I’m very sorry to report the death of award-winning Spanish comic artist Carlos Pacheco, who has died aged just 60.
Earlier this year, he announced he had been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or Motor Neuron Disease).
Such is his stature in his home town of San Roque, where a street is already named after him, he is to be honoured with two days of official mourning for the local hero; the mayor has specially opened the funeral chapel at the Palace of the Governors.
The Spanish web site, El Plural, reports the mayor of the region, Juan Carlos Ruiz Boix, has called Pacheco a “hero” for having decided to donate his organs, and has shown his sorrow through the networks by calling him an “exemplary neighbour, rooted in his city where he felt free and at home.”
“He carried our name all over the world with affection and even devotion,” he added.
While Carlos is perhaps best known for work such as Arrowsmith, co-created with Kurt Busiek, the Marvel maxi-series Avengers Forever and the DC graphic novel, JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice, he broke into comics in the 1980s, drawing covers, posters and pin-ups for Spanish-translated editions of various Marvel comics for Planeta-DeAgostini Comics, an imprint of pan-European publisher Planeta De Agostini.
He eventually began working on comic stories for the publisher, co-creating two teams of heroes — Iberia Inc. and Tríada Vértice — with Rafael Marín, before working for Marvel UK.
Editorial Director Paul Neary, who had an unfailing eye for raw talent, having already made as much as possible of writers such as Dan Abnett and artists such as Bryan Hitch and Liam Sharp, was determined to give Carlos work as soon as possible. His first work was covers for the British newsstand reprint title Exploits of Spider-man, edited by Tim Quinn, and his first strip work a short back up story in Motormouth and Killpower #12, written by Matthew Hyde, which I edited.
It was obvious from the get go that we had another extraordinary talent on our books, alongside, to name but a few, artists such as Bryan, Liam, Charlie Adlard, Dougie Braithwaite, Simon Coleby, Gary Frank, Stuart Jennett, Mark Harrison, Salvador Larocca and writers like Craig Houston, David Leach and Dan. While I left Marvel UK in early 1993, I think Carlos had already been lined up to draw the MysTech Wars spinoff mini series, Dark Guard, featuring a Defenders-style superhero team starring Death’s Head II and Dark Angel. Carlos went on to work on the sadly abandoned Motormouth Re-Mix mini, victim to cutbacks, just like Dan and Mark’s glorious Warheads spinoff, Loose Cannons, and many other tales.
(For those interested, I have compiled a guide to the Genesis 1992 period of Marvel UK helped by many others, outlining all the published and abandoned projects of those red hot years, a time bristling with creativity).
But despite the woes at Marvel UK, there was no stopping Carlos. He would go on to enjoy runs on X-Men, Excalibur, Fantastic Four, Green Lantern and Captain America, and, of course, maxiseries Avengers Forever and the graphic novel, JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice.
In addition to his comics work, he has been co-ordinator of the Comics Seminar of the summer courses of the University of Cádiz in San Roque since 2004, aimed at the study and dissemination of the medium.
He was also one of the founders of the Spanish publishing house Dolmen Editorial, who, last year, announced a new line in reprints of British comic strips under the imprint Albión – the name chosen because it evoked the island of Great Britain in ancient times, as a tribute to the great British creators.
The Albión line joins two other imprints, Sin Fronteras, focused on reissues of American strips and Fuera Borda, dedicated mainly to Franco-Belgian classics, and marks a further expansion in the Palma-based publisher’s catalogue and aspirations.
In September, Carlos revealed that he had been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), discussing the diagnosis on Twitter, after an announcement on Facebook.
“The final diagnostic has made it clear: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), aka ALS,” he said, in Spanish, translated by CBR’s Diane Darcy. “It is what it is, and it is what needs to be dealt with. It’s true that this is an unexpected turn of events in my life, but this doesn’t make me feel less fortunate to have lived the life I have lived, for the experiences I’ve had, the achievements I’ve made, and the people I’ve been fortunate to cross paths with. In truth, it’s been a life that’s gone beyond my wildest childhood dreams.
“Thank you to everyone who has been here. Let’s keep going as always!”
More recently, perhaps ever more conscious of his own mortality, Carlos posted these lyrics by Laura Nyroto his Twitter, from the song “And when I Die”, first recorded by Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1968…
And when I die
and when I’m dead, dead and gone,
There’ll be one child born and
a world to carry on, to carry on
I’m not scared of dying
and I don’t really care
If it’s peace you find in dying,
well, then let the time be near.
Godspeed, Carlos. You have been taken far too young, but what an incredible legacy you leave us.
My sympathies to family and friends at this time.
Carlos Pacheco, 14th November 1961 – 9th November 2022
Tributes to Carlos Pacheco
“I was sadden and shocked to hear the news about the passing of Carlos Pacheco,” says artist Jaime Mendoza. “As a friend for 25 years, I’m glad I was able to know him, not as just an amazing artist but as a kind and generous man. The comic world lost a master of his craft and the world lost a really great human being.
“I was lucky enough to see his work first hand for years as his pages came into the studio to be inked. I will be greatfull that I could marvel over them before anyone else got to. You will be missed indeed. Godspeed Carlos.”
“Gutted to hear that we not only lost Kevin O’Neill but also Carlos Pacheco within the last few days,” commented fellow artist Liam Sharp. “Carlos was a truly lovely bloke. He and I both got our early big breaks at Marvel UK. We also both adored the Arnie Conan movie, and its amazing soundtrack… He told me he saw Basil Poledouris conduct a full orchestra performing it with the movie screening in the BG once in Spain. Wish I’d been there with him!
“One of my fondest convention memories was a panel I did with him and John McCrea in Dublin. It ended up being hysterically funny, and full of warmth and good humour. He was delightful to be around. Sad, sad day.”
“We mourn the loss of a dear part of the Marvel family, comic artist and writer Carlos Pacheco,” state Marvel Comics. “His legacy of iconic designs and storytelling like Avengers Forever, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Excalibur, Captain America, and more will be remembered. Our thoughts are with his loved ones.”
“Carlos Pacheco was a visionary artist,” state DC Comics, “who whose contributions to the Superman, Green Lantern and the JLA/JSA legacies will have a lasting impact on the industry. DC offers its sincere condolences to his family, friends, fans and many collaborators.”
“Avengers Forever exists because of Carlos Pacheco,” notes artist and writer Kurt Busiek in a poignant tribute. “He was up for a contract renewal, and he told Bob Harras that he wanted two things: He wanted to do an Avengers project and he wanted me to write it.
At this point, we’d never worked together, and had barely met. Bob called me, and asked me if I was up for the project. I was hugely flattered, and told Bob that I had no time (this was very true), but for the chance to work with Carlos, I would make time.
Then we had to actually come up with a story… And it was while were were figuring out the cast, I think, that we started to realise that our sensibilities were in the same place, in terms of what worked and what didn’t, what comics we’d loved when we were kids, which we were inspired by as adults.
“Our collaboration and friendship built on that… It was always a great time working with Carlos. I’m so very sorry we won’t be doing more, but I’ll always have those years, those conversations, that energy.”
You can read his Kurt’s full tribute here on Facebook.
“I am so incredibly saddened to hear about the passing of my friend, comic book legend, Carlos Pacheco,” said artist Tim Townsend. “I can honestly say without a shred of exaggeration that Carlos was one of kindest, most genuinely decent people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing in all my years in this business. His art speaks for itself and I am honored to have been able to partner with him a few times over the years. SO much fun! But mostly I’m just going to miss my friend. Rest in power, brother.”
“The best part of working in comics is not when the book is published, it’s when you first see the art,” notes writer David Walker, “before it’s been inked or colored, when there are no words covering anything. Every time Carlos Pacheco sent over the pencils for Occupy Avengers, it was like getting a birthday present. His work was always amazing, and our brief time working together was an incredible honour. Much love and deepest condolences to his family and friends. R.I.P.”
“This is so unfair and wrong,” commented writer Chris Claremont of Carlos’ passing. “He was an artist of such ability, a friend to be embraced. This, like too many others this year, is a last train that should have been stopped before leaving the station. A better booking should have been made, a better deal cut with Higher Authority. It’s just not fair – as should have been said re George [Perez] & Neal [Adams]. To his family, Beth’s & my deepest condolences.
“To those who didn’t know him, cherish the art he was able to create. To those of us who did, hold him forever in our memories for the times be made us smile, brought us joy, challanged us to do better.
“The heavens are your canvas now, my friend; can’t wait to see what next you create.”
Also on downthetubes
• The MND Association is a UK charity focused on improving access to care, research and campaigning for people affected by motor neurone disease
All art © respective publishers/ creators