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July 5, 2010

Victor de la Fuente, 1927-2010


The Spanish cartoonist Victor de la Fuente, perhaps best known for his Westerns and revered in European comics circles as one of the great artists working in the mainstream adventure tradition generally, has died. The French-language news and clearinghouse is reporting the news based on a blog posting by Francois Corteggiani. Corteggiani was one of a long list of all-star writers to work with late artist. Word to mainstream media came from Spain's Federacion de Instituciones Profesionales del Comic.

De La Fuente was born in 1927 in the town of Riocaliente. He became active in comics while still a teen in the early 1940s, finding work through the Lopez Rubio studio. His early clients included the magazines Maravillas and Chicos.

A move to Chile in pursuit of advertising illustration work (he would also live in Argentina) facilitated both his first work for a publisher outside of Spain -- comics giant Dell -- but also co-launching the magazine El Peneca. By the time he left South America in the late 1950s, he was ready to work for publishers that included the UK's Fleetway and DC Thompson.

imageIn the late 1960s, either De La Fuente's ambitions deepened, his opportunities for more significant work increased, or some combination of both. With Victor Mora he did 12 episodes of a western called Sunday, dipped back into illustration and then roared back with the influential Haxtur, which first appeared in the magazine Haxtur but was also one of the initial stand-alone successes in Spanish cartooning. While he did a few short stories for Warren, including short stories related to longer European works like Haxtur, he became best known for westerns like Amargo and on historical titles like Charles de Gaulle. He placed the fantasy work Haggarth into the influential A Suivre in the late 1970s, and began a very popular series, Les Gringos, with Jean-Michel Charlie in 1979. In the 1980s he completed a short but well-received run of episodes in the popular and established Tex Willer series, and continued original work with top-line writers into the 1990s.

This obituary in the Spanish press mentions as the cartoonist's virtues a naturalness of the figure placed into a specific environment, the use of small lines to indicate movement or potential movement, detailed background work and a clever approach to narrative.

De La Fuente received the Yellow Kid Award from the Festival of Lucca in 1980 for his work on Les Gringos and in 2006 won the Grand Prize at the International Comic Fair in Barcelona, in recognition of his long career. An unexpected homage came earlier this year when Panini released four unpublished De La Fuente comics intended for various British genre magazines under the title Diario de guerra: Victor de la Fuente.

The artist suffered through several years of illness, and passed away on July 2 in Le Mesnil Saint Denis, the French village where he had lived for almost 40 years. He was preceded in death by his two artist brothers, Ramon and Chiqui. Victor de la Fuente was 83 years old.

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