Monday, March 23, 2009

Summary of Explorations of Comics in South America

While traveling through South America in 2006-2008, getting to know local cartoonists and their work was one my richest experiences. It all started at a book fair in Mendoza, Argentina, where I met Cristian Mallea, visiting from Buenos Aires. I sent him an e-mail begging for an unpaid internship and he invited me to a comics convention in Montevideo, Uruguay. At the convention, Montevideo Comics, Latino cartoonists maintained a tight-knit community amid of sea of kids enthralled by Japanese comics.

Back in Buenos Aires, I visited a class taught by Cristian and his colleagues to children and teens. I also met the other cartoonists in the publishing collective to which Cristian belongs. Following in their teachers' footsteps, the students create their own comics and publish them with photocopiers and on the web. One of the students illustrated a script that I wrote about the Holocaust (page: 1, 2, 3).

After leaving Buenos Aires, I visited various cartoonists along my route, contacting friends of Cristian. I met an autobiographical cartoonist in San Luis, Argentina. In Chile, a cartoonist explained the status of publishing there and I attended a museum exhibit. In Bolivia, I attended Vinetas con Altura. In contrast to Montevideo Comics, this convention focused entirely on artists from Latin America.

Inspired by the Bolivian gathering, cartoonists in Buenos Aires organized Vinetas Sueltas, presenting independent comics from Latin America and also inviting four European artists. Through these travels, I met a variety of talented cartoonists, all of whom present their works on the web. One of the most exciting books I found was the first Chilean graphic novel, which I translated and reviewed.

Back in the States, I seek to develop the power of comics as a gateway of intercultural exchange. I guided kids in Spanish class through translating some Bolivian political cartoons. I translated Destino Invisible, also about the Holocaust, by Gervasio, another of Cristian's colleagues. The first few pages of which now appear as a free webcomic. I also created a Spanish-language blog in order to help latino cartoonists navigate the American market.

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