We lost Ric Estrada on May 1 to cancer. Ric drew his first story for DC, a war story for Our Army At War in 1955 and his second story, a romance tale for Girls' Romance in 1967. He started his long run beginning in 1968 and would end his association with DC in 1986. He would draw 289 stories in all for DC.
Sure he was the guy they went to for romance and war stories, but Ric drew lots of other things. He had a story in every issue of Hot Wheels except the first one. He drew the first seven issues of Amethyst. He did comedy in Plop and Welcome Back Kotter He didn't like drawing super-heroes, but he did a dozen Wonder Woman stories and numerous issues of Richard Dragon: Kung Fu Fighter, Super Friends, Blackhawk and the Karate Kid. He did the Legion of Super-Heroes, Wonder Girl, The Creeper, Beowulf, Isis, The Justice Society of America, and the Freedom Fighters. Ric could do it all.
I'm just going to lift liberally here from Mark Evanier's post the morning Ric died.
Ric was born February 26, 1928 in Havana, Cuba and began selling his work at age 13 to a popular Cuban magazine called Bohemia. He attended University of Havana where, he always claimed, another student was Fidel Castro.I always liked Ric's work. My wife and I shared an elevator with Ric at the San Diego Comic-Con a few years ago. He walked in and I said "Hi, great to see you." Ric sees that his name tag is backwards and says, "You don't even know who I am." I said, "Ric, you are one of those guys who looks like you were drawn by you. Of course I know who you are." I think he was kind of shocked than anyone recognized him. He was a very self-effacing guy and you couldn't help liking him. I always liked his artwork.
Via a relative, he developed a friendship with Ernest Hemingway, who took an interest in the young artist's work and encouraged him to relocate to New York. Ric moved there at age 20 but never stayed in one place for very long, traveling the world and living briefly in dozens of other cities. Whenever he was back in Manhattan, he managed to work in comic books, including two of his proudest jobs...stories for the EC war comics edited and written by Harvey Kurtzman. Other companies that were glad to have his art included Hillman, Western Publishing, St. John and Ziff-Davis.
Ric occasionally dabbled in newspaper strips, including assisting on Flash Gordon and drawing some of the Flash Gordon comic books. Most of his comic book work was done in the sixties and seventies for DC, primarily on romance and war comics. But there was a period where (against his preference, he said), he was assigned to super-hero titles, primarily as a "rough penciller." Ric didn't like super-heroes and didn't feel he had the flair for them, and he also didn't like producing anything less than finished artwork. Still, that was where he was told his services were needed so he penciled comics like All-Star Comics, Freedom Fighters and Karate Kid.
Despite the grief it caused him and his own dissatisfaction with the work, it was often quite wonderful...though not as grand as when Ric was allowed to be Ric. Besides, Ric was never satisfied with his own work. In the seventies, he did several war stories for DC's combat titles that garnered great praise, particularly from his fellow artists. It was hard to tell Ric how good you thought they were without him blushing red and giving you an honest, humble argument.
In the 80's Ric moved to Los Angeles and worked for the Hanna-Barbera studio as a designer and layout artist. He was much-loved about the building...and repeatedly flattered as younger artists sought him out to praise his comic work.
Ric was married three times and had eight children. One son, Seth, is currently producing a documentary on his father. You can find out more about it at the Ric Estrada website and view some of the raw footage on this page.
We begin with "Does He Still Love Her?" drawn by John Rosenberger and later reprinted in Young Romance #197. That is followed by our cover story, "Don't Pity Me -- Love Me" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vinny Colletta. Next is "The Write Time to Love" drawn by Wally Wood and Vinny Colletta. Lastly we have "Heart of a Lifetime" drawn by Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs.
Edited by Murray Boltinoff