Long time New Teen Titans artist Eduardo Barreto has passed away at the age of 57 from meningitis. The Uruguayan artist, who began a stint on the Judge Parker newspaper strip in 2006 and more recently began illustrating The Phantom Sunday strip, was also known for his outstanding work on The Shadow Strikes!, Action Comics, Superman, and Martian Manhunter for DC.
A self-taught artist, Barreto pointed out Russ Manning, Harold Foster and Warren Tufts as his three main artistic influences. When he was 15 years old, his portfolio under his arm, he went to each and every newspaper in Montevideo looking for a job. With a Richard Lionheart biographical comic (inspired by Foster's Prince Valiant, one of his favorite comics) as his strongest work (and which he had intended to sell outside of Uruguay) he finally found a job at newspaper El Día. The editor for the newspaper's children's magazine ("El Día de los Niños") liked Eduardo's art, but he asked him to do something more Hispanic. Thus, an adaptation of the Spanish epic poem Cantar de Mio Cid (The Lay of the Cid), was soon published in the magazine, scripted and drawn by Eduardo, aged 16.
In 1974 he created a science fiction and space opera strip inspired in The Morning of the Magicians, a book by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier. He created the strip intending to sell it to a syndicate, as his first love in comics were strips, and called it "El Poderoso Halcón" (The Mighty Hawk). In Uruguay, however, his only client was the newspaper magazine he was already working, in which he published two pages featuring the character on Sundays.
A year later Barreto sold the strip to United Press, and the syndicate distributed his strips to some sixteen or seventeen newspapers in Latin America. There was even talk of translating it into English, but it never happened, due to international paper and oil crisis in the mid-seventies. At age 21, Eduardo was publishing a strip all across Latin America.
Working outside Uruguay was a logical consequence of the career he had been forging for himself, a logical consequence of wanting to make a living in comics. Since making a full living from comics in Uruguay was impossible, he traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to leave some samples in publisher Editorial Columba (house of comic anthology magazines El Tony and Dartagnan). He returned to Montevideo, and supplemented his comic work for El Día with artwork for advertising agencies.
After getting married and moving, he returned to Buenos Aires on vacation, and visited Columba again. The publisher's chief art editor, Antonio Presa, asked him why he hadn't answered the letter in which they offered him a position working in the strip "Kabul de Bengala". Eduardo never had received the letter, as it had been sent to his former address.
Starting in 1975, he worked for about three years for the Argentinian publisher, first living in the country for a year, working in the Nippur IV studio. In the morning he worked in the Kabul art (scripted by H. G. Oesterheld), and in the afternoon he worked at the Nippur studio, as an assistant to Ricardo Villagrán; or rather a ghost artist. Among others, he worked on "Mark" (doing full pencils starting with issue seven). After that year he moved back to Uruguay, working there and traveling once a month to Argentina. By then he was working on several Nippur studio characters, but on his own, and signing his own name. Eventually, tired of Ray Collins' (Eugenio Zapietro) scripts, he signed his Kabul art with aliases, such as "S. Gneis" or "Kopy"; using the latter when he had to copy another artists' styles.
After three years working in Argentina, his editor advised him to try his luck in the United States. He had reached a certain ceiling in the regional market. In 1979 he went to New York City, and his first American work was inking for Marvel Comics was issue #88 of Marvel Team-Up, featuring Spider-Man and Invisible Girl, with script by Chris Claremont and pencils by Sal Buscema. The same afternoon he received that assignment, he also received a Hawkman origin assignment for World's Finest Comics #261 from DC Comics, and a horror story from Western Publishing. After a few months he returned to Uruguay, but he would go back to the United States in 1983. He would live there for about three years, working first on the Archie Comics superhero imprint Red Circle, particularly in The Shield. Three or four months later, he started to work on Superman for DC, and on other things for Marvel and Western as well.
Two of his best projects were Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography with writer James Hudnall and Cobb: Off The Leash with writer Beau Smith, his friend and collaborator of more than 20 years.
“Eduardo Barreto, my friend, my co-creator, and my brother, has passed away too soon. He was modest to a fault, a great father, grandfather, friend and family man. His amazing talent will forever speak for itself. I am honored to have been his amigo for over 20 years and to have worked with him many times over. His concern was always the well being of his friends and family, he never whined or complained about what life tossed at him. Always the professional, always the never ending talent,” Smith said.
“Eduardo Barreto was a quiet giant of comics. His art was exceptional, and passionate, yet somehow he escaped the fan favorite status he deserved. A sad loss, at a mere 57 years of age. Rest in peace, Eduardo,” said Michael Eury, editor of Back Issue.