Monday, August 15, 2011
Francisco Solano Lopez RIP
News is coming in of the passing of Francisco Solano Lopez, whom many of you will remember as the artist of such great British strips as Adam Eterno, Kelly's Eye, Janus Stark, Master of the Marsh, and many more.
Born in Argentina in 1928, Lopez began his comics career in 1953 working for publishers in his own country and started freelancing for Fleetway in 1959. His dark, atmospheric brush strokes were perfect for the new emerging boys adventure weeklies such as Valiant, Lion, and Buster. At a time when imported American comics had to work under the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, British comics used their own judgment, allowing creepy horror scenarios in their strips, such as this example from Kelly's Eye (Valiant, 24th April 1965). The use of heavy black areas and the fear in the faces gives the strip the perfect feeling of claustrophobia and terror:
The talents of Solano Lopez could also be seen on slightly lighter and more slapstick series, such as Galaxus and Pete's Pocket Army in Buster...
Lopez was able to convincingly combine the fantastic with a gritty street-level feel to his work. One example of that is this page from The Fugitive from Planet Scror (Lion, 1970) with the artist working from a very contemporary script proving that IPC were putting some streetwise elements in their stories several years before Battle or Action debuted...
Every boy who grew up on Fleetway adventure comics of the 1960s and 1970s would be familiar with Lopez' work, whether it be from strips such as early football adventures of Nipper in Score 'n' Roar to the long-running adventures of Kelly's Eye and Adam Eterno. Although the artist found fame in adult comics (and found credits where due, unlike on his anonymous UK work) his strips formed a huge and important part of British comics. Due to the gritty edge of his style his pages still seem exciting and vibrant today. Long may he be remembered.
John Freeman has written a fascinating and well researched tribute on his Down The Tubes blog: