Léa Murawiec (Paris, 1994) drew comics that she published in fanzines, and it was the first surprise of the success of her first book, El gran buit / El gran vacío (Finestres/Salamandra), which won the audience award at Angoulême Comic Festival in 2022.
The book portrays a society where people are totally devoted to having a presence, to unsuspected limits, because if they are not taken into account and no one thinks about it, even their health suffers: being famous is important and almost necessary and that's why everywhere there are posters with people's names, so that when reading them they are more present. In this context, Manel Naher is a victim of confusion because there is a famous singer with her name, and this works against her. She, however, doesn't think there is one and what she wants is to run away, with her friend Ali, beyond the great wall that delimits the city, where no one knows what's there: it's the great void.
For Murawiec, despite the clear criticism on social networks, the narrative goes further: "The first idea was more about death and survival after death through the name that hospitals or streets have, that is, the desire for immortality and transcendence. Social pressure has to do with the image of you that others have, it's true, but it's not something new, it already existed from family, society, friends... social networks amplify it , but people used to want to be famous by appearing on television or in newspapers," he explains. For her, she also talks about "intimacy, what you show others and who you teach the things that really matter to you".
The protagonist and her friend are dissidents, and for the author it was about "questioning what we do for ourselves and for others and how to balance it". "Manel goes from one extreme to the other, and I wanted to understand how it happens, because it happens a lot. Why do we abandon the dreams we have as young people?, why do some become different people? Manel has ideas, but they may not be strong enough to overcome the first major health and money problems, as happens in our world", he recalls. In addition, the comic is drawn in such a way that hardly any explanations are needed, and the only texts there are in the blurbs or the names that want to be remembered: "I hope that the reader passes through the atmosphere of this universe without being told: 'Welcome to a dystopian world where people die when you don't think about them'".
Murawiec acknowledges that the book also reflects some of his fears, such as whether success can change a person: "I was already afraid of this before this book and it's a paradox. I was also afraid of being jealous of friends who were successful, but as a creator you have to find a balance between what you say to the other and what you say to yourself, not to write too much for others, to please, because so you will only manage to do what they expect and it may not be very interesting. Writing a book is sharing, but you write from a certain place, with a certain voice, and it is impossible to remove that from the writing. It's also true that if the next book is successful I'm afraid of being stuck in a recipe for success and I don't want that, so I'm also trying to understand how to age well with creativity, but also as a person."
After all, he reflects, "there are many paths to reach our dreams and sometimes we get lost and then come back. But once we've reached a goal, what happens next?"
The book thus swings between the search and loss of oneself and the goal of escaping to a nature that "is a metaphor, but at the same time a place with many fantasies: what could you do there, if there are magical elements, if you're ready to start a new life according to your expectations... and maybe it's an excuse to do yours, because it's not happy." And he says: "Like my entire generation, I suffer from eco-anxiety".