My Spanish Career

‘It’s queso manchego that has kept me here’

'It's queso manchego that has kept me here'
Lance Tooks has written whole works in Madrid bars
In the latest installment of My Spanish Career, The Local meets Lance Tooks, a writer and illustrator of graphic novels and a resident of Madrid's Barrio de Las Letras who is keeping the storytelling tradition alive.
A former assistant editor at Marvel Comics, his artwork has since appeared in more than 100 television commercials, films and music videos and he has worked with Lucasfilm and Pepsi Cola, Madonna, Bill Cosby, Spike Lee & the Red Hot Chili Peppers to name but a few.
What brought you to Spain?
Comics brought me here… I've attended conventions in Barcelona, Madrid and Granada… but it's queso manchego that has kept me here for over a decade. I was born in Brooklyn and have only lived in two cities (NY & Madrid) in my entire life.
What do you do? 
I write and illustrate Graphic Novels for a living, and I'm a 30+ year veteran freelance cartoonist/animator. I always had a comfortable studio workspace back home, but my modest space in central Madrid, though relatively inexpensive is a bit too cramped to create in… my solution has been to take to the streets. I love drawing in bars and have written and illustrated entire works in them, driven by the energy of Spanish nightlife and friendly bar service within reach. All of Madrid is my studio now!(Cue maniacal laughter!)
How great are comic festivals in Spain?
I don't know that they're particularly "great" anywhere… I see them primarily as places to promote my work, and as such I suppose they're vital for my survival. I enjoy seeing the work of other artists there, and they're good for meeting publishers, fans and fellow creative folk. They usually last for more than one day though, and I can only take a few hours of them at best.
How interested are people in what you do?
I have the unique privilege of being completely unknown in every country in the civilized world! Through some strange jerk of fate, however, I've managed to jump without predestination from one job to the next for decades, like a frog on a string of lilypads. I've won awards, recieved adoring fanmail and exhibited in galleries here, in London and New York.
What inspires you?
I'm proud to carry on a family tradition of storytelling. My father was a multi-talented artist and inspired his children to pursue careers in the arts. My greatest reward comes when I have completed a project, and hold the finished book in hand. Anything else, including money, is incidental.
How is your career developing in Spain?
I've been here long enough that when I go back home to promote my work, they can advertise it as "a rare New York appearance," but in general I'm way too detached from the marketplace to know the answer to that. As I get older, I'm finding I've less stamina for the ratrace, but I've still got a few dirty tricks left up my sleeve! Just watch me!

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