Thursday, July 24, 2008
I used the following Bolivian comic strips while teaching a Spanish class in Ohio. The high school students translated them into English with me. After translating the strips and some songs, the girls presented to the rest of the camp. The strips are by Joaquín Cuevas of Bolivia from the collection "Unoffensive".
The first strip caught their attention because it deals with something close to home.
The final comic comments on the Bolivian movie "America Visa" in which a Bolivian tries to get the proper documentation to enter the United States. The girls were surprised that it is so hard to immigrate into our country. We also translated Manu Chau's song Clandestino about a wanderer who left Africa for Europe struggling to seek work without papers.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
OK, kids. This is the moment you've all been waiting for. This is the first illustrated page of my script. It is about my grandfathers struggles in Nazi Poland (no mice though). That is him and his first family. It was illustrated by Laura Datolli, a student the workshop of La Productora in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Stay posted for more.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
“If you walk down the street and kill someone, what happens?”
“You go to jail.” I answered.
“They give you a medal”
“I joined the navy in 1994 and I got a medal. They gave it to me because they just changed the name. This is the longest war in history. They just keep changing the name.
“Why’d you join?”
“Well, I wanted to join the marines, to travel over seas.”
“Because I hate this place and wanted to get the heck out of here.”
Monday, June 30, 2008
While Latin American creators of comics, which they call historietas, face the same market forces that we do here (domination by superheroes and manga), they keep producing quality art, often publishing it themselves. My encounter started in August of 2006 at a book fair in Mendoza, Argentina, where I met Cristian Mallea of La Productora, a self-publishing collective based in
La Productora are considered to be part of the younger generation compared to the
My incomplete list
Joaquín Cuevas makes a funny political strip as well as narratively solid silent comics.
Frank Arbelo (born in
Thomas Desscance: Born in
Jorge Perez-Ruibal has a wild and detailed style that mixes humor and vulgarity.
Rodulfo Santullo publishes a number of talented artists.
As a member of Ergocomics, Cristian Reyes is a talented creator and staunch advocate for Latin American comics.
Cristiano makes autobiographical and political comic strips.
Fabio Zimbres’s comic that I bought reads like a Brazilian James Kochalka, but he does other stuff to.
Before I left
I sat on a panel that Cristian facilitated about comics throughout the
The convention floor. In addition to the row of stands on the left, there was another smaller row on the other side of the room. Impressive for the event's first year.
Exhibits were prepared of the work by artists visiting from Europe, both at the convention and at separate art galleries.
The Productora table manned by Angel Mosquito and Gervasio.
Our Pan-American panel with convention coordinator Thomas Desscance on left, next to panel facilitator Cristian Mallea.
Guests gather for the farewell.
Enjoying the exhibit of Peruvian artist Jorge Perez-Ruibal (bottom left).
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Here is one gem that I found at convention Viñetas Sueltas in
A paragraph from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road including the line “I didn’t know who I was” introduces the story opposite the splash page. While Kerouac transformed travel into a lifelong journey of searching for "It" or finding Enlightenment, this adventure is a road trip with which middle-class Americans may be more familiar (though both trips certainly share the virtue of being doused with more than enough booze). As the opening line states: "Simon feels that all this is a parenthesis. Parentheses are like boomerangs, he believes. They even look like them. They enter your life suddenly and cut off your past from your present with a clean precise blow."
Subtly using characters' experiences to hint at a broader social context, Road Story is a telling window into both the pan-American dream and its dark side. After a failed marriage, protagonist Simon sold his business and left his home in
While Jessica Abel’s La Perdida reveals the misguided entry into Latin America of a half-Mexican girl born in the United States, Road Story (the original title of the Spanish-language comic) shows how oddly comfortable a Chilean is in the United States. Indeed, Simon thinks that the
The story works because of poignant prose narration complimented by austere drawings. There are also a number of moments, like the illustrations at right and below of how Simon met and married Natalia years earlier, in which images alone communicate key developments.
As Simon travels, Road Story concisely takes the reader through a process of healing, a very human process with painfully real moments, expressed in ways that are both blunt and naked while also subtle and understated. While wandering, Simon links up with a Bolivian woman, Adriana, who was “made in the
The art is straight-forward and utilitarian, if at times uninteresting. By the end of the story, the reader may tire of looking at Simon's frowning mug. The entire work stays true to the mood of parenthesis. Ultimately, Simon closes the parenthesis. But does he really acknowledging the cause of his problems? While Road Story critiques consumerist culture, it is the nuanced perspective of someone ingrained in it, enjoying its benefits.
For the first 10 pages translated into English, check out: http://wordswithoutborders.org/graphic-lit/from-road-story/
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
It is time we consider some of the underling questions that the media conveniently hasn’t addressed during this election cycle. We must remember that we don’t live under a regime where top offices are stolen by shrewd political manipulation. We live in a republic, where the presidency goes to the leader who wins the hearts and minds of voters. In an environment of free speech, statesmen compete to sell their intellectual treatises to the public.
I mean, voters actually spend money on politicians’ books! Nonetheless, while we listen to sound bites touting the great differences between candidates and search the candidates' memoirs for evidence, we should also remember the ways in which our options are defined and limited. While Obama became a millionaire with Dreams from my Father, McCain revealed his views with Faith of my Fathers. They both wrote about their fathers!! What about their mothers? And let’s face it. Is there really that much of a difference between dreams and faith?
But all cynicism aside, in every election, we have the moral responsibility of ignoring hangups based on idealistic fantasies (dreams and faith, you might say) and choosing the best of all options. Nonetheless, I think we need to ask: is
Do you really think continental Americans will let an islander win?
As we move forward during this historic moment, we must be sure that we press politicians to address the real issues at play and we must not get wrapped up in petty politics and cheap sensational news coverage.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
The last eight years have been a dark time in the
Now, life is economically harder for most Americans while we waste tax dollars on military engagements that do nothing but increase resentment for the
If we want to restore the middle class, we need a Democrat in the White House. Americans already began to realize the failure of Republican leadership when they elected a Democratic congress in 2006. We need to take it further to see the full fruition of that process. Only the Democrats propose a tax plan that respects the poor and the middle class. Only the Democrats propose health care reform that could improve the quality of life of millions. Only the Democrats recognize the contribution that immigrants make to the
The Democrats did better on the economy and on foreign policy before Bush and there is reason to believe that Hillary could usher a return to previous success. The
Obama’s charismatic speech at the 2004 Democratic convention catapulted him to notoriety and made his candidacy possible without the dirtying process of a slow rise through the American political system. The movement arising in his support represents a real opportunity for positive change. One thing that conservatives are right about is that government cannot fix everything and the vitality of society is measured by the voluntary, active participation of citizens in public life. Obama got his start working on the streets of
Finally, Obama offers a vision of
We are at a unique point in our history.