“Bluff”, the death of a cartoonist

"Bluff", the death of a cartoonist

Yesterday a new book about Carlos Gómez Carrera, “Bluff”, was presented at the Valencia City Hall. (1903-1940), one of the most important cartoonists of the Spanish Republican period who was shot by Franco’s regime in the Modelo prison in Valencia at the end of the Spanish Civil War for his caricatures of Franco and cartoons against fascism.

Along with him, other people were killed that day, among them Vicente Miguel Carceller, an editor committed to freedom, who with his weekly newspaper “La Traca” connected with the people and kept the pulse of power from 1909 to 1939, reaching a circulation of half a million copies a week.

In September 2021, the documentary“Carceller, el hombre que murió dos veces(Carceller, the man who died twice) will be released. It tells the story of how Franco’s regime doubly silenced the cartoonist and his editor, first by a firing squad and then by Franco’s censorship.

Listado de ejecutados por el régimen franquista asesino

Image source: interview in El Económico, August 2018. Lamber: “Franco’s jailers celebrated Nazi military successes with binges and drunkenness”

This is a 132-page journey through the illustrator’s life and a selection of what Parra has considered his best vignettes published by El Nadir, which includes interviews, covers of different magazines, mainly the weekly La Traca, and illustrations and jokes by other authors.

The author rescues hitherto unknown clues and data about the judicial farce to which the cartoonist was subjected, not only for his anti-fascist cartoons but also, once arrested, for allegedly subversive cartoons drawn in prison; an accusation that proved decisive in his death sentence on the wall.

"Bluff", the death of a cartoonist
Image source: Editorial El Nadir

René Parra (Valencia, 1989) is a translator, editor and teacher of Geography and History and History of Art, and has taught at the School of Art and Design in Orihuela. Editor of El Nadir, he has specialised in the history of illustration, as well as narrative and graphic humour, and has written several articles and critical anthologies on the subject. For this work he has received several awards, including, in 2020, the Valencia Comic Fair prize for the greatest contribution to heritage.

"Bluff", the death of a cartoonist

Bluff drawing attacked by a cat. Photograph with the addition of one of his characters. Back cover of the book / El Nadir

This is not the first publication to study the life, work and murder of Bluff in an attempt to rescue the memory of this artist that Franco’s regime wanted to erase and eliminate all traces of. In 2018, the cartoonist and populariser Lamberto Ortiz, presented his book Rediscovering Bluff, the Cartoonist who Defied Fascism (1903-1940) in which he recalls that Bluff left a suitcase with his drawings, which never reached his mother, who only received a tie, a belt, a shirt and some minor drawings.

Just a year ago at this time, the city of Valencia announced that one of its streets would bear the name of this illustrator and cartoonist (little known and recognised) because it was a “historical debt that our city owed to this illustrator, but also a way of reclaiming and valuing freedom of expression and democracy”.

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