In Review: Wrinkles by Paco Roca

Wrinkles - Cover

Wrinkles by Paco Roca (Arrugas in Spanish)
ISBN 9780861662371
Cover Price: £12.99/$19.99
Publication Date: 01-01-2015
Format: 104 pages, full colour, paperback with flaps

Wrinkles - You sure you want to go up there?

The Book:  Ernest still imagines himself to be a bank manager but he has been retired for some time. Ernest tends to forget – there are many things he forgets. His son cannot go on caring for him and decides to place him in a retirement home. The situation is far from ideal: almost all the residents suffer from some form of senility.

Paco Roca has concentrated on a gallery of characters as they desperately sink into degeneracy. Only one of them, Emile, escapes this fate, better to take advantage of his roommates. The situations are pitiful and unfortunately very realistic. The author points out behaviours that will be recognised by all those who have a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Wrinkles, which has sold over 30,000 copies in Spanish, has won Best Album and Best Screenplay at the Barcelona Comic Festival, The Spanish National Comic Award and Best Album awards at festivals in Lucca and Rome. The story has been adapted as an animated film, directed by Ignacio Ferreras, and was released on DVD and Blu-ray last year following a limited theatrical release.

Paco Roca is part of the generation of Spanish authors whose work was first published in the ground-breaking magazine El Vibora. Since then he has created many graphic novels including GOG (2000); The Lighthouse (2004), a story set in the Civil War as a backdrop about an escaping soldier, which was awarded best script by the journal Notices of Tenerife, the top comic award in Spain; Children of the Alhambra (2007), an adventure story about a painter of French nineteenth-century romanticism; Wrinkles (2007), The Grim Game (2008), a personal view of surrealist painter Salvador Dalí ; Streets Arena (2008), is about fate and the absurd society in which we live; Cartoonist Winter (2010), depicts the lives of cartoonists in Franco’s Spain and also won an award from Notices of Tenerife.

He also worked as writer and character designer on the animated film adaptation of Wrinkles (La Tête en l’Air/Arrugas), which received the Goya Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Wrinkles by Paco Roca - Sample PageThe Review: Wrinkles is no easy read, especially for those of you who may have a relative suffering from Alzheimer’s. Deeply moving, Paco Roca cleverly questions the position of the elderly in our society with both humour and compassion and his accomplished use of both flashback sequences and his portrayal of the symptoms of this awful disease.

A story set in an old people’s home may not seem the liveliest of subjects for a graphic novel, but there is plenty to enjoy about this challenging tale, as the clients of a typical nursing home cope with the fear to leave home and family, the loss of bearings, inactivity, the rare visits of relatives and their misunderstandings… some better than others and some using coping strategies that will shock you.

I’ve been told that nurses arriving in the UK to work from the Philippines have been stunned to discover that the elderly are sidelined into nursing homes rather than be looked after by their families, which is what happens in their home country, and in other cultures. With much wry humour and acute observation, Wrinkles exposes both the growing divide between generations and the sorry state of family in Europe for many and will give you much pause to think.

Wrinkles is a dark comedy, delivering a powerful, disturbing and emotional insight into the fate of the elderly in modern European society. It gave me pause for thought and will, I suspect, both delight and appall many readers with equal measure.

Wrinkles is on sale in all good book shops from 22nd January 2015

• Paco Roca’s official web site is at or follow him on Twitter 

The Washington Post: An interview with creator Paco Roca

Wrinkles: the film (English language web site)

El Pais, 18th November 2008: “The comic in Spain is at its best” (in Spanish)

Categories: British Comics - Current British Publishers, Featured News, Features, Reviews

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  1. Great Britain guest country at this year’s Munich Comic Festival

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