Skip to main Skip to sidebar

Karim Oyarzabal

Illustrator, theater producer
February-April 2024

  • Comics
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Houston

During my 3 month stay in Houston, I discussed with astronauts, doctors, scholars, engineers, entrepreneurs, researchers, but also artists, philanthropists and diplomats on our projects of sending inhabited vessels to galactic space.. 

When I was about 7 or 8, back then in the 1970’s in Madrid where I spent my chilhood, I was a latchkey kid. I was fine about it. I proudly lived Calle San Nazario, on the fourth floor of a quiet, little apartment building, in an unassuming neighborhood. 

As I fixed myself a snack, I would hear the upstairs neighbor’s dog barking its sad, cooped-up lament. As for me—having no siblings, cousins, or friends nearby—after finishing my homework, I would be attracted by some unknown force into my unimpeded imagination, ensconced in a world where I would make my own action-filled, ever-shifting solo adventures. One day, I would be a horse in a hurdle race, sprinting around the apartment and leaping over furniture; the next, I was a mountaineer scaling a steep summit. I lived intensely and things always ended well. Specific characters would last for quite a while, sometimes several months, and then I would come up with new ones. 

Since those days, I have tried my hand at practically every job that has come my way: engineer on dams and construction sites in Colombia and Nigeria; theater producer and actor in Avignon, Paris, Beijing, and Chicago; investment banker at Goldman Sachs, London; and caring father to a sizable family, to name but a few. Nowadays I draw, illustrate press articles, and write and produce comic books. 

Karim Oyarzabal graduated from École Polytechnique—the most prestigious and selective French higher education institution in sciences—in the Class of 1986. Twenty years later, he joined the Cours Florent Drama School in Paris, then produced and performed in some fifteen plays. For Karim, the first step is that often-random encounter with a text, followed by a sense of urgency to convey it, and a near-compulsive desire to act and live it out. Such was the case for Pope John Paul II’s The Jeweler’s Shop, a play about romantic relationships. So it was, too, for Fabrice Roger-Lacan’s Cravate Club—a play about friendship—as well as virtually all of his work. Karim now lives in Paris, where he draws and produces comic books.  


Not long ago, NASA resurrected an ambitious plan to establish a human presence on the Moon. The program is named ARTEMIS, after the Greek god Apollo’s sister, which was also the name of the NASA program that send Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969. 

 This colossal project has an air of déjà vu about it, perhaps harking back to the expeditions toward the “Indies” by the armed ships of the Renaissance great powers like Spain and Portugal. 

The stakes here are as excessive as they are childish, as futile as they are urgent. The mission offers endless subjects to explore, from “What does an astronaut dream about?” to “How many minutes does it take on the Moon for solar radiation to destroy our endocrine system?” or “Did you know that space is a haven of the low-tech movement?” and “When will the first space war take place, and for what reasons?” 

During 3 months in Houston, I discussed with astronauts, doctors, scholars, engineers, entrepreneurs, researchers, but also artists, philanthropists and diplomats on our projects of sending inhabited vessels to galactic space. 

The success of this residency was greatly helped by the Consule Générale of France in Houston who gave me access to the whole network she had built during her years in position. Thus, the partnership with the Rice Space Institute was essential in approaching specialists involved with this project, including NASA in the foreground. 

Of these first encounters came a lot of other leads for potential projects in Houston or France. I established concrete links, nascent friendships, who are now up to me to keep up with and make them succeed. Therefore, I find myself, today as always, at the mercy of the capricious and unpredictable energy. To be continued. 

Houston was the obvious choice for this subject matter. Artemis is a United States-led program. Europe is involved, due to strategic and diplomatic alliances. In Europe, the endeavor is spread out across the continent, but in the United States, it is concentrated in Houston. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA -, the big players in New Space like Intuitive Machines, Axiom or other historical companies such as Collins Aerospace – all involved in the ARTEMIS program – are located in Houston. 

Rice University in Houston with its Rice Space Institute have developed a leading competency in these subject areas. The majority of actors and specialists are drawn to Houston like a Vortex. 

I went there. 

Houston doesn’t leave one unscathed. It is the rear base of the great intergalactic space. Here everybody looks up there. 

In partnership with


First school of comics and illustration in Paris, CESAN is an institution of higher education, training in the narrative arts, applied to the different sectors of publishing.
Each year, the school supports more than a hundred artist-authors in the development of their personal and embodied universe while transmitting to them the fundamentals, codes and tools necessary for the production of stories in images.

Dassault Systemes

Dassault Systèmes provides business and people with 3DEXPERIENCE universes to imagine sustainable innovations capable of harmonizing product, nature and life.
Their aim is to build a new development model to address the major challenges facing the world today.

Rice Space Institute

Our mission is to expand our understanding of the Universe and our presence within it through fundamental interdisciplinary research in space exploration and to train the next generation of leaders in space science, exploration and advocacy via integrated educational and outreach programs.

Learn more

Related content

Sign up to receive exclusive news and updates