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Juan Giménez

1943 - 2020
Mendoza, Argentina

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Works by Juan Giménez

Juan Antonio Giménez López was a comic book artist and writer. Based in Spain but born on 1943 in the province of Mendoza, Argentina, where he returned days before passing away from the Coronavirus disease.

Juan always said that it was a natural process to start drawing and re-creating everything captured in his mind’s eye. So, at 10 years old, although he only had pencils and a box of watercolors, he taught himself to copy the covers of paperbacks that arrived from Spain and of American magazines, then started creating his own scripts and stories. He was always inspired by other artists and their use of techniques. By the time he was 12 years old, he already was a pro. During the 60s his father's job made them change cities, sometimes countries, every three years, living in several places had its drawbacks and he believes led him to draw comics to fill the void and find a safe space following each move.

While living and studying in the Córdoba province, he met Victor Hugo Arias, a professional comic artist who worked for an important magazine and for the British, Fleetway Publications. Juan spent every afternoon at his mentor’s home, improving his technique, learning methods to perfect his strokes.

Around that age he became a cinema enthusiast, drew the most striking sequences of films as seen on the screen and recreated mini scenes in play dough with the heroes and the monsters… Unknowingly learning something that would prove very helpful in his career as a visual narrator, fluency in story sequencing.

Until the age of 15, he sketched only for pleasure. He was fascinated by American publications like Tommy Futuro, his favorite, and Batman Eternal, Superman or The Lone Ranger. He also adored the popular Mafalda comic strip and Corto Maltés’ comics.

Other artworks and artists that inspired him were magazines like Misterix, Sargento Kirk by Hugo Pratt and Bull Rocket by strip cartoon writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld, Dino Battaglia and artist Francisco Solano López.

His first professional opportunity arose when as a friend of Arias offered to publish one of Juan’s comics. He was 16 and his first comic book called El Último Disparo, appeared in Asalto magazine. He managed to publish about 8 more comics in it, before Argentina fell into an economic and political crisis. During this critical time, all the magazines and most important artists, Arias included, moved to Europe.

Meanwhile, Juan had finished high school and entered the Faculty of Industrial Design, a branch of architecture. There he learnt about ergonomics, advanced math, descriptive geometry, physics, hydraulics, technical drawing, etc., then applied it all to what he designed. Paradoxically, the last subject he failed was drawing.

Giménez graduated and that knowledge, together with his talent and intuition, thoroughness and perseverance would prove to be very helpful in the world of comics. He then attended the Faculty of Arts at National University of Cuyo in Argentina. Later, once he moved to Europe he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona.

But first he began working for advertising agencies drawing storyboards for television ads. This allowed him to work discontinuously drawing comic books yet remain financially independent. He worked in advertising for 15 years and it enriched him in the sense of learning how to efficiently schedule a montage scene to the millimeter. Later on he unconsciously drew upon all he had learnt about filmmaking during those advertising days.

In the mid 1970’s he produced short stories for Skorpio magazine, some of them collected on the album The Strange Trial of Roy Ely. In 1976, together with scriptwriter Ricardo Barreiro, he was commissioned to illustrate the war comic As de Pique «Pik As», its big success, some described it as “a comic encyclopedia of World War II”, made them decide to move abroad together.

He left Argentina, accepted a job proposal from Hollywood that briefly took him to Canada where he designed the animated segment of the movie Heavy Metal, Harry Canyon, his first incursion in the world of film, and once his part in the film was completed, produced his first long comic series in color, the album L’Étoile Noire «La Estrella Negra», a space opera heavily influenced by Star Wars.

By the early 80s, having lived for a while in Italy, then in France, he had settled in Spain and was working for Spanish, Italian and French publishing houses. Although Juan admitted that it was hard for him to start all over again, he also felt refreshed and motivated surrounded by new trends and a whole new generation of artists. During this new chapter, he was heavily influenced by several ones such as cartoonist and writer, Moebius.

It was in Europe where Juan consolidated himself as a professional artist. Finally, he had made his passion for drawing comics his full-time career.

Always linked to his penchant for the sci-fi and fantasy genres, the comics: Basura «Trash», in 1988 with writer Carlos Trillo, Juego Eterno «Eternal Game» (1980-1986), El Cuarto Poder «The Fourth Power» (1989), Cuestión de tiempo «A Question of Time» (1982), Elige Tu Juego «Choose Your Game» (2002) and the youth comic Leo Roa (2005) were created, some of the stories also written by himself.

His stories reveal an enormous fascination with military paraphernalia. Ironically, all the stories serve a deeply anti-war narrative. His passion for this theme was always a duality of the artist.

Among his most famous and iconic are the series La Casta de los Metabarones «The Saga of the Metabarons», co-developed in collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky, which ran from 1992 until 2003, and Ciudad «City» (1991), scripted by Ricardo Barreiro, both republished years later. Medieval scenarios replaced the science fiction ones and were especially displayed in the trilogy Yo, Dragón «I, Dragon» (2011).

He became a key contributor to Toutain Editor’s magazines and worked extensively with Norma Editorial on some of his most important comic series, but throughout his career he also collaborated with Colomba and Record in Argentina, Zona 84 and Comix International in Spain or Lanciostory and Skorpio magazines in Italy. His artwork also included stories for the French Métal Hurlant and the Italian L'Eternauta magazines.

Acceptance by both the public and the critics made him worthy of numerous international awards: he was chosen for three years in a row favorite illustrator by the 1984 and Comix Internacional magazines readers, won the prize for best cartoonist at the Barcelona International Comic Fair in 1984, the Yellow Kid awarded by the Lucca International Comic Fair in 1990, and France’s the Bulle d’Or in 1994. His work has been exhibited in cities all over the world, and he was especially honored when it featured in an exposition at Paris’ Centre Pompidou, in 1997.

Juan Giménez’s drawings always gave us a feeling of reality, no matter how whimsical they were. His “metallic dreams” as he would call them, where he poured his heart and soul. He experimented with graphic and narrative innovations but his trademark fiercely organic stroke, incredibly detailed artwork and metallic tones evoking mechanical designs, remained.

The master represented a milestone of a golden era of comic magazines and was a creator who massively influenced the fantasy and sci-fi collective imagination.

Corner4art has been chosen as official «JG Legacy» distributor to classify, manage and market all items coming from the artistic legacy of Juan Gimenez. This includes Juan’s personal library, original artwork, prints, reproductions, giclées and all other merchandise.