Shock gives way to praise for Madrid bombings comic

Tue Jun 9, 2009 4:35pm EDT
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By Emma Pinedo

MADRID (Reuters Life!) - A journalist, a police officer and a bereaved aunt are among characters who tell the story of the 2004 Madrid train bombings in an unusual format: a comic book.

The project to create a graphic novel on bombings that killed 191 people and wounded 1,857, initially shocked some Spaniards, who feared it might trivialize the most lethal al Qaeda-related attack in Europe.

"We're aware this is an issue that transcends the usual comic reader, but we want to get a bigger audience because we think this is of wide interest," Antoni Guiral, one of the writers of "March 11. The graphic novel" said in an interview with Reuters.

Its authors have had to overcome popular ideas about comics.

"A lot of people have told us 'how dare we do something humorous'. But a comic isn't necessarily funny, the graphic novel is a form of communication like cinema," Guiral said.

The novel's writers and artists were at pains to avoid traumatic images of the dead and wounded.

The comic strip uses artwork on display in Madrid during March 2004, such as Picasso's Guernica and Rene Magritte's "Clef de Champs," to portray the terror and panic of the attacks, and the pain and grief of survivors and the families of victims.

"We make no concession to people's morbid curiosity. We have looked for symbolism," said Guiral.   Continued...

<p>Drawings which feature in a comic recounting the Madrid 2004 train bombings and subsequent trial, are pictured in this undated handout released June 9, 2009. REUTERS/Panini Espana/Handout</p>