Saturday, January 22

Forges’ bitter laugh on the Spain of the currelas

Maripuri says: “They announce on TV a doll that gives birth, they do not renew her employment contract and she is left without a job.” Maripili replies: “They no longer know what to invent.” The friend, all wise, replies: “I am very afraid that in this case the toy makers have not invented anything.” The joke is not old and the laugh it produces is mixed with a drop of cold sweat. Forges drew that vignette in the 20th century, but these are the data that show that having children makes women’s work precarious, today.

The Blasillo roundabout, by Javier Pérez de Albéniz

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On the left we see a guy doing harakiri. On the right, two other men are watching him. You exclaim “dear, what is he doing?” “Nothing. He is a banker who, as in the fiscal year, has obtained a profit of only 109,000 million, has to give a catastrophic touch,” explains the other. Of that, Forges counted in pesetas. Here is a news item from October 29: the big banks earn 16,000 million, 52% more before the pandemic.

Two countrymen — two Blasillos — walk to the left (as always in Antonio Fraguas’s cartoons). One reads the newspaper: “The unemployment rate reaches 3,047,000 unemployed.” The other replied: “And the audience rate on trash TV sometimes reaches five million viewers.” “Damn figures,” says the first. “Damn,” replies the other. The big news this week is a record number in November employment: only 3,182,687 unemployed people.

Read in one sitting the dozens of vignettes that make up At work with Forges (Espasa, 2021) is to miss its creator, who died in 2018 at the age of 76, a professional television technician turned graphic humorist, since he could have continued to endlessly sharpen the world of work, whose precarious conditions , meritocracy and even surrealism are still in style.

His relatives point out in the prologue that opens this volume something that is pure anthropology of the architecture of the currismo Spanish: his vignettes cut out of the newspaper, already yellowing, were (and still are) the “moral” pillars of office cubicles, sides of filing cabinets of all kinds of public-facing officials, walls of workshops, columns of newsrooms in the media. communication, room corks, union boards of companies of all kinds, refrigerator doors of the office of the hospital, bar counter backdrops and shop interiors, out of sight of the customer but not too much. The family says that this book is heir to those “altarpieces”, although “a little more currao“.

Although his first cartoon was published by the Pueblo newspaper in May 1964, his publications did not enter this anthology until he began to collaborate with the Informaciones newspaper in 1967. There he continued until 1979, where he made his fame during the Transition. In ’73, when he saw that things were going well, he left his job at Televisión Española and dedicated himself to graphic humor. Like any currela freelance, appears in other publications such as Diez Minutos, or the specialized Hermano Lobo and El Jueves. He passed through other newspapers, such as Diario 16 and El Mundo, but in 1995 he began to publish a daily joke in El País, until his death.

This scene happens at the car dealership. The customer is a bit dumbfounded when the seller presents him with a brand new model: “And this, in addition to ABS and air-bag, has a record of employment regulation of 4,200 workers in the factory.” During the pandemic, people in ERTE appeared in the INE data as employed. This would have been good material for Forges.

A lord in shock read this headline in the newspaper and add “Holy Virgin”: “The State guarantees the collection of pensions.” It’s a joke before 1999 but here is a headline from from a few hours ago: Congress approves the reform that guarantees the revaluation of pensions according to the CPI. Holy Virgin.

In the office of a man in a tie, he informs a young boy on the other side of the table: “We are going to sign him a five-minute contract and then we’ll see.” This is a joke published in this century but absolutely timeless. Spain is the European champion in temporary work, said Laura Olías with the hanger of May 1 of this year, “And if in Spain it was normal to have a permanent job?” this diary. “It’s going to be very complicated,” answered an economist, who is not difficult to imagine as one of those guys with a setback who starred at these crossroads forgianas.

Antonio Fraguas also liked the radio. He was heard in Protagonistas by Luis del Olmo, in La Ventana with Javier Sardá and Gemma Nierga and in Not a Any Day, on Radio Nacional de España with Pepa Fernández. He directed two films (Country SA, 1975, and The gusticiero bengador and his mother pastry chef, 1977) and four television comedy series (The Mulińandupelicasbeetle (1968), Us (1969) and 24 hours here (1976), on TVE, and Deformed weekly (1991), in Telemadrid). And of course, he published many books, not only from his vignettes, but also novels, such as Twelve of Babylon (1992). That is, he did not stop working for a single day. In fact, as his family highlights, he deserved the Medal of Merit at Work, which was awarded to him by the former Labor Minister Jesús Caldera in 2008. And, speaking of ministers, this is a playground, with its seesaw, its castle and its swings . In the center, a slide. At the foot of him, a couple of abandoned briefcases. Gliding happily, two gentlemen with hats, glasses and mustaches. One asks the other: “Have you also escaped from the ministry?” “Affirmative”, he replies, about to fall into the sandbox.

“History is to go forward to go back”, Antonio Fraguas told Enric González in an interview on JotDown, “is a bit like The Yenka: left, left, right, right, in front, behind, one, two, three “, he added, finishing with a stroke of humor a very serious and very true thing. That is why his vision also fit in the daily press, sharing ink with the news, eliciting what the reader thinks a few seconds before he actually does, with sarcasm and amazement. As he is no longer there and, in truth, the paper newspapers are also ceasing to be and there is nothing to cut and paste with zeal out there, At work with Forges it is complemented with some pages that are not made of couché paper and that are “clippers”, to be put to the boss in a visible place on the way to the office bathroom.