The international comic festival at Angouleme took place a few weeks ago (official website), and it awarded its prize for best crime graphic novel to a work entitled Castilla Drive, written and illustrated by Anthony Pastor, a French author of Spanish origins. It is Pastor’s first title that has been translated into Spanish [pictures of the inside], and thus it made the news on Spanish state television and radio website rtve.es.
Castilla Drive is a crime novel that does not stress the question of who committed the crime, but that focuses on the relations between its main characters and on the description of the scenario, a frontier village between Mexico and the United States, though we do not know on which side. The story centers on Sally Salinger, a detective’s wife and mother of two, who finds herself forced to take up the business of investigating after her husband leaves her. She survives on adultery and insurance fraud cases up to the moment when she takes up the curious case of Osvaldo Brown, a solitary man called “the survivor” because he has survived a strange attempt at his life (somebody shot at one of his ears, and he fears they will come back to finish the job).
RTVE cites Pastor: “[The novel is called Castilla Drive] to mix Spanish and English. We are in the Southern US or Northern Mexico, but we don’t know on which side of the frontier. Always when it seems that I am in the US, I add a hispanic detail, and vice versa. And Castilla is to stress that the comic is very European. All the images are very American, but I really don’t want to talk about what is happening there, at the frontier, as I don’t live there. It’s American decor, but the stories are universal, European even. My aim was to relate the story to El Quijote and its unforgettable beginning: In a place of La Mancha… more than anything else.”
Pastor gives protagonism to female characters to counteract the graphic novels’ tendency of male superheroes. The action takes place in an undetermined moment: “We are in the 70s or 80s, because these are the decorations and objects I like to draw. It’s a question of aesthetics; comparable to Almodóvar movies that are current but once the characters enter an apartment, they look as if set in the 70s or 80s. Really for the pleasure of drawing this. I don’t like to draw modern things. In today’s crime series, with the cell phones, at lot of the suspense has been lost, and I would like to rescue yesterday’s adventures.”