Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Original Art Stories: Ric Estrada

If you read DC comics at any point during the past, ooooh say fifty or sixty years, then you know both the name and art of Ric Estrada. A native of Havana, Ric broke into the comic book world in 1948 and remained there since he retired (or was retired - take your pick) in the 1980s. In the 1940s and 1950s Ric worked for a lot of the smaller comics in the 1940s and 1950s - Hillman, Ziff-Davis, St John, Better, Feature, E.C. - and managed to forge a reputation as being a versatile artist. Be it anything from romance to war, Ric was there and ready to draw, and he did a lot of his work operating out of a studio with his contemporaries, Dan Barry, whom he assisted with Flash Gordon, Sy Barry, George Roussos, Don Perlin, Alex Toth, Frank Frazetta and Lee Ames.

He became one of Bob Kanigher's war artists in the 1950s, along with the likes of Joe Kubert, Ross Andru and Russ Heath, and it was at DC that he made his real mark. At DC he worked on a variety of titles, again, from war to romance to super hero to comedy - Ric penciled and inked them all. During this period he also worked with the likes of Wally Wood, notably on the Roy Thomas written title, All-Star Squadron, where he helped totally redesign the costume and image of DC's Power Girl and set the standard that still exists for over proportioned female characters. Ric also provided pencils and inks on titles as varied as Wonder Woman, Superman, Beowulf, Blackhawk, Sgt Rock, House of Mystery, Legion Of Super Heroes, Welcome Back Kotter and Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter. He also managed to do a few stories for the late, lamented Atlas (Seaboard) line in the early 1970s. Interestingly Ric is ambidextrous and has stated that he often pencils with his right hand and inks with his left. Ric wasn't always a big fan of what he drew though, "I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with comics," he stated as late as 1996 in an essay for Robin Synder's excellent publication, The Comics. "I love the medium but often hate the trite themes. And although it paid the rent, I always felt uncomfortable with the shortness of money. I miss war comics; they were real whereas superheroes at least to a romantic realist such as myself are childish pap, sugar pops, junk food of the brain. I could never take them seriously."

Sadly Ric's health has taken a turn for the worse of late. His wife, Loretta, sent this email through to Dave Simons, who passed it on to me with a simple request.

Says Loretta:
Just want to let you all know that the advanced prostate cancer which Ric has courageously endured for 7 years has metastasized to his liver. He started chemo therapy for the metastatic cancer on June 20th. We've had 3 scary trips to the emergency room and one 2 day hospitalization this month. We welcome your prayers and good thoughts in our behalf and and I know Ric would love an email or a card.


We did this for Gene Colan and I know full well that it helped. So get your pens and cards out once more and fire down a simple 'Get Well Soon' or something more substantial. Let Ric know how much you appreciated his work all those years ago. You can send your cards, notes and letters to:
Ric & Loretta Estrada
1285 N. 2710 W.
Provo, UT 84601

Don't hesitate, don't think, just do it. Today.

No comments: