22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Paco Roca

Paco Roca, or Francisco José Martínez Roca in full, was born in 1969 in Valencia, Spain. He has been an avid consumer of comic books since childhood, beginning with such classics as the »Asterix« and »The Adventures of Tintin.« His stylistic influences include artists such as Richard Corben, Carlos Giménez and Frank Miller. After studying art, Roca worked at an advertising agency before celebrating his literary debut in 1999 with the graphic short story »El Señor Osiris« (tr: Mister Osiris).

Roca’s graphic novels address not only historical events such as the Spanish Civil War and the country’s long dictatorship, but also topical social issues. His 2007 graphic novel »Arrugas« (Eng: »Wrinkles«) is about the life of a man suffering from dementia. The protagonist Emilio lives in an old-age home. He often believes that he is still the head of a bank branch. Along with other patients who exhibit the signs of dementia in differing ways, Emilio fights against forgetting, among other things masking the symptoms, so as not to end up on the nursing ward, which would most likely mean the end of their (self-determined) lives. With empathetic humor and an acute sense of observation, Roca succeeds in drawing our attention to people who usually exist on the periphery of our perceptions. Roca won the 2008 Premio Nacional del Cómic for the book, and the film version of »Wrinkles« won two Goya Awards in 2012. His 2010 graphic novel »El invierno del dibujante« (tr: The Draftsman’s Winter) is the true story of Guillermo Cifré, Carlos Conti, Josep Escobar, Eugenion Giner and José Peñarroya who fought in Franco’s Spain for comic strips to be recognized as an art form. Given the current profound crisis in his homeland, the story is also a parable of the price artists pay for self-expression in a profit-oriented world. A review in the German daily »Tageszeitung« praised how impressively Roca rendered the atmosphere of the era in the touching story of shattered dreams, conformity, and repression. His most recently-published graphic novel is »Los surcos del azar« (2013, tr: The Furrows of Fate) is also a look back at history. Using the memories of a contemporary witness, Roca reconstructs the largely-unknown story of Spanish resistance fighters in exile during World War II, who fought with the French resistance until German capitulation, but whose real desire – liberating their own homeland from Franco’s dictatorship – remained unfulfilled for decades. In 2014, the author received the grand prize for the book from the International Comics Festival in Rome.