Born in 1941 in Barcelona, Manuel Sanjulián started his career illustrating comics for Josep Toutain’s art agency Selecciones Ilustrades. During the 1970s Sanjulián illustrated a couple of movie adaptations and a comic serial in Cimoc magazine. His work began to capture the right people’s attention and he flourished in the British market, later working for publishers like Futura, Fontana, and Harrow.
Like so many of his contemporaries, Sanjulián would eventually join Warren Publishing where he illustrated titles like Creepy, Eerie, and Famous Monsters of Filmland. You’ll probably recognize his style from the iconic covers he illustrated for Vampirella. His work on Vampirella engendered many comparisons to the work of Frank Frazetta and he began receiving assignments for book covers from American publishers like Dell, Ace, DAW, and Bantam, focussing on Sword and Sorcery stories like the Conan novels by Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp, and Andrew Offutt.
Sanjulián even received a British Science Fiction Association Award nomination for his illustration of Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show (1989). Apart from his commercial work, Sanjulián’s paintings have appeared in many fine art galleries across Europe.
Below is a tiny fraction of his oeuvre. They are awesome pieces. Enjoy!
And the last one is as recent as 2013 for Dark Horse Comics’ King Conan. Sanjulián is still in the game and his skills are blazing hot.
Ogling Vampirella introduced me to Sanjulián. There you go. I’ve said it. So you could say Vampirella was a gateway to Sanjulián’s other work but that wouldn’t be true. Back then, I consumed comics and novels at breakneck speed and I didn’t always register who did what, only that I liked it and wanted more. As I grew older I became more curious about the artists I admired, wanting to find out more about them and the other work they did. Without the Internet, that was not an easy thing to accomplish. You bought the books and swapped them with friends who shared the same love of Conan and everything Sword-and-Sorcery, and over time you built an idea of an artist gleaned from the slithers of information you discovered in the books. After all, the cover sets the mood when you go into the story.
These “Legends” posts awakened many fond memories of my years as a teenager, and yes, it can be viewed as a self-indulgent nostalgia ride. But I also hope it fosters an appreciation for the outliers of the genre. We should never forget them or allow them to fade into obscurity. They broke the mold back then and inspired many of the great genre painters of today, including writers. Especially this one.
Next week is the 100th entry in this series. I’m planning something spectacular. Watch this space. Or not. Or you can subscribe and receive a notification when I post something. See how convenient that is?