Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Felipe Hernández Cava's and Pablo Auladell's Soy mi sueño




Soy mi sueño (I am my dream) by Felipe Hernández Cava (w) and Pablo Auladell (a), De Ponent, is (with Un voyage - a travel - by Philippe de Pierpont - w -, Éric Lambé - a -, Futuropolis, already mentioned on The Crib, and Acme Novelty Library # 19 by Chris Ware, self-published) my favorite comic of 2008. (To add a couple of titles: Depressed Pit Dwellers by Mat Brinkman, Le Dernier Cri - because Brinkman is Brinkman; Hic sunt leones - here, there are lions - by Frédéric Coché, Frémok.)
Felipe Hernández Cava should need no presentation. He simply is one of the best (and oldest because he started his career in 1971) comics writers. If I complained in my last post that "comics readers are rarely given the opportunity to follow a comics artist's career," the same is true if applied to comics script writers, I suppose. Felipe Hernández Cava is one of the exceptions. In his own words (U # 25: 31; my translation): "When I write a TV script, a way to put bread on the table, I know perfectly well that I'm addressing a particular audience share. I'm addressing a huge number of people and I have to do concessions accordingly. When I do a comic, I do it for a minority that may enjoy the things that I want to tell." Sure, he has dayjobs, but he insists in collaborating with great comics artists who are as stubborn as he is...
Hernández Cava's first creative period happened when he participated with Saturio Alonzo (and, later, Pedro Arjona) in the creation of the art collective El Cubri (the Kubri; meaning: Stanley Kubrick's name without the "ck," as it would be pronounced in Spanish, particularly in the South of Spain). El Cubri did highly politicized left wing comics at first (in Bang! / Trocha - later Troya -, for instance - # 1: May 1977 -, but also on the walls as graffiti) to do genre comics later (historical: "Luis Candelas" in Madriz - # 1: January, 1984; noir: "Sombras" - shadows - in Vilan - # 4, 1981, methinks...).
While working with Alonzo and Arjona as El Cubri Cava also did some scripts for Luis Garcia about the Indian Wars in North America (Bang! / Trocha / Troya too). History is Felipe Hernández Cava's main focus, particularly Spain's turbulent history during the first half of the 20th century. That's why he wrote Las Memorias de Amoros, for Federico del Barrio, about the pre-Civil War (Amoros' memories; "Firmado mister Foo" - signed, Mister Foo; "La luz de un siglo muerto" - the light of a dead century; Las alas calmas - the calm wings; Ars profetica; Alfoz magazine, late eighties). Also with Federico, Cava did the masterpiece "El artefacto perverso" (the mischievous artifact, Top Comics, 1994) about the post-Civil War. We're still waiting for his take on the war proper.
Another historical work by Felipe Hernández Cava is his trilogy about Lope de Aguirre. An historical figure who tried to create a kingdom in South America rebelling against the Spanish king Philip II (16th century). The books are: La aventura (the adventure; art by Enrique Breccia), Ikusager, 1989; La conjura (the conspiracy; art by Federico del Barrio), Ikusager, 1993; La expiación (the atonement; art by Ricard Castells), De Ponent, 1998 (the change of publisher occurred because the first one didn't like Castells' art: good grief!).
It would be easy for a writer interested in the conflicts that tormented the 20th (and other) centuries, to be manichean, but that's exactly what Felipe Hernández Cava is not (U # 25: 66; my translation): "my tendency always was to let the characters be defined by what they do, there's no need to caricature them."
Soy mi sueño's main character, Erich Hafner, is a luftwaffe pilot whose plane crashed. Is it a coincidence that this crash occurred in Crimea (like Joseph Beuys')?, or that the year 1942 is mentioned (an erroneous date for Beuys' plane crash that can be found in certain sources)? Maybe not, but really, I don't know... Felipe Hernández Cava and Pablo Auladell mix dream and reality (Auladell's blurred images diligently do their task to accomplish this ethereal effect). With the help of Solaya, a shaman, Erich remembers his childhood in Dresden and other facts that show him the eye of the storm while lying in bed, hurt. In a fractured age, Erich's search for his identify is inexorably fated to fail... Joseph Beuys invented a foundation myth to reinvent himself, though... Erich can surely try too, not to reinvent, but to create a meaningful afterlife. It's the best that he can pathetically do when everything crumbles around him...

1. Felipe Hernández Cava's portrait as drawn by Luis Garcia in Bang! Troya # 7's back cover (January, 1978); inside the magazine Cava is the model for the main character in "El grito" (the scream) by Victor Mora and Luis Garcia;
2. U # 25's cover (November, 2002);
3. Soy mi sueño by Felipe Hernandez Cava and Pablo Auladell (cover, detail; Edicions De Ponent, 2008).

PS Pablo Auladell's blog:

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