In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn the history of the Carlos Pacheco/Jesus Merino art team
Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and seventy-first installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends. This time around, all of the legends will be related to the late, great Carlos Pacheco. Click here for the first legend in this installment.
Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino split up as an art team because Pacheco signed an exclusive contract with Marvel
Comic book history is filled with iconic pairings of pencilers and inkers, and in a lot of the examples of the greatest penciler/inker pairings, there is something that a good deal of these pairings have in common. Perhaps the most famous penciler/inker pairing of all-time is Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott. Sinnott came out of a school of inking that now most commonly is referred to as the "Joe Sinnott" style, but at the time that Sinnott became Kirby's inker, the most notable inkers in comics using the style in question were George Klein and Murphy Anderson. Klein was Curt Swan's inker on the Superman titles and Anderson was primarily Carmine Infantino and Gil Kane's inker during the 1960s and then took over from Klein as Swan's main inker in the late 1960s throughout the 1970s.
What all of these inkers have in common is that they were all outstanding pencilers in their own right. It was the combination of excellent pencilers inking OTHER excellent pencilers that gave the final artist literally the best of both worlds, giving two amazing artistic eyes a chance at creating a piece of art that was better (and lusher) than either single artist could have produced (note that I don't mean to diminish the excellent inking done by artists using other styles, of course, just noting that this is the benefit of the Sinnott Style).
This was the case of the great Carlos Pacheco/Jesus Merino art team.
HOW DID JESUS MERINO COME TO BE CARLOS PACHECO'S INKER?
The Spanish comic book scene in the 1990s was a fascinating one, because it was filled with very passionate creators, but the market just wasn't big enough to maintain much of an independent scene. People tried, though, of course, and when Marvel UK was given a big push in the early 1990s, a number of artists from other parts of Europe took aim at those comics. That was how Carlos Pacheco got his big break. Jesus Merino, meanwhile, was doing excellent penciling work in the Spanish comic book scene in the mid-1990s...
Pacheco, meanwhile, as he gained success in the American comic book industry following his Marvel UK stint, wasn't thrilled with his inkers at Marvel after losing his initial American Marvel inker, the legendary Cam Smith. On X-Men, the book that really made Pacheco a star in the States, he was paired with a strong artist, Art Thibert, but Pacheco just didn't find their styles to be a good match.
Thus, when Marvel wanted him to sign a new contract in 1998, Pacheco had a few demands. One, he wanted to work with writer Kurt Busiek on a project, and two, he wanted to pick out a new inker. The interesting thing, though, is that Pacheco initially tried to get Marvel to give Merino a penciling job, as Marvel had opened up to other Spanish artist contemporaries of Pacheco, like the great Salvador Larroca. But he just couldn't get Merino a penciling gig, so instead, he asked for him as his inker, and the brilliant art team started working together at Marvel on Avengers Forever, and their styles matched beautifully...
They then worked together on Fantastic Four, and when Pacheco moved to DC, Merino was right there with him, doing Arrowsmith with Busiek, JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice with Geoff Johns and David S. Goyer, Superman/Batman with Jeph Loeb, Green Lantern with Johns and then Superman with Busiek.
The Superman run, though, had an interesting change in the career of Merino.
HOW DID CARLOS PACHECO AND JESUS MERINO COME TO SEPARATE AS AN ART TEAM?
After initially continuing their pairing as penciler/inker, eventually, Pacheco and Merino began to share the pencil duties on the book, and Merino even began doing covers by himself on some of the issues...
And finally, with Superman #673, Merino did the penciling and inking on an issue by himself...
And, well, that was pretty much that, ya know? Pacheco had tried to get Merino into American comics as a penciler, and it didn't work out, but now, about a decade after being his regular inker on a number of major projects, people were now seeing Merino's pencils on their own and they were saying, "Hey, that guy is a good penciler," and so Merino soon got a gig as the regular penciler on Justice Society of America with writers Bill Willingham and Lilah Sturges and, well, the rest was history, Merino was now a penciler...
In an interview with Abel Ippólito, Pacheco laid things out quite nicely, stating, "Digo esto porque mucha gente ha interpretado que Merino no ha sido dibujante antes porque me entintaba a mí, pero era justo al revés, Merino me entintaba porque tardó en ser dibujante, el entintado era la consecuencia de que, por un motivo inexplicable, no encontrara su hueco dentro del mercado americano. Cuando lo encontró, evidentemente, dejamos de mantener ese equipo creativo y seguimos siendo tan amigos como lo hemos sido siempre, aunque mucha gente se haya empeñado en crear leyendas urbanas acerca del tema," which roughly translates to Merino only worked as inker because, for some inexplicable reason, his pencils hadn't caught on with the American market. As soon as it did, that was the end of the point of the creative team, and they split up, but remained good friends, and there was no other secret reason for the split (like one I read was that it was because Pacheco left for a Marvel Exclusive deal, leaving Merino behind. That DID happen, but he "left him behind" because Merino had his own comic book series that he was penciling! Eventually, Merino got an exclusive deal of his own with DC, and obviously, being exclusive to different comic book companies precluded them from working with each other, but that wasn't going to happen anyways, since Merino was now very busy penciling comics.
So the "break-up" of this iconic art team happened for the best of reasons.
Thanks to Abel Ippólito and the late, great Pacheco, for this information.
In the latest TV Legends Revealed - Was Batman nearly a movie first back in 1966?
PART THREE SOON!
Check back soon for part 3 of this installment's legends!
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