David Roach, who in addition to be a terrific artist on strips such as Doctor Who and “Judge Dredd” has also written several books, including Aarrgghh!! It’s War: The Best War Comic Cover Art, has penned a new art book focusing on Vampirella artist Jose González, due for release in September 2015 from US comics publisher Dynamite.
For nearly two decades, Jose “Pepe” González who also had an extensive career drawing for many British comics, was hailed as the premier Vampirella artist, drawing the fiery vixen for Warren Publishing in the 1970s and 80s. Renowned for bringing to life the most beautiful women the art world has ever seen, Gonzalez’s career spans from drawing British romance comics to movie stars, book covers to commercial advertising, and, of course, personal commissions for loved ones and devotees.
For the first time ever, David covers Jose’s entire career, transcending his vast body of Vampirella work to explore the full breadth of the master’s creations. The book also features an introduction by painter Joe Jusko.
As Steve Holland noted in his obituary to Jose on Bear Alley, Barcelona-born González, who died in 2009 just a fortnight short of his 70th birthday, began working as an artist for British comics as a teenager, introduced to the world of comics by Javier Puerto, who had spotted two portraits drawn by González which were hanging in the window of a tailor’s shop where his mother worked. Puerto presented him to Josep Toutain, the manager of the Selecciones Ilustrades agency, where he was initially hired to draw Westerns such as Yuki el Temerario for Editorial Valenciana, before first appearing in Britain for publisher Len Miller, working on “Doc Holliday” which appeared in Miller’s TV Heroes and Young Marvelman Annual in 1959.
He would go on to draw many romance strips for titles such as Marilyn, Love Story Picture Library, Jackie, Mirabelle, Romeo, Judy and Mandy, and adapted the TV show The Avengers in 1963-64, syndicated to various TV listings magazines and newspapers in the UK and abroad. He made his debut on Vampirella for Warren in 1971, with “Death’s Dark Angel” in Vampirella #12.
González stated unequivocally that his main early influences included Alex Raymond and Argentinean artist Jose Luis Salinas, the South American artist who most followed Raymond Flash Gordon and Hal Foster’s lead and brought a Latin flair to the American ideal and hugely popular among Spanish artists. Indeed, it was his ability to copy Salinas style with such incredible skill that first gained him work from Selecciones Ilustrades.
“I could only ever dream about there being a book about [González] stuff, so I [snip] pitched the idea of doing the book about González [to Dynamite],” David said recently, who has previously commented on González Vampirella work for The Warren Companion. “Thankfully they said yes. [snip] … and this is where the process begins of learning more about the artist: his life, his work and so on. It’s a combination of stuff I know, I’ve collected, but also involves going out and doing the research. It’s fascinating and incredibly time consuming, but hopefully it’s worth it in the end. I think with this book it really will be worth it, because I am so excited about it!
“Two years in the making and full of rare and unpublished art, the book is 248 pages long, crammed full of art, much of it unpublished and much of it shot from the original art,” he enthused elsewhere. “I’m a massive fan of Pepe’s work so the book is full of art from some 30 years of collecting, plus lots of astonishing art from private collections as well.
“I’ve tried my utmost to put together a fitting tribute to one of my great heroes,” he adds. “As my poor long suffering editor Hannah Elder can attest, there are well over a thousand scans of images in the book so at the very least this will be the most Gonzalez artwork anyone has ever seen in one place! Do keep an eye out for it.”
• The Art of Jose González by David Roach will be released on 13th October 2015
• Vampirella fans may also be interested in this crowd funding appeal to produce a documentary about the Spanish artists who worked for Warren, paying tribute to to remember all those great Spanish artists whose work featured in titles such as Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, hired by Josep Toutain of Selecciones Ilustradas. The documentary intends to pay homage to González.
• You can read a serialised interview with David Roach on the Judgement in Cardiff web site – start here
• Lambiek: Jose González
• There’s a feature on Jose on this archived web site (sadly, sans images) by A.E. Mendez, part of a larger site on Golden Age Illustration
• The official Vampirella web site is at: www.vampirella.com
Vampirella © Dynamite Entertainment