Francisco Solano López

Francisco Solano Lopez is an important point of reference in the world of the comic strips. Thanks to him many new talents have been launched as artist and writers.

A page from El Eternauta by Solano Lopez. Original board.

He was born in October 1928 in Buenos Aires, and began working in 1953 for the publishing house Columba. Whilst there he met Hector German Oesterheld with whom he established a working parnership and a great friendship. He drew his first strips with scripts supplied by Oesterheld, Uma-Uma and Bull Rocket, before joining the publishing house Frontera, which was founded by Oesterheld.

Together Oesterheld and Lopez worked on a new strip that told the story of a schoolteacher, Juan Salvo, and his family who fight against an invasion of aliens, and confront them on the battleground of Buenos Aires: the strip was called El Eternauta.

El Eternauta was first published in Hora Cero on September 4th 1957, and Lopez's strong graphical designs coupled with Oesterheld's allegorical story of a man fighting against alien invaders (faceless authority) struck an instant chord in the country. There can be little doubt that the two men had produced a comic that was a political message not only in Argentina but also in neibouring Chile. The authors used the comic strip in order to speak to the reader about the problems of the country, to speak about social injustices, and the incumbant military dictatorship.

The strip soon came to the attention of the Argentinian military junta, who started hounding the authors, and Lopez fled to Spain to escape possible arrest. Ending up in Madrid he started working for the Fleetway group (possibly via the S.I. Art studio of Madrid) . Lopez started work for Fleetway in late 1959, finally moving to London to be closer to his scriptwriters.

Galaxus, from Buster comic. Started its long run on 12 November 1966.

For Fleetway he drew the strips Galaxus: The Thing from Outer Space, Pete's Pocket Army, The Wizard of Football, World Wide Wheelers, and The Drowned World (for Buster), Janus Stark (who had his own comic in France) for both Smash and Valiant, and Kelly's Eye (for Knockout and Valiant), Raven on the Wing and Kid Pharoah (for Valiant), Ozzie the Loan Arranger and The Louts of Liberty Hall (for Hot-Shot), Dark Angel, Toys of Doom, and M.A.C.H. 1 (for the new Eagle), Gargan, The Fugitive from Planet Scror, Britain AD 2170, Sweeper Sam, Stringbean and Hambone, Adam Eterno, PLUS - of course - Battler Britton for Thriller Picture Library. Click here for a complete UK Listing.

How could one artist draw so much in such a short period of time? Well the answer of course is that he didn't. Lopez received so much work from Fleetway that he opened his own art studio in Buenos Aires to complete the work. Due to the economic depression that the country was suffering, many of Lopez' old collegues were out of work. The studio employed several artists including: Ramiro Bujeiro, Tibor Horvath, Silvia Lechuca, the Schiaffino brothers, Julio and Jorge with whom Lopez had worked on Bull Rocket in the early 1950's, and Nestor Morales. Lopez would more often than not pencil the drawings that were then inked and finished by the studio.

A page from Solano Lopez' Evaristo written by Carlos Sampayo .

In 1974 Lopez returned to Argentina planning to work again for the publishers Columba, but Oesterheld convinced him to continue with the second part of El Eternauta with a new publishing house, the Editorial Records. However, the worsening political situation forced Oesterheld to go into hiding. In that same year Lopez created a new science fiction strip Slot Barr with scripts by Ricardo Barreiro, but the political climate in Argentina was far from safe. In 1976, while on a business trip back to Madrid, Lopez' house in Buenos Aries suffered a mysterious fire which destroyed the last twelve installments of Slot Barr and some unfinished El Eternauta drawings. Taking this as a sign, Lopez once again moved back to Madrid with his family. From Madrid he arranged for the publication of both El Eternauta and Slot Barr with the Italian magazines LancioStory and Skorpio.

1984 found Lopez living in Rio de Janeiro where he began to produce work for the American market for such publishers as Dark Horse and Fantagraphics, but his work continued to appear in Italy. Again with Ricardo Barreiro he produced two new strips El ministerio and El televisor. For the Italian market he created the tough police series Evaristo with scripts by Carlos Sampayo.

Lopez has also worked on the strips Peter Kock and Razorguts with scripts by Ricardo Barreiro, Burial of the Rats, an adaptation of a Bram Stoker story, Corpses in balance and Death is always go which appeared in France in 1985 and 1986. Another series worthy of note is Aliens : Kidnapped with Jim Woodring and Justin Green in 1997-98.

In the 90s, Solano Lopez took on erotic comics. His big hits were El Prostíbulo del Terror, also with a story by Barreiro (and the two sequels about the erotic life of Lilian & Agatha), and Sexy Symphony, (produced in collaboration with his son Gabriel Solano Lopez) a full-color series without words for the magazine Kiss Comix. Lopez received First Prize for the Best Erotic Author in the Barcelona Erotic Salon.

He died of a cerebral hemorrhage aged 83, on 12 August 2011.

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