|'Rage from the South’|
|Written by Francisco Javier Villalba Bueno|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2012 18:37|
In this introduction to the comic, the author gives an insight into Rage from the South, the English version of the online graphic novel (Rabia del Sur), originally published in Spanish in February 2013 with drawings by Marcos Cañada and story by Francisco Javier Villalba.
The idea for Rage from the South arose at the end of 2009, after a conversation about the possibility of creating a comic that would be a shady thriller unmistakably set in the south of Spain, specifically in Málaga, with an identity that was clearly Andalusian but without the typical clichés about the region.
At that time, Marcos had read infinitely more comics than me and, fortunately for this project, he is both an artist and a photographer. On the other hand, we are both film buffs and our ideas about narrative style, which we both believe should lead the reader towards the story’s climax at the same time as giving certain minimal guarantees of quality, are complementary.
However, I am not a reader of comics, my photos are decidedly average and I can't draw. The advantage I have is that in my work I come across all types of text, written in a wide variety of styles. I can make a text more easily understandable, make the words flow more naturally, and assimilate new registers and formats that I do not use on a daily basis with relative ease.
So I set about reading some comics and we got down to work. This detail, which may seem merely anecdotic, was essential for the project. As I have already mentioned, I am not a huge fan of graphic novels: I needed to write a story that would hook the reader, but we didn’t want to use superheroes, zombies, mass epidemics or other typical elements traditional in sci-fi comics. We both agreed that what was required was an approach more similar to a cyberpunk or film noir thriller, with a shocking opening scene (that I won’t reveal here) and an ending that would not be out of place in a classical tragedy. I had my work cut out for me.
The initial idea for the plot came from an idea that I had used before as the beginning of a novel that (R.I.P.) shall remain unpublished. However, I still thought the idea would be a good starting point for a story, and was even more convinced when Marcos told me: “In the world of comics, everything is possible”. From that moment, we started to outline the main characters. I got down to work on the characters’ personalities and Marcos began sketching. We agreed, disagreed, discussed, modified and remodelled. We realised that a comic needs greater synthesis than a screenplay, if that is possible, and that we needed a hero or antihero who, in one way or another, would move in all strata of Málaga society or have direct contact with a wide range of social circles via other characters. As well as this, he would have to carry readers through the difficult opening pages of the story without becoming such an unsympathetic figure that he would alienate them and discourage further reading.
The reality of the Spanish political and economic situation in 2011 and 2012 (as one of the PIGS) gave us ample opportunity to develop the storyline and provided valuable context for the plot. This situation is the backdrop of a harsh reality that does not directly affect the lives of the main characters, but which is the underlying atmosphere of Rage from the South: institutional corruption at all levels, illegal layoff plans, court cases such as Palma Arena and Nóos, the Bankia scandal, the King’s ‘slip up’ while hunting elephants in Botswana, the bank bailout (with contrasting headlines in Spanish newspapers that went from: “Europe gives funds to the banking sector with no conditions for Spain” ABC, 10-06-2012, to: “Bailout for Spain” El País, 10-06-2012).
Image from the graphic novel showing the contrasting real life headlines taken from the two major Spanish dailies: the right-wing ABC and the left-wing El País.
(Un)reality is stranger than fiction: Spain as a country is relocating to the world of farce, returning to the heritage of Valle-Inclán’s esperpento – the tradition of the grotesque - that has been echoed in the creations of Buñuel, Berlanga and Almodóvar; the country has resumed walking the tightrope after living the mirage of being – or having been – part of Europe. We asked ourselves if there was a better way than the graphic novel of expressing the caricature of reality that this country has become and for which, to make matters worse, there is no alternative. We reached the conclusion that right now there is no other means available.
If you would like to follow the development of Rage from the South, you can visit the website where you will find the latest instalments of the comic, excerpts of the story, character profiles, sketches, ideas we have rejected, etc.
In the meantime, we can tell you that part of the story takes place in Thailand, in the Patpong area of Bangkok, where we discover the moral depths of the sinister epitome of institutionalism, Desi Aranda. But above all other locations, Málaga between 2005 and 2012 is the stage where our characters progress steadily towards the precipice. Leo, Sandra, Andres, Braulio, Desi and Beaker live out their lives in areas of the city familiar to anyone who has visited the capital of the Costa del Sol: the Town Hall, the city centre, Artarazanas market, Santo Domingo Bridge (the Germans’ bridge), the Malagueta bullring, PARCEMASA cemetery, La Palmilla, the airport, the city’s main hospitals and the PTA technology park, where the two prototype drugs developed with European funding (B1-α y B1-β) play a key role in the outcome of this story.
Coming in English September 2013: www.ragefromthesouth.com.
Keywords: Cañavil Productions, Marcos Cañada, F. J. Villalba, independent graphic novel, independent publication online, independent comic, online comic publication, Spanish comic, webcomic serial, serial comic, Malaga comic, gangster thriller, free weekly comic, corruption in Spain, chemical prototypes in animals and humans, action comic, doping in bullfights, adult comic, pulp, Málaga, Spain, Bangkok, Thailand.
A taster of Rage from the South webcomic
A taster of Rage from the South graphic novel
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