Paco Roca still remembers the blow it took for him to go to read Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis by Jules Verne. “I took months to absorb this,” says the cartoonist, who has just illustrated this and the Czech author’s other stories for a compilation by publisher Astiberri, where Roca publishes most of his graphic novels.
“A feeling I still have for Kafka, his stories have never left me indifferent,” admits Paco Roca, who also credits the dreamy 2009 graphic novel Las callees de arena to assess whether it’s possible using echoes of fantastic realism. so as not to change our fate -, «He is very impressed by the Fortress or the Court».
Nearly thirty illustrations, some of which are half or double pages, feature both the opening Metamorphosis and the stories of Condemnation, the Fireman. A trailer, In the Penitentiary colony, Rural teacher, Rural doctor, Gracchus hunter, Jackals and Arabs, Building the Great Wall of China, Report for an Academy, A hunger artist, and finally, the singer Josefina or the village of mice.
As the Astiberri publishing house points out, the author of Wrinkles has allowed himself the path of experimentation to explore parts of the story that now exist, avoiding or doing so very explicitly by avoiding reproducing certain moments of the book. or have a different point of view from the narrator’s point of view.
So, for example, a seemingly simple phrase from La metamorphosis – “If they took everything calmly, he had no reason to worry, and if he rushed, he could be at the station at eight” – translates Roca. A two-page painting where you can see Gregorio Samsa transforming into an insect that is about to board the train at the station, despite the apparent indifference of the other passengers.
In addition to experimenting with the perspectives from which Kafka portrayed his stories, Roca also drew on the diversity of the stories to illustrate different graphic styles, so sometimes it’s even hard to pinpoint the author’s hand in some drawings. .
“I hope that the permissions I received with the original text did not excite Kafka’s ranks – Roca underlines. Kafka’s stories make a lot of sense to me; that oppressive atmosphere, those characters…».
Roca assures that he has been one of Kafka’s favorite authors since he first read The Metamorphosis. Therefore, she said, “I was very impressed by going into these stories and creating parallel stories within them. I’ve even been left with a desire to develop some of them in a comic. Maybe one day,” he attempts.
Currently, Roca is working on a new comic that he announces is based on a true event that took place in Valencia between 1939-1944. In this way, the Valencian cartoonist continues to use his memory as the raw material for his work. In addition, it harks back to the city and the post-war era, which Roca has already covered in his comic book Back to Eden, based on a photograph taken on the Natzaret beach in 1947. The childhood of his mother during the Franco regime. This book gave rise to an exhibition on the post-war period in Valencia that can be seen on the Nau until last April.
On the other hand, the new Metrovalencia Line 10 (Alacant-Natzaret) station, dedicated to Valencian soldier and guerrilla Amado Granell, opened a month ago with a large-format mural by Paco Roca.
It should be noted that in another graphic novel by the cartoonist, Los furrows of luck tells the story of Granell and other members of La Nueve. Nazis in WWII. «Amado Granell symbolizes the sadness of the exile of many Spaniards, their struggle abroad to defeat fascism and Nazism. Thanks to his sacrifice, struggle and victory, there are democracies in Europe and Spain today.”
As for the edition of Astiberri’s Metamorphosis, this is the sixth edition of a collection that includes Wilkie Collins’ Monkton el loco, illustrated by Fidel Martínez; The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle, illustrated by Sagar Forniés; El Golem, Gustav Meyrink, illustrated by Santiago Valenzuela; Solomon Kane, Robert E. Howard, illustration by David Rubín and The Shadow over Innsmouth, HP Lovecraft, Alberto Vázquez.