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Esteban Maroto’s Zodiac Is a Lost ’70s Masterwork

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You’ve seen Esteban Maroto’s comics — what about his art-nouveau Zodiac series? Maroto is a legend among illustrators, building his reputation primarily as one of the Spanish artists who dominated Warren Publishing’s horror titles Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. He went on to draw titles for Marvel and DC, tending toward fantasy work. He’s also a three-time Heavy Metal cover artist who placed several stories in the magazine in the ’80s and early 2000s. Another of Maroto’s claims to fame is creating Red Sonja’s famous scale-mail bikini, in the early ’70s.

(Other Spanish masters who made their names with Warren and went on to contribute to Heavy Metal include Luis Bermejo, Jaime Brocal Remohi, and Manuel Sanjulian.)

Esteban Maroto’s cover of the June 1984 issue of Heavy Metal. This issue is still available in the Heavy Metal shop.

Maroto — when he’s really being Maroto — has a flowing style of penciling that he combines with calligraphic flourishes. His skill with vegetation, monsters and (of course) human bodies is formidable. It’s sort of a grand, ornate comics style, where each panel seems crafted as a standalone piece of art. You see this from relatively few illustrators — Charles Vess, P. Craig Russell or, in a more extreme way, Philippe Druillet.

Here are a couple pages from Maroto’s “Dream,” a story that appeared in the Spring 1986 issue of Heavy Metal:

That flair is on full display in these illustrations of the 12 zodiac signs. We’ve seen them posted here and there on the internet over the years; they almost certainly date from the 1970s, though we do not know whether they were sold as an artist’s portfolio (which was a popular product at that time) or individually to be hung as art. We’d never seen them all in one place before, and tip our cap to Les Retro-Galeries de Mr. Gutsy, which is a great blog, for posting the full series.

We can’t find these for sale in any online shop or auction site. And if you go to Esteban Maroto’s official blog, you’ll see page after page of beautiful work, but you won’t see his Zodiac prints. What happened to the originals, and who might own the rights to print them, is a mystery to us.

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