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Paco Roca


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month May 2024

The sometimes silent or stifled perspectives will linger as long in your mind as they do on the page. As in life, so many may never - and perhaps can never - be fully expressed or understood. Conversations are rarely as revelatory as they are in fiction: some are far more one-way than they appear, sometimes through reticence, sometimes resistance. And Pablo Roca is a master of the silent panel which says so much.

Also, the Fantagraphics write-up is note-perfect, so I'll let that and let my ten photos tell the rest of the story, before rejoining you later.

"It all starts with a photograph: an ordinary scene of a young woman and her family picnicking at a Valencian beach in 1947. Now in her twilight years, Antonia cherishes this photo dearly; it holds the memories of her upbringing, her family - the key to her Eden. Taking off from this routine family outing, cartoonist Paco Roca paints a heartfelt portrait of his mother's formative years. This delicate portrayal of a humble family is at once an intimate biographical story and a broader reflection of the hardscrabble existence many faced in post-war Spain. Antonia and her family soldier through constant hunger, the shady dealings of the black market, traumas of war and parental abuse, and the oppressive atmosphere wrought by the Catholic church and Franco's authoritarian regime - and yet, they find oases of joy and wonder in cinema, imagination, and small acts of kindness.

The celebrated Spanish cartoonist's most ambitious work yet is a touching homage to his mother and a bittersweet depiction of life in post-war Spain. Roca manages to charge quotidian life with rare poignancy, in all its daily struggles and daydreams, and readers will come away deeply affected."

True, that.

Utterly absorbing, and beauuuutifully drawn with soft, smooth, fluid lines, everyone at one with their meticulously composed environment coloured in naturals sands, sage and stone to evoke both our perception of that period and its subdued austerity.

It's a large family, and there are so many startling and very sad strands unexplored in my very few photos.