We say “Thank You and Farewell!” to Victor Arriagada Rios, better known to most of us as “Vicar” (a clever and easy-to-negotiate derivative of his full name), who left us on January 03, 2012 at the age of 77.
Vicar was one of the very best of the artistic talents toiling for the European publishers, who assumed dominance over the field of Disney comic book production as the once mighty American licensee, Western Publishing, began its long, slow decline into eventual oblivion.
Along with Daniel Branca, Daan Jippes, and Fred Milton, Vicar ushered in a “New Age” of great Disney comic book art in America that began with the assumption of the Disney comics license by Bruce Hamilton and Gladstone in 1985. By the time the Gladstone line began in 1986, we were VERY hungry for this, and embraced the work of these talented folks with a wave of admiration that lasts to this day.
And, after many long and unsatisfying years of Gold Key and Whitman Ducks drawn by the likes of Bob Gregory and Kay Wright… BROTHER, were we READY for it!
Indeed, Vicar and Branca formed the artistic nucleus of the Gutenberghus Group (later Egmont), with their amazingly faithful renderings of Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and the rest in two different and significant phases of the classic Carl Barks style.
Branca specialized in the look of “Carl Barks Circa 1961” (…that would roughly equate to tales like “Mythic Mystery”), while Vicar epitomized Barks’ most classic look – that of about 1953… think “Secret of Atlantis”.
To me, NO ONE was better at capturing that particular look and feel than Vicar! And, that earned him a very special place among my most favorite Disney comic book artists.
It was my extreme pleasure to have “collaborated” with him on three occasions, providing American English dialogue for stories he’d illustrated (the first two both originally written by the great Lars Jensen and the third by Paul Halas and Tom Anderson).
“Heads You Win…Tails You Bruise!” (my title) introduced unscrupulous, nerdy, and hygienically questionable coin collector Melvin X. Nickelby to the Duck Universe in UNCLE SCROOGE # 367, and I was honored to give this creation of Jensen and Vicar’s his definitive (and rather annoying) American voice! I don’t know how many comic conventions Vicar may have attended, but he certainly gave Melvin the “right look”! C’mon, readers… you ALL know what I mean! Right?
Please note: This particular image of Melvin was not drawn by Vicar -- but it's the only one I could find, and it does reflect the character as originally designed by Vicar.
An aside: I was further pleased to have scripted Melvin’s SECOND APPEARANCE in a story I titled “Bad Things Come in Threes” – in which I further upped Melvin’s “obnoxious nerd quotient”, including the notion that he has a Blog (that no one reads!). This WOULD have been published by now if Boom! hadn’t gone “kaboom!”
Next was a particularly fine artistic effort by Vicar in a Jensen story I titled “Uncle Scrooge meets The Synthezoid from the Deepest Void” for UNCLE SCROOGE # 370.
Vicar outdid himself with lots of wonderful sci-fi trappings and character designs, in this tale of alien criminal Tachyon Farflung being pursued to Earth by a titanic robot, who desires the Earth’s (and Scrooge’s) precious metals to replicate. And, Vicar draws a great big cool explosion to boot!
Anyone who calls Vicar’s art “stiff” should take a good look at that one, and reconsider.
Rest in Peace, Vicar! Donald, Scrooge, Tachy, Melvin, McTwirlsneer, and I salute you!
My friend Pete Fernbaugh has a great tribute to Vicar that you can see HERE!
GeoX has a nice review of a Vicar story (with lots of art) HERE!
HERE is a detailed story from The Santiago Times, from Vicar’s native Chile.
Here are more Blog links to Vicar Tributes. Please read them and enjoy!
Comic Book Rehab (Joseph Adorno)