Wednesday, August 29, 2012
José Antonio Muñoz was born on 10 July 1942 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and studied painting, sculpture and drawing at the Escuela Panamericana de Arte where he was taught by Alberto Breccia and Pablo Pereyra.
At the age of 18 he pupblished his first comic strips in the pages of Hora Cero and Frontera, magazines strongly associated with Hector Oesterheld. Muñoz drew several episodes of Oesterheld's Ernie Pike and also illustrated 'Precint 56' by Ray Collins (Eugene Zappietro) for Mixterix, then edited by Hugo Pratt.
For many years Muñoz worked in Francisco Solano Lopez's studio, which was set up in the early 1960s to capitalise on the vast amount of artwork that could be supplied to British comics. Lopez, at his peak, had six assistants, working on weekly and monthly assignments ranging from weekly science fiction and football yarns (Kelly's Eye, Raven on the Wing, etc.) to monthly war titles (for War, Battle, Air Ace, etc.). The studio's output was immense and for the most part it is impossible to distinguish the work of individual artists.
Muñoz travelled to Europe for the first time in March 1971 and in Spain, via a mutual friend, Oscar Zarate, met Carlos Sampayo, a fellow Argentinean who, shortly after, settled in Madrid. Muñoz, meanwhile, settled in London where he was working regularly for Lion, drawing a number of short-lived strips – 'A Stitch in Time', 'The Treasure-Hunt Twins', 'Lost in Limbo Land' and 'Sark the Sleeper' – ahead of Lion's imminent folding into Valiant, where he would draw a few stories featuring Adam Eterno.
At this time, he was being encouraged by Breccia and Hugo Pratt during trips to Paris and Lucca to create his own work, but Muñoz's separation from his wife and daughter led to him living in a commune and earning money washing dishes.
Again, Oscar Zarate persuaded him to visit Carlos Sampayo at his home in Castelldefels, Spain. Here, the two began to develop the character Alack Sinner, who was to debut in AlterLinus and Charlie Mensuel in 1975. The two also began working on other albums, including El bar de Joe [Joe's Bar] and Sophie Goin' South, both published in 1981. The following year Muñoz was named Best Artist at Lucca. Alack Sinner won the Best Foreign Comics Album award at Angoulême in 1978 and 1973. Another collaboration with Sampayo, Billie Holiday, won the Harvey Award for Best American Edition of Foreign Material in 1994.
Very little of his work has been seen in the UK. Escape magazine's tenth issue featured 'Joe's Bar' in 1987 and Viet Blues was serialised in Crisis in 1990-91. In Europe Muñoz has continued to work with increasing recognition. He collaborated with American author Jerome Charyn on Au croc du serpent (1996) and Panna Maria (1999) and continues to collaborate with Sampayo on such titles as Dans les bars (2002), Le livre (2004) and further adventures of Alack Sinner.
In 2002 he was awarded the Max-und-Moritz-Preis in Germany for his life's work and, in 2007, he became only the fourth non-French language creator to receive the Grand Prix at Angoulême.
Examples of artwork by Jose Muñoz can be found at the Illustration Art Gallery.