Early Marvel UK posters by López Espí surface online, book devoted to his superhero art still available

A London-based seller operating through the auction and sales site 1stDibs is offering copies of superhero posters by Spanish artist Rafael López Espí, best known as López Espí, items sold by Marvel UK through their weekly comics back in the 1970s.

The seller erroneously describes the original prints – offered at £350 each of Captain America, Daredevil (described as “Dare-Devil”), The Hulk, Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-man and Thor – as film posters.

However, the copyright information tallies with the original offer through the pages of various Marvel UK comics of the time, indicating they were published by Ediciones Vertice, Barcelona, and printed in Spain by Lipsia, Barcelona, the items sold there, too.

Marvel UK Poster Ad

Only the six posters offered by Marvel UK are listed on 1stDibs.

Details of the posters created for Ediciones Vertice on Espí’s own blog, the original range offered in Spain also including Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, and the very first Captain Marvel. He’s also previously offered copies himself, reproductions of the originals.

As we first noted in 2015, back in the 1970s, Marvel UK offered a number of posters he drew to loyal readers of its weekly superhero comics of the day.

Born in Barcelona in 1937, Rafael López Espí (López Espí) is something of a legend in his home country, perhaps best known for his superhero work for publisher Ediciones Vértice in the 1960s and 70s, but his comics career, which began in 1953, has included covers for DC Thomson’s Commando and the Fleetway titles Air AceBattleRoxyMarilyn and Valentine.

His strip work includes western stories such as “Rex Raven”, “Billy McGregor” and “Riffle”, as well as several war and romance stories, and “Mytek the Mighty”.

His web site indicates he tired of comics work because of issues over creator rights, devoting himself to advertising, worked drawing sets for animated films and collaborated with different agencies for the German or Swedish market making book covers or boxes for various games.

However, he returned to the medium in 2009 to create Extra-Humans and Rayser, published by Panini, the latter inspiring a musical soundtrack by Zíclope and Scud Hero.

Fans Fun Magazine, a Spanish fanzine that began 22 years ago, initially to celebrate his work, sadly ceased publication earlier this year, after running for 85 issues, victim to rapidly escalating paper and distribution costs, but in January, Editorial Dolmen released, in Spanish, a beautiful book of his work, El poder de López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes, still available direct from the publisher here (do note any purchases may be subject to customs duty), or here from AmazonUK.

  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes
  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes
  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes
  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes
  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes
  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes
  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes
  • López Espí: El arte de los superhéroes

This is a fantastic large format hardback book, which includes an interview with Lopez, and a wonderful gallery of his work, spanning several decades. Well worth the price if you’re a fan, even if you can’t read Spanish!

Some of the art in the book, presumably commissioned as Spanish comic covers, are re-workings of various original Marvel covers, but many featured aren’t. I’m guessing here regarding these “copies”, which have attracted some flak from fans, but perhaps the useable assets original covers by the likes of Gil Kane and others weren’t available for some of the Spanish editions Espi worked on, or the proportions of the Spanish titles was different, requiring “extensions” to the art to fit cover size – making it simple for the publisher to commission a “new” image.

Espi’s Facebook page features a lot of his art for Ediciones Vértice and more of his Marvel hero-inspired imagery.

Fans Fun Magazine Issue 85 - cover by Rafael López Espí

Click here to view the Spider-Man poster on 1stDibs – the other posters should display as similar items

• You can find more info on the original posters and the artist Rafael López Espí here (in Spanish)

• Rafael López Espí on Facebook

Rafael López Espí: Lambiek entry

Categories: Art and Illustration, Books, British Comics, Comic Art, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds, US Comics

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1 reply

  1. Brilliant. Great artist and a lovely guy I had the pleasure of commissioning a few years back. I’m off to order a copy.

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