Today I present the work of Esteban Maroto. Born in Madrid in 1942, Esteban Maroto started out his career in the early 1960's working under the guidance of Manuel López. His style was established in a series called 'Cinco Por Infinito' (published in English by Continuity Comics as 'Zero Patrol'), in 1967. This was followed by 'La Tumba de los Dioses', his 'Alma de Dragon' in Trinca magazine was also successful.
As things progressed into the 1970's, he started to produce, in my opinion, some of his best work. One of my favourite and most inspirational books I own is the 'Dracula Annual', published by the 'New English Library' (NEL) in 1972. The strips originally featured in the comic 'Dracula', and were later compiled into this hardback book which featured;
'Wolff' - by Esteban Maroto
'Sir Leo' - by Jose Bea
'Agar Agar' - by Alberto Solsona
and 'A Horror Strip' by Enric Sio
I've seen many examples of artists working outside the limitations of panels before, but Esteban Maroto certainly has his own way of acheiving this. Instead of telling the story through a series of panels he'll often tell it through the arrangement and composition of drawings; the combining and layering of images. This helps to give the image movement as the eye naturally swings around the page. When drawing these comics, Maroto was more than aware of what it was that his audience wanted - strong overtones of sex and raw barbarian fantasy; and he always delivered.
Although his stories were usually short, he made up for this, I feel, in the quality of his rendering, a truely immaculate and elegant style. His ability to capture the female form is, at times, flawless. One area of Maroto's work that has been criticized is his writing. Many people claimed that he could never write a good fantasy tale, I however, don't see this as an issue. For me, there are different reasons for liking different comics, for example; some comics are to be enjoyed for their ability to tell a good story and may not always be drawn in a style that is particularily appealing. And then there are some that are to be enjoyed for their aesthetic appeal, and then there are some that meet both criteria. In my opinion, the majority of the stories in the Dracula Annual are to be appreciated for their aesthetic value primarily.
Also during the 1970's and 80's, Maroto drew comics for Creepy, Vampirella and Eerie. During this time he also worked for Marvel in black-and-white on 'Red Sonja' and 'Conan'.
Below, there are a few examples of his work from the Dracula Annual' and also the full strip from my favourite of the collection, entitled 'The Viyi'. I have also included some examples of his later work on 'Atlantis Chronicles' from 1990, and (the superior) 'Amethyst' from 1987 / 88 (both published by DC). Enjoy!