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Friday, August 19, 2022

The Spanish illustrator who looks out the windows of New York in Murders in the Building

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A drawing discarded for her latest book and posted on social media as a farewell was the key that unlocked the doors of Arconia, the New York apartment block where the story takes place, for Laura Pérez. Only murders in the building, Comedy that has been one of the revelations of 2021 and which premieres its second season on Disney + this Tuesday the 28th.

Actually, Pérez (Valencia, 38 years old) noticed that image of a girl in different windows of a house in Paris from his graphic novel totem (Astiberri) it gave him a chance to see the Arconia, but only from the outside at first. “The picture was seen on my Instagram by Lisa Golan, one of the study leaders elastic. They prepared a project for the credit titles of the series and it fitted very well,” he explains. “They told me what kind of work they wanted to do, which was based a bit on the covers of the New Yorker, in the aesthetics of the fifties and in the titles of Saul Bass. They submitted the proposal with my color palette and my characters and won,” he recalls, still a little surprised.

Thousands of miles away, this illustrator began leaning out of the windows of the The Belnordthe building on the Upper West Side that is really the exterior of the Arconia to tell, in a matter of seconds, tales of loneliness found in elevators or corridors or felt with a wall in between.

All of this had to happen in a common scenario that we all have a version of: New York. “I was on a holiday trip, but in the end you have it in the collective imagination, through the series and films we watch. You have it in personal and fictional ways,” he surmises.

That’s why you can look out of these windows from anywhere. “From Valencia you can see the windows of New York, we can see the windows of a large part of the world and have a close-up image of something very far and with a personal and at the same time global vision for everything we consume daily for the imaginary. Creatively it inspires again and again, because in the end it is an image of human loneliness and extreme sociability at the same time,” he reflects. Now she has made her special contribution to this collective idea of ​​New York. “Others will be looking at these titles for other projects,” she predicts excitedly.

Steve Martin’s character, painted by Laura Pérez for the headline of Murders in the Building Only.

Design the front page of the series was at the end, which gave him the key to enter the Arconia, which inside is another building in the same neighborhood of the American city. On his stairs, platforms and apartments he entered hand in hand, never better said, with Selena Gomez, one of the protagonists of the production. The former Disney Channel teen star stars in the series Mabel, a young illustrator who joins two lovable and eccentric neighbors, played by Steve Martin and Martin Short, to investigate a crime that took place in the building from which they believe was committed by one of the tenants. All three are followers of a podcast of crimes and create her own while Mabel takes the portraits of the victim and neighbors/suspects. Actually, these sketches are by Laura Pérez.

“The producer wrote to tell me that there was a character who was an illustrator and to say that they thought it was appropriate that the drawings I made were of the same style as the credit titles . They asked me for freehand sketches of things Mabel taught. I had to do them bit by bit so their process could be seen,” he staggers.

The way Mabel paints was suggested by the Valencian illustrator. “I told them I’m going to do them on the iPad with a brush that’s just like a pencil and can be printed afterwards. I told them it might come out that way on the show because a lot of illustrators work that way now, and that’s what it’s coming out. It was a creative contribution,” she proudly admits. There was also a gift because he sent each character an original of his portrait.

Selena Gomez, with one of Laura Pérez’s sketches in the first season of Murders in the Building.

Of course, between laughs, he admits that the life of an illustrator is less like the life of his alter ego than what his compatriot Paco Roca drew in his Confessions of a Man in Pajamas.

“It’s funny to see Mabel dressed like that cuckoo in her wonderful apartment, when the illustrator’s reality is pajamas with a ponytail or a bow. Mabel is what you want to do three drawings a day. I draw all day,” he surmises.

A slice of success

While preparing a novel with Guillermo del Corral (author of The Black Swan’s Treasure, on which the series is based the luck by Alejandro Amenábar) and a new solo job he doesn’t give any hints about, Pérez sees the series like any other. “I see it at home when they put it on the platform. In the first season I stopped working when I was about to start and I watched it with my partner and we saw what drawings came out,” he recalls. He laughs when he realizes it’s his partner who’s actually doing the opening credits. “There was competition at home, but he was able to advise me on many things. I was the intruder,” he says.

One of the drawings by illustrator Laura Pérez at the top of Only Murders in the Building.
One of the drawings by illustrator Laura Pérez at the top of Only Murders in the Building.

The success of the series (nominated for Best Comedy at the Golden Globes and at the Critics Choice Awards) may allow her to work more in the field, although for now it has brought her some new readers, but she has also contributed viewers of the series. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s very difficult to predict. The reception was very cool. Now when I go to a book signing, because I actually do books and magazines, people come to me with the book who know me from the series, and there are people who are interested in my work because I’ve been doing it since 2010 , and that’s why he watched the series,” he confirms. Communicating windows.

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