Paco Sordo, author of The pact (New Nine) has deserved the 2022 National Comic Prize, awarded by the Ministry of Culture, endowed with 20,000 euros.
The jury has highlighted the work The pact “for the exercise of genealogy of the environment, which takes us back to the Bruguera era and for projecting that legacy towards the present and the future. For its original and fast-paced script that is a true tribute to Spanish comics”. In addition, he has pointed out that “there are few works more unique and indicative of the strange times we live in than this artifact, humorous in appearance and deeply existential deep down. The work masterfully plays with reality and fiction, in addition to offering us an edition consistent with the author’s proposal”.
The pact It is the first openly humorous comic to win the award, and it is also a tribute to Editorial Bruguera and the mythical author Manuel Vázquez, the father of Anacleto or the Gilda sisters. Sordo builds a metafiction with the air of a false documentary in which a fictional and mediocre author, Miguel Gorriaga, decides to kidnap Vázquez to force him to write the scripts for his comics and, in this way, get a job in Bruguera’s magazines and reach the fame. Black humor is combined with criticism of the working conditions of the cartoonists who made the Barcelona publisher great, including Francisco Ibáñez, who makes his corresponding cameo in the plot.
From the cover itself, inspired by the remembered collection of Young literary gems, The pact plays with the aesthetics of the comics that marked several generations of Spaniards since the postwar period. On the inside pages, Sordo intersperses pages of mechanical and two-tone plots, reminiscent of those that the limited technical means allowed at that time, with others in full color, which show current false interviews with specialists such as Carlos Areces, who speak of the fictitious cartoonist Gorriaga.
Vindication of humor comics
The news has surprised the Cadiz man a lot: “I’m crazy, because I didn’t think I had a chance. Above all, I am very happy that he has won a comic that talks about humor comics that have always been reviled as low culture”. Humor, in all its forms, has not always been properly recognized. For Sordo, “it is a genre considered second, with a few exceptions, one rung below others.”
Like so many others of his generation, Sordo has a special bond with these comics. “They are part of my sentimental education, and therefore the award has been a double joy. With The pact I wanted to bring Bruguera closer to a new audience”. However, the cartoonist avoids falling into nostalgia without reflection and underlines his critical intention: “I had a deliberate intention to criticize certain things. There is a very clear metaphor in Vázquez’s confinement, and a contrast between how he lived his life and the desire to prosper, to be more productive, which leads us to enter the machinery of production. There is also a reflection on authorship, and how others appropriate it to distort someone’s work based on certain interests”.
The National Comic Prize surprises Sordo in the midst of making a new work for children, a series that will be published in France, with the aim of making it enjoyable for all audiences. “I want to take the original spirit of the classic tales, before they were sweetened, and make stories along those lines, very raw and gruesome, but also with touches of humor and adventure,” she says.
Between humor and children’s comics
Francisco Sordo Artaraz (Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz, 1978), known as Paco Sordo, is an illustrator and comic artist with a long career, who has combined humorous comics for adults with children’s books for much of his career. In the first facet, he collaborated since 2010 in the most important Spanish humor magazine, Thursday. The cartoonist abandoned it along with several colleagues in 2014, due to the withdrawal by RBA, owner of the weekly, of an issue whose cover satirised the abdication of Juan Carlos I. Shortly after, the group of cartoonists founded a digital magazine, Pride and Satisfactionin which Sordo participated together with professionals such as Bernardo Vergara, Manel Fontdevila or Albert Monteys, developing the section trash comicswhere he gave free rein to his love of metahumor and the absurd.
In the field of children’s comics, Sordo develops his career in the French market, where he has published titles such as Viens jouer avec… les trois petits cochons (2022) with the screenwriter Hervé Éparvier and the series of Nico (2021-2022), his current project, with two installments to date. For first readers has published boom boom (2022).
Apart from comics, Paco Sordo has also worked in the field of animation and character design for Cartoon Network and other production companies, and has participated in commercial campaigns for various companies.
The pact It is his first long graphic novel, where he turns his particular way of making humor into a metafiction that is immersed in the universe of the mythical Bruguera publishing house. Posted by New Nine, The pact He won the Best National Work Award at Comic Barcelona, and was a finalist for the Best Emerging Author Award at ACDCómic.
The jury for this edition was made up of comic authors Ulises Ponce (AACE), Álex Orbe (FADIP), Maribel Carod (APCómic), Ana Miralles, appointed by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and Diego Corbalán “Magius”. as the winner of the previous edition for Spring for Madrid. In addition, Alejandro V. Casasola, president of the Comic Sector, Juan Bordes (San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts), Marta del Moral Vargas (Feminist Research Institute of the UCM), María José Gracia Bellod (CEGAL), and cultural critics Mery Cuesta (ACDCómic) and Elisa McCausland (FAPE).
The pactwhich was competing against very outstanding works in 2021 such as The island by Mayte Alvarado, counterpass by Teresa Valero or dead romeo by Santiago Sequeiros, is the first full-length comic by Paco Sordo, who becomes the second author to win the National Comic Award with his first book, after the case of Ana Penyas and we are all good in 2018.