THE CHARACTERS
THE FIRST SKETCH
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marisco, a tapa character based on illegal immigration in New York City created by José Manuel Villanueva

Marisco (Salted Shrimp): A clumsy, anxious, agitated individual, Marisco is enthralled to be in New York City, enjoying all its freedoms and excesses. He likes to make new friends. Marisco always carries a glamorous Italian handbag filled with all sorts of electronic devices, pills and medications that reveal his hypochondriac nature. He has a permanent cold, emphasized by an also permanent runny nose and a “100% Indian silk” pashmina protecting his neck. “Papers? Who needs them when the city fits you like a crocodile-skin glove?”

Croquette, a tapa character based on illegal immigration in New York City created by José Manuel Villanueva

Croquette (a ball of savory mixture, in this case Chicken). His real Spanish name is croqueta, but he prefers the French pronunciation because, “besides chicken, I’m also stuffed with French gruyere”. Being overweight, he has found a safe haven in the US, where he can eat his favorite junk food 24 /7, and then spend hours at the nearest gym (also open 24 /7). He is also a compulsive buyer and waste long hours watching the NBC shopping channel. “Papers? Yes, I’ll take a yard to wrap this sandwich”.

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Banderilla and Lentil, two tapa characters of the Tapas Adventures, a comic based on illegal immigration in New York City created by José Manuel Villanueva

Banderilla (a small skewer served on a cocktail stick, usually made of pickled gherkins, onions, olives, etc): A pure Spanish character, Banderilla comes from the southern province of Andalusia. Therefore his passion for flamenco, paella, bullfighting and Spanish paraphernalia (he tops his olive head with a wide-brimmed Cordoban hat). Out of the four tapas, Banderilla has the most difficult time assimilating. He speaks a heavy-accented, broken English, in a “Spanglish” fashion. But Banderilla is talented and earns his cash singing flamenco in subway stations. “Papers qué?”

Lenteja (a single lentil). Though not a tapa per sé, Lenteja is considered as such by his three friends. The most rational of the group, he is always looking for ways to become legal: following political debates and constantly doing research on immigration policies. His communist nature (lentils grow and “live” in numerous communities) makes him a vocal critic of the capitalist excesses adopted by his friends. “Papers? Yes, free of charge and for all”.

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First sketches of the comic The Tapas Adventures created by josé Manuel Villanueva

The best ideas always come out from simple, humble, nearby things like a cheap paper napkin. Add few hours a week working as a waiter in New York and you have a perfect broth for a story on illegal immigration. On the left, the very first draft of “The Tapas Adventures”.

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© 2012 | All works by
José Manuel Villanueva