The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has just announced appearances by two top Spanish comic creators at this year’s Festival (14th-16th October) – Torpedo and Jonah Hex artist Jordi Bernet and Paco Roca, best known for his award-winning graphic novel Wrinkles.
Spain has long held a fine tradition as a home of incredible comic art, offering a huge range of inventive and talented comic creators. Veteran artist Jordi Bernet has seen many changes in the industry down the years since his debut at just 15, working for Spanish, British, European and, most recently, US publishers.
Paco Roca has taken the modern Spanish industry by storm with his much-praised work, representing the “new wave” of creators from a country famous for its love of comics and comic art.
“We’re incredibly excited by Jordi and Paco’s upcoming appearances at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October,” says Festival Director Julie Tait. “We’ve emphasised the international appeal of comics and comics creation since the Festival began, and these two creators will help us develop that in 2016.”
“I’ve been enthralled by Jordi Bernet’s art since first seeing his Torpedo series in the early 1980s,” adds Festival Patron and artist Sean Phillips. “His art can be sexy, rugged or funny, but it always looks effortless and that’s the hardest thing for an artist to do. That he does it so well makes me want to give up or try harder, I’m not sure which.”
Jordi and Paco will be joining previously announced guests Joe Kelly (I Kill Giants, Deadpool), Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim, Seconds), top US cartoonists Luke and Steve McGarry, 2000AD‘s Mick McMahon, Ken Niimura (who has designed this year’s Festival art) and Benoit Peeters – Britain’s first Professor of Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, at Lancaster University – for this year’s prestigious event.
Many more international and British comic creators will be announced over the coming weeks, joining a host of writers, artists, publishers and retailers for a long weekend in the Lakes crammed with panels, exhibitions, children’s events and other activities. The town will be entirely given over to comics, with business owners lining up to support the Festival’s famous “Windows Trail”, giving over store front space to display comics art created by artists and local groups and school children.
The October weekend is just one of a number of comics projects from the Festival on its way this year, with the world premiere performance of Black Dog – the Dreams of Paul Nash by Dave McKean already announced, taking place at Kendal Town Hall on 28th May.
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In Profile: Jordi Bernet
Spain has long been the birthplace for great comic artists and writers, and Jordi Bernet (born in Barcelona in 1944), today best known for his work on the classic Spanish series Torpedo and Jonah Hex for DC Comics, has become one of the greatest Spanish comic-book artists.
He made his professional debut at the age of 15, when he took over his father´s job on Doña Urraca, one of Spain’s post war most popular cartoon strips. A self-thought artist, he learnt to draw under his father’s desk while he was working on his weekly pages, and his itch to follow in the footsteps of Frank Robbins, Noel Sickles, Toth, Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond or Hal Foster, his favourite comic creators, was always strong.
Soon, he was working for the Bardon Art Agency and his work began being published all over Europe. In the UK, his credits work for both DC Thomson and Fleetway drawing for strips such as “The Legend Testers” (for Smash!), “Jungle Jak” for Lion (re-published in France as “Jungle Jack”) and “Lucidus the Spartan” and “The Guns that Won the West” (for Victor).
The late 1960s and 70s saw his work published mainly outside of Spain, gradually moving away from Bardon and working directly for the publishers Dan Lacombe and Paul Foran in France, Wat 69 and Andrax in Germany, and L´ultimo sceriffo and Magua in Italy.
He also drew a small number of horror-styled stories published by DC Comics, and a large amount of action and noir stories for the Spanish market.
Most of his body of work has since enjoyed great success in most of Europe, although most of them – Kraken, Custer, Light & Bold, Historias Negras, Cicca Dum-Dum and Snake – remain unpublished in English.
His weekly strip Clara de Noche (Betty by Night) has been running since 1992, with over 1100 two-page stories produced since then, published in the satirical magazine El Jueves, as well as in paperback editions all over the world.
The appreciation of his work by critics and industry professionals led him to finally break into American mainstream comics. Although first published in the US in 1973, when he drew the Gardner Fox short shocker “Revenge of the Unliving” for Marvel’s monster magazine Vampire Tales, little work there followed, but in 2000 he drew his first Batman story. Since then, he was worked for DC Comics on several projects such as Jonah Hex, The Spirit and several other Batman stories.
Jordi Bernet has received every comic-book award that may be received outside of Spain, including the Eisner Award.
• More about Jordi Bernet (and other Spanish artists) online at www.artcoholics.net
In Profile: Paco Roca
Francisco Martínez Roca aka Paco Roca (born in 1969 on Valencia, Spain) is a Spanish strip cartoonist with experience in graphic novels and advertisement illustration. He’s best known for his graphic novel Wrinkles, published in the UK by Knockabout last year, a stunning work about old age, dementia and more, which was adapted into film in 2011 by Ignacio Ferreras and produced by Perro Verde Films.
He is also known for the autobiographical comic strip Memorias de un hombre en pijama (“Memories of a Man in Pyjamas).
Paco Roca is one of the main representatives of the new wave of Spanish comic artists. He began his career as a regular contributor to the magazines published by La Cupula in 1994. He made erotic comics starring Peter Pan and Aladdin for Kiss Comix with his pal Rafa Fonteriz, and he created the experimental 3D comic series Road Cartoons with Juan Miguel Aguilera for El Víbora.
Several of Roca’s early works were deeply rooted in Spanish culture and history, such as El Juego Lúgubre (‘Lugubrious Game’, 2001), his fictionalized story about Salvador Dali, and El Faro (2004), about the Spanish Civil War. It was these comics that enabled Roca’s breakthrough in other European countries, such as France, Italy and the Netherlands, through distribution by Strip Art Features.
Roca started his semi-autobiographical Sunday strip Memorias de un hombre en pijama‘ in the newspaper Las Provincias in 2010. In 2012 Roca announced he would make an animated film based on these stories himself. He subsequently made El ángel de la retirada with Serguei Dounovetz, about life in refugee camps in France after the Spanish Civil War (6 Pieds Sous Terre, 2010), and El invierno del dibujante, about the group of comic artists working for the Bruguera magazine Tio Vivo in the 1950s (Astiberri Ediciones, 2011).
He also hosts a radio show called ‘La Tertulia Friki’ with graphic artists MacDiego and Modesto Granados, and writer Ramón Palomar for the Valencian radio.
• Wrinkles is on sale in all good book shops | Read our review