Brazil-based animator and “good girl artist” Al Rio died Tuesday morning. He was 49.
The cause was apparent suicide by hanging, said comics-centric international art agency Glass House Graphics, which Rio joined in the mid-1990s.
After working as an animation director, Rio became an animator in Brazil for Disney, working on such properties as the syndicated Disney’s Aladdin: The Series.
Born Alvaro Araújo Lourenço do Rio on May 19, 1962, he was raised in Fortaleza, in the northeastern Brazil. Rio began his career in Rio de Janeiro as an artist in the early 1990s, illustrating books for a local English school.
Upon joining Glass House Graphics, Rio began working for DC Comics, though his “big break” came from succeeding J. Scott Campbell on Wildstorm’s Gen 13. From there, Rio, best known for his versatility and his ability of drawing some of the sexiest women in comics, went on to draw for Marvel, Vertigo Press, Dark Horse, Chaos! Comics, Avatar Press, Crossgen, Zenescope, Image, and more — drawing titles such as his own series, Exposure, as well as Captain America, Purgatori, Lady Death, X-Men, New Mutants, Spider-Man, Vampirella and Star Wars, among many others.
At the time of his death, Al Rio was nearing completion of Fever Moon, a graphic novel for Random House (Del Rey), written by best-selling authors Karen Marie Moning and David Lawrence, for release this summer.
His Exposure property, which Rio proudly claimed was “the sexiest supernatural story ever,” recently has been serialized on exposure.keenspot.com, and a hardcover collection of Exposure was launched days ago on www.kickstarter.com/projects/323292623/exposure-volume-one?ref=live. (Contributions beyond printing/production costs will be donated to Rio’s family.)
A major fan of science fiction, he was working on a book collecting all the aliens, spaceships, alien worlds and all sci-fi material he had created over the years; he was also in the midst of creating two more books: Al Rio’s How To Draw Girls and the definitive coffee table book of his paintings, illustrations and sketches, The Sexy Art of Al Rio.
“A great artist, Al Rio was also a great person, tutoring art students and donating art to worthy causes,” Glass House Graphics said.
“Few could draw as well, adapting to so many styles so effortlessly, as Al Rio,” said David Campiti, his agent of many years. “We’d gotten together several weeks ago and were working hard on his projects, so news of his death came as quite a shock.
“He was a longtime friend whose art was a great joy to me and even inspired my wife’s drawing career. Generous and humble, he’ll be deeply missed.”
Al Rio is survived by his wife Zilda and children Rene, Adrielle and Isabel. His funeral was held Wednesday at Cemitério São João Batista in Fortaleza.