In Memoriam: Comic Artist María Barrera Castell

We’re sorry to report the passing of Misty and Tammy comic artist and illustrator Maria Barrera Castell (Gesalí), who died recently, aged 85, on 2nd May 2022.

Maria produced wonderful work for British comics like Mirabelle, Jinty, Tammy and Misty, as well as many Spanish titles.

“I interviewed her back in 2017 via her son,” recalls comics archivist and author Julia Round, “and she was a lovely lady, who didn’t believe that anyone liked or remembered her drawings! “An amazing talent.” She notes in her book, Gothic for Girls, that Castell was a detailed artist, who often used character features such as hair to distinguish and emote, and her fine line work, well suited to comics.

Las Mil Y Una Noches, "One Thousand and One Nights", published by Zeta Bolsillo

Born in Barcelona in 1937, the only child in her family, María Barrera i Castells career as an artist began aged just 13, the comic creator directory site Lambiek noting she was part of the group of female comic artists that drew romantic comic series for 1950s Spanish girls’ comics. (We don’t know if this was a formal or informal group of creators, and any additional information would be welcomed).

Her art appeared in publications like Jana, Lily, Pulgarcito and Sissi, her credits for Jana including characters like “Celia”, “Pituca” and “Anita”.

She also worked as a book illustrator, for Spanish publishers such as Editorial Bruguera. This included work on several books in the collections Historias (Genoveva de Bravante, “Genevieve of Brabant”, Alicia en el País de las Maravillas, “Alice in Wonderland”, Sissi emperatriz, “Sissi – The Young Empress”, and Aquellas Mujercitas, “Little Women”); and Joyas Literarias Juveniles (Hombrecitos, 1975), and Las Mil Y Una Noches, “One Thousand and One Nights“, published by Zeta Bolsillo.

Most of her best known work was for the international market, through the Creaciones Editoriales agency during the 1980s and 90s, for British girls comics in particular for the long-running title, Mirabelle, as well as Jinty, Tammy (on strips such as “Slave of the Clock”) and Misty, one of the few female artists to work on the title, drawing strips such as the serial, “The Body Snatchers”, and “Cry Baby”, “Danse Macabre”, “Roots” (Pat Mills noting the story was toned down by editorial); and Dutch titles such as Tina and Anita. Some of her works was reprinted in Spain (in As de Corazones and Jana) and Germany (in Vanessa).

The opening page of "Slave to the Clock", for Tammy, cover dated 2nd October 1982. Art by Maria Barrera / Maria Barrera (Barrera Gesali)
The opening page of “Slave to the Clock”, for Tammy, cover dated 2nd October 1982
The opening page of "The Body Snatchers" for the final issue of Misty, cover dated 12th January 1980, before its merger with Tammy. Story by Jay Over, art by Maria Barrera
The opening page of “The Body Snatchers” for the final issue of Misty, cover dated 12th January 1980, before its merger with Tammy. Story by Jay Over, art by Maria Barrera

Both Julia Round and the Spanish comics site Tebeosfera notes Maria was married to artist Guillermo Gesalí, working with him on some strips, her husband providing pencils, Maria finishing the work using a thin bamboo reed pen and ink.

Our symathies to her family and friends, including son David Gesalí, at this time.

María Barrera i Castells / Maria Barrera Castell (Gesalí), born 1937, died 2nd May 2022

Web Links

Lambiek: Maria Barrera

A Resource on Jinty: Maria Barrera (Barrera Gesali)

Tebeosfera: Maria Barrera i Castells

Cabre Junqueras – Death Notice (in Spanish)

Last Dodo – Maria Barrera Catalogue – includes Dutch titles

Gothic for Girls by Julia Round (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Maria Barrera: British Comic Credits

Some of this information is sourced from this discussion thread on ComicsUK

Jinty

Jinty and Lindy, cover dated 19th February 1977 – “Hide and Seek with a Ghost!”
Jinty, cover dated 23rd April 1977 – “The Gemini Girl”

Misty

Misty 1 (1978) wfg Luxury Charm Bracelet. Cover credited to Maria Barrera
Misty 1 (1978) wfg Luxury Charm Bracelet. Cover credited to Maria Barrera

Issue 1 – Cover and “Nightmare” story
Issue 10 – “The Love and the Laughter” (reprinted in Best of Misty)
Issue 35 – “The Bitter Tale of Sweet Lucy”
Issue 42 – “Voices in the Wind”
Issue 47 – “Who’s a Pretty Boy, Then?” (reprinted in Best of Misty)
Issue 52 – “Danse Macabre” (reprinted in Best of Misty)
Issue 57 – “Lead Kindly Light”
Issue 59 – “Two Left Feet”
Issue 61 – “The White Bird”
Issue 64 – “At the End of the Rainbow”
Issue 68 – “Cry Baby!” (reprinted in Best of Misty)
Issue 73 – “The Nightwatchman”
Issue 77 – “The Monster of the Lavender Lagoon”
Issue 84 – “Nightmare, Nightmare, Nightmare”
Issue 92 – Cover
Issue 92 – 101 (issues covers dated 10th November 1979 – 12th January 1980 – “The Body Snatchers” (reprinted in Best of Misty)
Issue 97 – Cover

Misty Credits compiled by Julia Round

Tammy

The cover of Tammy and Princess, cover dated 28th April 1984, by Maria Barrera | Via Jinty Resource
The cover of Tammy and Princess, cover dated 28th April 1984, by Maria Barrera | Via Jinty Resource

Tammy & Jinty, cover dated 28th November 1981 – 13th February 1982 – “The Shadow of Sherry Brown” (Writer Unknown)
• Tammy, cover dated 17th July 1982 – 30th October 1982 (skipped an episode in Tammy, cover dated 25th September 1982) – “Slave of the Clock” – Ongoing Story written by Jay Over
Tammy, starting with issue cover dated 3rd September 1983 – 29th October 1983 – “Lonely Ballerina” (Ongoing Story)
• Tammy, Ongoing story concluding in issue cover dated 31st March 1984 – “Dear Diary – I Hate You!”
 • Tammy issue information welcome – “The Message of a Flower”

Web Links

Lambiek: Maria Barrera

A Resource on Jinty: Maria Barrera (Barrera Gesali)

Tebeosfera: Maria Barrera i Castells

Cabre Junqueras – Death Notice (in Spanish)

Last Dodo – Maria Barrera Catalogue – includes Dutch titles

Gothic for Girls by Julia Round (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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