When he was in third year of BUP, Oriol Malet spent a good part of the course in the corridor, expelled from class for entertaining himself by drawing and making caricatures of the teachers. But then he didn’t realize that school dropout was looming over his life. It is now, when he has been commissioned by the Fundació Bofill and the Comanegra publishing house to make a comic that explores this problem, that he has realized it.
The result is ombres of colors, his third comic, his first solo. “His main purpose is to make a part of society that does not speak, but suffers, talk about this premature school dropout,” explains the author, referring to adolescence. “The Bofill Foundation prepares studies on this problem, based on percentages, but they have gone further and I discovered that they provided testimonials. I read them and they moved me. They are testimonials from boys and girls who drop out of school prematurely and explain why”.
“We don’t know how to listen to young people,” declares the author, who presents his first solo comic
But “it is not a theoretical comic”, warns Jordi Puig, editor of Comanegra. “Malet has extensively documented himself and has drawn on the experience of these children to make a fiction. It is about focusing on an important problem in our society, with a mission: to destigmatize school dropout, but taking into account that it is a problem that must be addressed and solutions found”.
ombres of colors tells the story of Chris. “He or Cris, we don’t know if he’s a boy or a girl: that was an idea from the kids”, declares the author, who shared his work with students from various institutes in Catalonia. “First he was a boy and now he is Cris, with a love for drawing. And that is autobiographical –he confesses–. Halfway through the comic, I put it together with testimonials from the Bofill Foundation. And still, when it was at 75-80%, we visited several centers to learn about this reality first hand”.
Malet justifies some aspect of autofiction: “For me to be able to do a one hundred percent Malet job, the commission has to question me. And this questioned me a lot. Here I had the opportunity to do a triple somersault: look for the adolescent audience to whom it is addressed to read, and look for the comic to have a second life and enter the centers to deepen this debate among students”. “We have a big problem when it comes to listening to young people, we don’t know how to listen to them”, he adds.
The comic includes a foreword by Triquell, the show’s singer Euphoria, in which he reflects on the fact of being different and not belonging to the herd, and defends the task of many educators. And it ends with a text by Malet, which he invites to go further in this work.
In order for me to do a one hundred percent Malet job, the assignment has to question me. And this questioned me a lot
“I also believe that young people are little aware of the importance of art in their lives,” continues the author. When he was a teenager he didn’t understand the concept of daydreaming, when all his life he had daydreamed. I fictionalized anything, imagined… They say that creators always tell the same story, and I feel identified with this idea. I believe that every author needs that connection so that the work has its truth”. Malet also acknowledges that there are some very hackneyed passages: “But they are real. They were in my time and they still are now.
Every year 97,000 students in Catalonia drop out early
The director of the Fundació Bofill, Ismael Palacín, recalls: “There is still the idea that education is a privilege, but in the 21st century we cannot afford the current educational inequalities as a society. Every year 97,000 students drop out early.
This 16.9% is produced in Catalonia. In Spain it drops four points and in Europe the figures are halfway. “The problem of abandonment is persistent and serious and, on the other hand, it does not worry socially. We would like to denature it, so that there would be a profound change of mentality”, concludes Palacín.
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