'Patty's World' (Princess Tina Annual 1973).

Purita Campos (or Pura Campos) was a Spanish painter and illustrator, and one of the leading artists in European girls' comics. After modest beginnings in her native Spain, she set the tone for a new wave of more reality-based stories in this genre on the British market. Her best-known series was 'Patty's World' (1971-1988), a co-creation with writer Philip Douglas, about the everyday life of 13-year old Patty Lucas. It quickly became a hit in Spain (as 'Esther y su Mundo'), the Netherlands ('Peggy's Wereldje') and Germany ('Biggi') too. Patty landed Campos an equally fruitful collaboration with the Dutch girls' magazine Tina, for which she illustrated the title comic 'Tina & Debbie' (1974-2010) for several decades. She regularly collaborated with her husband Francisco Ortega on other comics for girls, such as 'Gina' (1978-1980) and 'Dulce Caroline' (1989).

Early life and career
Born in Barcelona as Purificación Campos Sánchez in 1937, she developed an early interest in the world of art, amusement, singing and dancing. She used to copy the work of comics artists like Ángel Badía Camps and Jesús Blasco, and later on Hugo Pratt also became one of her favorites. Campos studied Fine Arts at Barcelona's Llotja School of Art for seven years, and also took courses at the Theater Institute. Because of the late working hours, her parents didn't allow their young daughter to work in theaters. Instead, she stuck to the drawing pen. She spent the first years of her career making illustrations for fashion magazines. Since her mother was a dressmaker, Campos was especially capable in designing and capturing costumes and their models with elegance. One day, her brother met the legendary cartoonist Manuel Vázquez in a bar, who had insisted her to come and meet him at the offices of the publishing house Bruguera the next day. Arriving there, Purita Campos was met with much surprise. Bruguera's house cartoonist, a notorious loafer, never came to the offices at all! Bruguera's editor and scriptwriter Víctor Mora was however impressed by her stylish illustrations, and took her in anyway.

Mirabelle by Purita Campos
Artwork from an early story for a British romance comic.

Bruguera & Creaciones Editoriales
Starting in 1959, Purita Campos' illustrations began appearing on the covers and interior pages of Bruguera magazines like Dalia (1959), Sissi Novelas Gráficas (1961), Blanca (1961), Can Can (1961) and Celia (1963). One of her earliest comics serials was 'La Historia de May Dunning' (1961), about the romantic adventures of a Louisiana girl. It appeared in Blanca throughout its 1961-1962 run, although A. Cardé took over the artwork from the 31st episode on. The stories were written by Alberto Cuevas and later by Alicia Romero. These early efforts established Purita Campos' lifelong specialization in girls' comics, with her vibrant and elegant style eventually becoming an industry standard.

Through Bruguera's agency Creaciones Editoriales, Purita Campos began her fruitful and influential career for the British market in 1961. She worked her way through the decade with many short stories and cover illustrations for girls' romance titles like Marty, Mirabelle, Boyfriend and Romeo, mostly published by IPC/Fleetway. By 1970 she began her collaboration with Princess Tina, initially as a cover painter.

Patty's World by Purita Campos
'Patty's World' (Princess Tina Annual 1976).

Patty's World
In the following year, she teamed up with writer Philip Douglas to launch the weekly serial 'Patty's World' (1971-1988). The feature deviated from the genre's traditional love stories, and instead focused on thirteen-year old Patty Lucas, who lives with her widowed mother in a small British town. The stories deal with growing up (Patty gradually ages throughout the years), falling in love, trouble with parents, schoolyard confrontations and other relatable subjects for teenage girls. The death of Patty's father added a dramatic layer to the series' tone, and more serious subject matter like alcoholism and unemployment was also touched. Along the way, Purita Campos began suggesting storylines to Douglas as well, making 'Patty's World' a true co-creation. When Princess Tina folded in 1973, the feature continued its run in several other girls' titles, such as Pink, Mates and Girl. It came to an end in 1988, when the UK market for teenage girls comics had diminished.


'Esther y su mundo' (Super Joyas Femeninas #9).

Peggy/Esther/Biggi
By the time of its conclusion, 'Patty's World' had already reached a similar popularity on the European mainland. Between 1971 and 1984 the series appeared on a weekly base in the Dutch edition of Tina magazine as 'Peggy's Wereldje' (the magazine already had a Patty: 'Patty en de Big Silver Bull Band' by Lo Hartog van Banda and Gideon Brugman). In Spain, Bruguera published Patty's adventures in Lily under the title 'Esther y su mundo' from 1974 on. The more hard-hitting storylines were however heavily censored, due to the country's strict guidelines for children's comics. Nonetheless, 'Esther' became a hit in Campos' home country too, selling 300,000 to 400,000 copies each week. Between 1981 and 1985 she received her own bi-weekly magazine called Esther, subtitled "Your best friend". Collections like 'Lo Mejor de Esther' ("The Best of Esther") and 'Seleccion Esther' were additionally launched in 1981. Esther was subsequently published in the magazine Pecosa by MC Ediciones from 1986 to 1988. The German publisher Bastei Verlag also gave the character her own comic book in 1982. 'Biggi' however appeared on a weekly base, and quickly ran out of source material. Purita Campos provided the magazine with some new cover illustrations, but refused to work on new stories under an exclusive contract for the publisher fulltime. Bastei then turned to Trini Tinturé, who developed a completely new 'Biggi' feature starring a German girl in California. The German 'Biggi' comic lasted until 1989.

Tina cover by Pura CamposTina cover by Pura Campos
Two cover illustrations for the Dutch Tina from 1975.

Tina in the Netherlands
The success of 'Peggy's Wereldje' had brought Purita Campos' qualities as an illustrator to the attention of the Dutch editors at publisher Oberon. Simultaneously, her painted covers of beautiful girls for British magazines had graced the covers of the Dutch Tina for years as well. The weekly was launched as a translation of the British Princess Tina in 1967, but gradually gained more independency. By the time the British parent magazine was cancelled, the Dutch had already turned to a production of more local stories. To maintain the painted covers tradition, they asked Campos to make new ones directly for the Dutch title. She continued to so until mid 1983, when Tina switched to photographs. Additionally, to provide the magazine with a new title comic, the editors requested Campos' services again. 'Tina en Debbie' (1974-2010) debuted in issue #35 of 1974. In Campos' wake came many other artists affiliated with Creaciones Editoriales. Through their agent Luis Llorente, talents like Trini Tinturé, Angeles Felices, Edmond, Julio Vivas, Rodrigo Comos, Jesús Redondo, Andres Balcells and Carlos Freixas formed Tina's core artists team well into the 21st century.

Tina, by Purita Campos
'Tina'.

Tina en Debbie
Between 1968 and 1973 Tina had ran an ongoing story called 'Tina's eigen verhaal', which was of British origin and had artwork by Bill Baker. Although its title hero was named the same, 'Tina en Debbie' was a completely new production, written by Dutch author Andries Brandt. The red-headed Tina was a model and occasional teenage detective, while her friend Debbie worked as a fashion designer. This provided the writer with enough material to send  the two girls on adventures all over the world. It was furthermore relatable subject matter to Purita Campos as an illustrator, who made sure to keep up with the latest fashion. Andries Brandt continued to write the stories until shortly before his death in 1985. Patty Klein scripted one episode in 1985, after which editor Marjolein Winkel took over, with a couple of stories written by Klein's sister Conny Möricke in between. By 1998 former editor-in-chief Kitty Smit assumed the writing duties, often in collaboration with Lucienne van Ek. In early 2008 Purita Campos retired from the comic and was replaced by Edmond Ripoll. The series came to an end in 2010 when the editors decided to focus on a younger demography. Over the course of 2013 a completely new and more modern Tina designed by Jan Vriends was introduced.

Between 1987 and 2004 Purita Campos furthermore illustrated a couple of one-shot short stories for Tina, based on stories by a variety of Dutch scriptwriters. In Spain, 'Tina and Debbie' was published under several titles, including 'Christie' in Christie Magazine (1977), 'Jana' in Jana (1983-1985) and 'Nina' in Chicas (1986), but in the long way proved "too Dutch" to leave a lasting impression on a Spanish audience.


Tina & Debbie - 'Mode, Maskers en Misdaad' (Tina #26, 1982).

Gina
In addition to her regular work for 'Patty's World' and 'Tina & Debbie', Purita Campos developed some other comics. Notable was her comics adaptation of Johanna Spyri's 'Heidi' novel for Bruguera's 'Joyas Literarias Juveniles' collection (#103, 1975). Other, new creations were made in cooperation with her husband Francisco Ortega, who sometimes used the pen name Frank Elliot (some sources erroneously say that Ramón Ortega was Campos' co-worker on these comics). First of all there was 'Gina' (1979-1980), the new title hero for Bruguera's Gina comic book, debuting in the 77th issue. Her adventures were later also translated to English and other languages. Again, the comic followed the life of a typical teenage girl, but this time aimed specifically at Spanish readers, as it was set in Spain's rapidly changing post-Franco society. In 1989 Campos and Ortega created the humor comic strip 'Dulce Caroline' ('Sweet Caroline'), with the intention of selling it as a daily to international newspapers. In the end, it was only published in TBO magazine by Ediciones B in 1989.

Gina by Purita Campos
From: Gina #83 (1980)

Other activities
In 1967-1968 Campos had her own shop on the Passeig de Gracia, where she sold her own designs to a prominent clientele. Following the closing down of Bruguera in 1986 and the cancellation of 'Patty's World' in 1988, Purita Campos focused on painting from the late 1980s on. Together with her husband she also trained young and aspiring artists in their own studio in Barcelona's San Gervasio neighborhood.

Dulce Carolina by Purita Campos
'Dulce Carolina', from TBO #26, 1989.

Revival
Purita Campos regained fame in Spain when Glénat España began releasing her work in the new "Colección Purita Campos" under supervision of editor Joan Navarro. Starting off with a compilation of 'Gina' stories in 2005, the publisher released the monography 'Esther y el Mundo de Purita Campos' in 2007. A complete (and uncensored) re-edition of 'Esther y su Mundo' was published in seventeen volumes between 2007 and 2011. The series proved to be a bestseller once again. Also in 2007, Glénat España launched 'Las Nuevas Aventuras de Esther' (2007-2009), presenting Esther in her adult life, divorced and with a daughter. Campos resumed the art duties, while Carlos Portela took care of the scripts. The authors named Esther's daughter Patty, in honor of the character's original British name. Portela additionally wrote two novels about Esther, 'Esther cumple cuarenta' ("Esther turns forty", 2014) and 'La Elección de Esther' ("Esther's Choice", 2016), both published by Espasa Narrativa and with cover illustrations by Campos. In 2009 a short biographical book about Purita Campos appeared at Glénat under the title 'Esther y sus Mundos', as well as a reprint of the 'Heidi' adaptation.

Las Nuevas Aventuras de Esther by Purita Campos
'Las Nuevas Aventuras de Esther'.

Recognition and legacy
Purita Campos goes down in history as one of the most successful and widely read Spanish comics authors, even though her oeuvre was aimed at a specific demographic. Her clean and vivid art style has remained a lasting influence on many European girls' comics artists. For her cultural importance, she was awarded the Gold Metal of Merit in Fine Arts by the Ministry of Culture in 2010. In 2011 Purita Campos would have had a street named after her in a new urban area in Gestafe, along with other comics artists like Jan and Carlos Giménez. The plans however fell through because of the financial crisis. The Barcelona International Comics Convention awarded her their Grand Prix in 2013, and organized a retrospective exhibition under the title 'Purita Campos. Beyond Esther' in the following year.

Purita Campos passed away at the age of 82 in her hometown Madrid on 19 November 2019.


Purita and Esther (self-portrait, 2007)

More about Tina weekly magazine in Lambiek's Nederlandse Stripgeschiedenis
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