Zine Club's main goal is simply to have fun
Although Catalan at heart, comic artist and illustrator Gabri Molist has fully embraced Belgian culture (and weather) after six years of living here. He combines his artistic work with a PhD in Fine Arts at LUCA Ghent. After moving to Brussels in 2017 he was asked to co-organise Zine Club, a weekly get-together focused on zine-making that takes place at Munpunt library. From 26 until 28 November, he’ll be taking Zine Club to Grafixx.
Tell me about Zine Club and how you’ll collaborate with Grafixx.
Zine Club is a weekly workshop around fanzine making that takes place at Muntpunt and lasts two hours. Each workshop is led by another artist, who proposes an exercise that’s linked to their art practice and connects that to zine making. Anyone can attend and it’s free. The main goal is simply to have fun; you don’t have to finish the exercise, it’s ok if you can’t draw properly, etc. It’s about proposing a framework where you can explore ideas in a way that you might not have thought of. For me, the most beautiful part is that we plant a seed and then people finish it by themselves or get inspired for another project. It’s also a place for people to meet, especially for younger artists.
It’s about proposing a framework where you can explore ideas
At Grafixx we’ll do an exchange: Jan Vandeplancke, who’s a featured artist at the festival, will lead a Zine Club at Muntpunt (23 November) and I will go to Grafixx and lead a workshop there (27 November).
Is this the first time you’ll be involved with Grafixx festival?
No. It’s the first time I’m involved in a more active way but my relationship with the festival goes way back. When I was still a student I participated in their Greenhouse contest and came in second place. Then the past couple of years they sold my zines at the Zine Fest and they’ve also asked me to be part of their portfolio. Last year they asked me to collaborate with Zine Club but obviously, with Covid, that was cancelled. So this year is a rematch.
For me, the most beautiful part is that we plant a seed
I’ve always been a fan of the festival and it’s also probably the first comics and illustration event I ever attended in Belgium. It wasn’t something I’d seen before as I came more from a background of DIY and punk fanzine festivals. There is a clear vision to the festival which I really appreciate. On top of that, it’s of course an amazing get together with other comic artists and illustrators, both national and international. When I started going to these festivals I was still a lot younger and I was so full of energy, it really felt like discovering a whole new world. I’m a bit older now and don’t spend as many hours there as I used to but I always return with renewed energy and lots of inspiration.
You first moved to Belgium in 2015 to study here and eventually stayed after graduating. What is it about Belgian culture that you appreciate?
For me Belgium is like the Spain of the middle of Europe (Laughs); people are usually laid back and open and there’s a great sense of hospitality. Belgium has been very kind to me since the very beginning, or as you would say ‘gezellig he’ (Laughs). It’s definitely not for the weather (Laughs).
I always return with renewed energy and lots of inspiration
Talking about community, how does the comic community here differ from the one in Spain?
I don’t think I can compare them much, as I’ve spent most of my career living in Belgium. There are some differences I can spot. The comics world is already a very precarious one, but even more so in Spain. Besides that, Spain is huge compared to Belgium so I don’t think you can say there’s a Spanish scene: it’s more connected to the big cities. In Barcelona, where I’m from, comic artists' work includes both fanzines and graphic novels, which makes for a beautiful dialogue between narrative and experimentation. This combination is something I try to incorporate into my own work.
Compared to Spain, festivals here are more proper, less punk. I have to say I feel part of both though. As much as I’m connected to Belgium, I still make comics in Spanish, my publisher is Spanish, etc.
Another thing that connects me to Belgium is my obsession with Tintin. I grew up on the Tintin comics that my Dad owned and in particular his copy of The Secret of the Unicorn. I’m a huge Hergé fan both as a reader and a creator. My latest publication I Laugh To See Myself So Beautiful In This Mirror is actually a homage to Hergé’s work so it’s safe to say he’s a huge inspiration.
What do you miss most about Spanish culture?
Vermouth and patatas bravas! I’m not joking. Food culture is different. It’s a community thing, it’s something to be enjoyed in company. I also miss the richness of the food, all the amazing produce. The climate here is no good for the amazing Mediterranean vegetables, like tomatoes, my favourite.