The work of a Chilean illustrator was chosen among the 10 best comics in Argentina by the Indiehoy.com website.
We are talking about Gabriela Valdés, artistically known as Gabi Coco, a resident of the Trans-Andean country since 2015, who stood out for her book Beware of the coconut (2022, Editorial Paradoxes).
“The book collects drawings that Gabi Coco created at different times. In its pages we will find melancholy heroes, sometimes resigned, always inclined to sarcasm, in some cases immersed in existentialist questions and interrogations,” noted the site.
“From an acidic humour, the criticisms of the world we live in unravel: the routine of work, suffocating everyday life, boredom, the emptiness of social networks. A world that one could imagine in greyish tones. However, the drawings show a explosion of color and a very fresh line that on several occasions revitalizes or counterbalances what is happening at the level of the plot”.
“I was happy that they considered me within Argentine comics. It happens that in general there is a lot of nationalism with these things, both in Chile and Argentina, a lot of pride in the ‘Argentine comic’ or ‘Chilean comic’ type, where many remain immigrant authors Although I am Chilean and have lived most of my life in Chile until now, I feel that the work I generate in Argentina has an Argentinian influence, I am influenced by its culture, its authors, their narrative, so , I think it’s good that they didn’t discriminate against me for being from another country,” comments the artist.
worms and humour
The book Beware of the coconut It has a prologue by Argentine cartoonist, illustrator and cartoonist Paula Sosa Holt.
“The title of this book is not to be taken lightly: there is a warning (or a threat). We must not get distracted into these stories, because in a moment of inattention … poof! Creatures and monsters present themselves with a beautiful smile that they can’t keep for too long without being forced, gloomy, scared and frustrated. On the surface they are pleasant, but in the detail you can see the worms they are made of. Atentx, Readerx, maybe you start laughing and you never succeed stop doing that,” says Sosa Holt.
Valdés herself characterizes her work as a blend of something sweet and innocent with something dark and twisted.
“I like to create characters that are not completely humanoid, animalistic, creatures, all with a friendly aesthetic, cute little colors, tender faces but with an existentialist, sometimes gloomy content. With a magical and fantastic touch, something of everyday problems but from a ‘another reality, another universe, a magical one where people dress up as clowns and the furniture is alive,” he says.
When asked about the issues that interest her, Valdés replies that she wants to reflect “what I feel and think, about the world we live in, about human contradictions, I often look for a sarcastic and amusing tone to express conflicts and bad moods”.
“I like to try to bring my strips to reflection, which invite you to question your doubts, insecurities and torments,” he concludes.
His influences are varied: Quino (“Mafalda”), Hayao Miyazaki (especially the film The enchanted city), the comic Steam of Max and the illustrations of the 90s like Ren and Stimpy, Rocko’s modern life, The Powerpuff Girls…
He also cites authors such as Paul Auster (in particular The New York Trilogy), Haruki Murakami (his favorite is Chronicle of the bird that envelops the world) and José Saramago (The Duplicate Man Y Blindness). Also Japanese horror artists like Junji Ito and Shintaro Kago.
“Also looking at alchemy and tarot cards. My mother and grandmother have always been related to tarot and the I Ching, which influenced me. Video games also influenced me, like Zelda, Kirby. Comics. black sad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido. And authors that I met through the networks, such as Alexis Nolla, Artichokat, Min Heo, among others”.
Valdés says he left Chile in mid-2015.
“I think there are many things that make you want to move to another country, in my case a mix of trauma and feeling deeply moved by another culture. In Argentina there are many independent comics, it’s an active circuit where things happen all the time, many specialized publishers, festivals, fairs, opportunities to share with other authors, I have met many nice people, comic lovers and eager to do things, draw meetings, organize exhibitions, travel to festivals, etc. and it is something that in Chile it was more difficult for me to find”, he reveals.
“Comics is an underrated discipline within the arts, in society in general, which takes a long time to make and costs a lot to sell, i.e. it makes no sense in this system where you have to produce just to generate money, and if you are just in this trifle, it costs a lot more. Surrounding myself with people who are in the same class as me and are even more professional and with more careers, helps me find meaning and keep motivated. I dare say it’s a lifestyle that I find it easier, more comfortable and more natural to drive in Argentina”, he concludes.
What are your next projects?
“In July, the Mafia publishing house publishes a 20-page comic for me which is in the works. For some years I’ve also been making a graphic novel, of which I drew the first two chapters. Over the course of 2022 I thought about quitting, but after letting it sit for a whole year, I concluded that I need to pick up, there is a lot of work there, from the storyline, the universe that the characters inhabit, and the characters, I address both issues emotional criticisms of the system with a lot of sarcasm. There are a couple of years left to see the light.”
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