We're sorry to report the death of Argentinian artist and author Ricardo Garijo, a regular contributor to DC Thomson's Commando title, who died earlier this month in his native Argentina after a long illness aged just 55.
"It was a personal shock to learn that he had fallen ill," notes Commando editor Calum Laird in a tribute on the title's web site, "and an even greater loss when I learned of his death. It was too close to home in so many ways."
DC Thomson have announced they plan to reprint some of his stories in 2010 as a tribute to the popular creator. (We have published a list here) A current issue of Commando, "Need To Know", is one of his last works before he died.
A much-honoured artist, author and art teacher in his own country, Ricardo was born in Argentina in 1953. The second son of Spanish immigrant parents, his official website notes that his father survived a German concentration camp in World War Two, while his mother was active in the French Resistance. (Ricardo notes that when he was a baby, his mother swaddled him in clothing made from pieces of a British parachute).
He developed two passions as a boy: the US Space Program, which regularly inspired his art, and the Second World War. He drew for most of his life, working full time as a freelancer in graphic media since 1980, and for DC Thomson since 1982.
"When I was little (and rather fat), I was convinced that the moon was full of Suchard chocolates, which were the ones I liked," he recalled of his passion for space flight in an interview for the blog Prensa Espacial in 2008. "A few years later, my father took me to see a real size replica of the Mercury capsule. Inside was a mannequin with face cast, dressed in a spacesuit... I remember that chilled me -- how small [the capsule] was, [the idea of the astronaut [up there in empty] space... I caught the fever of space [exploration]."
Over some 40 years, he drew thousands of pages of comics and illustrations - including strips for the DC Thomson's popular pocket digest SF title Starblazer - before joining the Commando team in 1991 with Issue 2469. "Another Tight Spot" released in early May 1991, which has never been reprinted.
"When we started the Robot Kid series on Starblazer we knew just the artist," recalls the title's editor, Bill Graham. "That was Garijo at his best. He interpreted the scripts superbly, combining great action with just the right level of humour. I loved his stuff. He’s a real loss."
In the 1990's Ricardo began creating comics for other European periodicals, his work published in Spain, France and Italy. More recently, he began publishing his own magazine, Gurbos en Extinción, conceived as a tribute to the old Argentinean comic creators. One story for Gurbos, published in 2002, was "Diario de Plaza Moreno" ("The Diary of Moreno Square"), a fantasy story about his own home town.
In his tribute to the creator, Steve Holland notes that Garijo was also a popular artist in Italy, where he drew for Lancio, and Spain, where he produced two volumes of erotic adventures, Carol entre Rejas (Carol in Jail) and Carol en Buenos Aires in 1991 for Ediciones La Cúpula.
Garijo was also an author, with several books published, including an account of his father’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War. His first novel, El Fuego ("The Fire"), published in 2004, won critical acclaim and award Tragically, his second novel, El cielo de Piedra ("The Sky Stone") has yet to be published, as has a short story, Los Trenes ("The Station") which won him first prize in a national competition in 2008.
In addition to his comics work and writing, he also illustrated picture cards, including the 2003 release Don't Let It Happen Here, a harrowing series portraying some of the worst of man's atrocities against man, and a 102 card set for Monsterwax, The Art of H. G. Wells, which includes scenes from War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and The Island of Dr. Moreau.
"Ricardo was a delight to work with," recalls DC Thomson's Bill McLoughlin. "He was always on time and his interpretation of stories excellent... He will be missed, but never forgotten."
Commando writer Ferg Handley made direct contact with Ricardo via his web site, and recalls him as "warm, gracious and friendly... It will always be one of my life’s regrets that I never got to meet him in person."
"I never forget any artist who has done his best to illustrate 63 pages of a Commando book. It's a difficult job, but Ricardo always did more than his best," recalls former Commando editor George Low. "He had talent, intelligence and ability... and he also had an enthusiasm which always shone through."
Ricardo Garijo, born 1954, died 4 October 2009, is survived by his wife, Adriana and three children, a boy and two girls.
• Ricardo Garijo: Official Web Site
• Commando Magazine: Commando Artist Ricardo Garijo
• Ricardo Garijo: The Commando Issues (list compiled by Vic Whittle)
• News Report on Ricardo's Death from El Eco de Tandil (in Spanish)
• Bear Alley Obituary by Steve Holland
• Prensa Espacial, 26 February 2008 (in Spanish, about his astronaut portraits: Google Translate Link)
• Monsterwax War of the Worlds Card Images
Photograph from El Eco de Tandil, 4 October 2009. Commando art © DC Thomson. Other artwork © Ricardo Garijo.)