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“Gracias Por Venir”: Artist Christian Lee Villanueva Documents the Scene in Comic Book Form

For the past few years now, artist Christian Lee Villanueva has slowly let himself known in Puerto Rico’s independent art scene. Be it by leaving small boxes with free mini-comics around the Colegio’s campus or by publishing some of his work on his Instagram or Facebook, the young illustrator and writer has been steadily getting his work out there. But while many artists have been doing the same in their own ways, something that distinguishes Villanueva’s work from the rest is his ability to not only be biographical in his work, but also a bit of a documentarist. Pixelate for Work, as he is known in his most of social media, has been slowly documenting the arts and music scenes in Puerto Rico, but more specifically the west-coast’s. His latest free-for-the-public comic book, “Gracias Por Venir” shows his ability to tell a personal story while also documenting such an important part of Puerto Rico’s culture.

(self-portrait of the artist as found on his Facebook page)

As described by the artist himself, the comic is about a show he went to on January 22, 2015 with his friends. According to the latest entry on his blog, the event was “was such an experience, I wanted to keep it in my own language: comix!” Written in Spanglish, the comic provides Villanueva’s experience on that night while also featuring the performances of Puerto Rican indie bands Dan Siego, Los Petardos and Campo-Formio. The comic officially made its debut in the 2017 edition of the independent comic book and arts Puerto Rican festival Tintero and “it was nominated for best comic.”

(cover for “Gracias Por Venir” as found Villanueva’s blog)

In his comics, Villanueva can be very straight to the point or sometimes a bit metaphoric. Through his adventures he not only expresses his emotions; be them love, joy and even depression. However, the artist not only documents his life, but also that of what he seems to enjoy most in life, the arts, and in this case he manages to successfully balance both his personal experience and the documentation of the arts. By creating this comic, not only does Pixelate for Work get to share a very important moment in his life, but he is also able to document in a very unique way what was an important night in the current Puerto Rican independent music scene. Never in the west-coast of the island had these three aforementioned bands ever played together in one venue and by simply reading Villanueva’s account of the event one can tell the night was filled with great rock n roll, joy, dancing and lots of mosh pits. All members of the community, artists and fans, should be able to see the value of this project as it does something both unique, and important. The Puerto Rican independent art scene hardly ever gets to be documented and this comic shows how the artists themselves must hold some sort of responsibility of doing exactly that. If nobody is going to pay attention to these acts, then it is up to the indie artists and writers themselves to document such important events of their movement.

(Los Petardos as featured in Villanueva’s comic book)

While the experience might have been lived a little over three years ago and the comic officially made its debut last year, Christian Lee Villanueva’s, “Gracias Por Venir” is truly a remarkable and resonating piece of art which not only tells an experience of an artist and fan of his own art scene, but also manages to document the movement he is currently becoming a part of. By finally putting “Gracias Por Venir” out there for free, Villanueva demonstrates his fantastic and unique style while also demonstrating some of his interests as an artist.

Read the entire comic book here and find Villanueva’s work on Instagram or Facebook.

If you want to listen to the bands featured in the comic, follow them on Spotify below:

Dan Siego

Los Petardos

Campo-Formio

 

Fernando E. E. Correa González is the author behind over 20 self-published poetry books. He has been published by literary magazines & journals [Id]entidad, El Vicio del Tintero, Sábanas Magazine, Smaeralit and Tonguas. Other than writing, Correa is also a filmmaker, podcaster, photographer and master’s student. He currently lives in his native Puerto Rico.
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