Antonio Martín: "It seems out of place to apologize because they gave me an award"
Antonio Martín, in an undated image.National Library of Spain / BNE

Chaos broke out over an award he was awarded. And yet, Antonio Martín (Sevilla, 81 years old) was the only one who had not yet commented on what happened. The Barcelona Comic Fair awarded him its Grand Prize for his five-decade career dedicated to studying, editing, analyzing, claiming and disseminating comics. For being “someone who had given his life for comics”, as stated by a member of the jury. But some 300 authors among the best known of the genre in Spain signed a manifesto in which they regretted that for the first time the recognition did not fall on a creator, as they interpret that it is established on its bases. They also recalled the lawsuit that Martín filed in 2000 and won against a cartoonist for a cartoon that he considered offensive against him. Ficomic, organizer of the event, responded to the controversy by attributing responsibility to the jury. And the members of this body have opted for different reactions: from assuming that it was “a mistake” to vindicating their decision. Now Martín, speaking to EL PAÍS, finally fills the sandwich that was left empty in this comic. Yours.

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Question. First of all, how are you? How did you receive the award?

Answer. It was unexpected. Somehow it was as surprising to me as it was to other people. And then a series of cartoonists and screenwriters criticized it, and I think it’s very good that they raise this problem as a union. But they raise it to Ficomic, I have nothing to do with it. I am the third in this dispute.

P. But you also have to see, being the winner.

R. For me, this means that a professional claim that could be made has turned into a media lynching, as can be seen on the networks. And I am one of the lynched and cyberbullied. The rest is blurred, it is no longer about what I think or not.

P. Have you talked to Ficomic about what happened?

R. It was verbally communicated to me that an award had been given to me. I have not been given a paper, a statement. Ficomic as such, as the entity that grants it, has not contacted me. I have spoken with the jury, but not with Ficomic. It doesn’t bother me either. The award seems very good to me, as an honor. But it does not change a professional career and a dedication of more than 50 years in this, directly involved with many screenwriters and cartoonists, together with whom I have worked for and for their defense, and who have considered me their equal at all times. I don’t have much to do with this shed. If a conciliatory solution were to be sought, we would have to start by making the person who started this storm and those who have joined seek a conciliation and withdraw what they have said. The moment they have personalized it with me, I am as offended by my side as they are by theirs.

P. Has a signer of the manifesto contacted you? And have other authors transferred their support to you?

R. None of these authors has contacted me. I stopped looking at social media three days ago. The last thing I saw was a message from [la dibujante] Ana Miralles on Facebook, and she seemed like a model of balance. He said that he did not agree with the award being given to me, but neither with being crucified. I have received messages of support from authors, not as many as those who sign the manifesto, but some, and also important names.

Antonio Martín, portrayed by the cartoonist Pere Olive.
Antonio Martín, portrayed by the cartoonist Pere Olive.THE COUNTRY

The manifesto also criticizes Martín’s award for another reason. In 2000, he denounced a young artist, David Ramírez, for a cartoon. The drawing, inspired by The Empire Strikes Back, He tried to parody the fight that the editor and author Cels Piñol were then starring in. And the second described a puppet of the popularizer as “old Nazi, drunk, thief, pedophile and bastard.” Ramírez explained a posteriori who wanted to laugh at Piñol, because he had promised not to speak publicly about Martín and he changed his mind very quickly. The author also stated that he apologized by phone to the editor, but he reaffirmed himself in the complaint. Ultimately, Martín won the trial and financial compensation.

P. So many years later, do you reaffirm or regret that process?

R. I am not going to feed that topic anymore. Some judges handed down a sentence. If I wrote that you are a Nazi, pedophile, bastard and drunk and then said that the article was a joke, what would you do? I have not received an apology either by phone or by email from David Ramírez, but I don’t blame him at all. Yes, I received it from the editor Vicente García. I could not have raised the judgment. It’s very possible that I overreached myself. It caught me at a very hard time and it did me a lot of professional and personal damage. I reacted as best I could. But what happened cannot be undone.

P. Do you consider yourself an author?

R. I am not a cartoonist or screenwriter. I’ve written a dozen or two dozen scripts in the sixties, but I was really bad at it and immediately gave it up. As a young man I wanted to be a cartoonist, I took a course, but I found it to be very hard and I quit. Am I an author? No. But the profession of the comic book world is not only that of cartoonists and screenwriters, but a whole series of other figures who also participate. I consider myself and am a full member of the cartoon profession.

P. What are you going to do now? Have you even considered the option of giving up the prize or being asked for it?

R. Expect. If Ficomic contacts me, to make a decision, such as canceling the award or another, of course it has the authority to do whatever it wants. If I am contacted by any of the signers, I will ask you to apologize. And so will I, although it is absolutely surreal that I apologize that I was given an award. It seems out of place to me. In any case, I am open to talking to anyone who does not want to insult.

P. And what will you do more in general?

R. I am focused on a book about the comics that Spanish children read during the Civil War and how they collaborated for better or for worse in their formation.

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