In a unique collaboration between a Spanish writer, Mark Bellido, and a Belgian artist, Waute Mannaert, El Mesías brings together both sides of the political coin, in the shape of a communist mayor and a capitalist investor fallen on hard times due to the Spanish financial crisis.
When a successful real-estate agent called Jesús Hernandez finds himself destitute due to the financial crisis, he ends up in Marinaleda – a small utopian town where neo-liberalism is cast aside in favor of Marxism and the sharing of goods.
This town is led by another Jesús, who is the antithesis of the ruined businessman. This Jesús believes in living a life free of compromises; he believes in the revolution and the people and has the necessary charisma to make it work. What happens when these two, um, Jesúses clash, and who will convert whom?
Writer Mark Bellido crafts a cunning tale of political views where no view is ridiculed; he refuses to take a side, and the reader is left to draw his or her own conclusions. Bellido is all too aware that politics are made by the people and, in the end, this is a story of what people do for their beliefs and how context shapes those beliefs.
He spends a lot of time building the characters. As well as the converted Jesús Hernandez and the rough and enigmatic Jesús, leader of Marinaleda, there’s a plethora of tangential characters who receive enough attention to arouse sympathy.
Drawn with a soft and eloquent pencil, Belgian artist Wouter Mannaert’s line work has grown phenomenally since his first album. First spotted in The Comics Journal incarnation of Crossing Borders, his Going Underground album received a lukewarm reception, as his artwork turned out to be promising but very uneven. However, four years down the line El Mesías just looks stunning.
Behind his cover recreation of James Ensor’s famous painting Christ’s Entry Into Brussels in 1889, you’ll find excellent character work, where the facial expressions and body language are perfected and fluent.
El Mesías by Wauter Mannaert and Mark Bellido is a testament to the will power of people and the power of conviction. It sketches the human character in a political framework without ever forgetting that it is people who make the politics and not the other way around. Highly recommend for translation!
El Mesías by Wauter Mannaert and Mark Bellido is published in Dutch by Blloan. It is a black-and-white softcover counting 288 pages and retails for €27.95.
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