If you caught yesterday’s news about the impending release of a collection of the 1970s strip “Black Max” as part of Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics, the signature of the incredible artist Alfonso Font on the cover of the Collection just might have jumped out at you. If it didn’t, then here’s why it should have…
For a start, he’s an award-winning artist (awards that include the “Yellow Kid”), much admired by other comic creators.
“I cannot overstate how good the work of Mr. Font is or how much his work has inspired and helped me,” enthuses American artist Klaus Janson. “His page layouts are always inventive and never distracting. He is brilliant in his use of black and white relationships.
“The body language of his characters is second to none. His commitment to environment is unquestionable and he combines that with a very precise use of composition that never seems to repeat itself.”
”Font’s mastery of anatomy is self-evident,” notes fellow Spanish artist Sergio Bleda. “I challenge you to show me an artist that can draw hands in such a natural and expressive manner as he does – it is his use of perspective, scene layout, narrative, volume, lightning, and textures.
Born in Barcelona, Spain in 1946, even as a youth, Alfonso Font knew what he wanted to become, and since then he has only worked on comics. After studying fine arts, he began working as an apprentice at Editorial Bruguera in 1962, mostly on black and white illustrations for mass-market novels, which were the specialty of this publishing house.
His first comic strips appeared in the magazines Hazañas del Oeste (“Adventures from the Wild West”) and Sioux, when he moved to another publisher, Editorial Toray, working there for several years before attempting to get a job with one of the professional agencies in Barcelona that dealt with foreign publishing houses, mainly in England and in the United States.
At the end of the 1960s, Font started to work for publishers in the United States and UK through the agency, Selecciones Ilustradas. His work on “Black Max”, commissioned through Bardon Art, was his first strip for the UK market.
Initially published in the short-lived Fleetway title Thunder, the memorable war/horror story is attributed to writers Frank Pepper and Ken Mennell and was initially drawn by Eric Bradbury.
The strip proved one of the highlights of Thunder (also the birthplace of immortal time traveller “Adam Eterno”), and centred on the battle against the evil Baron Maximilien Von Klorr and his army of mutated bats during World War One.
It survived Thunder’s merger into Lion in March 1971 and continued in the comic until the final issue in 1974. Here’s some scans from the first combined issue of Lion and Thunder, cover dated 20th March 1971, courtesy of Lew Stringer.
Black Max now figures prominently in the new “Fleetway Universe” stories that kickstarted in last year’s Scream and Misty Special.
Sticking with World War One, Font began drawing the espionage series Geminis In 1972, . written by Carlos Echevarría, before moving on to work for the French publishing house Editions du Vaillant on strip’s for Pif magazine scripted by Patrick Cothias including “Sandberg, Pere et Fils”, a strip sadly dropped from the title as it was considered too adult for its target teen audience.
Despite this setback, Alfonso continued to work for the French publisher, drawing “Les Robinsons de la Terre,” scripted by Roger Lecureux, a series axed after creator disagreements.
After working on “Tequila Bang” written by Victor Mora for the weekly Spanish news magazine La Calle, Font finally began writing his own scripts in 1980, creating several series and characters that have given him international recognition, including “Tales of an Imperfect Future”, “Dark Stories” and “Clarke & Kubrick”.
He created the science fiction series “Prisoner of the Stars” for Norma Editorial, as well as “Taxi,” a series about an investigative reporter who works for an international press agency, and “Privado” (“Private Eye”), a collection of astonishing detective stories.
His work also includes “Jon Rohner,” a series of stories about a sailor at the end of the 19th century who befriends Robert Louis Stevenson, and “Bri d’Alban”, the first album about the Crusades against the heretical Cathars of Occitania.
As well as a number of short stories such as “El As Negro” (The Black Ace), Font also created the comic strips “En busca del Cimoc perdido” (Searching for the lost Cimoc) and “Federico Mendelssohn Bartholdy contra el doctor Fut Maun Chut” (Federico Mendelssohn Bartholdy vs. Dr. Fut Maun Chut).
He also drew the graphic album Barcelona al Alba (Barcelona at Dawn), created in collaboration with scriptwriter Juan Antonio De Blas, based on real events that took place in Barcelona in 1925.
He then returned to Westerns drawing Tex stories for Italian publisher Bonelli Editore, written by Mauro Boselli.
Represented today worldwide by SAF (Strip Art Features), recent work includes the children’s story “Shelter for Lost Dreams.” and a new thriller/adventure series for SAF, which is again based in his beloved Barcelona.
A Spanish edition of Dark Stories (Historias negras) was published by Planeta Cómic last year.
Just looking at the small selection of his work here, you can see what an amazing artist Alfonso Font is, and it’s terrifi to see his art deservedly grace the cover of Rebellion’s upcoming Black Max collection.
I’ve already ordered mine… and wouldn’t it be great if this prompted interest in publishing new editions of his other work here in the UK?
Black Max Volume 1
By Frank Pepper, Eric Bradbury and Alfonso Font
Release Date: 4th October 2018
Cover and Introduction by Alfonso Font
Thrilling supernatural war comics from the pages of classic British comics Lion and Thunder!
ALLIED AIRMEN BEWARE! THE BAT IS OUT TO GET YOU!
Ace fighter pilot Baron Maximilien Von Klorr is the scourge of the skies, menacing the Allied forces during the bloodiest battles in World War One. Skilled, ruthless and in possession of two giant, mutated kingbats who fight by his side, Von Klorr AKA Black Max is almost unstoppable.
Only the brave pilots of the Royal Flying Corps, including Lieutenant Tom Wilson, oppose the Black Max’s complete dominance of the air…
Black Max Volume 2
Pages: 112 // Paperback
Bi-planes vs giant vampire bats in this thrilling collection of war comics with a horror twist! Lieutenant Tom Wilson returns to battle Baron Maximilien Von Klorr and his attack force of giant vampire bats in a continuation of the popular series.
The World War One era story moves to England with a monstrous albino bat attacking London with each page beautifully drawn by Alfonso Font working on one of his very first comic series.
This exciting World War One aviation adventure is ideal for fans of “Charley’s War”, Battle, and Hammer horror films!
• Alfonso Font – Full Stripography on Tebeosfera (in Spanish)
All art copyright respective creators and publishers
This article was updated in October 2020 to update some images and add the second volume of Black Max
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.