Max, born Francesc Capdevila (Barcelona, 1956), is one of the most important graphic artists on the Catalan scene, which has recently been a bit on the downswing thanks to new technologies: people just don't buy comics like they used to, and when they do it's all about manga, or worse, rehashed Marvel. And geniuses like Nazario, Gallardo, Mariscal and Max himself have to try to make a living in the midst of metaphysical concerns not always answered by staring into the gaze of the Sphinx.
But the glass looks more than half full with this show dedicated to Max at the Arts Santa Mónica gallery. If we fans were the curators – luckily that job's filled by Marta Sierra – we would have taken most of Max's published output and spread it around a floor full of cushions and lamps. What you'll really find in the exhibition are digital copies, framed originals and prints, and windows dressed with newspapers from back in the day. The problem is intimacy. How are we supposed to stick our noses right up close and really connect with something that's behind glass, something we can't turn and look at sideways, like we can when it is a comic or a book?
Max has evolved quite a bit since he was 19 and became part of the 'El Rrollo Enmascarado' group, which clandestinely distributed a countercultural comic by the same name. Back then he was already involved in both the cultural and countercultural, fascinated by the work of Robert Crumb. In 1979, Max and a group of friends founded the locally legendary magazine 'El Vibora', where characters like Gustavo and Peter Pank saved the day. Then he discovered Yves Chaland and the Belgian Ever Meulen. Later it would be Art Spiegelman of Maus (1991) fame who would convince him to leave the ligne claire behind.
Along the way, he's done a lot of work as illustrator and designer, had his hand in projects such as 'No somos los muertos' (magazine 1995-2007), 'Bardín el Superrealista' and a regularly occurring stint in the El Pais newspaper, '¡Oh, diabólica ficción!' Oh, Max the Great!