This past weekend was a sad time for the comic book world and for fans of romance. As I am sure many of you know, the incredibly talented Ric Estrada passed away this past Friday, May 1st. He not only led a fascinating personal life, but also made a significant contribution to the romance genre. According to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics, Estrada had 289 story credits under his belt, just for DC alone. Out of those, 56 were romance stories. This isn't even counting the likelihood of unsigned stories, or ones misattributed. It is almost inevitable that he worked on countless more.
Ric Estrada definitely had a handle on drawing gorgeous and sensual women. This panel from the story "The Wrong Kind of Love," originally featured in DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #5 (1971) (image from the 2000 replica edition) really demonstrates that. There is a certain "realness" to his girls and they tend to come off as effortless beauties.
Besides drawing females with great skill, Estrada also drew incredibly handsome men. This particular guy, Tony from "Not Good Enough for Me!" which appeared in Girls' Love Stories #137 (August 1968) not only has style, but the chiseled face to match. Good looking male characters are essential to any first-rate romance story and in my opinion, just as important as having attractive leading ladies.
Lastly, I picked one of my favorite pages to show the caliber of artist Ric Estrada was. This scene comes from Secret Hearts #148 (December 1970) in the story, "Love Song in Blue." The bridge over the young woman's head is really striking in contrast to the rest of the panels, and the closeup on her face is breathtaking.
I should admit that I happen to be the happy owner of the original page from this story. Perhaps I am a tad biased, but it really is a beautiful example of romance art and showcases Estrada's talent well.
Hopefully all of his family and friends know that the community is keeping them and Ric's legacy in their thoughts. It is always hard when the tight-knit comic book industry loses someone, and Mr. Estrada's passing is no exception.