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David Fernández de Arriba shows how comics can help convey historic memory As part of the programming for COLOR Week, this Friday the conference ‘Memory and Comic Strips’ took place, with professor David Fernández de Arriba and the president of Amical Mauthausen, Enric Garriga https://www.rubi.cat/en/current/news/david-fernandez-de-arriba-shows-how-comics-can-help-convey-historic-memory/@@images/image/preview

David Fernández de Arriba shows how comics can help convey historic memory

As part of the programming for COLOR Week, this Friday the conference ‘Memory and Comic Strips’ took place, with professor David Fernández de Arriba and the president of Amical Mauthausen, Enric Garriga
David Fernández de Arriba during the virtual conference.
David Fernández de Arriba during the virtual conference

In the setting of COLOR Week, this Friday the online chat Memòria i vinyetes. El còmic com a eina de memòria (Memory and comic strips: Comics as a tool for memory) was given by David Fernández de Arriba, professor of social sciences, and Enric Garriga, president of Amical Mauthausen. Fernández de Arriba is the coordinator of the book Memòria i vinyetes. La memòria històrica a l’aula a través del còmic (Memory and Comic Strips: Historic memory in the classroom through comics), which analyses the period between the Second Republic and the Spanish Transition using some of the most relevant graphic novels from recent years.

The work is the outcome of the joint work of David Fernández de Arriba, Gerardo Vilches, Pepe Gálvez and Elena Masarach. The book speaks of the unique features of comic book language, reviews the history of the genre and relates it to the revival and conservation of historical memory. It also includes interviews with authors and teaching suggestions for working with 13 different graphic novels in the classroom from the period 1931-1982, including El arte de volar and El ala rota by Antonio Altarriba, Jamás tendré 20 años by Jaime Martín, Los surcos del azar by Paco Roca and Paracuellos by Carlos Giménez.

As Fernández de Arriba explained, despite the prejudices traditionally associated with comics, the genre has many strengths for transmitting knowledge and, concretely, to handle historical memory. On the one hand, they have their own highly-intuitive language: ‘They have text but also images. If both of these aspects are very strong, they will easily reach and connect to students. Further, the way of reading them is very natural.’ Related to this, he also pointed out the reading pace, which lets people stop at a single comic strip for as long as they want and, conversely, move quickly through certain action scenes.

About the accuracy of these types of works, the professor ensured that many of them follow extremely-meticulous documentation processes and, due to this, are absolutely faithful to the real facts. They also represent an honest and intimate vision of history, as their authors are often personally involved: ‘The main characters are normal people about whom history never speaks. This makes identification with the characters in comics stronger.’

Fernández de Arriba also pointed out that another strength of comics is their enormous diversity with regard to the topics and formats, types of stories and styles.

During his talk, the author applauded that there are increasingly more people studying the genre and its relationship to history.

 

One more tool for memory

Enric Garriga, president of Amical Mauthausen and other concentration camps, wrote one of the prologues in the book Memòria i vinyetes. La memòria històrica a l’aula a través del còmicDuring his talk at the conference, the activist reminded listeners of the work done by his organisation to protect and revive the memory of deportation and to prevent fascism. A task that, via Xarxa Mai Més (Never Again Network), has extended to city councils – such as that of Rubí – to schools and other associations. ‘Tools are essential for doing this work. And this book is an excellent tool. If we want to fight against fascism and build a more charitable, more socially-responsible, fairer and more sustainable world, two things are basically required: education and memory. Education to transmit values and memory to remember the past so that it never repeats and to pay homage to the men and women who sacrificed themselves in the name of freedom.’

The councilman for Historic Memory, Pau Navarro Cano, was in charge of presenting the conference this Friday. He linked the latest actions done in Rubí to commemorate the memory of deported people. The mayor agreed with the speakers when claiming comics as an effective tool to bring history to the youngest members of society: ‘We have to do extremely accurate yet attractive work to educate and raise awareness on human rights to ensure that our future generations have a critical spirit, know how to differentiate the hidden fascisms behind easy things, gifts, when what they really bring is injustice.’

The dissemination activities framed within COLOR Week will continue during the weekend. This Saturday, Carles Mercader and Enric Montes will give their talk on Colour and Photography, and Sunday, María Palacín and Elena Sorribes will speak about Emotions and their Colours.