He never intended to transform a novel into a comic.
She always refused to let her books end up as a bunch of cartoons.
And yet the cartoonist Luz and the writer Virginie Despentes surrendered to the evidence.
When they met, they had the inexplicable feeling of having known each other their whole lives, perhaps because of that jocular nonconformity and something punk that the two seem to give off.
The result was the comic book adaptation of
(Salamandra Graphic), the trilogy signed by Despentes and published around the world after its success in France, where it sold 1.5 million copies. The protagonist of the book, which hits Spanish bookstores this Thursday, is a rocker who has come to nothing, and loses all his possessions, starting with his beloved record store, and ends up evicted and living like a homeless man on the streets of Paris, with the penultimate transformation of the economic model as a dismal backdrop.
"When I started reading it, I had the feeling of meeting old friends again, with characters that I met in bars, record stores and festivals," recalls the illustrator and former DJ, a survivor of the
in 2015, from which he escaped unharmed by pure miracle, having fallen asleep that morning. “He was the person who could best adapt it, because of his enormous musical culture and because, having worked so hard for the press, he was used to working fast. It has been a colossal task that has lasted three years, ”says Despentes, who proposed her name convinced that she would say no, only so that her editor, who insisted that her book should be turned into a comic, would leave her alone once .
Light: “I try to walk upright.
Survival consists of that.
Deep down, we are all survivors, each with their misfortunes "
Throughout this first 300-page volume — there will be a second and final one, which is now ending —
describes a world where everything falls apart. All that was solid vanishes, by recycling the famous words of Marx, and men are forced to "calmly consider the conditions of their existence", as the end of that maxim, less known than its beginning, said. The book is a requiem for a subculture cornered by neoliberalism, that of record stores and small concert halls, free radios and public media libraries, pushed towards irrelevance after the galloping virtualization of the cultural sector. “They are characters that belong to a world that is disappearing. In the book, the precariousness of the music world serves to describe a precariousness of society in general ”, says Luz,who responds by videoconference with a woolen hat on his head and from a location that he cannot share, as he continues to be threatened by Islamists and lives under police protection.
Pages of the comic 'Vernon Subutex', signed by Luz and Virginie Despentes from the trilogy of novels of the second.
The book's protagonist, an unlikely cross between the more enlightened Van Gogh and a handsome young Jacques Dutronc, walks hunched over, like any vinyl hunter who has spent hours and hours searching for records in stores with his spine bent forward. Although it also seems a metaphor for his internal twists, caused by the setbacks that life has given him. In his story, the ordeal of the one who holds the pen is revealed, who also lost almost everything, including his best friends, and who seems to live in permanent mourning. “Unlike him, I try to walk as upright as I can,” Luz jokes, punctuating her sentences with warm laughter, but also somewhat nervous. “It is not always easy, but we have no other choice, because survival is about that. Deep down we're all survivorseach one with their misfortunes ", adds the cartoonist, who these days is reading" everything "about the recently started trial for the Bataclan attack, which took place ten months after his magazine suffered, although he does not always manage to reach the end of each item.
Luz: “Days after the attack, millions of people took to the streets.
There was talk of a great collective impulse, but there was no catharsis.
Two years later, Le Pen reached the second round of the elections "
The spectacular success of the three novels surprised their author, who was used to her feminist books, such as
King Kong Theory
although none reached the level of this trilogy. "I suppose that the books managed to reflect what was happening in France: the rise of the extreme right and an atmosphere of depression that has lasted for a long time, a drop in morale that never ends," says Despentes. That crisis of French identity - and, no doubt, also European - is the underlying theme of this adaptation, in which any collective horizon vanishes before the new empire of individualism. Luz recognized in her the common adventure of the cartoonists of what was her magazine for 20 years. “It also reminded me of what we went through after the attack. Days later, millions of people took to the streets to protest. There was talk of a great collective impulse. But in reality, there was no catharsis. Two years later,Marine Le Pen was reaching the second round of the presidential elections ”, laments Luz.
The French writer Virginie Despentes, pictured in Madrid in 2018.ANDREA COMAS
The satirical drawing could find itself, like that marginalized culture, on the way to extinction.
"Actually, it has been disappearing for 20 years," says the cartoonist, citing a handful of long-lived references, such as the British
, the German
or the Spanish
, as the only exceptions.
“When the press crisis hit, the first victims were photographers and cartoonists.
They were considered not essential, that they could be dispensed with ”.
Despite his staunch defense of that legacy, Luz himself has distanced himself from his old magazine, which he abandoned “for personal reasons” in 2015, nine months after signing the first cover after the attack, where Muhammad appeared with a tear on the cheek and a
Je suis Charlie
“I stopped reading
, because I saw too many absences.
I see holes, people who are gone.
I even detect my own absence.
It's hard for me to turn the pages without thinking about what Charb or Cabu [two of the cartoonists murdered in 2015] would have drawn, or what I would have done myself ”, he admits.
A cameo by Houellebecq
On the same day as the attack on the weekly, two novels hit French bookstores: the first volume of
, the caustic story about a Muslim invasion signed by Michel Houellebecq, which has a cameo in this comic adaptation.
“Houellebecq's book became an oracle of the attacks, when I believe that the one who really guessed the future was Despentes.
He talks about a character who gives up and collaborates.
She, of someone who loses everything, but manages to change the lives of others, "he sums up.
Despentes: “It is a work typical of the end of an era.
The adventure of the 20th century is over, we have already passed to another phase "
In recent years, Luz's stroke has become more expressionist. More colorful and, at the same time, more tortured. There is a pinch of Crumb and another of Jaime Hernández, another cartoonist with a solid rock culture. What is unexpected is that, at times, its pages, narrated with a flow of consciousness worthy of the literary avant-gardes, also recall the social caricature exercised by interwar German painters, such as George Grosz and Otto Dix, of whom Luz declares himself an admirer. . “It is a great compliment. I like his unbridled use of color and the freedom that his way of drawing gives off ”, he replies. “But above all, perhaps that comparison comes from another idea: this could also be an interwar work. We have been in that situation for a long time… ”. To the author of the dialogues, that phrase provokes a sad smile."I understand why you say that, but I hope you are wrong," rebate Despentes. “In any case, I would say that it is a work typical of the end of an era, whether there is a war or not. The adventure of the 20th century is over. We have already passed to another phase ”.