Artist Spotlight on Alfredo Alcala

by Blaise Tassone

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Alfredo P. Alcala was a prominent comic creator both in his home country of the Philippines and then, starting in the 1970s, in the United States.

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Heralded for his great design talent and inking skills, in the US he is still probably best known as the creator of Voltar (a Viking comic launched in 1963; not to be confused with ‘Voltron,’ the anime spin off show about a transformable robot from the 1980s). Voltar was later republished by both Warren publishers, in their The Rook magazine title, and in Magic Carpet #1 by Comics and Comix.

Comic book enthusiasts, however, will know Alcala best for his Bronze Age illustration work as an artist and especially as inker for both Marvel and DC. Alcala’s inking work on Batman, Detective Comics, DC Comics Presents, etc. for DC and his illustration and inking for Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian, The Hulk, Howard the Duck and the adaptation of Planet of the Apes, is all excellent.

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Born in 1925 (August 23 in Talisay, Negros Occidental, the Philippines), Alcala got his earliest start not by drawing comics but producing covert maps showing Japanese positions and gear for the Allies during World War II.

After the war, and throughout the 1950s, Alcala gained popularity for his comic book and magazine work in the Philippines where he became popular enough that, by the early 1960s, he could support his own magazine series the “Alcala Komix Magazine”.

After creating ‘Voltar’, (see here), a Conan style sword and sorcery Viking comic series in 1963, he also gained international attention.

 

 

 

 

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Secrets of Sinister House #6 (August 1972) – Alcala’s first published work in American Comics

Alcala subsequently moved to New York City in 1976, having already been actively submitting work at both DC and Marvel from the early 1970s. Alcala’s first illustration work for DC was for the horror anthology series Secrets of Sinister House, this comic is incredibly affordable and can be found for reasonable prices on the internet. Alcala produces the illustrations for the story “When Is Tomorrow Yesterday?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vampire Tales #6 (August 1974) – Alcala’s first published work for Marvel

His first work for Marvel comics, was Vampire Tales #6. Alcala’s contribution is the interior art for the story “Blood Death”. Once again, a quite affordable book in lower grades and in mid-grade uncertified. Certified high grade copies, by contrast, can fetch good prices. With only 30 copies on the CGC census and only one 9.8 recorded; the highest grade sold, a certified 9.6, went for $191.20 and that was back on 07/13/2014 in a Heritage Auction.

 

 

 

 

 

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Planet of the Apes #7 (April 1975) – Alcala art begins

I think some of Alcala’s best art appears in the Marvel adaptation of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ film series. On 07/10/2016 a 9.8 certified copy of Planet of the Apes #7 book sold for $143.40 on Heritage Auction.

 

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Kong the Untamed #1 (June 1975) – First Issue of Kong the Untamed

Alcala also got together with Jack Oleck in 1975 to create: “Kong the Untamed” for DC. On 08/21/2019 a 9.6 certified copy of this Alcala creation sold on eBay for $115.00.

After the departure of its creator Stan Lynde (in 1977), Alcala drew the ‘Rick O’Shay’ newspaper strip. In the early 1980s, he also drew the ‘Star Wars’ newspaper strip: both for the Chicago Tribune Syndicate.

Later, in the 1990s he relocated to California and worked in animation.

Among the many awards Alcala received the Inkpot Award in 1977. He passed away on April 8, 2000 in California after a battle with cancer.

Fun fact: Alcala hated beds. Apparently he could only sleep on the floor or on top of his desk.

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