BORJA CRESPO (Part II): "We have to innovate, and if we don’t do it now we’ll have to do it in a few years"

By Cristina Álvarez Cañas | Borja Crespo. June 17, 2013


What do you think makes a good comic?

Well, firstly, I like to differentiate between evasion and reflection, like in film. There are a lot of good films in both fields and the same is true for comics. For me, the ideal is a balance between depth and form; and that the author - apart from telling something in a very original way - is capable of finding new paths in their graphic style. If they have a personal style and know how to tell a story, I would already consider it a good comic, regardless of whether it’s a story I might already have heard several times over. In that respect, if they do what they do well and it entertains me, it doesn’t have to be something extremely experimental.

Are there more groundbreaking trends in comics than in other types of art?

The comic world in Spain is not confined precisely because - and this needs to be stressed - no large sums of money have been involved in it nor has it received any grants. The genre has always been very active and has been a loudspeaker for anyone who wants to question reality. In addition, there is the more creative aspect, which can be very experimental. That’s why I think there are a lot of people connected to art who are taking it more seriously. And not just authors, I think that any restless mind that enjoys art should take an interest in what is happening in the comic world today.

Do authors need to be more innovative?

We have to innovate, and if we don’t do it now we’ll have to do it in a few years. The other day I was at a talk with Max, who is a comic book illustrator who has been evolving but still remains himself. There are also authors who have no need to change, like Ibáñez for example. However, it is interesting that people who are just starting out now to try to support themselves on more things other than their work alone. They are original in the way they present their work and the way they make it reach the public. For example, the publishing house ¡Caramba! does a kind of comic trailer with its authors, and they organised a press conference with Paco Alcázar which they streamed online. They are relatively simple ideas and show that there is a whole world out there to explore.

Do you think comic readers no longer fall under the stereotype as much?

In a lot of comic conventions and fairs such as GRAF you see a group of the public that isn’t the kind that wears fancy dress. It is formed of a kind of person that maybe doesn’t buy comics in an extremely specialised shop or is immersed in everything that surrounds it. In other conventions, such as manga ones, there are younger people who go to meet others who share the same tastes and they really enjoy themselves, as if it were a big party. They are two types of readers and they don’t always mix.

Do you think there should be more synergy between mainstream and underground comics so that they can join forces with a view to the common interest sector?

Not exactly, because in Spain there isn’t as much difference between those who sell a lot and those who sell a little. There is an initial barrier at around 1,000 copies, which some people reach and others don’t. Then there are those who sell between 1,000 and 3,000, which is a good figure, especially with the way the market is right now; and then you get comics such as Arrugas, which sell 15,000, 20,000 or 30,000 copies. It’s the same as in fiction, although our bestsellers don’t reach sales of one million copies.

Where is the future of comics headed? Will analogue and digital editions live happily side by side?

The future of comics is as unpredictable as it is for all other cultural products. In the end, everything ends up profiting the internet, the digital. It’s one of the matters that needs to be resolved if you really want to live off it, which doesn’t mean that everyone has to do it. You can have your job and draw simply because you love it. Between analogue and digital, in my case, I like a mixture, it’s enriching, but there are people who only know digital because they were born into that. And it seems like the digital side is not appreciated as much. We hold someone who publishes a paper book in higher esteem than someone who sells or offers their work over the internet, despite them having a tonne of readers. And another factor is the lack of trust in making an internet purchase, even though the publishing house has shown professionalism. It’s funny, we’re at a time when our mentality hasn’t switched from analogue to digital – humankind can’t assimilate things as rapidly – and, nevertheless, the new technologies continue to advance in huge leaps and bounds.

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