Introduced by David A. Roach
Art: Jordi Badia Romero
Publisher: Treasury of British Comics/Rebellion
Price £19.99/ 128 Pages
Reviewed by: Peter Duncan
The Book: Celebrating the incredible art of Jordi Badía Romero from supernatural girls comic Misty, this sumptuous hardcover art book collects stories from the 1980s that showcase this remarkable, and criminally overlooked, artist who died in 1984. The book also includes work by his brother, Enrique Badía Romero, artist on Modesty Blaise and Axa.
The Review: The latest entry from Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics imprint is an unexpected classic. It collects a series of supernatural horror stories drawn by, Jordi Bardi Romero, for the classic girls comic, Misty.
In a period of just under two years, Romero drew some of the most memorable and skilful strips to appear in the legendary girls comic. The younger brother of Enrique Badía Romero, long-time Modesty Blaze artist and co-creator of the Axa strip, Jordi’s career may have been overshadowed by his sibling, but on the evidence of this book that is an almost criminal mistake.
From the first page of the first strip in this book, you can tell that The Jordi Badia Romero Collection is something special. Atmospheric and mysterious, the opening of “Mrs Barlow’s Lodger“, has all of the ingredients that Romero would bring to his Misty work. Gothic architecture looms menacingly beneath an eerie sky, while an ominous stranger approaches to be greeted by a pretty girl. There are always the pretty girls.
By the time Romero started work for Misty, he’d already established himself in British comics. At age 15, he began working as an assistant for his brother, but soon found work on his own behalf on many romance comics in the UK and in the US for Warren Comics, under the name Jorge Galvez.
Prior to Misty, he was probably best known for his work on Spellbound, a DC Thomson weekly, where he’d taken over from his brother on the science fiction strip “Supercats“, drawing more than 70 episodes featuring the all-female crew of the spaceship Lynx.
As good as he had been, he seemed to take a step forward when he moved to Misty. His use of shadow and contrast gave his strips an immediate atmosphere that matched with the gothic horror of the scripts while his background in romance comics brought his beautiful and glamorous heroines to life.
The cover of this collection, a half-hidden face looking out in fear is a perfect example. A simple image, yet as good an evocation of terror as I’ve seen in comics.
In this collection you’ll meet witches, vampires and magicians. You’ll see dark woods, the fog-laden streets of London and even the doomed city of Pompeii. All beautifully drawn, and dedicated to building atmosphere and telling stories.
Consisting of 18 one-off stories and a short serial, “Screaming Point“, the book is completed with Jordi’s covers for Misty and an additional story from an annual. There are a few pages in colour, just as they appeared in the original comic, and they are the only disappointment in the collection, breaking the gothic atmosphere slightly. But this is a book I will go back to over and over, maybe not to read the stories, but to look at the stunningly skilful artwork.
I’m ashamed to say that until I read this book, I’d known nothing of Jordi Badia Romero. Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics series of books has done a great service in putting this collection together. There are many strips in the Rebellion vaults that I’d like to see reprinted and would have selected before these. But I’d have been wrong, this collection is a delight and after you can’t always get what you want and sometimes, you get what you need.
Peter Duncan is the editor of 2000 AD fanzine, Sector 13, and of Splank!, his own humour and adventure comic. He is the writer of the Cthulhu Kids comic and co-designer of the Cthulhu kids Card game. Full details at www.boxofrainmag.co.uk
Peter has recently finished work on the first ‘Misty-inspired’ script for Sector 13, working alongside writer Dr Julia Round, author of Gothic in Comics and Graphic Novels: A Critical Approach and the forthcoming Gothic for Girls: Misty and British Comics. The strip will appear in a future issue of Sector 13
Peter Duncan is editor of Sector 13, Belfast’s 2000AD fanzine and Splank! – an anthology of strips inspired by the Odhams titles, Wham!, Smash! and Pow! He’s also writer of Cthulhu Kids. Full details of his comics activities can be found at www.boxofrainmag.co.uk