Kukuy (2017)

Ángel Velazco Hernández is one of the best-selling Cuban comics artists. He is the writer and artist of several comic books and series, which mostly deal with the history and legends of Cuba and Latin America. His oeuvre includes comics about Cuban historical figures like José Martí, Ignacio Agramonte and Tupac Katari, but his best known creation is 'Kukuy' (2005), a comic aimed at the protection of nature.

Early life
Velazco was born in 1971 in the Cuban capital Havana, and raised by his grandparents in Sibanicú, Camagüey. He grew up fascinated by the power of comic strips, and by the stories told to him by his grandfather Eusebio Hernández about the magical creatures surrounding the Saramaguacán River and Sibanicú's natural surroundings. Accompanied by his interest in history and literature, the groundworks and main ingredients for his later comic books were established. Velazco got his education in visual communication at the Instituto Superior de Diseño in Havana, while also taking the comics workshop of the UPEC union, led by Manolo Pérez and Francisco Blanco (Blanquito). Later in life he got a literary training at the Onelio Jorge Cardoso Center, which enhanced his scriptwriting capabilities.

Early career
While still a student, Velazco made his debut in the early 1990s in the tabloid El Muñe, which appeared fortnightly. His regular comic strip was called 'Para contrar' (1990) and featured various humorous situations in three images. He signed these early works "Geli", or simply "G". The same paper also marked the debut of 'Kukuy' (1990), who would become his signature character. After his graduation, Velazo returned to Camagüey, where he worked in the tourist industry between 1994 and 2005. He was employed by the nautical activities company Marlin, which enabled him to dive and investigate the solitary islands of the Cuban archipelago.


Kukuy (Zunzun #335, 2017)

Kukuy & Zunzún
Velazco returned to creating comic strips in 2005, when he began his association with the children's magazine ZunZún of Editorial Abril. He reintroduced 'Kukuy, el Güije de Charco Azul', a goblin-like creature who lives in the "Charco Azul", a magical backwater of the Saramaguacán River. Fuelled by the stories he heard from his grandfather while a child, as well as his own research of Cuban mythology, Velazco made his little "güije" a brave and joyful defender of nature. The character Piropo accompanies him on his many battles against El Cagüeiro, a mysterious European villain who can transform in any animal or plant through his evil magic. A true national product, the 'Kukuy' comics deal with the defence of nature and the preservation of the Cuban countryside's cultural traditions.

Besides its publication in Zunzún, Kukuy's adventures have appeared in comic books published by Editorial Pablo de la Torriente and Editorial Gaia. Additional products include coloring books, posters, postcards and activity books, among other things. The 'Kukuy' series has been adapted in three animated shorts by the ICAIC (the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry): 'Kukuy y el almiquí valiente', 'Kukuy y la semilla mágica' and 'Kukuy un güije como todos'. Ángel Velazco contributed the scripts, while Juan Ruiz was the animation director.


El Capitán Rascacio (Zunzun #336, 2017)

Ángel Velazco Hernández serves as head of Zunzún's artists team, which also features David Yabor, Sonmy and Liosvany García. His other major comic strip for the magazine is about the pirate 'Rascacio, el Filibustero' (also known as 'El Capitán Rascacio'), while he works with scriptwriters like Héctor Quintero and Adela Moro Díaz on the riddle gag strip 'Los Deberitos'. Velazco furthermore contributes to the magazine Mar y Pesca, for which he makes short and serial comics strips about naval adventures in the 'Grandes Aventuras en el mar' section.


Los Deberitos (Zunzun #345, 2017)

Historical comics
Many of Velazco's other projects have Cuban and Latin-American history as a leading theme. He served as either artist or scriptwriter for these productions, which were created in several drawing styles: from caricatural over semi-humorous to hints of realism. In 'Al Encuentro de El Mayor' (2006), Velazco highlighted fragments of the life of Ignacio Agramonte, one of the main military leaders behind the Cuban independence struggle against the Spanish in 1868. Another important nationalist leader from this Ten Years' War was poet and journalist José Martí (1853-1895). After the comic books 'Martí contra dos Imperios' (2007) and 'Martí a la Guerra Necesaria' (2007), Velazco and his wife Yudeymi Fernández Ruz explored and reworked the four issues of Martí's monthly magazine La Edad de Oro (1889) in the series 'Con Martí por La Edad de Oro' (2011-2014). Velazco also served as scriptwriter for a children's TV series about the man, of which the first series was broadcasted in 2013 and the second in 2015.


Sandokán en Borneo (2010)

Velazco made a comic book about the 18th century Aymara leader Túpac Katari (2008), and rather faithful comic book adaptations of Emilio Salgari's 'Sandokán' ('Sandokán en Borneo', 2010) and Maxim Gorky's short story 'Danko's Burning Heart' ('Dankó Mbandi', 2011). For artist Jesús Rodríguez Pérez he scripted 'San Martín el General de los Andes' (2010), about yet another South-American indepdendence leader, Peru's José de San Martín. With scriptwriter Jorge L. Sariol Perea he made an entertaining children's comic about the history of Havana, called 'Una historia de La Habana contada por sus piedras' (Ediciones La Memoria, 2014), while he captured the history and legends of Camagüey in 'Camagüey, medio milenio de historia y leyendas' (2014).


Dankó Mbandi (2011)

Series and books by Ángel Velazco Hernández in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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