Because of limited job markets, many Argentine comic creators, including Productora artists Cristian Mallea and Angel Mosquito, started offering workshops for students of all ages. I visited these workshops a couple times. I volunteered to translate some key ideas from a comics essay on manga, or Japanese comics, from Scott McCloud’s new book Making Comics and lead a chat on the topic. About 10 students and 3 Productora artists/teachers attended.
I started by asking “What are your favorite comics?” Students responded first with a mix of Argentine and alternative American comics. Ony two were fans of manga. ‘Did I overestimate the popularity of manga?’ I thought. ‘The whole reason I selected this topic was because it treats slavish imitation of manga and Cristian talked about how pervasive that phonomenon is. Was he talking about the kids that they haven’t had a chance to influence? Would I be preaching to the choir?’. I focused on broader questions like “What is the nature of cultural interchange from an Argentine perspective?”.
Productora artist Mosquito quickley noted that
We made a list of traits unique to manga before looking at McCloud’s list. As we read through the chapter together, I pointed out panels that contain relevent pictures. After the chat, one student told me that he had never thought of the topic that way before.
After my presentation, they returned to business as usual and I got to see part of the learning process. The students and Mosquito sat in a circle. Mosquito went through each student’s work critiquing and complementing it as students chimed in occasionaly: “This looks rushed”, “Why did you choose an old style train?”. While teaching can be tiring, Mosquito and Crisitan enjoy seeing kids grow over the years as they apply the tools they learned in class to their own ideas.