Barcelona, City of Comics

Urbanism, Architecture, and Design in Postdictatorial Spain

By Benjamin Fraser

Subjects: Hispanic Studies, Cultural Studies, Urban Studies, Architectural History/architecture, Literary Criticism
Series: SUNY series in Latin American and Iberian Thought and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438487496, 246 pages, February 2022
Paperback : 9781438487489, 246 pages, August 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Foreword: My Barcelona, el seny i la rauxa in the Comic
Pere Joan

Introduction: La ciutat dels tebeos

Part I: The Right to the City

1. The Housing Question: Anti-urbanistic Salvos from Butifarra!

2. A Space of Her Own: Montse Clavé's Feminist Urban Revolution

3. A la calle: Martí, Pepichek, and the Underground Style of El Rrollo

Part II: On the Move

4. A Comix Jailbreak: Fuga en la Modelo by Miguel Gallardo and Juan Mediavilla

5. Out of Place in the Eixample: Tilting at Windmills with Antonio Pamies

6. Mobile Societies: Space, Place, and Nonplace in Pere Joan's Passatger en transit

Part III: Design Aesthetics and Architecture

7. Spectacular Modernity: The Urban Visions of Victoria Bermejo and Juan Linares

8. Branding Bar Cel Ona: Mariscal's Design Aesthetics and the Business of Comics

9. Architecture, Antoni Gaudí, and the Global Urban Imagination



Explores the close relationship between comics and urbanism in one of Europe's most notable global cities.


Barcelona, City of Comics introduces readers of English to a range of Spanish- and Catalan-language comics published after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. During this time of palpable social change, the Catalonian capital regained its reputation as the hub of comics publishing in Spain. Comics collectives such as El Rrollo and Butifarra, as well as individual artists from Montse Clavé to Mariscal, contributed to a thriving comics subculture that drew from and pushed beyond the countercultural comics tradition in the United States. As the Salón Internacional del Cómic de Barcelona (1981–) drew greater attention to the city, comics magazines teemed with graphic depictions of urban scenes. On the comics page, themes of architecture and city life were employed as social critique, while the city of Barcelona itself increasingly solidified its reputation on the global stage through urban planning. With a foreword by Pere Joan, Barcelona, City of Comics delves into the relationship between comics and urbanism in one of Europe's most notable global cities.

Benjamin Fraser is Professor of Iberian Studies at the University of Arizona. He is the author of many books, including The Art of Pere Joan: Space, Landscape, and Comics Form and Visible Cities, Global Comics: Urban Images and Spatial Form.


"This book bears a special appeal for urban studies and city-planning courses. On one hand, its portrayal of a city's culture in transition registers the potential for social transformation in the creation of urban space. On the other, it invites readers to revisit Barcelona and view its many spatial innovations—like the xamfrà, the truncated corners ever-present in the Eixample—with new eyes." — Journal of Urban Affairs

"By virtue of bringing together and mobilizing the relations between different fields (comics studies, cultural studies, transitional studies, urban studies), Barcelona, City of Comics is testimony to the power of interdisciplinary work and of thinking at the intersection of disciplines. All in all, it is an excellent contribution." — H-Net Reviews (H-Urban)

"Barcelona, City of Comics is a must-read for anyone in comics studies and in urban cultural studies—and for any reader curious about comics, Spain, cities, and architecture. Fascinating, elegantly structured, and compellingly written, Fraser deftly weaves together urban history, politics, and close attention to aesthetics, offering readers snapshots of dynamic artists who exploded the myth of unification and homogeneity after the Francoist dictatorship. A lively, significant contribution that will resonate across fields." — Hillary Chute, author of Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere

"A superb dialogue between the creative voices of unique comic artists and the way the urban territoriality of Barcelona inspired their multicultural work." — Ana Merino, author of El cómic hispánico and Chris Ware: La secuencia circular

"This is an amazing book. As a scholar of peninsular culture and avid reader of comics, I find Barcelona, City of Comics highly informative for experts and non-experts alike, cohesive, entertaining, well-researched, and refreshing in the agility of its prose. Fraser's writing is unencumbered by heavy theoretical entanglements but includes just enough engagement—with comics theory, urbanism, Marxism, and cultural studies—to undergird his assertions. The strongest point of the book, without a doubt, is the richness of the individual close readings of comics and comics panels, and their strong historical contextualization." — Eduardo Ledesma, author of Radical Poetry: Aesthetics, Politics, Technology, and the Ibero-American Avant-Gardes, 1900-2015

"A deep dive into the ways that comics intersect with the social, cultural, and political life of a great city, Barcelona, City of Comics brings together urban studies and comics studies in entirely unexpected ways. Nimbly skipping across topics and works from dozens of creators, this book shines a spotlight on a creative scene far too little understood." — Bart Beaty, University of Calgary, author of Unpopular Culture: Transforming the European Comic Book in the 1990s

"Barcelona, City of Comics tells a compelling story of Spanish graphic narratives in the wake of Franco, one that deserves to be more widely known. Across its several chapters, anti-fascist resistance interlocks with the emergence of new radical subcultures, feminist practices, and speculative urban worlds. Fraser moves deftly between material context and the comics page to show us the history and politics of artistic form, and to contribute to the growing awareness of comics' ability to narrate our cities anew." — Dom Davies, author of Urban Comics