Ponchito by Jose Clemen

José "Joe" Clemen was an Argentinian comic artist and illustrator, active from the 1940s through the 1990s. He drew adventure comics for comic magazines like Billiken, Poncho Negro and Paturozito, before switching to book illustration.

Early life and career
José María Pérez Clémen was born in 1928 in Buenos Aires. His older brother was Carlos Clémen, a pioneer in Argentinian comics. His other brother, Juan Clémen, later worked as a comic artist too. When he was barely thirteen years old, José began working in the local comic book industry, drawing comic strips like 'Gulliver' and 'Puño de Hierro'. By 1947, he was present in the children's magazine Billiken with adventure serials like 'Omar el Valeroso' ("Omar the Courageous") and 'Halcón Rojo'.

Clémen brothers
In 1949, both José and Juan Clémen joined their brother in his activities. They participated in Carlos Clémen's correspondence course in cartooning, Estudios Clémen, and contributed to his self-published magazines, like Suspenso (1949) and later also Corso Pete (1957-1959, as "Joe Clémen"). By 1950, José Clémen gave cartooning classes through his own Jerarquia studio, and eventually became a teacher at the Escuela Panamericana de Arte, where he helped develop the Famous Artists correspondence course ("Curso de los Famosos Artistas").

Ping-Pong/Poncho Negro
All the while, Clémen continued to work for a variety of comic magazines. In 1952, he was present in Ping-Pong magazine as one of the artists of 'Sargento Morales, de la Gendarmería Nacional', just like his brother Juan. He was also the initial artist of 'Bravinoble, el Terror de los Malvados' (1951), before Juan Antonio Gassmann took over. In 1955, he drew the title feature of the western comic book Poncho Negro, and also created the junior masked vigilante, 'Ponchito'.

Writing most of his own stories, and also those by his brother Juan, José Clémen contributed to several comic books published by Editorial Manuel Láinez/EDMAL in the late 1950s. He produced original material for El Gorríon, Fuego!, Impacto, Puño Fuerte and Selecciones de Puño Fuerte, including features and serials like 'Ax Denver', 'Han Gien', 'Kongonia', 'Attu', 'La Luna y la Moneda' and 'Bi-Bi' (1961), the latter a Stone Age love triangle featuring a character with the looks of Brigitte Bardot. He also provided cover illustrations to EDMAL's comic books based on the Lee Falk characters 'The Phantom' ('El Fantasma') and Mandrake the Magician ('Mandrake').

Later work in comics
In 1964, José Clémen was one of the early contributors to Anteojito, a magazine for school children with its title character created by Manuel García Ferré. For the Chilean market, Clémen was one of the anonymous artists drawing Pepo's iconic anthropomorphic condor 'Condorito'. In the 1970s, Clémen briefly orked with writer Héctor Germán Oesterheld on the adventures of jungle hero 'Russ Congó' (August 1971-January 1972) in TOP magazine. After the fifth episode, Clémen was replaced by Enrique Campdepadrós (AKA Kato). He also drew episodes of 'El Hombre Nuclear' ('The Six Million Dollar Man') in the magazines published by José Alegre's Editorial Mo-Pa-Sa.

During the 1960s, the Argentinian comic book market declined, and Clémen shifted focus towards illustration. Since the late 1940s, he was already noted for his vigorous cover drawings with cinematographic compositions for the Colección Robin Hood, a prominent Argentinian collection of youth literature, published by Acme Agency. José Clémen continued to work as a book cover illustrator until his mid-1990s retirement.

José María Clémen passed away in Buenos Aires in 2018, at the age of 90.

Pancho Negra cover by Jose Clemen

José Clémen posts on Top Comics

Series and books by José Clémen you can order today:


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