Cover of Mi cuerpo y yo.
The Argentinian poet Jorge Luján, living in Mexico, has collaborated with Isol for over ten years. It was he who suggested early on in Isol’s career that she should draw comic strips based on his scripts. The result was Equis y Zeta, the first volume of which appeared in 2000. Other exampels of their co-operation include the picture books Tic Tac (2002), Mi cuerpo y yo and Ser y Parecer (2005), Numeralia (2007) and Pantuflas de perrito (2010). Here are Jorge Luján’s own words about Isol and their collaboration:
The German playwright and poet Bertold Brecht wrote that the first duty of theater is to entertain. I think that under Isol’s aesthetics lies a similar saying: Boring books are not allowed! On that basis she builds the rest: sharp themes and treatments, technical invention, unforgettable characters and atmospheres. And something very unusual in picture books: Isol has an enormous capacity to make visible the psychology of the characters. They don’t look all alike, each one has its own personality, intentions, particular moods.
The first book by Isol that arrived to my hand was Cosas que pasan. To read it was a fiesta! Impressed by its humor and freshness I sent to her an envelope containing texts of the comic Equis y Zeta (based on the sayings of my son and daughter when they were kids) and a selection of my poems. I asked her if she would like to illustrate them and her enthusiastic answer was the beginning of a long friendship and the start of a creative collaboration in which her talent has been has been reveald to me: a mixture of reflexion and emotion, intelligence and intuition. Since then, we have published six books as co-authors and we enjoy meeting frequently to talk about our projects with respect, warmness and complete sincerity.
Isol’s work recreates children’s thoughts and aims, in a way she reinvents childhood. Reading her books makes us understand that children have a complex and richer universe than those presented in the majority of books addressed to them. Her work could be inserted within a literature “also for children” as Michel Tournier sagely proposed. As a consequence, her books can be enjoyed by different ages and it is a pleasure to read them in family.
‘Only I can decide to illustrate the soul!’, said one day Isol when we were starting the creation of Mi cuerpo y yo, a poem she had chosen among several that I’d sent her. It was a risk, a decision for the unusual, but a common one for Isol’s artistic spirit that mingles humor, rare tenderness and shocking impulses. Considered too experimental and conceptual, Mi cuerpo y yo was initially rejected by some of the most important Latino American publishers, and it was first published in French (Éditions du Rouerge, 2003), a decisive fact that opened the doors of Europe for us and, paradoxically, also the doors on this side of the Atlantic.
Let’s celebrate Isol receiving the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and let’s price reading as a playful as well as a transforming experience.
Photo: Lorena Alcaráz