R t V f F I
pacoroca_hexagono paco-roca-retrato2

Coffee Chat with Paco Roca, author of Arrugas

Jointly with Francisco Peña, illustrator and contributor here at Passeig de Gràcia, we enjoyed a conversation to find out about Paco Roca's professional and personal side.

Category: Cultura | 19 February, 2012
Illustration: Anna Solsona

Paco Roca was in Barcelona to give some insight into the making of the film Arrugas and had some time for a chat with him. The film was shown in Lleida at the 16th International Film Festival of Catalonia animation, Animac that offers us a pick of carefully chosen animation films, conferences, etc. We’ll be keeping a close eye on it.

Jointly with Francisco Peña, illustrator and contributor here at Passeig de Gràcia, we enjoyed a conversation to find our about Paco Roca‘s. Paco Roca is an illustrator, writer and lover of challenges. After winning the 2008 National Comic Award with Arrugas he has been nominated for the 2012 Goya Awards with the animated film adaptation of the comic book.

While we were being served coffee and Anna was uploading photos to Instagram, we talked about the excellent shape animated films made ??in Spain are in. Projects with very different budgets have found success in festivals and/or amongst audiences: Chico & Rita has been Oscar nominated, María y Yo received a long list of acknowledgements, etc. Paco told us that the film Arrugas had a rather small budget, but Manuel Cristóbal did an excellent job.

FRANCISCO PEÑA: Paco, we all know that you are an author with a keen eye in addressing complicated issues such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, and in this work, Arrugas, I suppose that the research phase also had an impact on you. What seed would you like to sow in the people who read the comic or watch the film? What have you learned that you would like people to learn, that you want to be reflected in Arrugas?
PACO ROCA: When I started work, Arrugas was a story that was going to talk about ageing and Alzheimer’s, or at least I thought it was. It would be a constant theme in the story. But you start to create a character that normally should be a way to show the old people’s home and to express the narrator’s voice, the character of Michael in Arrugas, and ends up becoming the story’s main character and you end up talking about something different. What touched me deep inside at the home is loneliness. In the end what Arrugas is talking about a part from Alzheimer and old age is people’s loneliness. You never try to make these things as if they were pamphlets, but if there was a message I would like to remain in people’s minds after seeing Arrugas is that right now we can’t do anything to prevent Alzheimer’s—or old age of course—but it is in our hands to improve the quality of life of the elderly and above all to avoid them feeling lonely. That is the main theme in Arrugas and it’s what I want the reader to remember after reading, and I think the film too after seeing it.

F.P.: Do you think loneliness can be avoided?
P.R.:I think it can.I think in general older people increasingly feel lonely because we live in a society that pushes them aside a little. All the people that don’t fall within the pattern of youth, beauty and competitiveness don’t seem to matter, and older people feel displaced from society. Not all of them obviously, but loneliness is there and it’s present in old age—especially in nursing homes. Yes, it could be avoided somehow. While homes are necessary, they could be improved so that they don’t turn into ghettos for older people where you leave your family members and you forget about them.

F.P.: Arrugas, Chico & Rita, María y yo… The film industry is being revitalized and animated films too thanks to comic books. A new door has been opened for you. Do you think that animated films could be an extension to your professional work or that it could determine your future work in the comic industry?
P.R.: The truth is that it’s nice to see one of your comics turned into a film, how it reaches a different audience, and through that the story is enriched. I think in the case of Arrugas the story really has been enriched. It’s something you don’t think about when you’re working, you just try to keep on moving forward and that’s it.In fact, since Arrugas started to transform itself into a film, you start to think on your next works that “If I do this or that, this might work better as a film”, but it doesn’t last long. You’re following your own path and you don’t think about if what you’re doing can be easily turned into a film or not. The thing is that my way of telling stories is already quite cinematic and so whatever I do, it seems that it’s done for a film but I really don’t think too much about it. I imagine that if Arrugas had suddenly fallen into the hands of Spielberg or Disney and I had got rich with this, I would think about it more seriously, but since it didn’t happen, I just go on doing my thing.

JAVIER PEREDA: And the process of making the film? How does it all start?
P.R.: After the winning the National Comic Award, many people found out about Arrugas, and several directors called me to do a film with real actors, but the one that pushed the most was Manuel Cristóbal. He wanted to make an animated film and going through all the necessary paperwork from licensing, through to the choice of director, etc.

F.P.: Arrugas’ success has allowed you to take greater risks in later works. Do you think that you will end up having to repeat a similar successful formula to open access to the pubic at large?
P.R.: I try to make each new comic different, nothing to do with the ones that came before, so that it’s a challenge.For example, there’s the possibility of making a second part to El Invierno del Dibujante, but it’s a language that I have already explored and I’ve already built a pattern for it. It’s not as exciting as starting a new story from scratch. For now it has worked for what I published after Arrugas, so I’m not obliged to follow that path if at some point what I make doesn’t sell.

F.P.: In El Invierno del Dibujante, as well as the story, there is a wonderful portrait of the city of Barcelona: the grandiose and popular Barcelona.You said that during research you even bought some materials in the stationery shop where Escobar and company bought theirs. What was your experience like delving into Barcelona’s past? I imagine you like Taniguchi’s The Walking Man.
P.R.: Whenever I can I go to the sites, not only to take pictures but also to get know the place’s history. The first one I did, El Juego Lúgubre, takes place in Cadaqués, so I went to Dalí’s house and spent a week around there. And new things come to you, you end up changing things in the script… Hanging out around Lesseps helped my work too, there’s a cultural centre called el Coll whose hallmark is the Bruguera Identity. Jordi gave me a tour of the neighborhood to see where the Rueda bar, the printing press, etc. would have been.

F.P.: It’s also reflected in the work after, giving it a human feel.
P.R.: It’s not very profitable because you spend a lot time doing it, but I really enjoy it, visiting the people that can give me energy to keep going.

F.P.: The reader feels that you do equally well when doing character close-ups and when you open up the view in the frames and show us fantastic backgrounds and scenery. Do you have any preference when it comes to drawing scenes?Urban backgrounds, characters, organic landscapes and plants…
P.R.: I like both. The proximity and depth of insight with the characters, trying to understand them. I love it, but at the same time I like to describe the scenes too. I am very methodical. I am a writer who likes to tell stories, and my drawings always depend on a script.

F.P.: In Memorias de un hombre en pijama you analyse among other things the relationship between man and woman, as well as its different aspects and interests. Every day there is an increase in female interest in comic books. What do you think is the most noteworthy contribution women have made to comic industry?
PR.: Comics needed it more than any other form of communication. A few years ago it was a land dominated by men both in consumption and in creation. Women have given it a female world view, and they have found role-models that have influenced them directly.

F.P.: Can you tell us something about your collaboration in the upcoming Cortocuentos 2 with Borja Crespo and Chema García?
P.R.: I really wanted to be a part of it and I tried to move away from my usual work. Cortocuentos 1 is really good, and since each illustrator has their own format, you have more freedom to experiment.

F.P.: When creating a graphic novel, does the amount of work condition the technique? You have developed a vibrant personal brush stroke but your results also surprise us. For example in Kafka’s La Metamorfosis you’ve used more felt-tip pens.
P.R.: In the case of the adaptation of The Metamorphosis I had the opportunity to change the style in each chapter because they’re nearly independent stories and you can try differents styles.

F.P.: Could you recommend a comic book that has made you stop to think lately for our readers at passeigdegracia.com?
P.R.: I recently read Historias del Barrio. I really liked Bartolomé Seguí’s drawings and Gabi Beltran’s story was very surprising.

J.P.: And a place in Passeig de Gràcia that you usually go to?
P.R.: Vinçon, and Pier, the stationers in carrer Córsega, it’s full of things, racks, paintings…

Best of luck Paco! You earned it.

Category: Cultura | 19 February, 2012
Illustration: Anna Solsona
Tags:  Animation, Arrugas, barcelona, Cómic, comic book, Francisco Peña, illustration, Paco Roca, paseo de gracia, passeig de gracia, Premios Goya,




Fashion, culture, gastronomy, shopping and the agenda so you do not miss anything.
Once a month in your mailbox.

Sign Up Paseo de Gracia


Related content

Cultura / 20 June, 2017

DGTL is your choice for a techno summer in Barcelona

Parc del Forum will greet the next week artists such as Marcel Dettmann, Jeff Mills, Maceo Plex, Seth Troxler and more..

Cultura / 14 June, 2017

Sónar presents Björk and Brian Eno’s new exhibitions

Arts Santa Mònica brings “Lightforms / Soundforms”, that shows the recent works in light and sound of the British artist, while CCCB has “Björk Digital”, immersive showing by the Icelandic star.

Cultura / 24 May, 2017

David Bowie is

The spectacular exhibition David Bowie is arrives to the Disseny Hub Barcelona.

Cultura / 2 September, 2016

Palo Alto is back with a new edition

Palo Alto is back and stronger than ever with their new edition Let’s Go.