JOSÉ ABRANTES BIOGRAPHY
Cats, witches, gnomes and dinosaurs are some of the great cast leaders of the colorful worlds created by the powerful imagination of José Abrantes, an important name in the enfant-juvenile BD made in Portugal. Gathering graphic and thematic influences from imaginary sets as rich and diverse as those of Walt Disney, Hergé, Carl Barks, Will Eisner, J. R. R. Tolkien, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, José Abrantes is known by creating work of great variety , not just in the contents as in the shape, once that, in a career that also embraces illustration and cartoons, has been able to exploit, through BD the most variable ways and formats of publication, from the album to the newspaper daily strip, newspapers, magazines, books or fanzines, what made him be one of the chosen authors to represent Portugal at the International BD Festival at Angoulême in 1998.
His christen name is José da Piedade de Lencastre e Távora, count and marquis from Abrantes, although as chosen José Abrantes as professional name. Born in Lisbon in 1960, the drawing and imaginary BD worlds were always present in his life, making that, at the age of 15, made his professional debut at “Folha CDS”, with three cartoons, as well as in the enfant journal “O Farol”, with BD and illustrations. Since then never stopped working, signing his talent in various weekly newspapers, focusing the conception, total at most times, of child supplements that left a mark at that times` imaginary, such as, in 1987, from “Jornal do Sélix”, to the C.C.T., from the early times of “Pimpampum” – child supplement from “o Século” newspaper – and, later, at 2003 and after “Correio das Crianças” nº 17, child supplement from “Correio da Manhã”, in which appears one of his most popular characters, Zu the cat.
Also important was his participation, with illustrations and BDs, at the “Sesame Street” magazine – the popular TV show from Jim Henson in which he acted (in which he even tried animation), and at “Jornal do Gil” – casted by the mascot of International Expo´98 at Lisbon.
The big challenge of Editora Asa on publishing in an album of Portuguese authors at the early ´90s, unfortunately not for long, allowed José Abrantes to access the public in general, through the most noble format de BD publications: the album. Tobias Bigom it´s the great character of this period, a kid that lives in a rural and bucolic universe, crowded with fantastic creatures and treasures to found, that the author created for the ephemeral “Jornal Junior”, six years earlier. “Aventura em Valverde” e “Os Fundos Perdidos” are the albums where was the hero, and the following three were almost ready when the Editor drastically resumed the national BD collection and canceled the series.
By that time, José Abrantes draw one of four stories from the excellent album “Contos do Nordeste Transmontano”, with plot from Jorge Magalhães, and finished the Colecção Pigmeu, from which were edited “O Eclipse”, “Histórias de Natal”, “O Ladrão Insolente” and “Luta de Galos”, thought as close to “comic book” format, not valued by the Editor´s quest in editing them as an album.
In 1997, José Abrantes adventured himself in creating the BaleiAzul Editions that, although hadn´t survived to the ups and downs of the BD national market, allow him to spread his wings to new artistic challenges. The two albums that make the story, “O Lago Iluminado” from the “Dakar, O Minossauro” series, were then his big triumph. With the action during the dinosaur’s era, it´s a happy marriage between the accuracy on the anthropologic documentation and the proceeding fantasy from the imaginary of the pre-diluvium period, narrating the iniciatic period of a small dinosaur, following the story of another important Portuguese BD author - Luís Filipe Diferr.
Still at BaleiAzul Editors, Abrantes compiled in an album the almost complete “Horus” series he had created for “Ingénio” Magazine, made by daily strips around the story of a home cat, and its tasty and philosophical thoughts, full of humor but also with a hint of melancholy. Also showed up at BaleiAzul, but followed up in other Editors, another of the big hits of José Abrantes – the illustrated books of the adventures of Zu, the blue cat, that, as it´s owns creator, materializes with his pencil what comes to its imagination.
With a constant expanding universe, Zu has already nine books published and made a theatre play see the light of day. Zu and its girlfriend Milai have already been made “flesh and bone”, by appearing with the author in sessions for children.
But José Abrantes imaginary gave us even more characters, with a humor sometimes more sarcastic and slashing, that he distributed for diverse means of publication, like Tantã and Liru, national versions e well humored from Hergé´s heroes, Capitão Marselha and Angstrom e Ribico.
One of the more recent hits of José Abrantes are the adventures of the witch prentice Morgana, in a series that once again takes us to a delicious fantasy universe, with the hero searching the mysterious kidnapper of the gnome, that makes the best witch brooms. It´s a whole medieval universe of magic and enchantment that comes to life, brightened with imaginative and varied characters, in a web of relations that promises big surprises to the future.
Already with two albums published, another José Abrantes series has recently became a popular hit: we´re talking about Homodonte – a cave boy which stories happen in the prehistory. It´s publication started at “Público Júnior”, supplement of the prestigious newspaper “O Público”, but then had a “face lift” thanks to the use of the useful Photoshop by the author. After the adventures of the dinosaur Dakar, the author goes forward to a prehistory still imaginative but already with human beings in exciting adventures full of imagination, in which humor prevails, with a new group of fascinating creatures.
To be honest, one of the characteristics that the José Abrantes work has is the ability on enchanting the enfant-juvenile public without alienating the adult one. With good humor always showing, a particular choice for all sets of great adventures where dreams are always there and discovery is never too far away, and special feeling for the creation of universes solid and thought from scratch to shelter big epic sagas, José Abrantes has already past the double of 30 years of career and keeps accomplishing two of the major goals of any creator: enrich he´s target-public imaginary and contribute in a decisive way to an area of rich national tradition – the enfant-juvenile BD. And yet, and more important, contribute to make happy many thousands of readers.