OLD COMICS WEDNESDAY: Alcatena y Barreiro’s ULRICK, part one
One of the problematic parts of enjoying what little is available of Enrique “Quique” Alcatena’s work is how much of it seems cobbled together from the popular junk from the U.S. and Europe. It comes off less like the work of an artist processing his influences and more like the repackaging of imported art for a very small, isolated market’s domestic consumption. Still looks totally fucking cool, regardless.
For example — a fine cover, but I’m almost positive I’ve seen this pose/layout before, maybe in a Milo Manara album?
In Ulrick [published in 1988], Alcatena and longtime writing collaborator Ricardo Barreiro present another serialized epic journey, but unlike the theatrics and cool designs of El Mago, this one starts off pretty creatively listless, although I applaud the use of Ulrich the semi-legendary sea explorer and settler as a way to draw vikings fighting Aliens, all the way down to the shipwrecked humans taking refuge on a haunted-house of a ship.
Nice use of that Kubert-style floating window of panels here, getting a boring talking scene done while underlining that our mariners aren’t in much better a place now than when they were floating in the sea. The facial inking is a bit random, isn’t it? Sometimes a little Russ Heath-ish, others almost Wally Wood/Ralph Reese-like clammy:
Here, Quique picks a way to chisel out his grim Norse faces, and it’s so good. The establishing-shot-as-background is always clever; here, he uses it to heighten the sense of unease by not providing a clear sense of where we and our heroes are in all that rigging:
You’ve probably been wondering impatiently where this promised “Vikings Vs. Aliens” action came in. That’s OK, I won’t judge. First, the ritual of seeing what’s left of the lone survivor of the pre-story carnage ….
Ayúdenme indeed, you poor bastard. I love that Alcatena [perhaps originally Barreiro] diligently lights almost every panel [maybe not that establishing profile of the survivor, it's never clear exactly where he is in the hold] from the angle that the torch would cast — you would assume that the survivor gets his own light scheme but, being on the floor, he would be lit from above by the torch just as Ulrick and friend would be lit slightly from below. Details!
Enough talking, now head bursting and axe fighting:
Next week: The triumphant return of Quique the maker of designs so cool you briefly forget that pin-ups are lazy bullshit when used more than never in an adventure-comics story.