Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Black and White Wednesday: Remembering Jose "Pepe" Gonzales

Vampirella lost another "father" last week, when her definitive artist, Jose "Pepe" Gonzalez passed away from a long illness. He was 70 years old. Gonzalez's interpretation was exactly what co-creator/publisher Jim Warren had envisioned when the idea for Vampirella first occurred to him: "The minute I took one look at Pepe Gonzalez's artwork, I knew we had it! We survived 12 issues but there it was. This is what I wanted for the first issue but couldn't put together." (The Warren Companion, Two Morrows Publishing, 2001, p. 261.)

Vampi's legion of fans felt the same way. Gonzalez's realistic, detailed, expressive art catapulted Vampirella to cult star status, helping the character gain a popularity that has led her to appear in a movie, a series of paperback novels, and a host of comicbooks. The stunning beauty Gonzalez was able to imbue Vampirella with gained him a legion of admirers and artistic followers, as well. Who doesn't remember the iconic pose from the cover of Vampirella #19 (July 1972), used on so many covers, in so many ads--and on that awe-inspiring six foot tall poster? Or the stunning splash pages and front pieces he provided issue after issue?

I couldn't think of a better tribute to the man than to run his Vampirella debut, written by the late, great Archie Goodwin. From Vampirella #12 (April 1971), here's "Death's Dark Angel".

10 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to hear of his passing. R.I.P.

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  2. Gonzales was THE Vampy artist. None of these guys who have recently attempted her have even come CLOSE to Gonzales. Not by a mile.

    He will be missed.

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  3. Very sorry to hear this. His men could be a little cartoony at times but his women and his backgrounds were always far better than they deserved to be. Did he ever do anything else in the US besides Vampi?

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  4. I didn't realize Gonzales had passed on. One of the cool things about 70s comics were the many Spanish/Philippine artists who produced work for several b&w Warren and Marvel publications. Certainly Gonzales was one of the best of those. RIP Mr. Gonzales.

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  5. Sad to hear. It was Gonzales' Vampi stories that made me love the grey wash technique in art. He and SanJulian

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  6. RIP and God bless, Pepe... Can I just say that the man drew the sexiest picture of a woman, ever!

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  7. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, dudes! I can't believe there wasn't more coverage of Pepe's passing on the big comics news sites, but...

    I've done quite a bit of research, Booksteve, and can't find anything else Pepe did for American comics. Plenty of stuff for Spanish publishers, and even stuff for British publishers (like adapting TV's Avengers--don'tcha wanna track THAT down, just to see how Pepe drew Mrs. Peel? Wow!), but nothing else specifically for U.S. publishers.

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  8. This was SUCH sad news. I learned to draw male figures from John Buscema but I learned to draw women from Jose Gonzalez. I will really miss him!

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  9. You certainly learned from the best, Joe!!

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