I have no experience writing or talking about death. I know the words of condolences that people offer, but these phrases feel so stiff and overused. The writer Carlos Trillo died, and my friends in the Argentine comics community are mourning. For many of them, he was a companion and colleague as well as an admired and popular writer. I don’t know how to console them, so I listen to their memories about this man that guided them and had such a profound impact on their lives. When talking about Trillo, they lament the fact that I will never get to meet him and learn from him, like they did. I wish I could have got to know the man that wrote so many of my favorite comics, but in terms of inspiration, Trillo has already changed my life. It was through his words that I came up with the idea for my Fulbright project.
It was the talk “Carlos Trillo y Sus Dibujantes” at Viñetas Sueltas in 2009 that made me aware of the economic aspect of the comic book world. At this point in my life, I had given up sending ideas to Donald Andrew, the Fulbright Adviser at Smith College, because he had vetoed every single idea I proposed for a possible Fulbright project. I attended Viñetas Sueltas solely because of a growing interest in Argentine comics. My favorite comics at the time were Clara de Noche and Las Puertitas de Señor López, two comics written by Carlos Trillo, and so I decided to attend his talk. Trillo spoke about working abroad for Spanish companies because of the multiple domestic crises and limited Argentine market. He spoke extremely honestly about these financial and personal matters. And beyond that, he was funny and engaging, really connecting with the audience. Before hearing Trillo speak, I had no idea how comic book artists and writers lived. His experiences conveyed the complexities of living life in Argentina as an artist. After the talk, I went home and sent Donald Andrews an idea for a project about an economic analysis of the graphic novel industry. That one idea, out of many, was accepted and eventually resulted in my grant.
So I, like my friends here in the comics world, want to express my gratitude to Carlos Trillo for being so forthcoming about these challenges and being the catalyst for my investigation. Although I didn’t have the pleasure of studying with him or becoming his friend, I am grateful for the opportunity to listen to tales of him as told by his many admirers and to learn about the profound impact he had on the comics community.