Spanish comic artists

The ink at the service of talent

04/11/2024 · By Roberto C. Rascón
Paco Roca, author of works like ‘Wrinkles’, has become a leading graphic novelist in Spain
Paco Roca, author of works like ‘Wrinkles’, has become a leading graphic novelist in Spain. © Courtesy of Paco Roca

Comics, or graphic novels, are one of the best-selling literary genres in Spain. They have also transcended children’s and young adult audiences through more mature stories, reaching the highest levels of quality. Paradoxically, Spanish authors, whose unquenchable talent receives constant applause from both critics and the general public, feel that it’s increasingly harder to get published. Do you want to get to know some of the best cartoonists in the country?

The comic industry in Spain is having a moment, in part thanks to a generation of talented Spanish authors who receive recognition both at home and abroad. But all that glitters is not gold. According to data from the Asociación Cultural Tebeosfera (ACyT), 2023 broke the record of new releases again, surpassing 5,000, but Spanish authorship is less than half compared to a decade ago, representing less than 10% of production. In fact, many works by Spanish authors come into existence in Spain through translations, which is evidence of an alarming talent drain. Job insecurity goes hand in hand with lack of opportunity. According to the Libro Blanco del Cómic en España, a study run by the Asociación Sectorial del Cómic, only 21% of authors can live off their work. Despite this, Spanish strip cartoonists, illustrators, and sketchers continue to create works of unquestionable quality. Next, we go over (and assert) the names of some of the best authors of today.

Paco Roca

The latest work by Paco Roca, El abismo del olvido [The Abyss of Forgetting], has become a sensation. This winner of the National Comic Award in 2008 for Wrinkles, whose film adaptation won him a Goya Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, brings to life the story of Pepica Celda and her decade-long fight to retrieve from a mass grave the remains of her father, José Celda, who was executed in 1940 by the Franco regime. The Winter of the Cartoonist, Twists of Fate, or The House, also recently adapted to film, are some of his other works.

Ana Penyas

At the age of 29, Ana Penyas became the first woman to win the National Comic Award in 2018. She did it with We’re All Just Fine, a title that pays homage to the postwar women from a feminist perspective. Her latest work, Todo Bajo el Sol [Everything Under the Sun], addresses the consequences of property speculation and mass tourism on the Mediterranean coast, won the ACDCómic Award for best national work granted by the Asociación de Críticos y Divulgadores de Cómic.

Juanjo Guarnido

Alongside scriptwriter Juan Díaz Canales, illustrator Juanjo Guarnido is the creator of one of today’s most successful sagas: Blacksad. Born at the turn of the century —Somewhere Within the Shadows (2000)— and published by French publisher Dargaud, its latest instalment came out last year: They all Fall Down. Part Two. Winner of several Eisner Awards, the most prestigious awards in the comics industry worldwide, in 2014 he received the National Comic Award for Amarillo, the fifth instalment of Blacksad.

Ana Oncina

Last year, Ana Oncina published her most ambitious and mature work yet, Planeta, an intimate story that transcends the clichés of science fiction to talk about love relationships in the virtual era. Known for her Croquette & Empanada series, which won her the Award by public vote at the Barcelona International Comic Fair in 2015, this Japanese manga fan was highlighted by Forbes magazine in 2017 as one of the 30 most influential European artists and she has lived up to expectations.

Paco Sordo

From children’s literature to humorous comic strips, to animation series. Paco Sordo has dedicated his life to illustration, but it wasn’t until 2021, when El pacto was released, that the spotlight shone on him. The story of Miguel Gorriaga, an aspiring illustrator in Barcelona in the 1950s who kidnaps the iconic cartoonist Manuel Vázquez, won him the 2022 National Comic Award for, in the jury’s words, paying “real homage to Spanish comics,” specifically the Bruguera school.

Teresa Valero

Teresa Valero’s first comic book, Contrapaso. The Children of Others (2021) was a long time coming, but she poured all her wisdom into it. She started out in the world of animation, where she went from production secretary at Cruz Delgado’s iconic studio —managing series like Don Quijote, to storyboard illustrator, to founding her own studio: Tridente Animación. And then in the world of comics, making her debut as a scriptwriter, alongside Juanjo Guarnido, with the Brujeando saga.


Magius the monk was one of the most famous miniaturists of the Middle Ages. To pay tribute to this figure, Diego Corbalán, from Murcia, chose this nickname. In fact, medieval aesthetics is one of the main influences of the 2021 National Comic Award, which was granted to the wonderfully satirical Primavera en Madrid. Since he started out making fanzines, his works are full of symbolism and a strong Costumbrist influence, where sarcasm, criticism, and black humour go hand in hand.

María Medem

María Medem’s second graphic novel, Por culpa de una flor, became a publishing sensation in 2023 and, after Cénit (2018), made her one of the leading ladies of the genre in Spain. A minimalist piece, despite its exuberant use of colour, and full of lyricism which reflects on the individual and their role in society. “I can hear, smell, touch and feel every inch of that story,” film director Carla Simón said of her, because Medem puts emotion before description.

Spanish comics are having one of their best and worst moments, but what always remains intact is the talent of our strip cartoonists, illustrators, and sketchers. Therefore, we couldn’t end this article without mentioning other essential modern-day authors: Ana Miralles, Salva Espín, Ilu Ros, Javier Olivares, Ana Jarén, Bartolomé Seguí, María Herreros, Kim (Joaquim Aubert), Cristina Durán, Alfonso Zapico, Lola Vendetta (Raquel Riba), Borja González, Ana Müshell, Albert Monteys, Paula Bonet, David Rubín, Sara Herranz, Keko (José Antonio Godoy), María Hesse, Javi Rey, Ana Galvañ, Javirroyo (Javier Royo), Miriam Persand, Víctor Santos, Moderna de Pueblo (Raquel Córcoles), Isaac Sánchez,… and many more!