|Francisco Solano Lopez at the Lucca festival in 2007. Photo by Giacomo Bartalesi. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.|
Lopez, who has died of a cerebral hemorrhage aged 83, is perhaps best known to British comic fans for his work on strips such as Adam Eterno (which first appeared in Thunder), Janus Stark and Kelly's Eye, but worldwide he's perhaps best known as the co-creator of the controversial comic El Eternauta, first published in Hora Cero Semanal from 1957 to 1959, a strip he would return to many times in his long career.
A more than capable artist across many different genres, some of his more recent work includes the adult series El Instituto (Young Witches, published by EROS Comix in the US), a cheerfully perverse saga of supernaturally-powered sisters.
Lopez was inspired by the idea of alien invaders in the creation of the character, and Oesterheld liked science fiction, revealing in one interview that his origins came from the success of another SF character, Rolo, an adopted Martian.
From the start, this story of a man fighting against alien invaders (the epitome of faceless authority) struck an instant chord in Argentina. Now regarded as something of a symbol of struggle in his native country, its subject matter commenting on social injustice, dictatorship and US imperialism that brought its creators unwelcome attention from Argentina's military junta of the time. Eventually, Lopez was forced to flee the country, ending up in Spain from where he began to start work for Fleetway in late 1959, finally moving to London to be closer to his scriptwriters.
|'The Vikings' - Lopez' first Adam Eterno|
work for Thunder Number 17
"Although the artist found fame in adult comics (and found credits where due, unlike on his anonymous UK work) his strips formed a huge and important part of British comics," Notes Lew Stringer. "Due to the gritty edge of his style his pages still seem exciting and vibrant today."
The workload was enormous and Lopez was aided in the demands of his British publisher by artists in his own art studio in Buenos Aires such as Ramiro Bujeiro, Tibor Horvath, Silvia Lechuca, the Schiaffino brothers, Julio and Jorge with whom Lopez had worked on Bull Rocket in the early 1950s, and Nestor Morales.
Lopez returned to Argentina in 1974, planning to work for publishers Columba once more, but Oesterheld convinced him to continue with the second part of El Eternauta with a new publishing house, the Editorial Records - but the dangerous political climate forced Oesterheld to go into hiding and, after a mysterious fire at his house Lopez again headed for Madrid, Spain, from where he gained publication of El Eternauta and a new SF story, Slot Barr in the Italian magazines LancioStory and Skorpio.
Ever able to adapt to almost any style, he started working on erotic comics in the 1990s, achieving success with strips such as El Prostíbulo del Terror and Sexy Symphony, produced in collaboration with his son Gabriel Solano Lopez as writer, a full-colour series without words for the magazine Kiss Comix.
Franciso and his son achieved joint success in comics with the surrealist Ana, published by Fantagraphics, following a French girl from her days as idealistic student to adult burnout and beyond.
His work in adult comics gained him First Prize for Best Erotic Author in the Barcelona Erotic Show and Best Cartoonist Realist from the Diario de Avisos in Spain.
The Comics Journal notes he also drew an adaptation of the classic horror movie Freaks, in 1991, as adapted by Jim Woodring (for Fantagraphics imprint Monster Comics).
In 1995 he moved back to Buenos Aires and returned to his beloved Eternauta in 2001, now written by his regular collaborator Pablo Maiztegui (who signs his work as 'POL'). This time, though, it had a more ambitious story, set 40 years in the future in a Buenos Aires rebuilt by the invaders, where massive brainwashing of the survivors made people believe that the alien arrival was peaceful, and only a few know the truth.
An article for Bahianoticias.com, published in March 2010, reveals the authors' intention was to portray a different form of domination - based not on military might but in manipulating the masses.
"We're taking a look at the present time, based on an explicit metaphor," explained Lopez. "The country invaded by aliens, which are actually international finance... we were interested in showing how the invaders were able to perpetuate the domination through the mechanisms of democracy."
|A recent illustration by Lopez for Telam's Seccion Impossible|
The latest episode of Sección imposible includes the dedication "Adiós Maestro, con el afecto y la admiración de siempre." (Goodbye Master, with affection and admiration forever).
While this award-winning artist's comics spans many decades and he will be best remembered for his politically charged El Eternauta, fans in Britain will always remember him best for his memorable contributions to the likes of Buster, Valiant and Lion. He will be much missed.
• Francisco Solano Lopez, born 26th October 1928, died 12th August 2011
• Francisco Solano Lopez - Lambiek
• Career Overview for Bahianoticias.com - on Flickr (in Spanish)
• Francisco Solano Lopez Biography on DanDare.info
• A full listing of his British credits on dandare.info (first published in the French magazine Pimpf Issue 11)
Tributes and Obituaries
• Bleeding Cool
• Blimey! It's Another Blog about Comics
• Comics Journal
"Francisco Solano López was a titan of South American comics, on a level with the great Alberto Breccia, the temporary honorary Argentinean (during the 1950s) Hugo Pratt, and the hugely influential writer Hector Oesterheld (who collaborated with all three)."
• Comics Reporter
• Lanacion.com: report of Lopez death (in Spanish)
El dibujante Francisco Solano López, que ilustró la mítica historieta El Eternauta, creada por Héctor Germán Oesterheld, falleció esta madrugada luego de una hemorragia cerebral de la que no se pudo recuperar.