Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with all the news!

From Spanish artist to American comic superhero

From Spain to the United States, their names have been ringing in the mecca of the American comic book industry for decades. They don’t wear capes or masks, but they certainly have superpowers. They are the talent behind Batman, Daredevil, Spiderman, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel. From Rafael López Espí and Carlos Pacheco to Salva Espín, Carmen Carnero, and Jorge Fornés, the illustrations of our artists live behind every shadow, and every inspiration, that emanates from Gotham City, Metropolis, or Star City.

We must travel to the seventies when Rafael López Espí became Marvel’s official cover artist in Spain to understand this idyll. Vértice in Spain published, adapted and in full colour, the first superhero covers illustrated by Rafael. It was in the nineties when the first big explosion took place. Names such as Jesús Merino, Carlos Pacheco (who worked for Marvel and DC bringing Flash, X-Men, Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern to life), Pasqual Ferry, Salvador Larroca (the first Spanish cartoonist to win the Eisner prize for Iron Man), and Marcos Martín (Dr. Strange and Daredevil), were beginning to emerge.

The list of winners is long, and the first decade of the 21st century came more like a confirmation. Ramón F. Bachs burst in with the Joker/Mask crossover, bringing Batman to life. Meanwhile, the award-winning David Aja emerged with X-Men, Pepe Larraz with Luke Cage (Thor and the Avengers would come later), Daniel Acuña with Green Lantern and Flash, and Fernando Dagnino with Superman. 

It was also when an unknown Salva Espín presented his work at the Barcelona Comic Fair. More than a decade later, his work with the Hulk, Wolverine, Captain America, and, especially, the hooligan of them all, his iconic Deadpool, became well known. Like those of Espín, the beginnings of Alex Cal Oliveira, better known as ACO, also date back to that time. In 2007, at just 22 years of age, he began working in the US market with characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, X-Men, and Nick Fury.

From Spain to Gotham City

There are stories, like superheroes, of all shapes, colours, and sizes, just like that of illustrator Jorge Fornés who, in 2014, decided to quit his job in a car workshop to devote himself to illustration. It didn’t turn out badly at all. Bat-man by night, Daredevil by day, this professional, self-taught illustrator, who usually signs alongside comic artist Tom King, is today one of the most noted artists in North American comics.

Like Fornés, Mikel Janin from Navarre had also worked with King on bringing the hero of Gotham City to life, which in 2018 led him to illustrate the main story of Batman: The Wedding, a turning point in the life of the protagonist. An architect by profession the artist left his career in 2010 to devote himself to the comic book industry, where he has worked since 2011 at DC on other titles such as Justice League, Grayson, and Superman.

And the fact is that Gotham City, as well as injustices in fiction, has brought great joy to our artists. For instance, such is the case of Guillem March, who illustrated Catwoman and also Batman. Other Spaniards have also coincided with Bruce Wayne, such as Jorge Jiménez -author of Superman, among others- or Belén Ortega, who profiled this iconic character in the Legends of the Dark Knight series. Although she began her professional career in manga, the Granada-born artist surprised us not long ago by drawing the first bisexual Robin in the history of comics and was also responsible for the cover of the 80th anniversary of Wonder Woman. 

It is common for several illustrators to coincide with the same characters in such a frenetic-paced industry as that of superhero comics. Javier Garrón, who for years was considered one of Marvel’s most promising figures, and for some time was in charge of one of the publishing imprint’s most crucial series: Miles Morales: Spiderman, 2020 passed his baton to another Spaniard, Carmen Carnero. This young woman is known for being the author of some of the illustrations of Wonder Woman, X-Men, and The Punisher, and also illustrated Captain Marvel, shortly before the big-screen adaptation starring Brie Larson in 2019. She has been involved for a few months now in Stan Lee’s relaunch of Captain America, another of Marvel’s great emblems.

Alongside Carnero, another Spaniard, Natacha Bustos, has aroused the interest of the American industry in recent years. A graduate of Fine Arts in Granada, she debuted with a graphic novel about Chernobyl, translated into French, Japanese, and Korean. Her participation in issue 10 of the regular Spider-Woman series caught the attention of Marvel. They commissioned her to work on the Moon Girl and Diabolical Dinosaur project, which was well-received by the public and was adapted into a TV series to be released later this year.