Victor Mora Pujadas was one of the most prominent Spanish comic writers of the 20th century. He has worked in a variety of genres, from adventure, over fantasy to social satire, and is best-known as the creator of 'El Capitán Trueno'. Born in Barcelona in 1931, the Mora family fled the country and moved to France when he was five years old, because of the Spanish Civil War. He returned to Spain at age 11, after the death of his father. He found employment with Editorial Bruguera as a translator and editor in 1948. He also wrote his first scripts for the comic series 'Dr. Niebla' with art by Francisco Hidalgo for El Campéon (1949-1953), while doing his first and probably only attempt to draw a comic strip himself: 'Capitan Kerr' for the publication Historietas (1949-1950). Mora and Hidalgo also worked together on the science fiction comic book 'Al Dany' for Editorial Cliper in 1953. It was based on the eponymous series by Italian artist Enrico Bagnoli, that ran in the Spanish magazine El Coyote. Mora brought influences of Franco-Belgian authors like Jean-Michel Charlier and Jijé to his comics, but he was also an admirer of American authors like Milton Caniff, Lee Falk and Alex Raymond.
Bruguera offered him the opportunity to create a series of his own in 1956, following the success of their comic books starring 'El Cachorro' by Juan García Iranzo. Assuming the pen name Victor Alcazar, he created 'El Capitán Trueno' ('Captain Thunder'), about a 12th-century knight-errant, that was largely inspired by Hal Foster's 'Prince Valiant'. Main artist of the series was Ambros, but other illustrators involved were Julio Briñol, Adolfo Buylla, Félix Carrión, Luis Casamitjana, José María Casanovas, Comos, Francisco Díaz, Juan Escandell, Antoni Gil Bao, José Grau, Franc Fuentes Man, Tomás Marco, Juan Martínez Osete, Ángel Pardo, Claudio Tinoco, Vicente Torregrosa and Juan José Úbeda.
Mora and Ambros crafted a hero with a contagious smile, whose adventures were full of humor and dynamics. The initial series ran until 1968, and quickly made Trueno the most popular Spanish comics hero of all-time, with sales of more than 300,000 copies every week. Several other comic book series followed, and the character was furthermore the subject of several popular songs, a video game and the feature film 'Capitán Trueno y el Santo Grial' (2011).
Mora, as "R. Martin", soon created another series, that was set in ancient Rome: 'El Jabato', with art by Francisco Darnis (1958-1966). Similar historical series created by Mora were the cossack comic 'El Cosaco Verde' (with Fernando Costa, 1960), and 'El Corsario de Hierro', about the 17th century Spanish navigator (with Ambros, 1970).
From the late 1960s, Mora also wrote comics for Josep Toutain's Selecciones Ilustradas agency, that were published in several international magazines. He created the western 'Sunday' with Victor de la Fuente and later Ramón de la Fuente (1968-1970), and also wrote scripts for the science fiction series 'Delta 99', that were drawn by Carlos Giménez, Adolfo Usero and Josep Mascaró. He furthermore created the space opera 'Galax el Cosmonauta'with Fuentes Man for the new Bruguera magazine Bravo in 1968.
However, Mora was exiled again in 1963 as a result of his political beliefs. In 1956 he even spent a few months in Barcelona's Model Prison, accused of being a freemason and communist. During his second period in France, he wrote the novel 'Els plàtans de Barcelona' (1966), that was first published in Paris, translated by the author. This semi-autobiographical novel describes post-war Barcelona as a grey, sad and miserable place and was therefore banned in Spain until 1972. The book was additionally translated to Castilian, German, Romanian, Hungarian and Portuguese, and it has been used for teaching the Catalan language at the Sorbonne University in Paris. It was the first part of a trilogy, which also consisted of the works 'París flash-back' (1978) and 'El tramvia blau' (1985). In Catalan, he had released 'La Víctima' (1960), a collection of short stories, and the novel 'El café dels homes tristos' (1966). He also provided the Spanish translations of 'Astérix', by Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny.
He continued to write for Spanish comics however. His most notable new creation was the science fiction serial 'Dani Futuro', that he made with Carlos Giménez for Gaceta Junior from 1969 to 1975. He continued to work in the sci-fi and fantasy genres by creating several new series for Bruguera, including 'Roldán sin miedo' (for DDT, 1972), 'Supernova' (for Súper Mortadelo, 1972) and 'Astroman' (for DDT, 1973), that were drawn by regular Bruguera artists José Bielsa, Adolfo Usero, Antoni Borrell, Adolfo Buylla, Manuel Cuyás and Edmond.
While 'Dani Futuro' also found its way to Tintin in Belgium/France, Mora additionally began to work directly for French magazines. For Pilote, he made several historical comic stories with Brocal Remohi, Aldoma Puig and Jorge Longaron, as well as 'Les Chroniques de l'Innomé' with Luis Garcia. Known in Spain as 'Las Crónicas del Sin Nombre', the latter was one of the key works of Spanish adult comics, in which the author projected his political and personal concerns.
For the French magazine Pif, he made a comics feature based on the TV series 'The Persuaders' ('Amicalement vôtre') with Raphaël Carlo Marcello in 1975. This was followed by 'Aramis' in 1976. He was also present in the Glénat magazine Circus, with the sensual female superhero 'Félina', that he made in cooperation with Annie Goetzinger in 1979. This series was later continued in Pilote and Charlie Mensuel. With Josep Maria Cardona, he created the science fiction saga 'Gigantik' for the Koralle magazines Super-As (France), Zack (Germany) and Wham! (The Netherlands).
He had a fruitful collaboration with Alfonso Font, with whom he made 'Les Compagnons d'Atlantis' for Super-As, and also 'Sylvestre' and 'Tequila Bang' for the Spanish magazine La Calle. He also returned to classic adventure series in the 1980s with the creation of 'Les Inoxydables' with Antonio Parras for Charlie Mensuel (1982) and 'Les Anges d'Acier' with Victor de la Fuente in Pilote and Charlie Mensuel from 1983. With De la Fuente, he also made 'Coeur de fer' in the children's magazine Okapi during his period, and 'La Sibérienne' in L'Écho des Savanes.
He was appointed editor-in-chief of the comics magazine TBO of Ediciones B in 1987. He resumed writing 'El Capitán Trueno' in 1989, this time with art by Jesus Blasco, Luis Bermejo, Jesus Redondo and later J.M. Burns. In the 1990s, he made a feature called 'Five on the Pacific' with Jesus Redondo for the French magazine I Love English by Éditions Bayard. He also made appearances in Spanish magazines like Zone 84 and Cimoc.
On 17 August 2016, one of the key figures of the golden age of Spanish comic books passed away. During his career, he managed to innovate Spanish comics, despite the constraints inflicted by the political situation or the shortsightedness of the industry. His struggles for claiming the copyrights and royalties on 'El Capitán Trueno' made him an example for past and future generations.
Photo: Julió Carbó