By Jordi Costa
Some cartoonists can’t help it: their stroke doesn’t look like the fruit of a titanic effort, but like the free, light and pure emanation of a pleasure born from instinct. Carlos Giménez is, in this sense, a clear example: a guy that hasn’t stopped drawing a single day of his life since he started his career, even if he had no job to do, no project to work on… This cartoon belongs to the eighth adventure of Gringo, a series devised for the international market for the agency Selecciones Ilustradas, which was the first solo work of the future author of Paracuellos, who up until then had only worked as an assistant to López Blanco in a series of titles called Aventuras del FBI. With a script by Manuel Medina, this story of Gringo, entitled Los traficantes del Pecos, was drawn in 1965, but didn’t appear on the Spanish market, edited by Ibero Mundial de Ediciones, until February 1971. In 2009, the long missed Glénat –as missed as its unfortunately short-lived successor, Editores de Tebeos: a publishing imprint with a true sense of history and a firm compromise with the memory of the field– reprinted it on the first book of the Gringo collected volumes that swelled the already generous Colección Carlos Giménez.
Let’s focus on this cartoon, though –which ended the third page of the story–, on which we see Elenita, a blond little girl with two ponytails, running away from a couple of Indians that look at her in bewilderment. The interesting thing about Gringo is that it shows us a Carlos Giménez still looking for his own style, but details of which can already be glimpsed in vignettes such as this one, where, suddenly, we witness a premonition of what will be one of his aesthetic identity signs: the flexibility of a stroke that can reconcile the caricaturesque (the little girl) and realism (the Indians) on the same scene, under a stylish background that could even anticipate the delirious vegetal atrezzo of his future pop science fiction works. Elenita is like a comic interference inside a neat and stark western. Much later, Giménez would be able to create unusual harmonies ranging from the most serious to the pure playful on a same frame. When George Lucas premiered The Phantom Menace, nobody seemed to be able to see that having Liam Neeson and Jar Jar Binks on the same scene wasn’t exactly a slip-up, but the Industrial Light & Magic version of Doing-a-Carlos-Giménez.