Rivero Gil’s “Aleluyas de la defensa de Euzkadi”: Comic Strip Images of Spain’s Civil War and the Education of a New Citizenry

By Donna Southard.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

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Framed by the current concern in Spain for the recuperation of historical memory, this paper focuses attention on the exiled graphic artist Francisco Rivero Gil and his “Aleluyas de la defensa de Euzkadi”, created to mobilize popular support for the Pro-Euzkadi Week organized in Barcelon by the Catalonian government after the bombing of Guernica. Formally resembling a comic strip, the aleluya was a popular traditional broadsheet format, normally composed of forty-eight illustrated panels, distributed on a one-sided page in eight rows of six, with a two-line verse under each. It was part of an extensive body of traditional print material known as “literature de cordel” or “string literature”—a name derived from its form of commercial display, hanging on lines of string in streets and plazas to increase visibility—destined for the popular classes and widely held to have played a fundamental role in the socialization of reading. The propagandistic value of Rivero Gil’s modernized aleluya was closely tied to its didactic function of educating a modern citizenry.

Keywords: Aleluya, Illustrator, Francisco Rivero Gil, Pro-euzkadi Week, Graphic Arts, Orality, Barcelona, Spanish Civl War, Popular Tradition, Anarchism, Sociability, Comic, Bombing of Guernica

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.1-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 5.337MB).

Donna Southard

Graduate Student, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

Donna Southard completed a year-long program of studies in Madrid in 1975–6 as an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, after which she remained in Spain, experiencing the country’s transition to democracy first-hand, while raising a family and working in Spanish schools as an English teacher. She returned to the U.S. in 1998 and graduated from UCB in 2002 with a distinction in general scholarship. She completed an MA in Hispanic Languages and Literatures in 2005 at the same institution, where she is currently writing her dissertation on the exiled Spanish illustrator Francisco Rivero Gil. This project is the first part of a book-length study, the second part of which will focus on the transatlantic component of Rivero’s graphic art production. Other interests include writing on Spain’s colonial presence in Morocco, traditional Spanish puppetry and puppet theater, the graphic artist Forges, Spanish generation X writers and film.