In 1913, Marcel Duchamp cut three threads of one meter in length and dropped them, from a height of one meter, on three canvases. He fixed them later with varnish, respecting the way each of them had fallen. The idea was to explore to what extent chance conditions the art world, and above all, to what extent the chance of each one is, in a certain sense, an expression of his subconscious. A century and five years later, Max, the artist who won the first National Comic Award (back in 2007), follows in his footsteps in a work, Coal King (The Dome), which did not intend to explain a story, but play to superimpose their own "threads", these, narrative, with no intention other than to superimpose them to see what happens: a character painted black, solitary; a completely white, boring and meaningless, some crows condemned to be devoured, and a wall on which to draw from a more than possible prehistory of almost everything, the moment (and space) in which nothing has yet been done. And in which nothing is said. "Yes, it was a challenge for me to tell a story without words, which also dispensed with the conventional script", admits Max.
The cartoonist quotes Duchamp but also to Tom McCarthy, writer lover of deconstruction (is the author of the novel, report and flow of time printed Satin Island), to insist on the experimental character of the work, which starts from Pliny's fable that explains how the drawing should have emerged. "Plinio tells in his fable that the first painting was the drawing of the contour of the shadow projected on the wall by a person," says Max, born as Francesc Capdevila in Barcelona 62 years ago. For him, a book does not stop being a portable wall. The same a notebook. The rest? He left it to music free, and not necessarily at free jazz, but to all that is governed by the absolute freedom. Is it as simple as in music to improvise in comics? No, it's not, Max admits, maybe that's why it's taken so long for the idea to cross his mind. Why? "The drawing in the comic is almost mathematical: you have a script and you have to follow it. Sometimes I compare the creation of a comic with the construction of a house. First you must secure the foundations, then you can start building, and finally, you give color and decide where you put everything, "he answers.
Children are made to believe that they must draw well. The accent is on beauty. And they are wrong. The drawing should not be pretty, it should not be well done, it should tell you something.
Comics, he says, tend to be conventional. There is little experimentation. And when there is, "it's something very minority." Could it be considered that David Lynch is exercising the patriotic comic when trying to experiment from a position of power within graphic art in vignettes? Are figures like yours what the comic needs to move in all directions? Smile. He fixed his gray beard. "I like David Lynch a lot," he replies. "And yes, I wanted to free myself, and not to do it through an artistic installation. I envy contemporary art because it can be as free as I want, but I wanted to break the mold without abandoning the comic so that it reaches as many people as possible. In that sense it could have to do with what David Lynch does, of course, saving all distances. Try to dismantle the narrative itself from an accessible medium, "he adds. And by the way, fill in the box that was missing in his career. A race in which, he says, "I have been doing zig-zags".
But what is it Coal King? You would say that nothing happens and everything happens. It could be a story about the discovery of drawing, and, by extension, art, as a communication tool. The ultimate weapon. There is a character, the King Carbon, who lives alone in a cave, and one day he meets another character - long nose, white background - that seems lost - and that is simply there, like Reality, with capital letters -. They share a grilled crow - cooked by the Coal King himself - and he ends up, like the character in Pliny's fable, drawing the outline of his guest's shadow on the wall. From there, everything is passion for that kind of newly discovered power. And so, by dropping his (narrative) threads at random, Max seems to be drawing himself. In fact, that is what happens. By leaving things to chance, what happens is that Max communicates with himself. "Drawing is communication. I would continue to draw although there was no one out there. I would continue communicating with myself, "confesses the artist. And it launches a critique of the way in which the drawing is "taught". "Children are made to believe that they should draw well. The accent is on beauty. And they are wrong. The drawing should not be pretty, it should not be well done, it should tell you something, "he says.