Inkers and Thinkers 2014: Comics in 21st Century Spain: Challenges and Opportunities of an Emerging Medium by Enrique Del Rey Cabero

We’ve been very busy organising Inkers and Thinkers 2015 and unfortunately neglected our commitment to posting the recordings from Inkers and Thinkers 2014. We are rectifying that right now and over the next few weeks we will post the remaining presentations from the 2014 Symposium. First up we have Enrique Del Rey Cabero providing an insightful look into the nascent Spanish comic book market, one many people may be unfamiliar with but can surely relate to through the same struggles for legitimacy and opportunities to turn comics into a viable career.



Comics, contrary to historical prejudices that classify the medium as light reading or exclusively addressed to a young audience, are becoming more and more important in the cultural sphere. Moreover, the unique language and features of this medium in our image-dominated world, as well as the versatility to tell very different stories shown by authors during recent years, have placed comics in a unprecedented place that would have been difficult to foretell ten or twenty years ago.


The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the position of the comics industry in Spain, which has seen the rise of a new generation of authors, the consolidation of the graphic novel and a progressive acceptance of the medium in general culture.


In spite of the continuing crisis of the medium in the country (many Spanish authors are forced to migrate, work for other markets or publish their work first in a foreign language), it cannot be denied that comics are now more widely appreciated among many audiences and, more relevant, not only as a cultural subproduct or humorous pastime. As is known, the rise of the graphic novel at a global level (with famous examples such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis) has played a very important role and has produced notable examples in the Spanish context. Comics are also increasingly present on-line through websites and webcomics. Moreover, the role of the state and the Ministry of Culture (since 2007, a National Comics Prize is awarded annually), public libraries (which have considerably extended their comics catalogue in recent years) and universities (which organize more frequent seminars and now are even starting to teach whole degrees on comics) have also contributed to the visibility of comics in Spain.


The analysis of all these factors and agents will allow me to draw some conclusions about the challenges and opportunities of the medium in Spain, which will also be relevant to the Australian context, where comics are also rising in the cultural sphere and sometimes facing similar processes of change.



Enrique is based at La Trobe University in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. After finishing his studies, Enrique gained experience teaching Spanish in Spain (in international programs at the Universidad de Salamanca and the UIMP in Santander and for the Engineering Team at Aramco and Técnicas Reunidas in Madrid) and Belgium (Haute École de la Ville de Liège). His research interests include pedagogy of Spanish as a foreign language, 20th century Spanish and Latin American poetry and the relations between Music and Literature and Literature and Comics.

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