Raqmu: Ruins of Petra

One of the most spectacular ruins in the world  

By Pedro Álvarez Pérez 

March 22nd, 2021

The ruins of Petra are located in Jordan. The ruins of this country were found in August 1812 by the European archeologist and spy Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. These ruins were built by the Edomites around the 8th century BC, later on, in the 2nd century BC the Nabateans were there. It’s an important archaeological enclave in Jordan, and in ancient times  it was also the capital of the ancient Nabatean Kingdom, also known as Raqmu.    

The old city is sculpted in stone. It was one of the most important capitals for the commerce of caravans in that age.                                      

This city was conquered by the Roman empire in 106 AC, era of the Emperor Trajano. It was the capital of Arabia Petraea, which was a roman province bordering southern Syria.

In the Byzantine era, it suffered several earthquakes that devastated the city and with the changes of commercial routes, finally was forgotten.   

Corinthian Tomb, Petra

Petra looks like a pure hallucination, a mirage in the Jordan desert. It´s enclosed among steep mountains, and accessible through a winding passage. It has a lot of different colors, from pale pink to blood-red. Nowadays these ruins are one of the seven wonders of the modern world.


From Comics to Graphic Novels: 20 Years of Auteur Comics in Spain

The appearance of independent publishers such as Astiberri helped to transform the reception of comics and the appreciation of their creators, who have more readers and museums interested in their work.

By Rosa Barahona Malvar

March 7th, 2021

Immersed in its own change of form, which had begun in the mid-1990s, the comic strip was taking giant steps forward in Spain. Three friends set up the publishing house in Bilbao that gave shape to a new format, the graphic novel, which would forever change the conception of comics in Spain.

This format would allow the author to create without thinking about anything other than his creation. That is why the 20 year anniversary that Astiberri celebrates in March is a good starting point to review the explosion of the author’s comics in Spain, to which they have contributed in a singular way.

«The first time we talk about an auteur comics movement in Spain was in the 1980s,» says Fernando Tarancón, founder of Astiberri and Joker, the Bilbao bookshop where it all began. «But it is a movement with more professional than artistic demands that aims to free the author from the slavery of the industrial process.” Paco Roca, Astiberri’s own talismanic author and the driving force behind the concept of the graphic novel in Spanish – capable of crossing the barrier of the general reader and spreading around the world – agrees. 

«There seemed to be no limits to format or subject matter.» The speaker is Cristina Durán, National Comic Prize in 2019 for El día 3 together with Miguel Ángel Giner and Laura Ballester, who has been at the head at various stages of prominent professional associations of illustrators. The conditions were also the same, forcing those who wanted to dedicate themselves to comics to make a living in what Héloïse Guerrier, editor of Astiberri, calls «the Franco-Belgian paradise». Guerrier was part of the team at Ediciones Sins Entido, which has had an exquisite impact, together with Ponent, that tried its luck in the new format at the end of what Tarancón calls «the wasteland of the nineties».

«Back then everything was @ hotmail, and foreign imprints had no way of differentiating a publishing house from a large group from a small one,» says Tarancón. «What we did during that decade was to try out the format. We already published graphic novels, but in parts.” «The comic public was not willing to spend what they would spend on a novel,» adds Bernárdez.

A before and after ‘Blankets’.

For Astiberri, there is a before and after the publication of Blankets, by Craig Thompson, in 2004. «We were thinking of publishing it in installments, but suddenly the author announced that he was coming to Spain, and we decided to take the plunge.

«The generational change in the press also helped a lot in the perception of comics, but above all it helped to be able to reach general bookshops. «When I received my first contract from Astiberri, tears came to my eyes, it was a fair contract,» says Durán.

Astiberri sells its titles in some twenty countries, «when before we had to cry to get a foreign publisher to sit down and listen to us,» compares Guerrier. The creation in 2007 of the National Comic Prize, which has since gone to six works produced by Astiberri, helped a lot. 

What remains to be done? «Comics have even reached museums, and they have the respect they deserve today,» answers Roca, who considers that «perhaps we would lack, in order to be on a par with novels, a major best seller, something that sells 200,000 copies, to make the comic industry powerful, because even today most publishers subsist and if they catch a bad moment, they are left by the wayside,» says Roca. «A publishing house is air, what it has to do is allow a work to pass from the author’s head to the reader’s hands in the best possible way,» adds the co-founder of the publishing house, together with Laureano Domínguez and Javier Zalbidegoitia, who would be joined a few years later by Héloïse Guerrier.

«The Astiberri family», Paco Roca calls them.

Mortadelo y Filemon
Zipi y Zape


The Return of The Winx 

The Winx return with the new series «Destiny«.

By Cloe Fuentes

February 3rd, 2021

A scene from the new «Destiny» saga.

Netflix premieres the new «Destiny» Saga inspired by our childhood series «Winx Club» on January 22nd, 2021. At the beginning, Bloom, the main character, arrives at a new high school called Alfea, which is an academy for young fairies where they can learn how to use their power. There, Bloom and her new friends Stela, princess of Solaria and a light fairy, Terra fairy of the earth, Musa, fairy of the mind and Aisha, fairy of the water, find out about a lot of secrets about Alfea, their teachers and themselves. They try to beat the burned ones that are monsters that want to kill them.

In my opinion, the series is very interesting and exciting, because the Winx are more realistic than in the cartoon. They are like regular teenagers and the special effects are very good, but it isn’t too similar to the original «Winx» series, because they change some characters: Layla is called Aisha, Flora is called Terra, and Tecna doesn’t exist. Also, the witches called the Trix (Icy, Darcy and Stormy) in the cartoon don’t exist–instead, there is a character called Beatrix who has storm powers. There aren’t any transformations and the specialists don’t have their own school; they also change some other things in the script. It isn’t really similar to the original «Winx Club», but it’s still good and worth watching.


Mona Lisa

The story of Mona Lisa as it was never told to you.

By Ruth Quiroga

March 19th, 2021

Mona Lisa is probably the world’s most famous painting ever.  It was painted at the beginning of the 16th century, when Leonardo Da Vinci was living in Florence. He took it to France and it became part of the court’s collections. In 1797, it arrived at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Then, it spent some time in Napoleon’s room, and a few years later, it returned to the museum. It has not been moved from there since then, except when it was stolen.

This last fact caused an immediate media sensation. People went to the Louvre to view the empty space where the painting had once hung. In 1913, an art dealer in Florence alerted local authorities that a man had tried to sell him the painting. Police found it in the false bottom of a trunk belonging to an Italian immigrant who had worked at the Louvre fitting glass on a selection of paintings. Most likely,  he and two other workers had hidden in a closet overnight, taken it from the wall the next morning and ran off without suspicion.

This work of art was commissioned by Francesco del Giocondo as a present for his wife Lisa Gherardini, which is why they also called it the Mona Lisa. There has been much speculation and debate regarding the identity of the Mona Lisa’s sitter. Some theories claim that the model  was totally unknown by Leonardo Da Vinci. Others say that it was a portrait of himself, but dressed as a woman given the resemblance between the sitter’s and the artist’s facial features.

It is even speculated that the model may have been Leonardo’s mother. Another interesting fact is that the position held by the Mona Lisa was typical of a pregnant woman. In fact, the gauze veil  or the garment she wears, typical of a pregnant woman for that time, leads us to think that she had even just given birth.

A self-portrait of Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa between the years 1504 and 1519. He would have done it in 2 months, but we are talking about a very busy person with an incredible talent, so it took him much longer.  If we look closely at the painting (in order to appreciate the details) we will find out the woman has neither eyebrows or eyelashes: is this the style of the painter or an oversight of himself? Besides, what is the mystery behind Mona Lisa’s smile? Is she really happy? Throughout time, no one could say what her mood was. Leonardo Da Vinci was able to portray that expression through the sfumato technique. In 2005,  thanks to an emotion recognition software from the University of Amsterdam, it was possible to recognize what the author tried to instill: it presented 2% anger, 6% fear, 9% dislike and 83% happiness.

An amazing fact is that this masterpiece  (which has not been restored in over 500 years) is truly priceless and cannot be bought or sold according to French heritage law. Besides, not one person would be able to purchase and maintain the painting. As part of the Louvre collection, Mona Lisa belongs to the public, and by popular agreement, their hearts belong to her.


How Music Influences Our Lives

Music can change how we feel

By Javier Méndez

February 21st, 2021

We all know that music makes us feel several emotions, like happiness if we like the song, or sadness if the song reminds us of sad moments, but in general whenever we listen to music our emotions adapt to it. It has been discovered that when we listen to music our nervous system generates substances that improve our happiness and our well-being, such as dopamine or oxytocin. The music can also transform our bad moments or particularly difficult moments into pleasant moments.             

Our nervous system is an important part of this process  

because of the mechanisms that make our feelings explode, literally. We can start feeling good because of the music of the moment or we can start to remember situations that were unhappy for us. No one knows what kind of music makes us feel happy or sad, it depends on the different personalities of each person.

In general, music is an important part of our emotions, and is also used for therapeutic purposes to treat psychological pathologies and increase the quality of life of people.


Bullfighting: Culture or Torture?

Spain is divided into two different camps: if bullfights are culture or animal abuse.

By África Otero Quintero

February 11th, 2021

Spectators follow a bullfight at the Las Ventas bullring during the 2019 San Isidro festival in Madrid.

Bullfighting has been part of Spanish culture for centuries, but nowadays many people don’t consider it an art.

Bullfighting is the use of bulls to create so-called art. There are different forms of bullfighting in Spain. 

Here is where the problem is.

Part of the Spanish society is against bullfighting because in their opinion, since the bull enters the bullring and begins to be fought, he suffers until his death. 

They also think that they are unnecessary deaths, simply to entertain the public.

The people who support the bullfights defend that the suffering of the animal isn’t the purpose.

Another argument they use is that bulls are destined to die like other bovine animals.

These opinions provoke disagreements between anti-bullfighting people and people who support bullfighting.

In conclusion, there isn’t a correct opinion. You have to think about the arguments people offer and think if you agree with them to form your own opinion.