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“Ronson”: a work on memory and the countryside and people of Spain


“I tried to do a feature-length comic but they all ended up in a drawer. Not because of my editorial disapproval but because I didn’t get any idea. Since I didn’t feel connected to them, it was about time I lost their appeal and gave up.” Cesar Sebastian (Valencia, 1988) who, after many such frustrated projects, decided to try an idea that he did not dare to tackle because of his ambition. “My father always told me stories from his childhood and I thought it would be a good thing to do something with them. The problem was that, being so insecure, I didn’t know whether I should take it in a fictional key, in an autobiographical key, and I did it again. I finally realized that The only way to do that is to get convinced and The urgency of wanting to say And I jumped in.”

After sketching out a few pages to find tone and structure, Sebastian decides on an unconventional, fragmented narrative, that works in the same way that memory does, piecing together memories without a logical structure. “At first I thought of using a main character with a lot of things going on, like in any traditional story. However, as I worked, I understood what I liked about my father’s stories One of the oral accounts older people told me was their discursive and chaotic structure because, basically, that’s how memory works. If you have to remember moments from your life, you can do so not in a dramatic structure, but in jumps and memories that suddenly appear and disappear. Although I was still afraid of the project, once I decided to let the story unfold naturally, I didn’t hesitate and continued throughout the process, which for me was an accomplishment in itself.”

Three years after starting the project, Cesar Sebastian has just published Ronson (Outsider Comics, 2023), A.J A picture of life in rural Spain during the fifties and sixtiestold with as much passion as honesty, not ignoring behaviors, traditions or habits that can be uncomfortable nowadays because of their rawness.

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“When my father tells me his stories, he never hides anything from me, assuming that the person who did so many of these things was no longer him, and even was surprised that he did certain things that seemed normal then, but now don’t. Some of these tales, like those of With animal abuse or sexuality, I was born with an ambivalent feeling because it was uncomfortable and abrasive.To overcome this situation, I decided to tell them the way my father told me.If you are clear about what you want to convey, the discomfort disappears.In fact, if it is not It still bothers you in spite of everything, so you probably shouldn’t tell him.In short, I had to Face my contradictions, assume it is part of my family and the family of many other people and offer it without any manners. Simply, to show that these experiences are part of the history of the country and many of its cities.”

Although its origins are memories of a rural community in Spain that no longer exists, Ronson It’s not a nostalgic comedy longing for a supposed golden age or that justify unacceptable actions by appealing to traditions or customs. “For me it was very important to avoid reading it as some kind of pretense of nostalgia because it isn’t. Although the childhood memories of the characters that appear in the book may be happy ones, that doesn’t stop them from referring to cruel or terrifying events.” Says Sebastian, who in his interpretation refers to those reactionary groups that complain that, unlike in the past, today nothing can be said or done. My intention was exactly the opposite: I say that in the past very dishonorable things were done And that, although you can continue to do them now, what happens is that you can no longer do them with impunity or without receiving criticism for it. Far from being a setback, I think, it is a victory for the community. for this reason, Ronson It does not obscure or whitewash history. He shows them as they are, but assuming that those things that might have been normal in the past are not now.”

Comfortable as a memory

In addition to the closeness and veracity of his story, Ronson It stands out for its formal elements, which A clear, academic line drawing is enhanced by minimal color detailWhich conveys to the reader the dryness of the fields and the suffocating summer heat, and wraps everything in that comfortable atmosphere that memory possesses.

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When I started doing the first pages, I didn’t know how to work with it from a graphical point of view. I did some black and white tests and Juan LaSalle, editor of Autsaider Comics, suggested I try a two-tone. I had already drawn a short comic with a limited color palette, even with two tones, and I liked it because it helped me separate the graphic elements in a natural way and made it easier for the reader to get into the narrative, however, I couldn’t find the right color to go with the story, I thought of using the typical blue, but in addition to the fact that it was used A thousand times in the graphic novel, it just didn’t work. To be an evocative color and not clash with the rural landscape where the action takes place. After some testing I found ocher. I showed it to many people, including my family, and they loved it.”

Although he turned to his family to see what they thought of the color that would be used in the book, the truth was that Cesar Sebastian was Very enthusiastic when it comes to showing you the creative process to Ronson. Although the comic book is available in bookstores starting Thursday, March 2, At the time of this interview, his relatives had not yet read it. “They only saw a part of me studying so early on. Although my whole family always supported me in everything I wanted to do, including being a painter, when I told my parents I wanted to paint RonsonSeemed like a crazy idea. However, after seeing how little he was educated, he really wanted to read it. The truth is that they are very excited. Well, not only them, but all the townspeople.

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The town where Sebastian was inspired does not have a newsstand. Not to sell books. Now he doesn’t even have the little movie theater he used to enjoy in the past. A deficiency that is repeated in many other Spanish cities, but this does not indicate the lack of interest of its inhabitants in culture. “In the sixties, my grandfather was the first librarian in town. There was only one small cinema, and although television came very late and not everyone could afford it, if one neighbor had a television and the others did not, it was not strange for them to get together in the house of the one who had one who had seen them together.When I go into town, they sometimes stop me in the street because they know I dedicate myself to illustration, in the same way that, when there is an exhibition of a painter from the town or some cultural event, everyone supports him unconditionally, Because almost no performances does not mean there are no cultural interests or respect for the creative professions.

despite of Ronson Just out of print, Cesar Sebastian Are you already thinking about your next project?, which could be closely related to this first work. “I would tell of the youth of my father, who was very lively, had pubs and moved about in very pleasant environments. It would be different, in the same way that youth differs from childhood, and it can be read separately. For this reason, I will not say it is a sequel, but Complementary book Ronson“.

“ronson”

Cesar Sebastian

Caricature

20 euro | 128 pages

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