Doctor Garcia and Mister Olivares

The graphic novels that the screenwriter Santiago García and the cartoonist Javier Olivares have been co-signing for some time now display such a level of cohesion that one begins to wonder if it might not be that Robert Louis Stevenson he was right in affirming through the mouth of the central character of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll that each person is actually two. Thus we were able to fully verify it in Las Meninas, the work that earned its authors the coveted National Comic Award; and we saw it again in the recent (and exceptional) anger, which I strongly recommended in the first column of this year. So, seen today with the perspective given by the passage of time, it is clearly logical that García and Olivares decided to precisely adapt the aforementioned work by the author of The island of the treasure in a comic that first came to light in 2009 but has been conveniently reissued earlier this year.

A sample of Olivares’ art when adapting Stevenson’s text

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hydein version of Santiago Garcia and Javier Olivares, is a short work in length (it does not reach thirty pages) but monumental in scope and creativity thanks to the intelligent reading of the literary classic carried out by a screenwriter who makes the most of the original material and the work of a cartoonist in a permanent state of grace. Thus, the story begins with a nightmare of Dr. Henry Jekyll that presents echoes of German expressionist cinema from the beginning of the last century and other previous variations of the theme of the doppelganger (such as the story William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe); for, once we have returned to the waking world, to evoke the inner universe of the protagonist (or, rather, the protagonists) in such a way that it appears intimately connected to the space and the time in which it has lived. All this is reflected, of course, in a series of plates of striking beauty and among which there is no lack of some symmetrical constructions of a specular nature that are very appropriate to give shape to the story that is being told.

Cartoonist Javier Olivares and screenwriter Santiago García form a creative team with spectacular results

Just a few months after this reissue, the new collaboration of this creative tandem has seen the light, which is nothing more than a new literary adaptation. In this case it is that of another classic of fantasy and science fiction literature of all time: War of the Worlds; although this time we are facing a much freer proposal than the previous one. In fact, the volume credits show that we are dealing with a derivative inspired and no based in the immortal novel H. G. Wells. And it is that on this occasion García and Olivares deviate from fidelity to the source material of other versions, such as the films directed by Byron Haskin in the fifties or Steven Spielberg at the beginning of this century, to offer us a rabidly original rereading of the mentioned novel that turns the inhabitants of Mars into the protagonists of the story, as well as the earthlings in the external threat that tries to colonize the world of those.

In “The War of the Worlds”, García has turned the original plot of HG Wells on its head

It is not easy to give a fair account of the excellence of a work like this War of the Worlds without revealing, leaving aside the starting point already exposed, more than is strictly convenient. That is why I will limit myself to pointing out that, apart from confirming that García is currently -in addition to being an experienced translator and an invaluable theoretician- one of our best screenwriters, he once again highlights the brilliance of the artistic work of a Javier Olivares that here executes a chromatic game out of series; proving in passing that we are dealing with an artist who grows by leaps and bounds with each new work that sees the light, be it a specific illustration or a graphic novel like the two that I recommend today.

Both volumes include sketches and authors’ comments as bonus material.

To finish, it should be noted that the editions of these two works by Astiberri, regular publisher of the joint work of both authors, are up to the high level of the material they include: the considerable size of the album format used allows Olivares’ art to be enjoyed as it deserves; and the last pages of both books are dedicated to two separate portfolios of extra material made up of sketches, illustrations, proofs and comments from the authors that end up putting together an irresistible offer. Doubly irresistible.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Y War of the Worlds are edited by Astiberri.

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