Yes, I’m afraid I have more bad news. This time, it’s not football-related.
For those of you living outside the ‘Kingdom of Spain’ who haven’t been paying attention to the news over here, the King of Spain announced this past Monday that he was abdicating the throne. (I suppose the New York Times’ article will bring you more or less up to speed if you’re interested.)
And no, this is not the bad news I was referring to. The bad news came yesterday, and is only indirectly related to the king’s decision to step down.
Albert Monteys and Manel Fontdevila are leaving El jueves.
El jueves, for those unfamiliar with the publication, is a satirical humor magazine dealing chiefly in comic strips that run the gamut from the political to the scatalogical, from surreal to vaguely smutty.
The magazine’s tagline is “El jueves, la revista que sale los miércoles” (Thursday: the magazine that comes out on Wednesday.) This week it came out on Thursday.
RBA, the company that publishes the magazine alleged some sort of technical problem. Other sources, however, have alleged that the problem stemmed from the question of what to put on the cover. Of the two covers below, which one do you think they went with–the one lampooning the meteoric rise of Pablo Iglesias, or the one featuring Juan Carlos I handing over a crown covered in doo-doo to his son Felipe?
RBA initially claimed that the Iglesias cover which was finally published was the one originally slated before the King’s announcement, and that with news of the abdication coming on Monday there was no time to get a joke to the presses before Wednesday. Then eldiario.es published a story saying that 60,000 copies of the King/Prince cover were printed (and subsequently mulched, one assumes), giving the lie to RBA’s claims vis-a-vis timeframes…
But I don’t want to talk about the alleged political pressure from the Royal Family, or the ‘chilling effect’ of self-censorship in the echoes of the 2007 controversy (which not coincidentally also involved the Royal Family), etc., etc. No, I want to get sentimental and talk about what the work of Monteys and Manel F. means to me.
Flash back to early 2006. I’m still finding my way around Barcelona and the ex-pat life in general. One bored afternoon in Fnac I come across a book of cheaply printed comics entitled Para ti, que eres joven: Sexo, drogas, y otras cosas que les pasan a los demás (‘For you who are young: Sex, drugs, and other things that happen to other people’), which was a collection of strips about a variety of topics: ‘Family’, ‘rock ‘n roll’, ‘looking for work’, ‘sharing a flat’, ‘the future’. At this point, I didn’t know what El jueves was, I just knew I liked the style of art and humor, and that there was a lot of jokes that I didn’t get and would have to look up or ask someone about.
The truth is, discovering the work of Monteys and Manel F formed a huge part of my language learning process here: first, as motivation to learn more about the language. And then later, as a sort of informal corpus for later study.
Yeah, that’s right, I brought up corpus linguistics in a blogpost about comics. My other main interest at the time being language pedagogy, I decided I would try to apply some of the concepts I’d been reading about (Michael Lewis’s ‘The Lexical Approach’, for instance) to my own language learning. (Yes, I did have a whole lot of free time and very little social life at that point in my life, why do you ask?)
For example, I made concordances–which is basically to say that I isolated individual words and tried to locate them in as many different contexts as possible to see its semantic and grammatical characteristics–especially verbs that confused me or that seemed especially versatile or important (i.e., pillar: “Oye, te pillo el boli un momento”, “El futuro puede llegar en culaquier momento y no quiero que me pille en la calle”, “Coño…me parece que ya lo pillo…”, “Lo habitual es pillarse un buen cebollón antes de la sesión perforatorio”, or enterarse: “Es muy peligroso ser un manitas–sobre todo si los demás se enteran“, “Para que te enteres: yo en mi vida solo he dicho una mentira…”, “–‘Muere en en nombre de Dios! –‘¡Si no existe te vas a enterar, mamón!'”
And in case you were wondering, why yes, I am a huge nerd.
But apart from all these two maestros of the comic arts taught me about the idiosyncrasies of the greater Iberian culture and language, more importantly they made me laugh. It’s true that in recent months I stopped buying the magazine regularly, but when I did pick up a copy I always knew Para ti que eres joven was good for at least a chuckle. (Of course, I also enjoyed their other work in the magazine (Tato, La parejita S.A., etc.), but I always went straight for the pink pages.)
As you can imagine, a world without Para ti, que eres joven in the magazine that comes out on Wednesday is, for me at least, a slightly sadder, more melancholy world than the one I used to know.
I can only hope that Monteys and Manel F continue working, drawing and writing jokes, and wish them the best of luck.