On March 1, we featured an exclusive preview of award-winning graphic novel Alvaro Ortiz. ash. Originally published ten years ago, the story follows a handful of loosely connected characters, but when a trio sets out on a road trip, their fates collide to fulfill the last will and testament of a recently departed friend. While I offer a very casual description, the book is otherwise. There are secrets, a leering monkey, a pair of killer passenger ZZ-top lookalikes, and—really… I’ve said too much. You just have to read it yourself. Also, be prepared to never guess what happens next.
Why share a preview of a story published ten years ago? Well, Top Shelf Productions has now translated ash To English! Originally published in Spain, Ortiz’s work was only accessible to hundreds of millions of Spanish readers. Now, thanks to the work of Eva Ibarzaba (the translator), Ortiz is now available to many of us! ash It is the first of his works to be translated into English.
In addition to meeting with TMS For a preview, Top Shelf Productions contacted me for an email interview with Ortiz. We discussed the book’s influences and what it was like to return to the old art.
Alyssa Shotwell (TMS): Your story reads like a movie, even balancing both over-the-top and very realistic characters. And yet this works perfectly for the page—like a deceptive monkey. What are some of your artistic influences in film and other art forms?
Alvaro Ortiz: hello! Glad you think it works! For film effects, I think the two are the most obvious ash It’s the Cohen Brothers movies and the Wes Anderson movies. But the comic starts with a quote from the Pixies because it was a big influence for me when I was making music as well. ash And for the rest of my comics. And then a million things influence me: graphic design, illustration, visiting museums and exhibitions, comics and novels. in ashThere is also a lot of influence from a certain novel by Paul Auster 😉
TMS: If I read it ash It was originally published in Spanish ten years ago. Most artists are pressured to revisit a project a year in advance, let alone a decade in advance. What was it like going back to work?
Ortiz: Well, I’m still lucky to have a lot of love ash. It was the first comic (and probably the only one, now that I think about it) that I was able to work on full-time for a year and a half and put a lot of effort into making it look good. as much as possible. Now that I’ve learned to draw a little better (not much better), I see some messy panels, but hey, it is what it is, and it doesn’t bother me at all. And, during these ten years, both in Spain and in other countries, it continued to be reprinted and read, so I always kept it in mind.
TMS: This story is about a lot of things, but line after line it turns to how people react to cremation and the idea of a body turned into ashes. This includes many small stories from around the world. What made you interested in this subject? Why not include this almost macabre, glorious and almost medical (matter of fact) adventure travel story?
Ortiz: I’m very interested in stories within stories and in addition to the monkey pages I wanted to include these little encyclopedias of corpse stories…break the whole plot and take the opportunity to tell more crazy stories. There are many different “chapters” in the book and that was the element that I really enjoyed doing.
TMS: Speaking of travel, I understand that you’ve created a descriptive travel journal chronicling your time on (at least) three continents. How has your time abroad affected your work?
Ortiz: Yes, I make drawings in notebooks that record what I see when I travel. I’ve already been to four continents, and travel is one of the biggest influences on my work. Often times, these trips are the trigger for some of my jokes. Especially the last one I published Little genius and the rise of shatranj [The Little Genius and The Departure of Shatranj] It arose after spending a few days in Cairo, Egypt, wandering through its markets and making drawings in my notebook. I also have other comics that came out after visiting cities like Naples or Hong Kong.
TMS: Also for our readers who know Spanish—what book do you recommend they check out next in your back catalog?
Ortiz: If you like ash And you know Spanish, which is probably the most similar. Killer But in recent years I have done very different things. The bat goes out for beerThe story of a certain superhero or, as I mentioned earlier, The Little Genius and the Rise of Shatraj, It’s my first comedy for kids.
TMS: Is there anything else you want our listeners to know?
Ortiz: Thank you for your interest, I hope ash It will reach as many readers as possible there, they will enjoy it, and soon you will be able to read my other comics in English.
Sending you all hugs 🙂
Now published, lift ash At a bookstore or your local comic book store.
(Featured Image: Ferran Cornellà, Top Shelf Productions)
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