3 ‘Grandes’ of Spanish Comic-book Art: Kenny, Rubin & Calderon

Today I bring you something I think is pretty cool: some golden gems drawn on the spot from some top Spanish comic book artist that are not given the creds they deserve outside of my home country. So this is a tribute to their genius and to Spanish comics. If you know anything about me (if you are reading this it is likely by this stage you know something) it should not come as a surprise that a comic book scholar owns things like this. What is surprising is the art work itself. These pieces have also interesting and sentimental stories attach to them, therefore I’ll give you some details about these stories, – and the comics themselves, of course!!

El Misterio del Capitán Nemo (2012) – Mathieu Gabella & Kenny Ruiz

This is actually the piece that started the collection. I first engaged with Kenny’s work when I was in college, with one of his most renown works to that moment: El Cazador de Rayos (The Lightning Hunter). An incredibly touching story about believe, technology, survival and the making of oneself. But this reinterpretation I guess you can call it of Captain Nemo was just amazing. I loved every single page. Although very much a villain, Nemo is fantastic. There is, I don’t know, I guess slight Jaffaresque essence to him that makes him a lovable evil in a way. So how did this end up with me? Well, my parents were living in Toledo at the time and they happened to go to the Feria del Libro in Madrid (Madrid’s bookfaire), where Kenny was doing some signings. That was like 4 years ago now (2013), so very shortly after the comic was actually released.

Beowulf (2013) – Santiago García & David Rubín

This piece is actually very special. In 2013 I had just finished my MA on the Vikings and their depictions in comics, and this beauty came out in November, when I had just started my PhD on more of the same but this time particularly on women. The acquisition of this comic book at the presentation day at Nexus (our local comic book store run by the ever amazing and lifetime friend Oscar) would actually shape and direct my choice of sources for my upgrade material. There I went with my dad (of course!), and listened to David’s journey with this comic and how it all came to be. It was fascinating. But David was not only there to talk about the comic…He was signing and drawing too! So, rather shyly…(I am actually a very shy person!!!) I approached the desk with my book like…’Hi…Ahm, this was cool. Would you mind, pretty please scribbling something for me, if you could?’ (not a direct quote but very similar). There he gets drawing me waiting patiently, but of course, the crowd knew me and quickly my dad was selling me as an upcoming scholar in the study of the vikings on comics and what not, more pressure came from Oscar & Co, and the conversation developed into me learning an awful lot about this comic and the art style behind it, as well as what they actually thought of the Vikings, Beowulf, and what they wanted to create. As an experience, it is simply irreplaceable and it will stick in my mind forever. David is a dude, and I admire him greatly. I have used his comic extensively for my research now, and I hope the glorious images of his Queen Wealtheow and Grendel’s Mother have been taken into consideration by those who have seen my work and my analysis on the subject. However, he left me with this amazing gift – which for obvious reasons I couldn’t quite discuss on my thesis! – Just appreciate the degree of effort into this beast! It’s awesome! Oh, and do you want to know the best part? Go on…So, most of you would be thinking, this must be Beowulf for sure (that’s what the comic is about right?). Well yes. But under the remark of my little sister, I think the actual statement was something like “Hey cool, they have drawn dad as a Viking for Lilly, sweet!”. The resemblance is indeed remarkable.

Los Caminos del Señor (2014) – Fabrice David & Grégory Lassablière & Jaime Calderón

This was a 3 Wisemen day present just a couple of months ago (January 2017). I am usually pretty up to date with anything Viking related on comics, and most things history related, but this had fallen completely outside of my radar. This comic is actually about the Normans – with William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest on the first half of the comic – and the Crusades in the second half. It is a great read and I very much encourage you all to grab it and have a read, as the balance between history and fiction is exquisite and the artwork superb. Now my dad went on his own for this one (obviously), and he related to me the following stuff. He apparently approached Jaime, the artist, and when asked what he wanted to be drawn my dad asked for Harold with the arrow on his eye. Apparently the guy looked at him like…wot? He told him that was a super weird request, people often ask for you know flashy combat scenes or badass warriors. But my dad insisted and Jaime apparently asked what was this all about. So of course, here goes my dad and tells him: “it’s a family joke”. And you bet it is. For my BA dissertation I did an analysis of the Normans and their depictions in medieval art, project for which the Bayeux Tapestry is crucial. We did go on a family holiday to Normandy that year so I could actually gather some materials and see the whole thing for myself (mind-blowing). One of the things I argue in my dissertation and that has been subject for academic debate for donkeys years is the matter of the arrow. It’s rather unlikely Harold was actually killed this way: it is a metaphor, a punishment for traitors – and if you look at the actual arrow itself, it looks older than the original tapestry; probably a modern edition/restoration job! So… Who said you cannot be a historian and be cool, huh? 😉

And there you go. This is my tribute to these legends of Spanish comics 🙂

If you are intrigued by their work, go check it out and we can talk about what you thought about it 🙂


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