This month marks the release of The House, the latest English language release from Paco Roca – the acclaimed creator of the award-winning comic Wrinkles. Three adult siblings return to their family’s vacation home a year after their father’s death. They each bring their respective wives, husbands, and children with the intention to clean up the residence and put it on the market. But, as garbage is hauled off and dust is wiped away, decades-old resentments quickly fill the vacant home.
Roca’s previous work often takes on personal quality which may come from his own experiences and observations. The House in particular is an intimate piece that comes from a personal place. In this case, Roca dedicates it to his late father. Knowing this, the comic takes on a whole new dimension as the different reactions to dealing with loss become very authentic. Despite the heavy themes, Roca’s art and storytelling style take an understated approach which gives the narrative a more subtle feel.
The different depictions and approaches to grief are very real and a majority of readers are bound to find them relatable. Jose, the youngest of the siblings, had a rather distant relationship with his father and did not know if he approved of his pursuits as a writer. Despite this, Jose viewed him as a fighter and is struggling with the idea that he would have given in to death. His older brother Vincente however harbours some resentment to the rest of the family. Having taken care of his father whilst both his siblings were away, Vincente struggles with the happy reminiscing his brother, sister and son partake in whilst he has to remember all the hard decisions he had to make alone, including whether to resuscitate their father on his death bed or let him go (a decision he still questions himself over). Meanwhile, the sister Carla regrets not spending more time with their father and wishes her children had known him better. All these inner thoughts flow out as they attempt to tidy the house and decide whether to sell it or not. The interaction between the family comes off very real and is clearly something Roca is familiar with.
As stated before, Roca’s artwork has a subtle approach which is perfect for this style of storytelling. The landscape presentation allows for some creative use of panel display in addition to creatively presenting the titular house in greater detail. Keeping with the subtle approach, Roca’s characters aren’t over the top in their emotions which adds to the power of the piece.
This is a fantastic and moving comic which more than a few readers will find common ground with. Roca is well worthy of the awards and praise he has accumulated.
9781683962632 – H/B – £17.99