Written by Bryan Stroud
José Delbo (born December 9, 1933) is an Argentine comics artist. He is best known for his work on Wonder Woman for DC and The Transformers for Marvel. José Delbo became a professional comics artist at the age of 16 working for the Argentine Poncho Negro series. Due to political instability in Argentina, he moved to Brazil in 1963 and then to the United States two years later. His early work for the U.S. market included Billy the Kid for Charlton. His first work for DC Comics appeared in The Spectre #10 (May–June 1969). Jose became the artist on the Wonder Woman title with issue #222 (Feb.–March 1976) and drew the series until #286 (Dec. 1981).In 1986, Delbo began working for Marvel where he drew ThunderCats, The Transformers, and NFL SuperPro. He co-created Brute Force with Simon Furman in 1990.
Delbo also taught at The Kubert School from the 1990s until 2005. After moving to Florida, he taught at a "cartoon camp" program for school aged children in Boca Raton.
I enjoyed a short exchange with Mr. Jose Delbo, another instructor from the Kubert School via e-mail and later had the pleasure of meeting him at the Denver Con, where he'll be making a return appearance this year.
This interview originally took place via email on January 25, 2011.
Bryan Stroud: According to my research you began at 16 in the industry. Was cartooning something that caught your imagination?
Jose Delbo: Yes, I was 16 when I started drawing comic books in Argentina where I was born. I grew up with American comics that were being published in Argentinean magazines and I loved them.
Stroud: Did you have any formal art training?
Delbo: Yes, my teacher was a great Argentinean cartoonist, Carlos Clemen. I later went on to become one of his assistants.
Stroud: You did work for nearly all the publishers to include Charlton, Dell, Gold Key, DC, Marvel and Acclaim. How did they compare?
Delbo: It's hard to compare the publishers. In DC I did Wonder Woman and most of the heroes of DC. For Marvel I did the Thundercats and the Transformers.
Stroud: Did you feel any particular advantage to one company over another?
Delbo: I received more leeway working for Marvel because Marvel gave you just the plot instead of a full script. That allowed me to be more creative. At least that's how they did it when I was working there. In general I enjoyed working with all the publishers.
Stroud: Did you have a particular editor you enjoyed working with?
Delbo: I worked with almost every editor. I have fond memories of working with Paul Levitz, Julius Schwartz and Don Daley.
Stroud: How about a favorite writer?
Delbo: Again, Paul Levitz, Len Wein and more but I don't remember the names.
Stroud: You pencil and ink, but it looks like penciling might be more of a specialty. Did you have an inker you thought was particularly good over your pencils?
Stroud: When you worked for Tower, did you interact with Wally Wood?
Delbo: Not really, at one point Wally Wood did ink some of my pages on Wonder Woman.
Stroud: Was it easier to do a comic book character as opposed to a television adaptation?
Delbo: Both of them were fun. I had a lot of fun doing The Monkees. I enjoyed that one very much.
Stroud: Which projects gave you the most enjoyment?
Delbo: Besides The Monkees, the Beatles Yellow Submarine and definitely The Lone Ranger. I love westerns.
Stroud: What was your production rate?
Delbo: Well it's hard to say. It all depended on how difficult the script was but normally it would be two to two and a half pages per day of pencils.
Stroud: Were deadlines ever a problem?
Delbo: Deadlines are always a problem for a cartoonist but I always managed to meet mine.
Stroud: You managed many cartoonists' dream by working on daily strips, both Superman and the Phantom. How did that compare to comic books?
Delbo: Again they are two different things. It was much easier to do three panels then a full comic book.
Stroud: How long were you doing the dailies?
Delbo: I don't really remember when I started or when the Syndicate canceled the strip. I know that I penciled the Phantom for almost a year as a ghost artist.
Stroud: You were an officer in the National Cartoonist's Society. Tell me a little about your involvement. Who did you enjoy associating with?
Delbo: I was Vice-President of the society. For me it was a tremendous honor and emotionally rewarding as I was able to meet some of the great artists that I had always admired like Milton Caniff, John Cullen Murphy, Burne Hogarth and others.
Stroud: When did you teach at the Kubert School?
Delbo: I believe that I started in the 90's and I taught up until I moved to Florida which was in 2005.
Stroud: What was your specialty, or in other words, what did you teach?
Delbo: Basic Drawing.
Stroud: Who else do you remember being on staff while you taught there?
Stroud: Tell me about your cartoon camp.
Delbo: About 13 years ago when the International Museum of Cartoon Art opened in Boca Raton, Florida, we started a cartooning program for school aged children. It's a place where they create their own comic books, make animated cartoon movies and a variety of other activities related to comics and cartoons. Since the first location at the museum we have run the camp at about a dozen different schools and Universities in the Florida area.
Stroud: Do you do commissions?
Delbo: Only under special circumstances.
Stroud: Do you keep up with the industry much anymore?
Delbo: Well, I keep track more or less of the industry but I don't work full time anymore.
Stroud: Where do you think comics are headed? Do they still have a future?
Delbo: Comics unfortunately have a tremendously hard time competing with the video games, but I believe that reading and using your imagination is something that will endure forever. A person who reads comic books and likes to draw could be in the future a great video game designer.
Stroud: Any current projects?
Delbo: I am currently working on my own graphic novel that I believe is a different idea then what I've seen out there. As soon as I finish it I will start looking for a publisher.