[Visions of Horror] ‘Vampirella’ and the Illustrious José González

GRAPHITE SKETCHES

Since establishing Visions of Horror back in 2013, we have made a conscious effort to feature classic horror artwork and artists that have left a significant and indelible mark on the comics industry. More often than not, these artists had a heavy hand in creating some of the most popular characters in comic book history, that have resiliently managed to withstand the test of time and culture. Vampirella is a perfect example of this. And with Dynamite having released the final issue of the latest series last week, we thought it appropriate to shine the spotlight on Forrest J Ackerman’s timeless creation, as envisioned by the late and great artist, José “Pepe” González.

González may not have been the first artist to ever draw Vampirella — that honor belongs to both Tom Sutton and Frank Frazetta who provided the very first story art and cover in 1969 — but his renderings were arguably the most visually stunning, and ultimately the most influential over the years. Due to his connections within the Spanish art agency Selecciones Illustradas (S.I.), González, like many other S.I. illustrators, found himself working for Warren Publishing after a business deal was struck between James Warren and S.I. founder, Josep Toutain in 1971.

Having brilliantly demonstrated his exceptional talent for illustrating the female form in various British romance comics published by Fleetway Publications, González was deliberately sought out by Warren to produce the most lauded depictions of Vampirella to ever grace the magazine. He debuted his work in “Vampirella” #12 with Archie Goodwin’s ‘Death’s Dark Angel’ in July of 1971, and received immediate praise from fans and peers alike. The reaction was so strong that he won a Comicon Award for “Best Art” that same year, and another in 1974 for his work on Mike Butterworth’s “Vampirella and The Sultana’s Revenge” in “Vampirella” #33.

Being chosen as the primary artist for the original “Vampirella” strip is impressive enough, but having drawn a whopping 53 stories for the title makes González the most prolific Vampirella artist to date. Not only was he contributing a massive amount of phenomenal content for Warren Publishing at the time, but his work and designs have been featured on bumper stickers, calendars, puzzles, figurines, and the legendary 6 foot poster version of his cover art for “Vampirella” #19, which is still a hot commodity amongst Vampi fans today. You can find the latter featured below.

The 6 Foot Poster:

This particular drawing of Vampirella is one of González’s most recognizable pieces of her, and has garnered high collectable value over time. While he designed the overall image and provided the beautiful work on pencils, he did not feel comfortable enough when it came to working with oils on such a large and intimidating scale. So, that job fell on Enric Torres Prat’s shoulders — another talented “Vampirella” artist, and an exceptional painter.

Also featured below are a couple original “Vampirella” sketches that really encompass González’s style and showcase his stunning talent within the graphite medium. His work fit remarkably well in Warren Publishing’s “Vampirella” magazine due to his knack for drawing such alluring and visually striking women. He managed to portray such a surprisingly glamorous and polished look for a title that is still so painfully misunderstood for the mere fashion of the protagonist’s controversial attire. Because of González’s photographic memory, his ability to tackle realism seemed effortless in execution, as he balanced stylistically realistic depictions with his typical flare for cross-hatched rendering techniques. González is a gem amongst an array of original “Vampirella” artists, and his contributions to the magazine remain some of — if not the — absolute best of the bunch.

The Graphite Sketches:

If you want Bloody Disgusting to cover one of your favourite horror artists, or a fantastic piece of horror-related comic book art, head down to the comment section, or hit up Farah or Lonnie on Twitter.

  • MeltingFaceMan

    I think it would be awesome if you guys covered comic book artists Hans Rickheit or Al Columbia!

    • Lonmonster

      Thanks! We will definitely look into their work.

  • Evan3

    I look forward to this segment every week. Ballsy move choosing the work of Gonzalez over Frazetta, but it is well earned. I love Vampirella, and his work is awesome.