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The midlife crisis and getting drunk on a Tuesday morning: these are the cartoons of Catalina Bu, the Chilean comic book sensation


The illustrator, with 126,000 followers on Instagram, has just published her second book, 'No one like you'. A volume that describes, from nihilism and comedy, the struggle of a young woman to overcome her existential pothole

Catalina Bu (Concepción, Chile, 34 years old) has woken up made a "boiled potato".

Her metaphor is hers.

Her latest comic,

Nadie como tú

(Fulgencio Pimentel), begins with a potato tucked into a bed that represents, according to the author, "a state of mind in itself."

She is also a perfect image to describe how the

jet lag has left her

, which during his stay in Madrid has been combined with "an allergy from hell".

Despite the mental dullness, and the effects of the medicine that was taken before the interview, Bu, seen in person, gives off a more luminous energy than that of the protagonist of his story: a young woman in her thirties, a transcript of the own cartoonist, who fights against the fear “of being insignificant and not transcending”.

It is a nihilistic narrative halfway between humor and despair—and between madness and sanity—that ends without a moral, but leaves a sense of relief.

Bu met César Sánchez, editor of Fulgencio Pimentel, during the Angoulême International Comics Festival (France).

"We connected from the first moment and the idea of ​​doing a project together arose," recalls the Chilean author, who had published a book at the time,

Diario de un solo

(Editorial Catalonia, 2014), and had worked for various publications and publishers as an illustrator.

“It was just before the pandemic,” she recalls.

Two months later the virus arrived and the Chilean government decreed home confinement for the entire population.

Bu she was left alone in her apartment in Santiago de Chile and began to draw a story in pencil, "without a script or rundown", with a simple and almost improvised style that in the end ended up becoming a portrait of her own life. she.

“Until I finished it she had no idea what she was doing,” she says.

Cartoonist Catalina Bu portrays and laughs at herself through her work, a universal chronicle of thirty-somethings in crisis.

Maria Belen Moreno

Nobody like you

is an archive of moments in the life of a thirty-something in crisis.

“Did I get any sleep?” she asks herself in the first few pages.

She's not sure but she doesn't care either.

She does things, invents plans and keeps busy because, in the end, the only important thing, according to one cartoon, is pooping;

keep the body working.

“It is the story of a person who is turned inward, and she finds herself in a period of profound neglect.

I think the book, in general, tries to describe how I felt during the pandemic ”, says Bu.

The confinement, the lack of social life, the uncertainty in the face of an unknown virus and the economic instability were the perfect breeding ground for mental health problems to emerge during the time of confinement.

An international study published in the journal

The Lancet

estimated that cases of major depression and anxiety disorder in the world increased by 28% and 26%, respectively.

The most affected population groups were women and young people.

More information

Crisis, pandemic and disappointment: if we are to repeat the Roaring 20s of a century ago, can we still right their wrongs?

Cartoon of 'No one like you'.

On the other side of the demographic picture were the elderly, the population most vulnerable to the virus.


no one like you

the protagonist visits her neighbor, an elderly woman who lives alone and writes down lists of things.

“She really existed.

She was my neighbor for ten years.

We knew each other throughout that time, but we got especially close ten days before she passed away.

My mother is a nurse and intuitively it came to me to help her and keep her company, ”she says.

She did it with the help of another neighbor.

They sat with her, listened to her, brought her things from her and, above all, accompanied her in her last days.

"She was already very bored and she wanted to die, and she had somehow asked me to help her with it," she recalls.

Nothing that happens to him in the comic is narrated dramatically.

The older lady limits herself to saying that “what bothers her the most are her heartbeats”, because “they sound very loud” and they no longer let her listen to the television.

The Chilean illustrator has been very impressed by "how well integrated" the elderly are in Spain.

“In Chile they stay locked up at home.

It is very rare to see them like here eating in restaurants or having a drink in a bar”.

The book is a constant game of mirrors between the two women.

"I see a parallelism between the two, in our lives," the older lady tells the protagonist at one point.

“She made me feel identified with her life,” says Bu.

"Our apartments are fully mirrored."

Age, in this story, is almost a feeling.

That is why from one cartoon to another the protagonist grows pigtails as a girl or she grows old.

“I think it has a lot to do with how you perceive yourself, and how you can distort that image: sometimes as an older person, sometimes as a child.

I was interested in transmitting that, because I am very sorry.

A 30-year-old girl who feels like a dying lady.

“She made me realize how insignificant we are, despite all the things we do to not be.

That is why the protagonist laments that no one is going to remember all the little things that the old lady has done”.

The comic talks about death, our insignificance and the "useless" intention to transcend.

“At a certain age one begins to wonder if life is worth living, regardless of whether death is near or not.

If you have done something that has been worthwhile.

That questioning has a lot to do with the ego.

The whole book is in some way a

ego trip


Detail of an illustration by Catalina Bu.María Belén Moreno

Like in the series

The Sopranos,

One of the references that the author points out, the comic is structured around the protagonist's visits to therapy, with a psychologist that Bu drew, inspired by the American writer Fran Lebowitz.

"I was going to therapy for six years, with the same psychologist," says Bu.

"He was part of my creative team to make this book, he helped me explore things that sometimes made me ashamed."

She also did creativity exercises: “We talked a lot about my drawings.

He taught me to hallucinate awake, doing a kind of meditation in which I closed my eyes and imagined very strange things that I later used to build the scenes”, she recounts.

In all the parts in which the protagonist visits the psychologist's office, a certain sense of the absurd is perceived.

“In therapy there are very exaggerated and ridiculous moments.

If someone saw it from the outside, I think I would die of shame”, he laughs.

In a cartoon of the comic, the protagonist manages to have a lucid dream, using a technique that the author found one day on TikTok: "It consists of saying: 'I'm dreaming, I'm dreaming,' until she falls asleep," she explains.

The succession of daily anxieties ends with more questions than answers.

"It's like life," says the author.

“At the end of the day, a lot of things happen that we can remember later, but there is no lesson.

I like it that way, on many occasions the comic abuses taking you by the hand.

Life doesn't have a narrative arc, it's more of a state of mind,” she assures.

The moments of self-care remain, "of little pampering", like when Bu treats himself to eating sushi or getting drunk on a Tuesday morning.

A charming defense of frivolity and that whatever happens, sometimes it is enough, as the cartoonist tells us, to "have pretty nails".

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-31

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