A sea of books and drawings; and above all talent. Every month dozens of fascinating comics are published in Spain. Nationals and foreigners, young people and adults, from graphic novels to manga. In bookstores there are comics for the taste of every palate. It’s always a good opportunity to discover them. But today, Saturday March 5, even a little more: the Comic Book Day is celebrated for the first time at the national level. There are discounts, author signings and initiatives all over Spain, although the capital of the festivities is Valencia, which hosts its Comic Book Fair until tomorrow Sunday. To give some clues to the reader, EL PAÍS asked advice from 10 well-known creators: each recommends a comic strip recently published in Spain.
Totem, by Laura Perez (Astiberri, 2022). “Laura achieves something very difficult in this new comic: creating an atmosphere. Through exquisite drawing, slow narration, silences… Totem it’s a journey into a disturbing and poetic world where anything can happen”. By Paco Rock. His latest graphic novel is back to eden (Astiberri, 2020).
The devil and Mr. Twain, by Koldo Azpitarte and Mikel Bao (Dolmen, 2022). “Mark Twain, one of the most prolific, ingenious, and cutting edge writers in the English language, was also the fascinating, almost legendary character behind whom hid Samuel L. Clemens, a being full of doubts, guilt, faults and everything that human beings usually wear. Hanging out with Mr. Clemens and his alter ego, Mark Twain, we will also meet other legendary figures of the time, such as Tesla, Bram Stoker or Sigmund Freud. And a disturbing Henry H. Rogers, a millionaire who got Twain out of serious financial trouble. The Devil and Mr. Twain is a deep and precise reflection on success, identity, ambition, love and friendship. And whether being a great creator is compatible with being a good person. By Therese Valero, author of Reverse pass. Other people’s children (Standard, 2021).
All the culture that accompanies you awaits you here.
the failed race, by Elisa Riera (published by Astiberri, 2022). “Elisa Riera’s first comic fiction takes us into the ins and outs of the life of a family of descended aristocrats. Some have titles, others farms with vineyards and other big businesses, but if there’s one thing they all have, it’s heavy doses of hypocrisy and very bad milk. No character is going to like you (in the words of the author). Of course, you will die laughing with all of them. Riera mixes the tragedy of a family doomed to disaster with comedy and a sense of humor and irony so well written that it reminded me personally of the grotesque Valle-Inclán and his bohemian lights. See how the characters of The failed race they try to regain the dignity they once had (they think it comes with a title) while fate, unwavering, laughs in their face, it’s quite an experience. A totally current, raw, direct and hilarious tragi-comedy which follows in the footsteps of the great classics and which made me have a very good time”. Sarah Soler, author of We (Astiberri, 2019).
Romeo dead, by Santiago Sequeiros (Tank Books, 2021). “It’s a highly anticipated comic as Sequeiros hadn’t produced anything in 20 years, but it’s also a visual experience with dirty, sickly black and white. It is a work that has multiple ways of being read, both graphically and literally, and which sometimes seems indecipherable; but it does not matter, because it is precisely this darkness that traps you. The format is huge and the cover is one of the best I’ve seen in a comic. By magician, winner of the last National Comics Award for Spring for Madrid (Autsaider, 2020).
Bartleby the Scrivener, by Jose Luis Munuera (Astiberri, 2021). “Everything about this comic is a hit. The first and most important, the chosen work. Although written in the 19th century, Melville left us with a story of astonishing modernity, with a portrait of modern man’s alienation that has not lost one iota of validity. For his part, Munuera, in adapting it, did so very cleverly, articulating the story through a cast of invaluable secondary characters. With a brilliant drawing, a very successful New York setting and a narrative rhythm that never falters, this little gem exposes the contradictions of a triumphant capitalist society, without renouncing to show the existential dilemma of the main character in all its splendour. . By Juan Diaz Channelsco-creator with Juanjo Guarnido of the saga sad blackthe last installment of which is Everything falls. First part (Editorial Standard, 2021).
Villanueva, by Javier de Castro (Astiberri, 2021). “It is a great pleasure to read a genre (or subgenre, when it comes to folk-horror) located in our country. Spanish tradition and folklore are rich in reminiscences of these primitive and pagan beliefs, converted into festivals and trademarks throughout our rural geography, which are the ideal breeding ground for fiction. Javi de Castro’s work is always elegant and clear both in drawing and in narration and, in the case of Villanueva, demonstrates its capacity for suspense. Suspense, more than terror, is what we find in the pages of this comic strip, pricked with care and precision, through small details manipulated with skill and which give the story a classic aftertaste. Corn Villanueva It’s not only that, it’s also a story of decaying relationships that will lead to the blossoming of a new bond of friendship between two women. To meet wicker men you don’t need to get lost on an island off the coast of Britain, you can also visit Villanueva”. By Mayte Alvaradorecent winner of the Association of Comics Critics and Broadcasters Association Best Breakthrough Writer Award by The Island (Tank Books, 2021).
Transparent. Stories of Colombian exile and I saw whales, from Xavier de Isusi (Astiberri). “My great discovery was Javier de Isusi. They enchanted me transparent, and I saw whales I was fascinated by the way the stories intertwine and the characters break with the categories that are socially imposed on them. Moreover, it seems to me that these are books that contain a critical message and are at the same time very sensitive”. By Gala Rocabert, co-author with Anna-Lina Mattar of In the navel. War and Peace Diaries in Colombia (Salamander Chart, 2021).
Dear deceased, by Lorenzo Montatore (Sapristi, 2020). “Now that the name of Lorenzo Montatore is on everyone’s lips after the publication of the lie in front (Astiberri, 2021), I think it’s worth reclaiming and valuing a prolific cartooning career that spans Instagram posts, graphic novels, a slew of fanzines and collaborations. But I want to dwell mainly on dear deceased, a hilarious and profound work where the living do not understand death, death does not understand the living and everyone sits in the local bar to talk about their affairs, which are many and very important. Pop minimalism and manners go hand in hand in what is perhaps the most accessible comic from an author as resolutely traditional as he is eclectic”. By Borja Gonzálezauthor of the recent night cry (Tank Books, 2022).
Precisely The lie ahead from lorenzo montatore (Astiberri, 2021), is another recommendation. Around the figure of Francisco Umbral, Lorenzo Montatore erects an entire cathedral dedicated to one of the most pressing questions of our time: the relationship between fiction and reality, between lies and truth. And he does this based on the graphic traditions of classic Spanish comics which he reworks in a language that is completely his own and personal. Montatore is one of the most original and brilliant personalities in contemporary Spanish comics, and this is his best work to date”. By Santiago Garcia. One of his last published works, with the cartoonist Javier Olivaresis the adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (Astiberri, 2022).
Cassandra Dark, by Posy Simmonds (Salamander Chart, 2020). “Posy Simmonds crafts a detective story from a satirical perspective of contemporary London society (extrapolated to any European city), without missing an opportunity to tackle controversial issues with the aim of stirring consciences. The composition of the pages which combines blocks of narrative text and illustrations (even superb cover page silent) with scenes in vignettes and bubbles in perfect harmonic balance; the characters, especially female, rich in nuances and complex in their contradictions; the turns of the script and the caustic humor that underlies the way the protagonist tells us the story (continuous disqualifications and insults or scatological comments that season deep reflections on life) keep us smiling as the reading progresses without losing interest. In short, this comic is a delight! By Alice Palmer author with Mount Mazorriaga from One woman, one voice (Garbuix Books, 2021).