‘The Mercenary’: “Tebeos” No More

bottom-mercSome interesting circumstances got me into comics. In the middle of the 1970s, at the beginning of Spanish democracy, there was a repeal of many prohibitions from the dictatorship in Spain that affected culture. This prompted a kind of revolutionary movement in the comics world that led intellectuals to investigate what was behind this curious thing that now was called “comics” and used to be called “tebeos” (silly, nonsense). The media talked about them and soon this dying genre revived itself. Editors with new magazines and illustrators appeared. Competition grew which led to “full color” pages which was more marketable although at the beginning it was only a few pages out of the magazine.

mercmachineAt that time, I had switched illustrator agents and the new one, in addition to selling our work, had become an editor of comics magazines. I liked comics and, seeing that there was demand for color stories, I proposed to my agent that I do some sample pages for free, with the intention of expanding my field of work. Naturally, the agent-editor said yes. I painted covers in oil paints. This technique was completely unusual in the comic world, but it was a way of working that I felt very comfortable with and I wasn’t going to change my system. I wasn’t sure how this might be accepted, particularly due to the absence of the classic black ink lines and the novelty of the technique, but despite my doubts, I couldn’t just stop doing what I knew best.

To have some guarantee of success, it had to be something remarkable, but given the circumstances, it also had to be easy and comfortable to do and for that reason, better to do it all from my imagination. I did not want to start a period piece that would require me to research tedious documentation about clothing, buildings, furniture, and settings.

The most practical would be to pick a fantasy topic and invent everything. I have always been a big fan of the middle ages with their armor and dragons, as well as weapons, castles, aircraft, the female form, and, especially, orientalist fantasy, so I got down to it and mixed all of these ingredients.

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Author: Vicente Segrelles

Vicente Segrelles is a world bestselling comics painter and author of The Mercenary series which revolutionized comics with its fully realistic oil painted art starting in 1982. He came from the world of illustration, doing covers for books in the fantasy genre and illustrated books for children. But it is his Mercenary which he is most famous for, selling in the millions of copies in many languages worldwide.

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