Maria Barrera (Barrera Gesali)

Gemini Girl 1Gemini Girl 2Gemini Girl 3Gemini Girl 4

Maria Barrera, full name María Barrera i Castells, is a Catalan artist. She was a member of a group of female artists who drew romantic comic series for 1950s Spanish girls’ comics. Publications included Sissi, Jana and Pulgarcito. She also illustrated several books in the collections Historias (“Genoveva de Bravante”, “Alicia en el País de las Maravillas”, “Sissi emperatriz”, “Aquellas Mujercitas”) and Joyas Literarias Juveniles (“Hombrecitos”, 1975). During the 1970s-1990s Barrera became involved in agency art through the Bruguera agency Creaciones Editoriales. Publications in which her artwork appeared included Tammy, Jinty, Misty and the Dutch Tina. Source: Lambiek Comiclopedia.

Barrera only drew two Gypsy Rose stories for Jinty, “The Gemini Girl” and “Hide-and-Seek with a Ghost!”. She never drew a serial for Jinty. However, the Gemini Girl story is noteworthy in that the last two images of Gypsy Rose on the last page of the story appeared again and again as paste-ups on a lot of the old Strange Stories that were recycled as Gypsy Roses.

Barrera was a more frequent artist in Misty, where she drew many of Misty’s complete stories such as “Cry Baby” and “Danse Macabre”, and one serial “The Body Snatchers”. She did not start in Tammy until the first issue of the Tammy & Jinty merger, with “The Shadow of Sherry Brown”. This one was about a jealous, spiteful ghost that will go to just about any lengths (including near murder) to protect what used to belong to her when she was alive. Barrera did have a flair for supernatural stories, and could also draw ballet stories.

When Tammy started credits, Barrera was credited as Barrera Gesali for some reason. Her best known story during this period was “Slave of the Clock”, about an unenthusiastic ballerina who is hypnotised into ballet dancing whenever she hears the ticking of a clock. Other stories included “Lonely Ballerina” and “Dear Diary – I Hate You!” The latter was her last Tammy story and was uncredited because Tammy had stopped running them.

Edited to add: there is a thread on the Comics UK Forum where Ruth B attributes the following stories to Maria Barrera.

Num.1 Cover and Nightmare story
10. The Love and the Laughter
35. The Bitter Tale of Sweet Lucy
42. Voices in the Wind
47. Who’s a Pretty Boy Then?
52. Danse Macabre
57. Lead Kindly Light
59. Two Left Feet
61. The White Bird
64. At the End of the Rainbow
68. Cry Baby!
73. The Nightwatchman
77. The Monster of the Lavender Lagoon
84. Nightmare, Nightmare, Nightmare
92. Cover/The Body Snatchers

and then from number 93 to 101 the story of the Body Snatcher continues and she did the cover of number 97 as well.

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6 thoughts on “Maria Barrera (Barrera Gesali)

  1. I think Barrera Gesali must have been a mistake. Her full name is María Barrera i Castells. Or perhaps Gesali was the writer, and they forget to put a slash? At the moment I’m making a kind of database with the stories that were published in the Dutch edition of Tina, and I noticed the credits are at times a bit sloppy, changing the spelling of a name, or sometimes using just the first or last name of the artist, instead of the full name. One time even the wrong artist is credited! So perhaps something like that was also the case with the credit in Tammy for Barrera Gesali.
    In the mid/late seventies her output was quite impressive, sometimes working on two or three serials at the same time. She did a lot of work commissioned by the Dutch Tina. Her earliest work there must be from 1976, and she continued for Tina at least until 2004 (that’s where my collection ends).

    1. Pseudonyms were used for some of the Tammy credits or sometimes just the first name was used. For example, Tony Coleman was credited under his own name at first, and then credited as George Anthony.

    2. Gesali was not the writer. The writer had his/her own credit under the artist’s one. Jay Over wrote “Slave of the Clock”, and is also credited with writing “Pam of Pond Hill”, so he must have written for Jinty.

    3. Her son is called David Gesalí (he left a comment on the Lambiek Comiclopedia page). So her husband’s surname is presumably Gesalí, but the name she is known by is Barrera i Castells (Barrera being her main surname and Castells will be her mother’s surname). That’s how Spanish surnames work… (Portuguese ones work similarly but with the mother’s first, then the father’s surname.)

  2. Pity that the Comiclopedia doesn’t tell us more about this group of female artists – were they a formal group, did they share a studio (as various other Spanish artists did), etc. Oh well. Nice stuff she did! I have an issue of Sissi with very similar cover art, I will need to look out for her initials.

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