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December 14, 2012

Gutemberg Monteiro, 1916-2012

imageThe Brazilian artist Gutemberg Monteiro, who worked across the span of several decades including a stint in the US as "Goott," has passed away. It is unclear whether he passed away on the 9th or the 10th; he had just celebrated his 96th birthday a few days earlier.

Monteiro was born in Faria Lemos. He set out for Rio as a teenager, hoping to make his mark as a soccer player despite his relatively slight build. His failure to gain a roster position led Monteiro to explore his other displayed talent: that for art. He began his comics career in his mid-20s, with his first assignment in 1943 for the publisher Rio Grafica e Editora. He was primarily used a covers artists for their versions of American strip characters: The Phantom, the cast of Li'l Abner, Mandrake the Magician. He would later come an interior artist for a Brazilian version of The Phantom.

Monteiro's major contribution to comics in the 1940s through the 1950s was the development of a style that broke just enough with the American comics "look" that it called attention to the rich tradition now bubbling to the surface. He was also known as a widely versatile artist, whose style could be employed in the service of a variety of genres.

The artist found work in the US during the 1960s, taking on a typically broad array of assignments. He was a contributor to the Warren publications Eerie and Creepy, drew many of the Tom & Jerry Sunday comics pages, and did features like Casper and Hot Stuff. Articles about the cartoonist say he drew Dick Tracy and Superman, although in what venue is unclear. Monteiro did some work as a political caricaturist and as a teacher; for the former, he was invited to the White House by Barbara Bush. He also took on a great deal of work from advertising studios.

He remained a popular figure in Brazil, where his drawings were displayed in 2001 and in 2007.

After 40 years living in the US -- meaning he hadn't moved there until after he was 50 -- Monteiro returned to Brazil to live out his final days in a suburb of Rio. He maintained good health -- a career retrospective exhibit was held in June -- until finally becoming sick on December 7th. The cause of death was cerebral ischemia, and he was buried in the Lakes Region. His son told one sources that a planned trip to the US in May was postponed until November where it was thwarted by Hurricane Sandy, and was never achieved. The family intends to publish the artist's autobiography. He is survived by at least that one son and by a brother living in Brooklyn.

Fantasma cover image and initial heads-up supplied by Fabio Araujo; thanks, Fabio

posted 5:10 pm PST | Permalink

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