Interview: José Oliver

Today, we are talking to José Oliver, the writer for the Spanish comic strip El Joven Lovecraft, now available in English translation as Young Lovecraft from KettleDrummer Books. Young Lovecraft is creepy and cute, and works a bit like a cross between Mafalda, Charlie Brown and Tim Burton


IFP: How did Young Lovecraft come to be? What inspired you to initiate this project?

JOM: Several things came together: my idea of creating a comic strip and my love, on the one hand, of the great series Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, and on the other hand, my affection as a reader for the work of Lovecraft.

portadaIFP: What was the process of creating the comic strip? First drafts, sketches, etc.?

JOM: My first idea was to create a comic strip that was a fictitious documentary of what might have been the life of H.P. Lovecraft, but this changed immediately and became a strip with Lovecraft himself as the protagonist. I drew and wrote the first strips (in English, by the way), and sent them to Bart, who quickly made them his own.

IFP: Most of the time a writer works alone. What is it like working with Bartolo Torres?

JOM: It is really a pleasure. It is very simple: I write the script and make some sketches of how I see the strip, so Bart can get an idea. Then I send them by e-mail. If there is anything to discuss, we talk by phone. It’s a very simple way to work, which suits us well. We have a lot of sintony between us.

IFP: What kind of surprises have you encountered when developing the comic strip?

JOM: On the one hand, seeing how the characters acquired a personality quickly, making the scripts easy to write. On the other hand, seeing the affection that the readers quickly developed for the characters. That makes us very proud of having created them.


IFP: Can you tell us a bit about speculative Spanish literature and film? What kind of writers and stories are popular?

JOM: Well…the speculative genre, specifically in film, is very small; a large amount of Spanish cinema is costumbristic, or recreates situations close to the viewer, whether it is comedy or drama. A lot more work needs to be done in the speculative film genre. Some things that have worked lately in Spain have been Pan’s Labyrinth (because it had Spanish financing), the movies by Amenábar or the famous REC, which was remade in the United States a little while ago [as Quarantine]. We have some directors, like Alex de la Iglesia, who every once in a while surprise us by coming back to the speculative genre. But it’s very little. In terms of literature, I wouldn’t be able to say. I’m very disconnected with what is published or sold; the market is poisoned since a few years back by best-sellers of the historical-occultist-medieval-novel-of-religious-secrets.

IFP: How did you become interested in Lovecraft?

JOM: I found Lovecraft when I was a teenager, as is common. I did it through the RPG The Call of Cthulhu, an excellent form of getting to know the universe. I still play when I can get my old friends together.

IFP: If you could be a Mythos/Lovecraftian character or monster, who would you be and why?

JOM: What an odd question. I don’t know.

IFP: What is your favourite Mythos/Lovecraftian story and why?

JOM: The Dunwich Horror, because it was the first one I read as a child and it made a deep impression on me. Another two that I liked a lot were The Lurker at the Threshold (Lovecraft/Derleth) and, above all, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, for its magnificent ambiance.

IFP: Please tell us about some of your future projects.

JOM: I don’t want to say anything because then it may not happen. But, aside from future issues of Young Lovecraft (volume three and another, unnumbered, volume), I would like to write two projects I have in mind: one, a comic book adaptation of a classic work of 19th century Spanish literature and a biography of a well-known American underground artist. But that’s all I can say.

IFP: Many thanks for taking the time to interview with us today. We wish you luck in your upcoming projects!

José Oliver/ bio: José Oliver (Palma de Mallorca, 1979) has a degree in Hispanic Philology. He has worked as copy editor for the newspaper Ultima Hora, where he now is the comics critic. He is employed as a teacher of Hispanic Language and Literature. He has participated in numerous magazines (Ariadna, El coloquio de los perros, La bolsa de pipas, Lluc, etc.) and fanzines, even editing them himself (Lázaro, Cisne Negro). Although his first literary impulse was poetry, the muses have dictated his sentence: he is now a comics writer. He has been published in magazines such as Cthulhu and Amaníaco. His best-known project is El Joven Lovecraft, or in English, Young Lovecraft.

Torres (left

Bart Torres (left) and Jose Lover (right)

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IFPInterview: José Oliver