That 2021 began with the possibility of reading and giving away Regreso al Edén (Astiberri), by Paco Roca, published in December 2020, could only be a good omen for a year marked by both the internationalization of Spanish authors and the arrival of new voices, the growing importance of the graphic essay and the ever more attentive reissue of classics and comprehensive publications – Dan Barry’s Flash Gordon (Dolmen), EC Comics’ horror titles (Diabolo), Caravaggio (Norma) , from Manara, Nestor Burma (Norma Editorial), from Tardi—.
At the same time that Roca takes the billionaire Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, on vacation to Benidorm in “Closed for Vacation”, one of the chapters of the collective book Batman El Mundo (ECC), and confronts him with a late, summer time , beach, pool and siesta in front of the outline of the huge skyscrapers of the coastal city, Ana Penyas, National Comic Award for We are all good (Salamandra Graphic), leads the readers to that same eastern coast in Everything Under the Sun (Salamandra Graphic) to narrate the effects of mass tourism sponsored by Franco’s developmentalism.
Through the hieratic setting of Penyas, a logic of the essay infiltrates that is also the engine that intertwines with fiction in some of the key works of the year.
The vignettes, moreover, are increasingly expanding beyond the scope of the album paper and, while the Marvel cinematographic universe has grown with feature films such as Black Widow, Eternals or Spiderman: No Way Home and series such as WandaVision and Hawkeye, authors such as the Italian Zerocalcare have been brought to animation in the splendid production Cut along the dotted line (Netflix). In addition, the channels of the e-comic do not stop nourishing its infinite scroll with new deliveries, such as Joselito el Muerto and Joselito el Loco, by Marta Altieri, at the same time that some manga reach overwhelming sales successes: Tokyo Revengers (Norma), by Ken Wakui, has outsold almost any other publication in our country.
It is from this open circulation of comic images, from where it is possible to try to summarize some of the lines of the comic during 2021 in Spain:
As if it were a tribute to the panopsis, to the juxtaposition of images as an essential mode of contemporary thinking, the gloss that Jorge Carrión and Javier Olivares make to the father of iconology, Aby Warburg, in Warburg & Beach (Salamandra Graphic), is presented , in its Japanese folding notebook format, as a synthesis and a theoretical introduction to the genre of the graphic essay. The Mnemosyne atlas of images (1929), with which Warburg created a machine to think about gestural transmissions in Western plastic arts, provides a mirror in which the entire tradition of the visual and cinematographic essay of the History of Holy Russia can be seen. (El Nadir), from Gustave Doré to the cinema of Godard, Marker, Farocki, Steyerl or Chlo Galibert-Laîné. A world of Art Brut (Norma), by Christian Berst and Oriol Malet constitutes an example of a pure essay on art brut by Carlo Zinelli, Adolf Wölfli and, above all, that search for anti-patriarchal gestural formulas to rewrite the history of States. United that was Henry Darger with what was in turn a hallucinatory comic of more than fifteen thousand pages, In the Realms of the Unreal, forged from clippings of children’s magazines.
On the other hand, the precise line of Laura Pérez Vernetti does not stop investigating the potential of these juxtapositions, when addressing both the figure and the poetry of Baudelaire in La cholera de Baudelaire, as well as that of Fernando Arrabal in Arrabal, both published by Clearance Lights. The incredible sensitivity of Frederik Peeters allows him to play in very different ways to investigate the meeting point between fiction and essay in Oleg (Astiberri), where he addresses the very nature of the comic, and Saqueo (Astiberri), in which, as a The echo of the Voices of Chernobyl, by Svetlana Aleksievich, is close to the imaginary of climate collapse. Attention to our place on the planet or contact with nature and the body are also two of the engines of the exquisite delicacy with which Catherine Meurisse dissects the very logic of cultural transmission in The Great Spaces (Impedi – mint), and Alison Bechdel makes an ironic dissection of her own identity in The Secret of Superhuman Strength (Reserve books).
Journeys into fiction
If drawing is both a way to shape what we want and to remove fear, Romeo Muerto (Reservoir Books) is an exorcism of the twenty years that Santiago Siqueiros spent away from comics, amid the mists of an alcoholism from which he has resurfaced with one of the masterpieces of Spanish comics, capable of giving body and density to one of the most baroque and suffocating universes of fiction in history, La Mala Pena.
Like his, but heir to other forms of fiction, such as V for Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the work of Alberto Breccia or films such as Children of Men, by Cuarón, and The Incident, by M Night Shyamalan, that of Ann Nocenti and David Aja in Semillas (Astiberri) is an autonomous universe, an ecological paraphrase of our care for the planet and a master lesson in visual narrative. The fascinating album Tótem (Astiberri), by Laura Pérez, is also a singular space, an absorbing inquiry into the conditions of appearance of the fantasy genre, in the ghosts that nest in the intervals between vignettes. It is those intervals that make transformation possible. Has gender identity ever been portrayed with the lightness, beauty and precision shown by Hubert and Zanzim’s fascinating Man Skin (Norma)? And if Barry Windsor-Smith, in Monsters (Dolmen) rewrites the myth of Prometheus from a powerful biopolitical reflection that arose alike from the character Hulk, from Marvel, and from the validity of the Frankenstein archetype, Edmond Baudoin, in Travesti (Impedimenta), with his extraordinary line, carries out an authentic exercise of introspection on the very process of adapting the novel Lulu, by Mircea Cărtărescu, in turn the story of a writer, in a kind of game of boxes Borgian Chinese. Also Black Ocean (Norma), the revisitation of Corto Maltés by Martin Quenehen and Bastien Vivés, and the dreamy cartoons of Ôji Suzuki in Tokyo Goodbye (Gallo Nero) and Seii- chi Hayashi in Golden Pollen (Gallo Nero) and the hallucinated images that Gou Tanabe creates for Lovecraft in The Mountains of Madness (Comic Planet) constitute a reflection on the powers of fiction. And this selection should be closed with the extraordinary works by Spanish cartoonists such as Jaime Martín in Always have twenty years (Norma), Mayte Alvarado in La Isla (Reservoir Books), Teresa Valero in Contrapaso (Norma), Nuria Tamarit with Jean-Christophe Deveney in Giganta (Norma) and Altarriba and Keko in Yo Mentiroso (Norma).