Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Niño, Alex

(1940-    ) Filipino Comic-book artist of remarkable versatility and originality whose pen-and-brush line style, uniquely personal colour sense and remarkably fertile imagination have subtly influenced many artists working in the US comics field. His technical virtuosity and innovative layouts, allied to a seemingly inexhaustible inventiveness, have led to his being described as an "artist's artist", with comic-book readers either loving or hating his work.

AN worked as a photographer and musician before approaching comic-book publishers as an illustrator. His first work of significance was the Arabian Nights-style Calibot ng Persia ["The Terror of Persia"] (Philipino Komiks 1965). A year later he wrote and drew Gruaga – The Fifth Corner of the World (Pioneer Komiks 1966), which included themes to which AN returned from time to time over the succeeding decade or so, including a short wordless story in Weird Heroes #6 (1977) and the portfolio Dark Suns of Gruaga (graph 1978). He drew a wide range of fantasy stories for several publishers, his most ground-breaking achievement during this period being the serialized graphic novel Mga Matang Nagliliyab ["The Eyes that Glow in the Dark"] (Alcala Komiks, circa 1970), written by Marcelo B Isidro.

AN began working for the US comics market in the early 1970s, drawing mainly short pieces for the DC Comics horror titles The House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Weird War, etc., and for the Pendulum Press series of comic-book adaptations of classic literature, including H G Wells's The Time Machine (graph 1973 US), The Invisible Man (graph 1974 US) and The War of the Worlds (graph 1974 US), Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (graph 1974 US) and Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers (graph 1974 US). He also drew a few short stories featuring the Edgar Rice Burroughs character Korak for DC and some of the Sunday pages of Tarzan for United Features Syndicate. He embarked upon his most creative and experimental period when he began illustrating US large-format b/w magazines with Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction (#3-#6 1975), for which he drew Michael Moorcock's Behold the Man and a remarkable adaptation of Harlan Ellison's Repent, Harlequin, Said the Tick Tock Man. His experiments in style and page layout continued in his work for Warren Publishing, most significantly for the sf title 1984 (retitled 1994 in 1980), where his pages became more and more freely designed, the reader's eye being led expertly through a multitude of interlinked images across each spread. He began to play with visual narrative ideas, drawing stories in which the pages could be laid end to end to produce a single overall composition, and in one instance using the techniques of the wallpaper designer to achieve a single story, the pages of which could be laid alongside one another to create an endlessly repeating design. He experimented with many different styles, too, using at various times a frenzied pen hatching, a delicate brush line, a moody b/w on grey paper, or an exaggerated cartoon style.

AN's Graphic Novels include an adaptation of Theodore Sturgeon's More than Human (1953; graph 1978 US), Space Clusters (graph 1986 US) written by Arthur Byron Cover and Tales of the One-Eyed Crow (graph 1991 US) written by Dennis L McKiernan. He has also drawn two Conan stories (in Savage Sword of Conan #6, 1978, and #228, 1994). [RT]

other works: Satan's Tears: The Art of Alex Niño (graph 1977 US); The Fantastic Worlds of Alex Niño (graph 1975 US), portfolio.

Alex Niño

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.