Who is canning human meat with the Aragon Designation of Origin?

A bloody battle between vampires and werewolves who share their existence incognito with the rest of the Aragonese is about to break out. And it will take place no less than in Teruel, during the celebration of Isabel’s Wedding, if no one remedies it. A shady matter related to a company that cans human meat with the Aragon Designation of Origin, for consumption in Germany, is going to precipitate the events, if it is not remedied by the staff of the General Subdirectorate of Paranormal Affairs of the Government of Aragon.

It is the starting point of La Subdirección. The mystery of canned meat, the comic book adventure just published by GP Ediciones, with a script by Julio Embid from Aragon and Ertito Montana from Madrid.

Big headline in Diario de Terue

The proposal for this comic fiction is based on the premise that Aragón is much more than dust, fog, wind and sun. Vampires, witches, goblins, werewolves and other creatures of the night coexist with the rest of the citizens. Many of them are peaceful and have even embraced veganism so they don’t have to have people on foot for lunch, but it is inevitable that, from time to time, there will be the odd misbehavior. For this, the Government of Aragon has a secret Sub-directorate that is in charge of solving all mishaps while keeping the existence of these beings hidden to prevent panic from spreading among the population. The Sub-directorate depends on the Department of the Presidency of the Government of Aragon through the General Directorate of the Interior, and is only accountable to the highest levels.

A picturesque team

Lucas Larradial, a Bilbilitan who was going to become a lawyer is in charge of an operational team made up of Mapi Ibáñez; a vampire who is fond of motorcycles and with a photographic memory, who lives in Plaza del Torico and who has been at all the key moments in the history of Aragon over the centuries; Sescún Brotons, a farmer from the Chistau Valley who hates shopping centers and is capable of turning into a 400 kg brown bear; Olivier Pradas, an apprentice magician fond of rap, born in the Barrio de las Delicias in Zaragoza and who was expelled from Hogwarts school for bad behavior; and Ana Cristina Samper, a journalist from Alcañiz specialized in convincing public opinion that what she has seen with her own eyes is not authentic.

Cover of the GP Ediciones comic, created by Julio Embid and Ertito Montana

Its screenwriter, Julio Embid, is a political scientist and journalist. He was general director of Institutional Relations and Statutory Development of the Government of Aragon, and currently works as coordinator of the Socialist Parliamentary Group in the Parliament of Aragon. He is also a fan of pulp stories and comic book classics like Asterix, and for years he noticed that “in Aragon there was a lack of a comic book reference in which the characters were representative of the three provinces, as happens in the Gallic village”. A comic in which these characters “lived adventures in which all of Aragon was represented, was recognizable by all and visited its most emblematic places.”

The Teruel Stairs, in one of the scenes that recreates the Wedding of Isabel

Somehow La subdirección blends part of Embid’s last two books into the comic; With cape and mask. The ideology of superheroes, where he analyzes characters such as Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman from a sociopolitical perspective; and El tránsfuga, where he talks about the back room of the world of politics through various short stories. “Yes, perhaps it is a bit of a fusion of these two works”, he admits, “but much more Aragonese, it is clear. The thing about creating a kind of heroes, but very much from our land, and who also work as civil servants, pending their flies and their triennia, seemed like a very funny idea to me”.

The comic has abundant references identifiable by the Aragonese

It is true that the main characters of the comic, which was born with the vocation and spells of a saga, give a lot of themselves. “The vampire lives in Teruel and since she is 2,000 years old, she can talk about any episode in the history of Aragon firsthand. If you put her together with an urban magician from Zaragoza and a woman-bear from Huesca, who lives on a farm and speaks Aragonese, and you put the three of them together working at the DGA…she can be a bomb”.

critical vision

Beyond a starting point that would lead to many adventures, in the background of the comic there is a political and, in part, dystopian reading of life in society. The essential part of the debate generated by La Subdirección has to do with information, on whether it should be public or censored. In comic book fiction, werewolves and other creatures of the night have so far managed to keep their existence hidden, and today, in the age of communication, security cameras and cell phone recordings , one of the essential tasks of the Subdirectorate is to keep the press and the rest of society in the dark.

Julio Embid believes that “in a democracy there must be transparency in decision-making, economically, in everything that guides the legislative process.” But in terms of security, in his opinion, things change, because “if everything is told to public opinion, you condition the final result, and that can have very serious consequences.” Embid justifies his position with an example with which, without saying so, he refers to the case of the Alakrana ship, in 2009: “A few years ago some Basque sailors were captured by Somali pirates. Those sailors returned because the government negotiated and paid the ransom with reserved funds. If that negotiation had been public, I would never have come home alive.”

One of the combats in the comic takes place inside the Dinópolis Museum

Although in the comic “there is some reference, some nod to a friend or acquaintance, we decided not to include real characters”, such as a representative of the Government of Aragon or its own president. “We considered it, although we came to the conclusion that it made it more complicated for us than anything else, although it is a cartridge that we keep in the chamber, because that would also give us much more chances to criticize.” In this comic, the objective was rather “to present some very powerful characters and an adventure that was fun and quite white.”

Julio Embid thinks of The Mystery of Canned Meat as the book to introduce a saga, which could include “many stories, many of which I already have in my head.” According to the scriptwriter, “everything depends on how well it is received by the public, but the saga could be continued with new adventures, other villains, and even other plots that intertwine with the Subdirectorate… because the mythology we have in Aragon is enough to much”.

Sescún, Anacrís, Mapi, Lucas and Olivier are the operational team of the General Subdelegation of Paranormal Affairs

And this despite the fact that, as Julio Embid admits, “a comic takes a lot, a lot of work, more than a novel or an essay.” It is a job that requires teamwork and a lot of interaction between the writer and the cartoonist. In the case of Ertito Montana, who had already worked with GP Ediciones on comics such as Tigre Callejero or Abraxas, the Aragonese publisher thought of him “because we love his style of drawing, and we thought he fit very well with the type of comic he was proposing.” Julio”, as Daniel Viñuales explains. He offered the handicap that the cartoonist from Madrid is based in a village in Ourense and all the contact between Embid and him had to be through videoconferences and instant messaging, to the point that, after two years of work, they have not met personally until a month ago, during the last Zaragoza Comic Fair. In addition, Montana did not know Aragon, whose natural and urban settings are an integral part of the project. “I have no idea about drawing and I completely trusted Ertito’s criteria, but I already had many of the cartoons in my head and I sent him many photographs of the emblematic and recognizable places in Aragon through which the plot runs, so that I had no problem with the locations”, says Julio Embid.

The public and sales will determine if this peculiar Aragonese Scooby Doo has a place in the national publishing market. At the moment the idea is to promote it as much as possible and make it known. In fact, during this same month of January, the scriptwriter and the publisher are trying to close some date to present the comic in the capital Teruel and perhaps in Alcañiz.

Who is canning human meat with the Aragon Designation of Origin?