cover image Beatnik Buenos Aires

Beatnik Buenos Aires

Diego Arandojo and Facundo Percio, trans. from the Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg. Fantagraphics, $19.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-68396-403-2

Filmmaker and comics writer Arandojo’s English-language graphic novel debut conjures a partly fictionalized, dynamic version of Buenos Aires’s vibrant arts scene in the early 1960s, brought to life with Percio’s moody chiaroscuro. The interlocking profiles of painters, poets, photographers, writers, and publishers tell a story of a movement that draws influences from America’s Beatniks and Europe’s Surrealists but whose character remains distinctly Argentinian. That flavor manifests in the occult that permeates the city and speaks to its artists. A “dilapidated mansion” called the Hotel Melancólico houses an array of creators—and possibly a ghost. A fireman and painter named Jali forms his own religion, the “Church of the Final Sun.” An expert forger nicknamed “Goldie” is, despite her fakery, just as invested in the magic of the scene. The community coalesces in Opium, a literary magazine that also stages daring local theatrical performances. The dizzying array of personalities are granted an almost mythological treatment by Arandojo and through Percio’s superb brushwork. This sensational portrayal will transport readers to an Argentina where truth is far stranger and more wonderful than fiction—while fabulously mixing up both. (Apr.)