De la historia a la historieta

The House, a History in Cartoons

Justo Isasi 

Daniel Torres takes on a huge task: a graphic discourse where a cartoon of history and a sequence of small stories together form an interminable comic strip on the house, in chronological order. Huts, houses, and apartments are the leading characters and also the settings of numerous ways of life, from the origins of human grouping to the unpredictable future.

Torres gives himself license to experiment with mixtures of the tools of comics he is so familiar with. He exploits formats for illustrations and for written language in texts, footnotes, and bubbles. The first part, the world of the cabin or domus, gives more shine to large-format illustration, with its classic stripes and shadows, leaving for the chapters of modernity the fascinating Torres of Opium, with its skillful interpretation of American and Belgian cartoons. A journey through the more French cartoon of softer outline, clear lines of colors; an experiment with style using caricature, realism, portrait and parody: everything happens in this story of the house for young people and adults.

Frequently predominant in Torres’s cartoons is the architect’s drawing, the architectural scene, vertical and horizontal, over the oblique and distorted sketch of the author of Cairo. The author does not avoid what would be the last and most difficult part, the question about the house of the future, so in the form of old ecopolitical comics he goes back to the dialogue that is left hanging.

A personal objective emerges in this opus magna of Daniel Torres: to narrate the evolution of habitation in a way never done before. It is very personal in how the narrator shows his interest in architecture and unleashes his recognized art of drawing. In a drawn discourse which is pedagogical, sociological, and fun, Torres re-poses the matter of the house and speaks of the ever more inevitable need to reinterpret the life of people in the city. A long disquisition, ancient but very current, in terms of the pedagogical cartoon, like Bill Riseboro’s Modern Architecture and Design: An Alternative History or Lawrence Wright’s wonderful Clean and Decent: The History of the Bathroom and W.C. It is sociological like G. Duby’s and M. Eleb’s treatises on how men and women live, which showed what happened behind gender paintings and inside the spaces of the 18th-century hotel particulier, drawn in exquisite sketches of the Enlightenment. And fun, like David Macaulay’s Building Big: Skyscrapers, where the Empire State Building is uprooted and transferred to the Persian Gulf.

A book which is perhaps summed up in the inside cover. Torres goes back to the image of the Haussmann apartment building, the one that inspired F. Ibáñez’s ‘13, Rue del Percebe,’ but this time in a psychological version in the style of Jung: the memory of a person is like a house, with forgotten dark basements and a glass ceiling.

Reviewed books:

La casa

Crónica de una conquista

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