Love and Romance and Enrique Nieto

« The precious hours seemed to hurtle by, as if we were in some kind of vicious time machine! »

Today’s birthday number seventy-six for one of Charlton Comics’ most singular and hardest-working artistes, namely Enrique Nieto Nadal (born August 15, 1943, in Tangiers, Morocco, to Spanish parents), who injected some edgy excitement into the Charlton Comics line, handling with equal aplomb and virtuosity tales of romance, horror, war, adventure… and every combination thereof.

To mark this special occasion, I’ve picked out the lovely tale of A Strange Good-Bye from Love and Romance no. 20 (January, 1975); it provides a sterling showcase for his remarkable design chops and, as my dearest co-admin ds has earlier pointed out, Enrique’s tales provide, as a rule, beefcake and cheesecake in equally generous shares. Is anyone else that fair-minded?

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I’m particularly fond of this yarn because of its unusual avoidance of most romance clichés: there are no scheming rivals, no duplicitous so-called friends, no disapproving parents, no melodrama… just two serious-minded, intelligent young people who are *really* into each other, but don’t lose their heads over it. And they may be yuppies, but  success wasn’t just handed to them. Call me a sap, but I can’t help but sincerely root for Wade and Didi.

Oh, and let’s face it, can you think of any other US romance comics that pack such an erotic charge? It may be subjective, but I’ve rarely seen such convincing depictions of tenderness and affection, physical and otherwise, between two characters… and in mainstream, comics-code approved funnybooks yet. Full marks to Mr. Nieto and his masterful understanding and depiction of body language… male and female.

While he’s not credited, it’s still obvious to me that Joe Gill is the writer; my favourite facet of his romance tales is how he grounds what could be stock situations in the everyday, endowing his characters with actual, credible occupations, as opposed to soap opera ones. When a character describes a business deal or an industrial process, it makes perfect sense. I suspect this to be a by-product of Gill’s authorship of a 1973 series of promotional career-choice Popeye-branded comic books. The research clearly fed his subsequent work, which is just as it should be.

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A Strange Good-bye was the cover feature of Love and Romance no. 20 (Jan. 1975). Blast that puzzle page!

Well, once more… ¡feliz cumpleaños, Enrique!

-RG

Tentacle Tuesday: Spunky Skirmishes

Tentacle Tuesday! The name of the game this time: epic battles (It’s the end of January, and I’m in a belligerent mood.)

First, I’d like to share these wonderfully weird and colourful Hindi comic covers that I’ve been reserving for a while.

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Chitra Bharti Kathamala was a popular Indian comic book publication during the early 1980s. This is Chitra Bharti Kathamala #8, although I wasn’t able to find out more information about it – Hindi presents a formidable language barrier. It’s rather charming that the artist seems to have never seen an octopus in his life.

Apparently India’s love (hate? senseless violence?) affair with octopuses has been going on for a while, because here’s another tentacled cover:

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The cover was painted by Vijay Kadam… and will haunt my nightmares. As far as I could suss out, this is published by Raj Comics. Kadam’s son, Harshvardhan Kadam, is a mural artist (see some of his murals here.)

My (somewhat) educated guess is that these covers are from the late 80s, early 90s. If you’d like to see more, hoist your sails over to the Monster Brains blog over here.

Incidentally, while attempting to glean more information about this, I stumbled upon some hilarious, more modern Indian comic covers, namely these three:

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Nagraj no. 44, Jan 1995. What the fucking fuck is going on here, and how does it make any sense anatomically?
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More tentacles – unless the spiky guy’s legs are actually alligator’s tails… Nagraj no. 50, Jan 1996.
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Nagraj no. 75, Jan 2003. No tentacles but I couldn’t resist the adorable gore. Once one’s gaze pulls away from the spaghetti entrails, one notices that the woman hacking Nagraj to pieces seems to be having the time of her life… and that the female creature in the background has a completely improbable lower torso.

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For our next heroic skirmish, a scene with dramatic waves, a half-naked damsel, a hot guy, and an an intense octopus with a Rasputin-esque furrowing of the brow. Basically, the glorious pen of Enrique Nieto was guaranteeing eye candy for everyone, whatever their pervy proclivities.

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Monster Hunters no. 10, October 1977. The cover is by the glamorous Enrique Nieto!
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The original art for an inside page from « Night of the Kraken! » Script by Nicola Cuti, art by Enrique Nieto.

Speaking of octopuses laying eggs (and they do), do you know how these creatures reproduce? Once the male octopus places a sac of sperm into the female’s body cavity with his « mating arm» (yes, he has a dedicated arm just for that purpose), the female lays her eggs, and spends the rest of her time protecting them and keeping them clean. Both the male and female octopuses stop eating after mating, the male drifting around aimlessly, the females dedicating all their energy to safeguarding their offspring. Both die soon after of either starvation or predation. Given these conditions, anybody seeking to destroy the last living female octopus is a fucking asshole – don’t the poor things have it hard enough already?!

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I’ll wrap up with a little cozy scene in which male friendship prevails over the evil tentacles of a sinister, swirly-eyed creature. Aw, you guys…

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Aventuras del FBI no. 32: El Triunfo del Bien, 1970, published by Rollán. Drawn by Luis Bermejo and Manuel López Blanco.

« Aventuras del FBI» was a Spanish comic published Rollán Editorials, published in little stapled black-and-white books with colour covers. Auto-translating an article about Aventuras gave me this little gem: « Adventure series of an FBI agent named Jack Hope, who is accompanied on his missions by a young man named Bill Boy and a man steeped in meat and joke, Sam. » I don’t know what a man “steeped in meat and joke” is, but it sounds promising!

~ ds