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Comic Book / The Ladies-in-Waiting

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The Ladies-in-Waiting is a graphic novel illustrated by Javier Olivares and written by Santiago García, detailing the life of famed Spanish Baroque artist Diego Velázquez.

In 1656, Diego Velázquez, leading figure in the Spanish Golden Age of painting, created one of the most enigmatic works in the history of art: Las Meninas, (known to English speakers as The Ladies-in-Waiting). This graphic novel, written and drawn by two of Spain's most sophisticated comics creators, examines its legacy as one of the first paintings to explore the relationship among the viewer, reality, and unreality. (It guest stars Cano, Salvador Dalí, Zurbarán, and many others.) Olivares's art moves from clear line to expressionistic; from pen nib to brush stokes; from one color palette to another, as The Ladies-in-Waiting uses fiction to explore the ties among artists and patrons, the past and the present, institutions and audiences, creators and creativity. Their combined efforts have garnered not only international comics prizes, but the equivalent of the National Book Award in Spain, where the book has been a commercial and critical sensation.

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This work provides examples of:

  • Amazon Chaser: When Diego offends Flaminia with a You Are a Credit to Your Race comment to her paintings, she tells him off, only for Diego to mutter to himself that "I think we're in love" after she storms off.
  • Art Shift: While the entire comic has an expressionistic style, the color schemes and just how this expressionism surfaces changes slightly in the intervals that focus on the 20th century artists.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In one of the Picasso intervals, Pablo is showing off Las Meninas of Avignon to a colleague. He is completely naked the whole time, with no acknowledgment to his state of undress.
  • Pet the Dog: When Diego and King Philip see that Juan de Pareja has painted a picture (something he was forbidden to do, being a slave), not only do they commend him for the work, but Diego granted him his letter of freedom.
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  • Your Cheating Heart: Diego winds up in an affair with Flaminia, resulting in an illegitimate child that he has grown to love only for him to return to Spain when hounded by the thought of King Philip haunting him.


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