Farewell to the guru of the counterculture

The affective and family ties that he always maintained Miguel Gallardo with Gran Canaria have meant that his death last Monday, February 22, has been received with even more sadness among the numerous fans of the ninth art of Gran Canaria. His trips to the Island were continuous since his daughter lived here with whom he shared very intense moments that later reflected in his two most awarded works, Maria and I and Maria turns 20. Considered one of the great exponents of comics in Spain, the cartoonist from Lleida became a fundamental name of the national undergrund with the creation of that counterculture icon that was Makoki who experienced crazy adventures in a phrenopathy in which he received continuous discharges of electroshocks. Other inmates also gained relevance, such as the teenage junkie El Niñato, the quarrelsome Tío Emo, or other emblematic characters such as the servant of the law Buitre Buitaker. All his adventures were published in the magazine The Viperof which Gallardo was one of its founders in 1979, and all of them will later star in other sagas individually as a spin-off of the main work, and which together form their first period.

The artist was ahead of his time in 'A long silence' where he mixes the drawings with his father's personal diary

These stories reflected a social and thuggish critique of fashion in the 1980s and portrayed urban tribes with their colloquial jargon. Be that as it may, Makoki became an icon of the counterculture, humorously reflecting the social situation of a country decimated by drugs in the 1980s. model leak perhaps it is his most important adventure. In her. Emo, Cuco and El Niñato go to Morocco to buy hashish to sell it later in Spain, but they all end up in the Modelo prison in Barcelona where they devise an escape plan. The Catalan artist's talent for composing always parodic vignettes full of transcendental details continues to be the best mirror of the lumpen of the time.

'María y yo', which deals with her relationship with her autistic daughter, is her most awarded and internationally successful work

A little later, Gallardo decided to turn his career around and started his job at the magazine cairo, which he also co-founded in 1981, with which he begins a second stage that, from my point of view, is the most fascinating. "The change was to go from the most sketchy of El Víbora to the elegant, from a dirtier style to another classic like that of the Tintin characters," detailed the illustrator in one of his continuous talks or conferences in the capital of Gran Canaria. On cairoGallardo creates characters like PErico Carambola, the eternal fellow of the Galanes fashion magazine; Pepito Magefesa and his dog Satan, a tribute to the TBO classics, and, above all, Dog Nick, a detective who never solves anything with a hypnotic color that today retains all its magic. These examples of black genre, from another point of view, made him focus his talent on the European public since in Spain the comic was not a widely read genre.

Miguel Gallardo during the presentation of 'Maria turns 20' at the Insular Library in 2015. QUIQUE CURBELO

While working for the press, with works in The vanguard or in the film magazine frames, the author begins a third stage on people as close to himself as his father or his own daughter. first with a long silence, from 1997 reissued by Astiberri in 2011. "It is a strange book for the time, a graphic novel in which I tell the life of my father, a Republican after the civil war," he detailed. Gallardo was ahead of his time mixing vignettes with the typed memoirs of his father, born into a modest family in Linares who rose through study and tenacity until the war twisted his path. Francisco Gallardo, Republican ensign, suffers the war, the concentration camps in France and the repression upon his return.

The cartoonist recounts how his illness evolved in his last work published in 2021

But his best work is perhaps Maria and I. In it he narrates and illustrates his vacation at a resort in Gran Canaria with her autistic daughter. "This book is born from a story that needs to be told, but for that I had to take my time, I wanted to find a state of mind in which to portray all our situations without the intention of being sad", he pointed out. «On trips with my daughter I wrote a diary. This book is just like that diary, with parts of text and others only of drawing, it is not a purely said comic. The story of María y yo was written in 2007, and in 2008 it won the National Prize of Catalonia in the comics section. In addition, the book, which reaches six editions, has been translated into more than nine languages, among which Russian or Polish stand out. In July 2010, the adaptation to the big screen was premiered at the Monopol multiplex with the presence of the author himself. The film signed by Félix Rodríguez de Castro, shows María Gallardo in Gran Canaria with her mother, Mai. Her father, Miguel, is from Barcelona, ​​but "traditionally" spends his vacations in a hotel in the south with her daughter, "a born seductress," in her words. "It is not a film about autism, but a story of affection between two people, about different people, and how society should look at people who are not like one differently," said the author who recognized that María , who was fifteen years old at the time and was diagnosed at eight, had changed her life, her scale of values ​​and the way she drew.

«I discovered that drawing for María was a way of communicating. We always carry a notebook of hers on top of her and I draw all the people she tells me about. He is the boss », she recognized between laughs. «I always say that language for them is a confusing thing. It is lost, it is not real. However, the notebooks where all the people she loves are real. The simplification exercise required by the drawings for María polished her father's style. "I've been drawing comics for twenty years, and that's very hard. You're like a movie director, but poor. The pages that I made were very expensive. I abandoned him because of that and because I didn't have a good time." And «to draw Maria in unusual places that go from the beach to an airport, I have to make quick drawings, that are intelligible and that made my drawing simpler and easier».

The author from Lleida became a key figure in the national underground thanks to the creation of Makoki

In November 2012, at the Pérez Galdós house-museum, Gallardo stated that “my most famous character, Makoki, has weighed heavily on my career. He teased me so much that I decided to kill him, but despite that, he was still alive». The reason for the talk was the edition of All Makoki, in which Random House Mondadori gathered the five albums of the character. In 2009 the illustrator from Lleida collaborates with Paco Roca in Emotional World Tour, where both analyze the transcendence that their multi-award winning works Arrugas and María y yo had had, on the Alzheimer's and autism respectively, but which in the end becomes a great analysis of the illustrator profession by two of its most talented names.

Still from the film by Félix Rodríguez de Castro. BAUSAN FILMS¶

On September 5, 2015, at the Comic Club, in the Cafebrería of the Insular Library, Gallardo presented Maria turns 20, continuation of the previous one. “Eight years have passed since I wrote and drew María y yo. María has grown a lot, some things have changed, but others remain the same, this book talks about all those things and the future”, Gallardo recounted. «I swore on the bible that I would not make any more books about Mary. But, suddenly, María turned 20 and I felt that it was an opportunity to tell how María's environment had changed, that she is already a person entering adult life », he explained.

As in the previous comic, this installment discovered "what María's world is like, how she communicates with others and, incidentally, I take the opportunity to laugh a little at that tourist environment in which we live for a week, an unusual place for a autistic father and daughter The difference with the previous one is that, at that time, his strategy was to “push the limits further and do things that appear as prohibited in the autism books; for example, taking María to a demonstration or going to dance at a disco until five in the morning». In between, draw. «About María I tell stories that are not normally told in a comic and I do it from an approach that is not usually used to talk about autism. I look for a positive point of view and even a point of humor, which I can allow myself because I live it from within».

He founded the magazines 'El víbora' and 'Cairo' in which he developed two opposite ways of understanding illustration

His fourth and final stage focused on showing his vision of the world around him with superb irony. For this reason, the following year, and borrowing the title of a drama directed by Lawrence Kasdan, the Catalan cartoonist gave the biographical genre another twist with accidental tourist where he narrated the adventures, or rather, misadventures, of any globetrotter who, in the midst of globalization, tries to make a trip around this planet and finds that the city is getting smaller for a humanity that has become a plague. From the hand of the cartoonist from Lérida, we visited Prague, Frankfurt, Warsaw, New York, Barcelona Xalapa and Tokyo through vignettes that are increased in size, even in the case of Mexico occupying the entire page, in passages of a subtle and scathing irony at the same time, which brought back to more than one the memory of an unfortunate vacation. Just before the pandemic, the artist was diagnosed with a brain tumor that ultimately killed him and recounted this experience in Something strange happened to me on the way home including how the medical treatments were. Draw and explain everything, first, according to his words, to understand it himself and then to tell others "what it is like to travel to the Moon without a helmet and return without maps or guides" in the midst of a chronicle of inexplicable personal and world events that occurred in the Lord's year 2020."

In 'Accidental Tourist' he narrates his unfortunate vacations in a time of globalization and human plagues

It so happens that just three weeks ago he married his current partner, Karin du Croo, with whom he made his last work The big book of dogs, which will be published posthumously by Astiberri. The true guru of the national counterculture is lost.

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