When published in 2009, The Art of Flying was hailed as a landmark in the history of the graphic novel in Spain for its deeply touching synthesis of individual and collective memories. A deeply personal testament, Altarriba’s account of what led his father to commit suicide at the age of ninety is a detective novel of sorts, one that traces his father’s life from an impoverished childhood in Aragon, to service with Franco’s army in the Civil war, escape to join the anarchist FAI, exile in France when the Republicans are defeated, to return to Spain in 1949 and the stultifying existence to which Republican sympathisers were consigned under Francoism.
The Art of Flying is immensely moving and vivid, beautifully drawn by Kim. It was highly praised in Spain on first publication, where it was compared to Art Spiegelman’s Maus. It went on to win six major prizes, including the 2010 National Comic Prize.