El Capitan Trueno, created by writer Víctor Mora and artist Ambrós (Miguel Ambrosio) in 1956, is the most successful adventure saga of Spanish comics. Trueno is a medieval warrior who combats tyranny all over the world with the assistance of his two loyal friends, Goliath and Crispín. This series started a lighter, more optimistic approach to adventure in Spanish comics.

Publisher Bruguera commissioned Mora to create an adventure strip that could enjoy as much success as the pirate series El Cachorro, by Iranzo. Being a great admirer of Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant and aware of the popularity of Hollywood blockbusters like Ivanhoe (Richard Thorpe, 1952), Mora came up with the concept for El Capitán Trueno. The eponymous character is a veteran of the Third Crusade who combines fighting expertise with a pronounced sense of justice and solidarity. As for his two companions, Goliath is a one-eyed bearded giant endowed with tremendous strength and a voracious appetite, whereas Crispín is a teenage squire who compensates his lithe physique with agility and quick reflexes. Occasionally, they are accompanied by Trueno’s fiancée, the statuesque Sigrid, queen of Thule. Almost invariably, their adventures involve the liberation of some oppressed community from the control of a despotic figure.

The original series ran in 1956-68 in the form of horizontal comic books, a very typical format in Spain and Italy between the 1940s and 1960s. Additional episodes were serialized in the weekly anthology Pulgarcito, and in the magazine El Capitán Trueno Extra, plus many one-shots and several prose novels. Creators Mora and Ambrós were assisted by other writers and artists in order to maintain the production rates demanded by the publisher.

The light-hearted tone of the series and the frenetic action introduced a turning point in the evolution of Spanish adventure comics, formerly best represented by another medieval hero, the dramatic and perpetually moody El Guerrero del Antifaz, by Manuel Gago. The successful formula established with Trueno was imitated in many other series, including several written by Mora himself: El Jabato (1958), El Cosaco Verde (1960), and El Corsario de Hierro (1970).

The classic episodes are still being reedited and there have been several attempts to revive the series. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Mora wrote new scripts for artists Jesús Blasco, Luis Bermejo, Jesús Redondo, and John M. Burns. More recently, there have been several graphic novels which most fans agree to consider apocryphal because they were not written by Mora: Silencios (2006), El Último Combate (2010), Atlántida (2011), and La Espada del Invencible (2013). The critically and commercially failed live-action feature film El Capitán Trueno y el Santo Grial, directed by Antonio Hernández, was released in 2011.

— Jesús Jiménez Varea

Further Reading

  • Alary, Viviane. “The Spanish Tebeo”, European Comic Art vol. 2 no. 2 (Fall 2009): 253-276.
  • Booker, M. Keith(Ed.). Comics through Time. A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2014.
  • Merino, Ana (Ed.). “Spanish Comics: A Symposium”, International Journal of Comic Art vol. 5 no. 2 (Fall 2003): 3-153.