Illustration

Farewell Carlos Pacheco, illustrator and superhero

Remembering the life and work of Spanish comic artist, teacher, and legend of the Marvel and DC comics.

Domestika is deeply saddened by the passing of Carlos Pacheco, Spanish illustrator, teacher, true superhero of the comic genre, and member of this creative community. In September he announced his ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) diagnosis on social media and has died from the degenerative disease aged 60 at the Línea de la Concepción hospital in Cádiz.

Farewell Carlos Pacheco, illustrator and superhero
Illustrator Carlos Pacheco during the filming of his Domestika course

The comic artist, a true referent in Spanish comic scene, became a global legend thanks to his illustrations for X-Patrol, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Spiderman, Batman, The Avengers, and Superman. With an unwavering energy, he communicated to his followers in April that he would be taking a sabbatical due to a series of health problems.

Avengers, xxxx
Carlos Pacheco's superhero illustrations for The Avengers comics

Carlos Pacheco was the first Spanish illustrator to gain notoriety in the US comic industry and revealed the secrets to his success in the Marvel and DC universes in this Domestika Maestros. Alongside Carlos, we discovered the key to his impressive career, the secrets behind his style, and his magic formula for illustrating a good punch.

Born in San Roque, Cádiz in 1962, long before superheroes ruled the earth, the comic artist already worked with them as if they were old friends. Carlos was raised on the adventures of The Avengers, X-Men, and the rest of the extensive army of Marvel and DC characters, and at just 30 years old he had already fulfilled the dream of so many—to become a professional superhero illustrator for both franchises, a feat that paved the way to dozens of Spanish comics. He always maintained that he made it happen with a combination of talent, perseverance, and hard work. During the filming of his Domestika course, he insisted "I had always known I wanted to at least give it a try."

An illustration of Captain America by Carlos Pacheco
An illustration of Captain America by Carlos Pacheco

From Biology to Comics

As a child he was once handed a comic, and it was that moment that changed the course of his life forever. A fan of comic strips, the Gaditano would spend the rest of his childhood and teenage years drawing. For him, superhero comics were the last bastion of realism when drawing the human figure, and he didn't stop until he'd taught himself everything there was to know.

With a degree in biological sciences from Seville, Pacheco began drawing for different fanzine publications, and in 1982, he published a few comic strips of his own in the fan section of Comix International.

Carlos was raised on the adventures of The Avengers and X-Men and was already drawing as a young child
Carlos was raised on the adventures of The Avengers and X-Men and was already drawing as a young child

By the end of the '80s, Pacheco had taken the leap into the world of comics with Planeta De Agostini, illustrating the front covers for the Spanish adaptations of the Marvel comics. Drawing covers, however, was not enough, he wanted more. It was then that he decided to go to Marvel himself, work in hand.

He waited patiently until one day he was eventually contacted by Marvel's British division, for which he created the Dark Guard and Death’s Head II / Motormouth comics. Fortunately for him, when Marvel UK closed down a year later, the teams at Marvel and the equally acclaimed DC franchise were already more than aware of the Spaniard's huge talent, and so he was recruited to illustrate the adventures of Flash in 1993.

Pacheco illustrated for the X-Patrol, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Spiderman, Batman, The Avengers, and Superman comics
Pacheco illustrated for the X-Patrol, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Spiderman, Batman, The Avengers, and Superman comics

30 Years Drawing Superheroes from San Roque

What followed was an almost-30-year career at both Marvel and DC, during which Pacheco had the opportunity to draw the vast majority of the most popular superheroes, from Batman and Superman to the entire X-Men cast, as well as The Avengers in various forms and dozens of lesser-known but equally fascinating characters.

"Marvel's trademark superhero style at the time was one in which the beginning and end of the movement were always drawn, but never the middle. A Marvel punch was a mother of a punch, the ones in Superman and the other DC comics had nothing on them," Pacheco explained.

Superman, by Carlos Pacheco
Superman, by Carlos Pacheco

Superheroes are the main reason most people start reading comics, and Pacheco has always been a favorite of many fans due to his ability to draw heroes on a human scale as well as his love for recreating everyday scenes. His innovative perspectives, angles, and talent when drawing heroes in action also gained him recognition as one of the best comic illustrators in the world.

Arrowsmith, one of the more personal works of Carlos Pacheco
Arrowsmith, one of the more personal works of Carlos Pacheco

In the hands of Pacheco and emblematic scriptwriters like Kurt Busiek, who worked with Pacheco on both superhero series and personal projects such as Arrowsmith, each and every character is sprung to life thanks to the magic combination of text and image, the place between the graphic and the narrative that you can only reach through comics.

Carlos Pacheco as a child holding a comic Image from his personal archive
Carlos Pacheco as a child holding a comic (image from his personal archive)

His artistic talent and energy are, without a doubt, a legacy for future generations, immortalized in each of his superheroes so that we can continue to learn from him for years to come. Our most sincere condolences go out to his family and friends.

Rest in peace Carlos.

English translation by @harriet_adams

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