Art: the inspired weirdness of Alex Nino….

Published On July 12, 2014 | By Richard Bruton | Comics

Another one of these ‘Art’ posts that’s come about because I saw one thing on the Internet one day and went searching from there. I’d heard of Alex Niño before and seen a little of his work, but never really looked too much.

Mistake.

Because when you look you find things like this…

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Oh yes, more of that sort of thing later.

Alex Niño is one of a group of artists from the Philippines recruited into US comics by DC Comics in 1971. It saw Alfredo Alcala, Nestor Redondo, Gerry Talaoc join DC to shape the look of the company for years.

Born in 1941, Niño has worked for DC, Marvel, Warren and many other publishers in a long and distinguished career that continues to this day. He’s perhaps best known for a large body of work at DC on their supernatural anthologies where his art adorned ‘House Of Mystery’, ‘House of Secrets’, ‘Weird War Tales’, and ‘The Witching Hour’ amongst many more. His work at DC was followed by years at Marvel Comics including ‘Conan’.

The late 70s and 80s found Niño at Warren and Heavy Metal where his style fitted perfectly with the more mature styles in Vampirella, Creepy, Eerie and Heavy Metal. Through the years since then Niño has worked for several companies in comics and animation and continues to make art today, his style at 74 still recognisable, but evolved from the fine lines of his 70s work.

Nino Today – from the Alex Niño website:

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(Battle Machines I – pen and ink, ink wash)

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(Battle Machines II – pen and ink, ink wash)

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(Frankenstein 3 – pencil)

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(Shadow – colour marker)

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(Werewolf – colour marker)

Now we’re going back in time to look at a little of Nino’s DC work, starting with Weird War Tales #69 (August 1978). “The Day After Doomsday” (Via Diversions Of The Groovy Kind). It’s the strangely beautiful and sinewy lines of the figures that does it for me:

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Tales of Ghost Castle #2 (April 1975). Again, the body shapes are quite wonderful, Nino’s lines creating such wonderful shapes, recognisable but weird…

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Weird War Tales #61 (December 1977) Perhaps my favourite of all the examples here. The art just flies off the page to smack you in the eyes. This first panel with its spectacular imagery, the twisting and curved lines splitting the panel, the rain lashing down… beautiful.

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But even better than that is this panel below, as we disappear below ground and Nino’s art delves into the darkness. The strong man-made lines of the walkways giving way to the more natural shapes below, all ending with a really nasty looking rat – those eyes, those eyes. Stunning artwork.

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Corporal Kelly’s Private War from Weird War Tales

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1975, Marvel Preview #1. “Man-Gods From Beyond the Stars”:

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Finally, the thing that set this whole thing off… Forgotten masterpiece: “The Ultimate Horror” by Alex Niño (art) and Jack Oleck (script), from Secrets of Sinister House vol. 3 #12, published by DC Comics, July 1973.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

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