Thursday, 8 September 2011

Another gem from Spain. El Vecino by Santiago García, writer, and Pepo Perez, artist. El Vecino means 'The neighbour'. The character has an actual name, but I love the idea of a superhero just being known as 'The neighbour'. It's in a nice hardcover book from Astiberri, but the story is open- ended. There is a second volume and several stand-alone short stories elsewhere. The first volume is in full colour and the second is in black and white. If you've been in the comics biz for any length of time, such things do not normally need to be explained. The opening scene has stopped me in my tracks, because In an interview a couple of months back.. (probably this one) I was asked why I always stuck to that nine panel grid in From hell and Alec and I said it was all about the patterns, and I referred to the game of noughts and crosses, or whatever you call it in your part of the world, this game:

And how this opens up all the directions, all simultaneously. You can't have patterns with 2. That's just coincidence. You need to be working in 3. It is quite probable that i was thinking of the opening design in El Vecino.

Notice how the eye can't help but read that brown diagonal as a separate strip within the complex, in fact it reads it simultaneously with all the other possible strips that you can extricate from the grid, including three horizontals, three verticals and the other diagonal top right to bottom left before we start getting into the strips that reverse normal time. (also check out Scott McCloud's theory about compressing time on pages 84-5 of Understanding Comics)

The bookish chap above hears a noise in the neighbouring apartment. The next night he hears it again and adventures next door, where he lets himself in the unlocked apartment to find a guy in a superhero costume.

Within no time they're in and out of each other's apartments borrowing cups of sugar and stuff like that. They even go jogging together. They're real good neighbours. Here's a scene where the Superhero gets his neighbour to dress up as the hero and appear at the window to crush some suspicions that were being aroused. Well, it's the sort of thing good neighbours do for each other.

The superhero is one of those handsome bastards you always end up living next to, who has way more than his share of the ladies. Here's a scene where the poor old bookish chap is sent to take care of the lady business while the hero guy rushes off to take care of more important business. Notice it's a different lady from the one in the scene above.

The story is full of affection for the superhero genre, at least as it used to be before the carnage maniacs got ahold of it. Pepo Perez has a rough and ready style that keeps everything lively. He has a very simple and pleasing way of drawing a pretty girl.

Even with my half-arsed grasp of Spanish I'm enjoying the hell out of this book.



Anonymous Funès said...

You should read Monsieur Jean before El Vecino.

9 September 2011 at 09:22:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Cheadle said...

Read any of Paco Roca's work before than that.

10 September 2011 at 05:12:00 GMT-5  
Blogger TEBEOBIEN said...

i recommend you read 'el vecino 3' after this. and then, more spanish gems.
an anonymous commenter further recommended reading something someone? i say throw the trash for my oprah's book club list.
ay, la mala pipa española!

10 September 2011 at 06:12:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must read a very beatiful spanish gem: El arte de volar.

10 September 2011 at 07:03:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous The Spaniard said...

I think Funès means that El Vecino copies full scenes from Monsieur Jean. At least I understood that because it is true.

10 September 2011 at 08:15:00 GMT-5  
Blogger gervilches said...

"I think Funès means that El Vecino copies full scenes from Monsieur Jean. At least I understood that because it is true."

No, it isn't. Monsieur Jean is an important influence to El Vecino, as the authors have recognized many times. But there are no copied scenes as you say, or at least I can't see them.

By the way, I join the tebeobien's recommendation: El Vecino 3 is the best of the three, I think.

Gerardo Vilches.

10 September 2011 at 08:38:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Octavio B. (señor punch) said...

El vecino 3, yeah!

10 September 2011 at 08:57:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also prefer and recommend "el arte de volar" the drawing is also very ugly but at least the story is interesting.

10 September 2011 at 12:42:00 GMT-5  

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