miércoles, 31 de marzo de 2010


Since nothing is perfect in life, there are always things that will go wrong. 1989-1990, I can’t remember exactly. Everything was smooth. I had plenty of work and a great relation with my publishers for whom I was working exclusively: SEMIC PRESS. It was so good they improved my income without me ever asking. And then the problems with my agent started. My idea of what she deserved for the mediation and management wasn’t what she expected and we part ways. After threatening me with taking my job, I got a plane and flew to my publisher headquarters in Stockholm. There we decided to keep working together without the intercession of any agent, directly and, to be honest, the relation got much better, fluent, warmer and closer.
After that experience I do not fear to say that the intercession of any agent may be a dead weight for the artist-publisher relationship. The agents and studios I know in Barcelona (Spain) deserve a post themselves. I’ll talk about them some day.
From this new period and thanks to the more fluent communications, the possibility of adapting for comic the animation classics of Tom and Jerry presented itself. I was excited with the idea since they talked about adapting the best batch of stories of the characters in my opinion. I made some adaptations, I can’t remember all the names (I’m getting old): “Jerry’s Cousin”, “The Bodyguard”, “Little Runaway”, “Kitty Foiled”, “The Cat and The Mermouse”, “The Dog House”…
One of the new things that came with that period was that the stories changed from four strips per page to three strips; a big improvement in my opinion. Four strips lead to very small art for the comic-book format and texts occupy too much space inside the composition of the scenes. Three strips of panel, instead, allow for better composition and, due to more square panels, made the adaptations of animation to comic easier because it was more or less the same space you would see on the screen.
Since then, all the pages have consisted of three rows of panels. This story I post today is the first one to be drawn in that way, and it’s the adaptation of the shortcut “Jerry and the Lion”. You can compare and evaluate the job I did that time. The color is awful! The publishers couldn’t deal worse with the color.

jueves, 18 de marzo de 2010


For about a year more or less i worked for two publishers producing TOM & JERRY stories: Condor Velag and Semic Press. It was then when I decided to study more the characters. I thought that if I could master movement and the construction of the scene, or at least get closer to the classic animators, maybe I would be able to produce some acceptable works.
Being the best is an impossible challenge, a gift only those with overwhelming talent can enjoy. But learning from the best is always a good option. Tired of inspiring myself in the comics, I switched my source of references to the Hannah-Barbera classic cartoons. Armed with a video recorder with a good “pause” function and the VHS tapes of Tom and Jerry, I made all the photos I needed for my documentation. It was then when I discovered the real talent of those characters and the dexterity of the animators. Kenneth Muse, Irven Spence, Ray Patterson and Ed Barge, they opened my eyes. A never-ending display of expressions taken to the limit, unbelievable elasticity, an awesome management of movement… ¡A glorious work!
With all those new documents on my table it was logical to expect some alterations in my new work, and the publisher, through my manager, noticed. “The characters look strange”, they said. Well, since that moment I understood that trying to be faithful to the original is “strange” (I’m still laughing). And I was so satisfied with my last story! I just had found new facets, new ways to express… I believe the publishers, when it comes to artists with potential, should promote his need to grow as a professional and not try to install him in conservative ideas. They asked for some changes I did but I quit working for them voluntarily. Being conservative doesn’t make you advance. It’s the challenge what moves you.
SEMIC PRESS gave me, and kept giving me, all the freedom I needed to progress and the safety I needed to reject CONDOR VERLAG assignments. There’s the advantage of working for more than one client.
Here there are some of those photos I still keep and some of the panels that created so much strife. More elastic mouthes, expressions not in the catalog and a gag involving flames were labeled as “strange”.

viernes, 5 de marzo de 2010


In my last post i talked about the need for publishers that trust artists and writers and respect their will to take risks so they can make works as singular as the one I expose today.
1992. It’s been so long, I know, and that’s why I think this story has this singular component. It’s a parody of two big classic characters of comic portrayed by two other big classic characters of comic. That itself is quite bold
In the technique department, the pages themselves have non standard structure for a work of that kind. The ink isn’t conventional either: black spots, the shadowing of characters… All that and some other details like drama brought by the rain in the last sequence, make this work an exercise of freedom in an environment often too ruled by the establishment and excessive conservatism.
Once this work was edited, I got congratulated. I’m very sure I wouldn’t be able to do this story for any other publisher. Freedom is born from trust and in my case, for many years, I didn’t give any explanation about what I was going to do or the kind of story I was working on. The publishers received the final work. I will always be grateful to SEMIC PRESS for the chance they gave me to evolve into what I thought I had to.
The only inconvenient was that I never had the chance to color my own work. That was managed in the publisher offices and I was never satisfied with the results. This story would look much better with a different selection of colors and someone with a bit of talent working with them.

martes, 26 de enero de 2010


The gag is the key for a cartoon success. In my opinion there’s nothing as expressive as an humoristic situation taken to the extreme and absolute exaggeration. Slapstick. TOM and JERRY are heirs to the creators of the genre: Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy… hence, their stories were a gag after another. A beginning and a closure without excessive pretensions is enough excuse to chain as many gags as possible to fill a story and reach the time and number of pages determined by the publisher. That was my idea of working when I saw myself writing for T&J. To be faithful to the spirit of the characters. To be able to do that you only need two things: to want, and to be let to do it.
My will was there, and I was very lucky to work for SEMIC PRESS, EGMONT SWEDEN after, a publisher that never interfered in my job. The owner of the characters, MGM (Ted Turner), didn’t interfere either. And that’s how I started the most productive age of my career to nowhere, ha ha! With the freedom I enjoyed, a rare privilege in the business of writing for multinational’s characters, I could give Tom and Jerry the character they had lost for decades where there was an excess of words and total absence of gags. I memorized all the TOM & JERRY shortcuts, especially the ones from middle 40’s to early 50’s (the best period in my opinion). With that school in mind, I jumped into the gag pool and swam as well as I could.
Probably there are no comics in the market that refect that clearly the mood of the characters as the ones I wrote since early 90’s. It’s not a medal I can wear myself, as always, it’s a merit that the reader gives you, the one you really work for in the end.
Here there are some gags from different stories. They are shown in chronological order so the evolution of the art shows with the pass of time.


I’d been working for CONDOR VERLAG (Germany) for like two years when I started to work for SEMIC PRESS (Sweden) too.
It was first hour of the evening when the phone woke me up from a delightful “siesta” (a nap, Spanish national sport). My agent, the owner of the studio which I was working for, called me during the Frankfurt Book Faire to tell me an Escandinavian publisher was interested in my work and wanted me to produce for them. My answer was clear: of course! The answer of a young and intrepid, and a bit irresponsible artist because In that moment I was saying yes to produce more than 20 pages per month, script included. For someone with little experience it was a fairly difficult task, but with the will to work and publish you can do anything. What I didn’t know is that in the next years, 20 pages each month was piece of cake. During the 90’s, 30 or 40 pages per month was the usual deal.
I once read my friend J.L.MUNUERA say: “In occasions artists talk about doing one or two pages every day… Yes, that’s doable, but for how long can you endure that rhythm? How many weeks? How many years?” Those three questions talk about how difficult is to remain awake in this business and become a professional. Muses and inspiration, they sound poetic, but in the end they are just fairy tales.
Working is the key to everything. For one’s sake and to earn respect from the others. Industry can’t wait for inspiration to touch the artist. Someone in the publisher company is waiting for the pages we are creating to color them. Some other are waiting to put the texts… There’s a big machine that feeds on the essential matter of comic: the art!
With enough time you realize producing so many pages every month is not the most difficult thing… Keeping a social life while working like that IS! That’s a real challenge!
This is one of the first works I did for SEMIC PRESS, the ones that for many years gave me their trust, most freedom and care. It’s not easy to find people in this business that respect you as a person and a professional. I’m not joking!

Published for the first time by SEMIC PRESS, issue 11, 1998.


When this season arrives it’s imposible not to find xmas images everywhere. Comics are no different, due to market demands.
Publishers, in general, work with very solid protocols. Every season or special dates must be reflexed in the magazine (especially monthly magazines). With that logic in mind, you get all the characters dressed as Santa. That may seem an easy job since working with conventions it looks easier to get ideas but after so many years working with the same characters it’s more difficult than anticipated. Coming with new ideas for the same characters and the same scenery gets complicated. You get the feeling you’re always doing the same, repeating the same kind of stories. I may have drawn 40 different covers with the xmas theme and luckily im still doing it. The weird thing is I happen to write the xmas stories during summer with 35 degrees Celsius in Spain, looking at the beach out the window while trying to draw cold winter things. Not much inspiration to begin with! I always try to look around my environment to find hints for gags and jokes but that comes second with xmas stories which need, mainly a “good vibrations” mood. In this situation I choose to create “Pose covers”. They are neutral pictures because they are not entirely faithful to the character’s personalities but they also do not betray them since they do not interact with each other. They both interact with the reader, it is for him they pose to.
As an example, here there are some covers. They belong to their first original publishing, before they get translated and ported to other countries.

1988-1989 ( SEMIC PRESS )

1991-1996 ( SEMIC PRESS )

1998 ( EGMONT ) 2001 ( FULL STOP MEDIA )

2002-2003 ( FULL STOP MEDIA )

2004-2005 ( FULL STOP MEDIA )

martes, 5 de enero de 2010

DROOPY (1987)

When publishers are in need of contents it’s a great time to test new things. The magazine has to be out on the streets every month and that rush makes quality of the work not a priority. Seriously, when you have to finish the work and time is running out, a down in quality is often tolerated. The artist has to learn to live with that and stop working on pages that, given more time, you wouldn’t ever say you are happy with nor satisfied. For that reason, or many others, it was a good situation for an artist like me that needed many hours of pencil work to evolve fast and find my own style. Working a lot and making lots of mistakes is a good way to learn, maybe not the best, I don’t know, but it’s effective especially to become a professional on the media... Being a good professional on this media doesn’t imply to be a good artist.
In those times when the publisher demands lots of pages, different orders come and you get the chance to draw some other characters, being the artist’s talent a secondary requisite, the most important factor is being able to finish the work as soon as possible.
That’s when I got my first contact with DROOPY and learned its creator: TEX AVERY, master of masters.
Totally unconsciously, boldly and quite crazy, I dared to draw some pages for CONDOR VERLAG about this great character. God forgive me once again!
These are some of the pages. Overall, they were short gags, one page jokes without words… I still ignore why they asked me to do this kind of stories of DROOPY or why the character personality in comic was so different from the original concept of the character. For curiosity’s sake, I include some pages of those old TOM & JERRY stories where DROOPY would appear as well. I’m not sure if there is any other story where the three characters appear together again. Maybe this was the only time!