Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jose Ortiz and Luis Bermejo

I first discovered these two fantastic Spanish cartoonists in the pages of Eagle in the sixties. Unlike most fans of the Eagle I consider the sixties comics superior to those of the fifties. Usually Frank Bellamy gets all the praise for Heros the Spartan -- I found his comic work too sculptural and much preferred the romantic conceptions of Bermejo.

Jose Ortiz was responsible for Eagle's UFO Agents, later retitled Smokeman. Unlike his Warren comic art, which looked like it had been carved in ink, UFO Agents was very simplistic, similar to Wally Wood's style

Luis Bermejo Royo (1932-) was among the first Spanish artists to work on British comics in the sixties. He drew private eye John Steel for Thriller Picture Library (1960-1962), strips for the War and Battle Picture Library and Pike Mason for Boys World. In 1962 he began working on the Eagle on a war comic Mann of Battle (1962) and in 1963 took over Heros the Spartan, featured in a full-colour centre spread, from Frank Bellamy. Bellamy had just finished a sequence featuring Heros and a platoon of Roman Legionaries versus a maniacally drawn Druid priest when Bermejo was given his chance and produced magnificent sword and fantasy over the next few years.

Eagle was a large tabloid comic magazine approximately 18 by 24 inches; Heros took up two stunning painted pages working out to about 2 by 3 foot of barbarian mayhem. Bermejo then turned to superheroes with Johnny Future in Fantastic and soared into the seventies with work on Tell Me Why, Once Upon a Time, Tiny Tots, Creepy, Eerie, and (recently resurrected) Look and Learn.

Jose Ortiz Moya (1932-) drew Sigur the Viking in Spain before turning his attention to Britain where he contributed to War Picture Library, Battle, Ace and Commando. In 1962 he drew the comic strip Caroline Baker for the Daily Express, John Brody in Boys World and, for Eagle, the great UFO Agents/Smokeman and Sky Buccaneers comics circa 1966. He joined Creepy and Eerie in 1974. After his Warren days he worked on Judge Dread and Rogue Trooper stories for 2000 AD and contributed to Heavy Metal.

*Video featuring Lusi Bermejo HERE

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