Last Tango in Madrid...
Hard for me to imagine that it's been twenty-two years since my first time in Spain, more than thirteen since I came here to live. Three years since I've been home to New York and a full decade since I published a full length original graphic novel. I've created a ton of short pieces for various anthologies over the past thirteen years, mostly biographical pieces and mildly unnecessary adaptations of literary classics, and it's not quite what I'd hoped to have accomplished by now, to be honest. With years comes the inevitable decline in health and vigor, accompanied by a wisdom acquired through lessons learned, or so I'm told.
After thirteen years, Spain's not been an easy country for me to find a creative foothold in. There's less work for cartoonists here, as in most countries the most popular genres are superheroes & Japanese manga, neither of which interest me very much. I worked in animation for two decades in New York, progressively building up my name and bankroll until the beginning of the twenty first century, but in Spain there's little work to go around and a surplus of brilliantly talented young artists who live with their parents and are willing to work for nothing. (Much like me when I started out... It's the "circle of life," to borrow a phrase from an "old" cartoon.)
All of my work in this century has been for publishers stateside, not an easy task at all during the Bush years. American publishers paid me for the work I sent them over the internet, in miserable US dollars, severely weakened by President Caligula's ill-considered oil war and its devastating effects on the economy.
Spain's been great for me on the one hand... I still enjoy sketching in bars, I mostly like it for the folks I meet & the unpredictable energy of Madrid's nightlife. I've appreciated the support of Spanish friends like the late Josep Maria Berenguer of Barcelona's legendary publishing house La Cupula, Alejandro Casasola of Granada's La Veleta & Salon de Comics and Emilio Gonzalo Mallo of Madrid Expocomic. I've gotten to know a host of marvelous Spanish cartoonists as well... Sadly, after nearly two decades of participating in various conventions and events over here, I can't say I was ever able to find the same level of camaraderie that I took for granted among my artist friends back home. I've attended countless gallery openings, events and book launches in support of my Spanish peers... but not a solitary one of them ever so much as made an appearance at one of my events. More's the pity. (Or the self-pity, depending on your point of view… you're allowed to have one.)
She leads a popular group on wine tasting tours throughout the city and she brought the whole gang along with her! A grand time was had.