On August 26th this year, our team unfortunately missed the opportunity to write a blog-post on the centenary of Julio Cortázar – one of the pre-eminent Latin-American “boomers” of the 1960s. However, on that same day we were fortunate enough to purchase a fascinating item by the author: La raíz del ombú is Cortázar’s only graphic novel, created in collaboration with artist Alberto Cedrón between 1977 and 1981.
Although Cortázar had previously explored the interplay between text and images (see for example his Fantomas contra los vampiros multinacionales, 1994.8.201 and Ub.8.472) this is his first “full” graphic novel. In the words of Cortázar himself in the introduction, the work is “an account of an Argentinian vision, […] a current vision of hell”. It is an allegory of Argentina’s unsettled and often violent history from 1930 to the late 1970s, built around Alberto Cedrón’s memories, dreams and obsessions.
There was a first attempt at publication in Venezuela during the early 1980s (300 copies that apparently were never distributed), but it wasn’t until 2004 that La raíz del ombú was finally able to reach the broader public, courtesy of the Fundación Internacional Argentina. As the original panels had been lost, the graphic novel’s publication involved huge amounts of work and expertise, in which Alberto Cedrón actively participated. Colour had to be recovered, and text and images had to be realigned. Thanks to our sellers in Argentina, and despite already being 10 years old (which would usually make it hard to get hold of such a short-run item), we managed to obtain a copy, which now stands at 2014.11.1003.