Laura Pérez, the Spanish hand behind Selena Gómez in ‘Only murders in the building’


The Valencian cartoonist is in charge of all the drawings in the Disney+ series

Illustration by Laura Pérez.
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when in 2020 Laura Perez I uploaded to his Instagram profile a discarded vignette of totem, the album he was working on at the time, could not imagine that that routine publication on his social network would give him the opportunity to create the graphic universe of a television series. All the stylized New York imagery that surrounds Only murders in the building, whose second season Disney + has just released, has been created from Valencia by this illustrator, one of the essential names of the current Spanish comic.

Seeing on Instagram that drawing of a girl looking out a window, Lisa Bolan, creative director of Elastic, the studio behind credit titles for series like Game of Thrones, I wrote him a direct message to ask him to participate in the Only Murders in the Building project. There’s an amazing serendipity to this creative stuff that I’ve totally trusted since I started this. Suddenly, something you discard works for others. I replied that I would love it, of course, as long as we do it together, because he had never done a job of this type, he explains by video call from his studio, with half of his right hand wrapped in the special glove -I always forget that I wear it, sometimes I go down the street with it on- that he uses to draw with more convenience on your iPad.

Illustrator Laura P.
The illustrator Laura Prez.THE WORLD

Bolan and Pérez together designed a proposal based on a certain 1950s aesthetic, inspired by the work of Saul Bass and magazine covers New Yorkers, whose characteristic typography precisely recreate the titles of the series. And bathed in the characteristic orange light that dominates the color palette of an artist whose favorite moment to draw is when there is little light outside but the interior needs to be turned on. An evocative tableau about loneliness and intimacy in the big city that activates all the reminiscences that the viewer can associate with the refined and upper-bourgeois Upper West Side of some of the best movies in the world. Woody Allen. And that drinks from the influence of colleagues like Manuele Fior or Richard McGuire.

Accustomed to a solitary and self-sufficient job, Laura Prez was involved overnight in a vortex of video calls with New York and Los Angeles. When I happily accepted the assignment, partly because of its challenge, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. At that time I didn’t know anything, or what the series was about, or who the actors were, nothing.

During the development of the credits, on the fly, an additional project arose: to make the drawings that in the fiction come from the hand of Mabel, the character played by Selena Gomez. including the spectacular mural that he paints on one of the walls of his apartment to try to clarify the crime that articulates the plot of the first season. The challenge then forked into two different jobs, one for Elastic and the other for the producer of the series. For the titles I had to make a huge number of elements of the building as well as several drawings of each one of the characters, in addition to small details that differentiate the header of each chapter and that are not always easy to see at a glance. And at the same time I began to work with the team of the series, through the producer Jess Rosenthal, to draw the sketches that appear in Mabel’s notebooks and finally the mural of the apartment. It was like participating remotely in the filming, as an artistic double for Selena Gómez. An exciting job and, again, a bit blind. They ask me for elements to incorporate into each chapter, and I don’t know why I’m drawing one thing or another, I don’t know why I draw them. what is it about? I have no idea.

who have seen Only murders in the building It will be hard for you to imagine that the majestic mural painted by Mabel in her apartment, which represents the residents of the imaginary Arconia building where the plot runs through the windows of their apartments, was entirely made by Laura Prez from Valencia on her iPad. They sent me photographs of the set so that I could see the dimensions and the arrangement of the furniture. It was great fun to attend the process from here. I think that once the mural was printed on the wall the drawings were retouched by someone, like when a muralist is given a project to execute. When you are a cartoonist you notice the slightest change, and I have noticed the hand of another artist there.

Recently included in the repertoire of best spanish illustrators published by Lunwerg and in queens of spanish illustration of the 21st century of Norma Editorial, Laura Prez publishes this summer in Astiberri her new book, Terrorafter the success of his first solo graphic novel, hidden (2019) and from totem (2021), the project that he combined with the drawings for Only murders in the building. A reflective work, opposite to that of the series, which served me as an escape route to release the stress of a shoot that I did not attend but in which I was very present.

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