A life of invention. Interview with Enriqueta, widow of Ramón Sabatés

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Una vida inventando. Entrevista a Enriqueta, viuda de Ramón Sabatés

Ramón Sabatés

I have remembered Ramón many times, whenever I sit down to try to invent any nonsense, the work of Ramón Sabatés i Massanell comes to mind, and many people have among their childhood or youthful memories the inventions of Professor Franz of Copenhagen.

Professor Franz of Copenhagen appeared for the first time in 1936, in the pages of TBO, and then periodically in 1942 with the section“The great inventions of TBO“, under the signature of Nit.

This section was drawn by Tínez, Benejam and Tur and Ramón Sabatés began to take charge of it in the 1960s.

At first, Sabatés limited himself to illustrating the commissioned scripts, but he soon took charge of everything, as he had unlimited and amazing creativity, his crazy inventions, as well as being fun, could be built and, why not, they could even work.

In fact, his “cigar-cutting machine” was built by the artist himself (he had graduated as a mechanical expert for a reason) and can be seen in a prominent place in Figueres (Gerona) toy Museum of Figueres (Gerona)

Ramón Sabatés

The Professor and Ramón became one and the same person

Ramón Sabatés

 
   

But even after a good number of years, when I see his drawings, there is something that still makes me indignant.

Bad news from Ramón

In 2001 I almost moved exclusively in mailing lists and by some forum and from Norma Sabadell, Fandecomix and many others who forwarded the note, I had news of the appeal that Ramón made from the Asilo de las Hermanitas de los Hermanitas de los ancianos Desamparados in Sant Just Desvern (Barcelona) where he was admitted together with ” Queta” (Enriqueta), his wife, both were going through serious economic problems.

Embargoed

They moved there, ruined, their flat in Barcelona with all their belongings was going to be seized. Sabatés, in an attempt to “save money”, decided to put his original drawings up for sale. A total of 54 works from the mythical TBO period.

“The price of each work is 35,000 pesetas, in addition to these originals, he is also going to offer for sale a collection of jokes, the price of which is 15,000 pesetas”

Information published on 28 September 2001 in the newspaper “Barcelona” under the title“Una trista història del TBO“, by Carmen Picart of the EFE agency. Read hereCopy in Tebeosfera – Copy in Archive.

Reissued without seeing a penny

After a whole life devoted to drawing and giving a few minutes of illusion to thousands of children and adults, Ediciones B had been reprinting, during the last decades, the classic material of TBO without paying a penny to the authors. This lucrative business has undoubtedly provoked:

1- That the owners, directors and shareholders of Grupo Z, thanks to a carambola of republishing originals, became a little richer.

2- That the few remaining living artists, the true essence of TBO, all of them elders, were and still are in the most absolute misery and, to top it all, suffering an insulting and painful neglect.

In those days, far from trying to boycott Grupo Z or Ediciones B, far be it for them with their business consciences and their lack of heart, a campaign was started asking for financial aid to be sent to them by postal order, any amount that could be sent would be appreciated.

Ramón, who suffered from a cerebrovascular disease from which he was dying and which forced him to be bedridden, barely able to speak, died on 9 January 2003 at the age of 87.

Ramón Sabatés

 
   

In 2001, the Colegio de Ingenieros Técnicos Industriales de Barcelona bought all the originals kept by Ramón Sabatés at the price set by the author “so that the work would not be disintegrated”.

Six months later, in April 2002, Sabatés’ originals were exhibited, as well as children’s stories, game books and sticker albums made by this author, and some of the media gave brief reviews, treating the matter as something almost anecdotal.

It is possible that if the College sends the information requested, by email and telephone, I will add it to try to document a little of what this exhibition was like,

narices 19/11/2008: At the Colegio de Ingenieros Técnicos Industriales of Barcelona they forgot to answer or they were not interested in attending requests since they did not send any answer about what I asked them (information, catalogues, etc…) I did not ask for anything that they did not have and that it would not have cost them anything to provide.

It is possible that they are only interested in trading with the work so that it is disseminated and studied

Update April 2012: The destination of those originals is already known, they will have a permanent space in the Museum of Ideas and Inventions in Barcelona.(EFE video news)

Shortly after Ramón’s death, some collectors received calls from people interested in buying originals. (sic)

Ramón Sabatés

Final stretch

The case of Ramón’s last days is one of the saddest in the Spanish comics scene. Those who could do little did what they could, but those who could have really helped him continued to look at their balance sheets, while the administrations, authorities, associations, various entities, town councils and ministries, as always, reacted too late.

I’m sure you will think that there are many people who, in the last part of their lives, suffer calamities because of their income, but in this case I felt, and still feel, a special, perhaps corporatist, anger.

It was a sad and unfair way of saying goodbye to someone who had surely given everything for hardly anything. One more.

Ramón y Enriqueta el día de su boda (1945)

Update 2012: Photographs found on the website of Lluis Giralt i Llordés (grafópata), a passionate collector of comics and originals and a friend of Enriqueta. In his page I found news about Enriqueta dated February 2011.(screenshot)

In the same link there is a photograph of an original drawing of a TBO invention from July 1946, signed on the back by Enriqueta in 2009.

Chatting with Enriqueta

I called the Asilo de las Hermanitas de los Hermanitas de los ancianos desamparados in Sant Just Desvern and I found out that Enriqueta Hernáez I Bachs “Queta” still lives there and that despite her advanced age she is used to going out for daily walks, she is a sincere and very lively lady.

She agrees to answer some questions by phone and to include the audio of this talk/interview in this post, which you can listen to below.

Enriqueta was born in Barcelona, in the San Gervasio neighbourhood, on 10 July 1924 and met Ramón when she was only 4 years old, as she herself says in the interview. The man who would later become her husband was then 13 years old.

They were together for 62 years, some of which Enriqueta worked in a “cambio y bolsa” agency.

Ramón and Enriqueta had a daughter, Mª Ángeles, who worked in Barcelona for a newspaper, possibly for the daily “Barcelona ” (according to Luis Giralt LLordes, known as“El Grafópata“, Mª Ángeles worked for El periódico de Catalunya)* , and who died on 2 February 1992 at the age of 43, which was, in part, one of the events that set in motion a chain of events that led to a very hard time for the couple.

* Wikipedia CAT also notes that she worked for “El Periódico”

 
   

Mari Àngels Sabatés was fond of drawing, although professionally she focused on tourism and languages. After she became the widow of Francisco Nieto, a collaborator of Grup Zeta, with whom she had two children (Eva and Javi), she was offered a job at the Periódico de Catalunya in 1983. El 2 de febrer de 1992 va patir un aneurisma que, després de vint-i-quatre hores en estat de coma, li va produir la mort.

Curiosity:

Ramón Sabatés, at about 6 years old, was a classmate of someone with the surname Bruguera, a little older than him (although Enriqueta says they were the same age) and they shared a classroom and teacher. In a few years, this schoolmate would be the creator of the emblematic publishing house Bruguera, where Sabatés also worked until it practically closed in the 1980s.

Interesting links and sources consulted :

Interview with Enriqueta Hernáez in El Periódico (May 2009)

Llinars del Vallès Town Council

-College of Industrial Technical Engineers of Barcelona

Asilo de las Hermanitas de los Hermanitas de los ancianos Desamparados in Sant Just Desvern (Barcelona)

– Ramón Sabatés i Massanell, Bio in Wikipedia

-Article: “Sabatés… one more victim of the Spanish comic industry?” by Antonio Martín. Copy in Archive

– Los Inventos de TBO (Expo tribute to Ramón Sabatés and Franz de Copenhague) Copy in Archive

– Bibliography, more information about his life and works and an interview with Ramón and a question to Enriqueta, his wife. (1996)(Copy in Archive)

– Informative report Theknos, 56. April 2002. “The exhibition on “The great inventions of TBO” (PDF)

-Bizarre Inventions by Josep M. Albaigès i Olivart (Contains news from La Vanguardia of 11/01/03 about the death of Sabatés and some information about his life) (PDF)

If you think that there is any mistake or you think that you can contribute with some information or link of interest, please let us know.

Audio interview

After several problems with the telephone, we were finally able to have a brief chat, which has been edited to eliminate some of the shouting we had to do to be able to hear each other.

As happens in this type of meeting, many of the confessions “off mike” are of great historical and personal value, and I am convinced that Enriqueta prefers not to make any others out of respect for her husband and his work.

Enriqueta still lives in the Asilo de las Hermanitas de los ancianos Desamparados.
Pasaje Montseny,
208960 Sant Just Desvern Barcelona.

A life of invention. Interview with Enriqueta, widow of Ramón SabatésUpdate 2017. Enriqueta Hernáez Bachs, born on 10 July 1924, died on 28 November 2017 at the age of 93. (DEP)

entrevista-audio.jpg

Enriqueta Sabatés 2008 Interview

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