With Further Ado #265: A New Favorite – Ana Penyas

It’s a busy time of year for comic conventions. It looks like last weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con was a roaring success; especially if your focus is on comics and comics creators. I’ve missed the last few years of this wonderful show, but I saw a lot of smiling faces on social media.

SPX, the Small Press Expo was held the same weekend in Rockville, Maryland at the Bethesda North Marriott. This show celebrates small press creators and entrepreneurs, and it looks to be a positive counterbalance to the “madness” of bigger, more traditional comic conventions.

At a show like this, I’d typically line up to meet a guy like Bill Griffith, the creator of Zippy the Pinhead. But I have a new favorite SPX guest this year: Ana Penyas.

Ana Penyas is from Spain. At Polytechnic University of Valencia she studied fine arts, Ana made headlines in 2018 when she received Spain’s National Comic Award. Her debut graphic novel was called Estamos Todas Bien,and her newest one is Todo Bajo El Sol. Her most recent project is contributing to the Fantagraphics anthology Illustrating Spain.

In between these comic cons, LeMoyne College in Syracuse opened an exhibit called Illustrating Spain in the U.S. celebrating this new Fantagraphics book and Spanish Influence on American culture. Here’s the official write-up:

Illustrating Spain in the US is a project that highlights the presence and legacy of Spain in the U.S. territory, from its help during the independence war to the heritage still existent. The project started as a series of comics created by Spanish artists in collaboration with history experts, now reshaping into a physical exhibition available at Le Moyne College.

Illustrating Spain in the US is a creative dialogue that combines the graphic expressiveness of comics and their authors, with the inquisitive perspective of scholars who have written a series of complimentary articles. Comic authors have built comic strips that feed on academic knowledge and demonstrate that Spain has been part of the American Reality since long before the very foundation of the American Country. This Spanish energy continues to be present in the imagination, talent and creativity that emanates from everything Spanish and so fascinates Americans. This energy is also found in the scientific thinking of the Spaniards who made the United States their second home while they made -and still continue to make – surprising advances.

-Ana Merino, Curator of Illustrating Spain in the US

I had to pleasure to meet and chat with creator Ana Penyas at the show’s opening. She’s talented, as you would expect, and overflows with enthusiasm for her craft and for comics. She explained how much she enjoyed creating these projects. She also candidly touched upon the struggles that are all too familiar to so many comic professionals.

Her short story included in this Fantagraphics anthology, “The Immigrants”, was heartfelt and authentic. And it was a treat to read this comic form the overwhelming large banners that LeMoyne printed for this exhibition.

What a gift to have this talent visit the U.S. If you went to SPX this past weekend, I hope you got to meet Ana Penyas.

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And hey, if you can’t make it to a comic convention, can I give plug to AHOY’s new comic Con & On? Written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Marika Cresta, it’s a fascinating look at a fictional convention over the years. Issue #2 just came out and it’s captivating.