Juanjo Guarnido in Rome: the future of Blacksad and Les Indes Fourbes


Published on May 20, 2019


On the occasion of the inauguration of the exhibition Beyond Blacksad, created by ARF! Festival and the instituto Cervantes at the atmospheric dining room of Piazza Navona in Rome, Juanjo Guarnido met with the public when talking about his style of Blacksad and his work still unpublished, Les Indes Fourbes. To talk with the author, in a room more crowded, Valentina Griner.

Inevitable, surrounded by lots of tables) of the original work, begin the meeting by talking about the origins of Blacksad , created with writer Juan Díaz Canales, and his figures, animals and anthropomorphic: “Basically, the cast of characters is still the one proposed by Canales, except when we wanted to underline the function of the character in the story, perhaps for a role in a comic for example...and this affects also their physical appearance, such as whether or not you have the tail to give a most comical effect. The suggestions were many, starting from the roles in the fairy tales, in the bible, in the cinema or in popular culture; John, for his part, was a black cat from the beginning, because an animal, elegant, alert and independent as a cat was perfect for his profile! And then, traditionally, black cats bring bad luck...what's the best role for an animal of this kind if not the one from the detective, surrounded by murders and misfortunes!? Of course, work on these animals has been very different for me, even compared to experiences with Disney: Blacksad this is not only attributed to the animals actions typical human, but to give him a personality and puts it into a human society“.

In the five volumes of up to now out immediately is strong, for the reader, the major impact of the cinema proposed by the boards, as well as the particular and delicate use of watercolors: “In the first volume, the tone is more polar (film genre and the literary, the French neologism created from the merger of the terms of mystery and noir, ed) and, therefore, are many and evident references to film noir in the settings but, gradually, we also see in this an evolution and you get, for example, with the fifth volume, to have the protagonists landscapes of the suburban in the open air, where it is strong, instead, the influence of the road movie. Important, for this last aspect, was for me to get to know the cities represented, so as to realise the best in an intuitive manner. Surely the direction, even in the comic, is something that evolves and imposes itself in parallel with the evolution of the narrative.

With regard to the choice of watercolours, I use them over time, because of the difficulty that their use implies: if you are a novice, I do not recommend to use them! (laughs). Using them is a constant struggle, day after day, they have a spectrum of colours quite limited and is limited therefore in the choices made. Soft-spoken a traditionalist, however, I have not been able to do without them, also for their better adherence over time than, for example, the tempera“.

At a distance of about five-years old from Amarillo, which is currently the last book dedicated to the adventures of John Blacksad, Juan Díaz Canales, has announced the upcoming arrival of a new story, of which Guarnido anticipates some news. “Without anticipating too much, I can say that will come into play a lieutenant, a fox representative of the forces of law and order, that will increase the references to the animal world within the books“.

From the noir ’50s, you go to the baroque of the seventeenth century: in addition to those of Blacksad, the exhibition offers a preview, before the publication of the work, some of the original tables de Les Indes Fourbes, the ambitious new graphic novel from the author of the Spanish that shows the “life” Don Paul, the character of the picaresque novel was born from the pen of Francisco de Quevedo, one of the greatest exponents of the european baroque.

“The themes and the setting of the work come from lots of meetings with Alain Ayroles, of which I have a lot of esteem and with whom I wanted to work for a long time. First, we wanted to tell the adventures of Don Quixote in the americas, but Cervantes killing the character has allowed him to we moved on a character of Quevedo, instead, it matched really well with the setting in the New World. The protagonist is Paul then, Pitocco and the comic, which was supposed to be about eighty pages, is to be one of my more ambitious projects. I dedicated all of myself to the designs, the perfection of the watercolours, to play in a manic landscapes, to make the graphical part of the work to the height of a writer such as Alain, who is able to write with a virtuosity rare in baroque style, a skill in dealing with themes that belong to the extraordinary features perhaps unique currently“.

In greeting the public, Guarnido has created a guided tour revealing the secrets behind the plates exposed. The exhibition, remember, will be open until 29 June, from Wednesday to Saturday from 16.00 to 20.00 in the Sala Dalí, the Instituto Cervantes (no. 91 to piazza Navona, in Rome).

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