd expect from a romance tale. The ending is satisfying - our leading lady gets her man, without there being a big fuss made by her girlfriend, with whom her heart throb has been dating for some time in a relationship that wasn't going anywhere. I like the use of the girl's diary again - I'm surprised this was put in For Lovers Only instead of Love Diary. This is just a really nice looking comic, with a great piece of artwork by Mr. Garcia-Lopez. A collection of his Charlton romance stories would make a nice book I think.

Beautiful work, great artist!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Latino/Spanish Artists at Charlton: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (2) - Love Diary 57

The 8-page story, "This Fantastic Man", in Charlton's Love Diary 57 (December 1968), is an earlier example of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's romance work for the company. Again some lovely, atmospheric panels by the artist, who knows how to draw lovely ladies and good-looking guys. Again we see an example of Charlton re-using interior artwork for the cover, this time the splash page. They weren't the only ones to do this, however. This was a common practice in DC romance books in the 60s, Marvel as well. The story is very simple - girl with a history of failures at romance gets a change of scenery and things start to go differently. In the end it all works out for her and she finds the love she wanted all along. I like the way the story includes an actual love diary written by the protagonist. Some beautiful panels - page 4 has some particularly nice examples. Very European-looking cars, stylish clothes, I like the braided hair. Nice backgrounds - just all very pleasing to the eye. These Charlton romance stories by Garcia-Lopez have made me really appreciative of his work.

Next post on Out Of This World - another Garcia-Lopez romance gem, a later one, from 1972.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Latino/Spanish Artists at Charlton: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (1) - Just Married 74

The December 1970 issue of Charlton's Just Married (#74) features a 10-page story about a young couple possibly approaching divorce. The cover is one of Charlton's thrifty collage covers made up of panels of interior artwork from this particular story. The title "Why Am I Here?" reflects the confusion and uncertainty the wife feels as she arrives in Reno to meet up with a divorce lawyer. This, and the other Charlton romance stories by Garcia-Lopez that I have in my collection, really make me appreciate this type of work produced by this well-known artist, the bulk of whose material appears in DC superhero books. To me, this romance material is of superior quality, possibly because it was earlier and he had more time. But looking at his later stuff you can see an evolution towards a more stylized product, a bit like the way Alex Toth's earlier work was more realistic while his later style more 'cartoony' - different, simpler. The story is quite solid, and revolves around the misinterpretation of the husband's actions - his wife believes he has fallen for a young woman whose own husband runs around on her. On the verge of going through with the divorce, she sees the truth - her husband was indeed just helping an unfortunate - she hadn't given him the opportunity to explain what was going on, and was rather ready to jump to a certain conclusion - the kind of uncertainty about a spouse that one might expect early on in a marriage. To be fair, though, he could have handled the situation a lot better, and done more to ensure his wife wouldn't be put in such a difficult situation where she didn't know what was happening.

I like the underwater kiss, the lighthouse panel, the review of how the couple got together, gorgeous 'reflection on a pillow' panel on page 6 of the story, nice clothes, beautiful lady, handsome guy. Very nice.

A couple more examples of this stage of Garcia-Lopez's career drawing Charlton romance stories will be featured in the next couple of Out Of This World posts. Sequential Crush has also featured José Luis García-López in a couple of posts, including an interview:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Latino/Spanish Artists at Charlton: Demetrio (9) - Time For Love 43

Charlton's Time for Love 43 (Aug 1975) has another 6 page story sporting some decent Demetrio artwork. This time another well-used romance comic theme is used - that of the star struck aspiring actress exploited by the philandering lead actor, while the reliable home town guy waits, offering support, until the girl's illusion is dispelled. She allows herself to be easily taken in by the unprincipled celebrity, to the extent that she begins believing he loves her and intends to follow through with his promises. Of course it all comes crashing down, and Mr. Dependable has to pick up the pieces. Fortunately she's able to learn from her experience and see the man who really cares about her as the gem he is. Some artistic devices of note: the protagonist's hair begins to spill out over the edges of the panels in the last 3 pages of the story, quite nicely done; here and there we see some of the trademark Demetrio psychedelia - particularly nice examples in panel 2 on page 4 and in panel 4 of page 6. European cars, broody females, a flock of seagulls, 70s hairstyles. Here it is:

There was a point in the story where Elaine seemed to be suggesting that Peter was too controlling, but one has to wonder how he put up with her running off with the flashy actor when it is obvious he cares for her.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Latino/Spanish Artists at Charlton: Demetrio (8) - Secret Romance 37

The artwork in this 6-page Demetrio romance story, "Bus Ride Blues" from Secret Romance 37 (March 1976), is again of superior quality. We have a female protagonist taking a bus tour to forget about the guy she was going to marry until she found out he was cheating on her. At each of the stops on the tour she spies the same handsome stranger, each time with a different woman. She ends up falling for him, but his explanation for those other women doesn't match the visuals - he's a salesman, and they were all clients!? He has his arm round beautiful female clients!? I have a hunch the heroine is going to find herself being cheated on again eventually, but at the end of the story she's still blinded by love, which should have been the title of the story I think. Anyway, there are some nice panels, and I don't want to take away from the beautiful Demetrio art. The idea was good, but the way it was resolved was rather implausible, in my opinion. Perhaps there was some miscommunication between the writer and artist of this story - from when I spoke to Joe Gill, the prolific Charlton writer a year before his death, he talked about the Spanish artists that Charlton was getting work from by mail - he rarely if ever got to meet some of the artists working for the company in the late 60s/early 70s period. Anyway, here's the story - another of the better Demetrio pieces:

Salesman? Clients?

Some nice panels, I think you'll agree - layouts too. But customers!?