23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Javier de Isusi
© Hartwig Klappert

Javier de Isusi

Javier de Isusi was born in 1972 in Bilbao. As a child, he loved the comic book series »Asterix«, »The Adventures of Tintin« and »Blueberry«, moving onto the superhero genre as a teenager. He studied architecture in San Sebastián and Lisbon, during which time he discovered the work of Milo Manara and Jean Giraud (AKA Mœbius), as well as the French past master of the comic book genre Régis Loisel and the wider possibilities of the genre for adults.

He debuted with the tetralogy »Los viajes de Juan Sin Tierra« (2004, 2007, 2008, 2010; tr. The journeys of John No-Land) inspired by the year he spent in Latin America. Javier de Isusi has now published eight graphic novels in Spain. »He visto ballenas« (2015; tr. I’ve seen whales) is a book as poetic as it is political, about a friendship in the Basque Country during the fight for independence. As ETA terror attacks shake the Country, childhood friends Josu and Antón lose touch with each other. Antón’s father is killed in an ETA attack and then Antón enrolls at a theological seminary where he follows the doctrines of the Catholic Church, which demand obedience above all else. In contrast, Josu joins the resistance movement and ends up in prison. There, he meets Emmanuel, who fought on the other side – serving in a Spanish government death squad – but regrets his actions as much as Josu does. The narrative and gripping accounts of the three men’s lives lay bare the deep wounds inflicted on the Country by the Basque fight for independence. Yet the book also communicates reconciliation and the condition for it: an understanding of yourself and others. »Two people never see things the same way because the one doesn’t see through the eyes of the other; but you can try to understand the other«, explains Javier de Isusi. He selected a minimalist style in which to illustrate his story, using images in the style of sketches in just grey and yellow to create a bleak atmosphere. The three protagonists reflect on their own guilt using a number of internal dialogues. Javier de Isusi’s most recent work »Asylum« (2017) is about exile: 94 year-old Marina recounts the journey she took from Otxandio to Barcelona, from Barcelona to France and from France to Venezuela. It is an experience she shared with other women in the book. They had fled forced marriage, sexual exploitation, homophobia, war and violence. Javier de Isusi tells stories of people who have had to flee their homes, now and in the past, to survive and to find somewhere they could live in dignity.

Javier de Isusi lives in Extremadura, Spain.


Los viajes de Juan Sin Tierra 1–4
Astiberri Ediciones
Bilbao, 2004 ff.
Astiberri Ediciones
Bilbao, 2012
Ich habe Wale gesehen
Eine Freundschaft im Baskenland
Edition Moderne
Zürich, 2017
[Ü: Lea Hübner]
Astiberri Ediciones
Bilbao, 2017