“Comics helped me to see there was another way of expressing what you think”.
1 June 2023
Arnau Sanz (Barcelona, 1984) is mainly a comic book artist. I got hooked on his peculiar style and stories a while back, and luckily I've been able to keep track of him since he moved from my hometown (Málaga) up to now, thanks to our mutual friends and music - At the moment Arnau plays in Mujeres, but has been in bands such as Heads and Heads and Reaction-Reaction-. When I started with the La Colectiva project, he was one of the first people that came to my mind.
Arnau Sanz interview

When I first met you, I was at University and you were living in Málaga, a million years ago. I know that you’ve moved several times and there have been a thousand projects and publications in between. What’s changed since then?
I still look forward to telling stories, but maybe I’m more demanding with the end result and improving the narrative. I also have a bigger belly and less hair.

Do you define yourself as a comic book artist or graphic novel artist? Do you distinguish between them?
I consider myself someone who tries to tell stories, and I’ve chosen the means of the comic to do so, so comic book artist works for me. I don’t see any difference between them, beyond an attempt of separating an adult theme from a more ludic one or children oriented one. But to me, everything is comic.

When I was a teenager, when at punk concerts and such, I remember seeing some little photocopied books. I asked what they were and they told me they were fanzines.

What did the comic world change in your life? Did you start as a comic artist or was that something that came later?
I’ve always read comics. Since I was a kid. I love them and I think it’s a great format. Afterwards I started doodling and doing little drawings everywhere: in book margins, at school, while talking on the phone… So it’s always been normal for me. It helped me to see there was another way of expressing what you think, to tell stories, to learn, to reflect and to travel. When I was a teenager, when at punk concerts and such, I remember seeing some little photocopied books. I asked what they were and they told me they were fanzines. I used to buy several every week and I read them nonstop. My friends started to make their own fanzines and sell them at comic conventions, and eventually, by default, I was encouraged to create my own ones.

Your works are graphic novels that have a good deal of autobiographical elements and where the story has a strong presence… Have you ever thought about writing a novel without it being a graphic one?
I understand that you’re referring to stories without illustrations. I usually write ideas, without images, but I always think that with cartoon drawings I can express what I want to say in a more satisfying way. It ‘s also fun.

I’ve read that you decided to start your own publishing firm, partly because of the abusive margin squeeze that other companies take off publications and the little money the artists actually receive. What other good things has AIA brought to you? How did it come about? Anything else in particular that made you tired of depending on publishing houses?
AIA started upon seeing that there were friends willing to buy projects that didn’t fit in other publishing firms. So it started in order to be able to put out some of my work that didn’t have a place or market in other publishing companies. I’d had a few other experiences with my own ventures but they were a bit more amateur. In this case I tried going about it in a more serious way. It’s cool to know where my stuff ends up, the actual sales, how they’re doing and where they’re being presented, etc. I have a better idea of the overall picture than in the past.

The AIA info says “We publish graphic, text and music projects in a self-financed way”. What music projects are coming up?
We put out an ASO tape, a kind of instrumental ambient thing with keyboards. But it was a one-off, I don’t think we’ll move in that direction in the near future. We also issued a photography book but it was something that just came about.

What are you working on right now? What projects are coming up?
My last comic, ‘Un fantasma’, was released a few months ago by Astiberri. It’s my first science fiction comic and I’m very pleased with the end result. That company is pretty huge and I hope people will like it.

Tito, Llavaneres, Albert contra Albert… Those are books that narrate some parts of your life. In ‘Línea Editorial’ do you also hide behind Lur?
Yes, obviously there are some anecdotes and thoughts that I’ve had and they’re reflected in the book. I also included lots of comments from other artist friends regarding the resources, repercussion, difficulties etc.

Books and graphic novels are a driving force for change.

I haven’t had the opportunity to read ‘Tibirís’ yet, but I know it’s a graphic novel about your grandmother’s uncle, who was queer, but it’s also about your grandparents, Spain under Franco’s dictatorship, the church repression, the post-war famine… Do you think that books and graphic novels can be a driving force for change? What books blew your mind and made you change your point of view?
I think they really are a driving force for change. And also a good way to talk about certain issues too harsh to deal with if they aren’t complemented with illustrations. Black Hole by Charles Burns, Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron by Daniel Clowes, S by Gipi come to mind.

Since you are a comic book focused artist, when we offer you to do something for La Colectiva, more illustration oriented, how do you handle it? How do you develop the idea? Does the idea come up from some story or something that you want to share?
It’s difficult. While I’ve been doing illustrations for a long time, I always feel I need more space to tell something. I find it difficult to introduce characters that way, so I usually try to create spaces that generate some kind of sensation for the people reading. Nothing else.

What bands do you usually listen to while working?
When I write I don’t listen to anything because I get distracted, when I ink in or paint I do. I generally listen to ambient stuff or mystery podcasts, something that doesn’t stress me out or have many tempo changes. I recommend Grouper to everyone.

What artists are inspirational to you?
I always glance at the work of Gipi. I love how he narrates, draws, writes and develops the stories. Besides, sometimes I watch a movie or read a magazine, and I note down some details or shots, or conversations that I like and then re-read them before undertaking the next project.

What artists should we have in La Colectiva?
Irkus M. Zeberio, Aidan Koch, Cristina Daura… to name a few.

Anything you want to add?
Thanks for thinking of me for this project. You’re the best.

Thank you!

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