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Cultural extravaganza in Latin America! Comic books and beyond

[This is a cross-regional post on comic books and cultural interchange, brought to you by GV Latin America and GV Portuguese.]

In the first post of this series, we had the opportunity to read some opinions – from a Brazilian perspective – acknowledging how little we know of the Latin American comics scenario and what a rich and fruitful moment the region lives in, with artworks being produced and going online almost everywhere. Now, it's time to meet some of the authors and links to their projects. Ready. Set. Go!

Volume II: Building Bridges

Liniers, from Argentina, went on tour [pt] in Brazil in 2012. Gustavo Trevisolli, an artist and blogger, in a post [pt] for Raio Laser, a blog about comic books wrote, “it is hard to find recent publications that can appeal to so varied ages as Liniers’ work does.”

Trevisolli identifies a trend in the Brazilian market that indicates it is evolving towards more serious plots, leaving behind characters like “Monica's Gang, Charlie Brown and Calvin & Hobbes”. Moreover, he considers that “comic books written in Spanish are experiencing a great moment in Brazil”, and that now they are easier to find in the country.

The real adventures of Liniers republished in the blog Raio Laser under a CC License -CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.

Las verdaderas aventuras de Liniers (The real adventures of Liniers) [es] republished in the blog Raio Laser [pt] under a CC License (BY-NC-ND 3.0).
“(1) When you walk around Brasília… (2) you are in the future of the past. (3)… (4) I can´t help thinking about this Woody Allen movie*”.
*In a previous interview, Liniers said that Brasilia reminded [pt] him of the scenario in the movie Sleeper. And, according to the IMDb site, Woody Allen had the intention to shoot Sleeper, his 1973 movie, in Brasília.

How about Chilean comic books?

In another blog post [pt], Gustavo Trevisolli traces a panorama of Chilean comics, acknowledging, after some research in loco, that “Chilean comics are going through a good moment and young authors are excelling”.

Talking about Condorito [es], a popular character in Chile, he mentioned the huge success of this magazine and also the peculiar fact that it was created as a Chilean answer to Disney's Saludos Amigos, an animation that promoted the encounter of Donald Duck and Latin American characters. But Trevisolli also found new materials, such as Malaimagen.

 Asco [es, disgust], por Malaimagen [es]. Published under CC license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 CL.

Asco (Disgust) [es], by Malaimagen [es]. Published under CC license (BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Online comics – bring it on!

Either online or offline, comics assume a new identity in a new scenario marked by intense use of technology for production, promotion, collaboration and sharing. Find out what some Latin American artists have been doing while you were sleeping.

Doctor Comic [es], from Colombia, not only draws but also writes about the industry, both mainstream and local. In the same line of work, the blog by Zuplemento Magazine [es] in Venezuela aims at creating a platform to present artworks produced in the country, either in comics or illustration, because “in spite of its undeniable transcendence, [the Venezuelan artworks] unfortunately have been forgotten within the general cultural framework”.

Artists like Agustina Guerrero [es] from Argentina, amuses volatile men and women with her series “Diario de una volatil” (Diary of a volatile [woman]).

Al acecho [es, ambush], by Agustina Guerrero. Diario de una volatil. Used with permission.

Al acecho (Ambush) [es], by Agustina Guerrero. Diario de una volatil. Used with permission.

In ComicBolivia [es], a whole new world of comic book artists unveils, and one can check the blogroll at the right column looking for Bolivian and Latin American authors, among others.

Alberto Mont, from Chile, who produces Dosis Diarias [es], drops in some good humor.

68, by Alberto Montt.

68, by Alberto Montt. “What if we produced a reality show in which participants got tired at home and pretty soon turned on the TV to watch a reality show?”. Published in Dosis Diarias [es] under a CC License (BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Adriana Blake, from Venezuela, publishes Cuenta Conmigo [es, also available in English] and shows aspects of the daily life of a couple.

Francisco Javier Olea, from Chile, publishes Oleísmos [es] and profiles himself as someone who “rarely speaks seriously and”, when he does so, “the words just won't come out”.

Bridges

Looks like if we search for them, we shall find consistent works in the comics field – not to mention other visual arts – all over the region. But is someone building bridges between these artists? Do all those cultural pots somehow communicate?

Brazilian blogger and comic book editor Garota Sequencial identifies [pt] “movies as the main cultural bridge between latin countries”:

(…) o inter­câm­bio cul­tu­ral com os outros paí­ses da América Latina sem­pre foi pre­ju­di­cado pelos mol­des rela­ti­va­mente res­tri­ti­vos dessa indús­tria [dos quadrinhos], bem como acre­dito que, assim como no Brasil, sua pro­du­ção tenha sido pre­ju­di­cada por per­cal­ços econô­mi­cos. Mas hoje já per­cebo o cinema como prin­ci­pal ponte cul­tu­ral entre os paí­ses lati­nos (…).

(…) cultural interchange between Brazil and other Latin American countries has always been hurt by the relatively restrictive framework of the comic book industry, and I also believe that, as it happened it Brazil, comic book production has also been affected by economic downturns. Nowadays I see that the movies are the main cultural bridge between latin countries (…).

In fact, the image below hints at such a connection too.

Image posted on El blog de Arbelo, a Bolivian artist. “Lady Democracy and her two husbands”, reference to a Brazilian novel and movie.

Apenas Salgo a la Calle #51 (I just go out to the street, #51). Posted on El blog[es] de Arbelo, a Bolivian artist. “Lady Democracy and her two husbands”, reference to a Brazilian novel and movie.

Moving away from artists and aiming the eyes at communities, one can find quite interesting initiatives.

Si no puedo bailar, no es mi revolución (If I cannot dance, it's not my revolution) [pt] is a collective project about “new ideas in Latin America”:

(…) uma rede independente criada para aproximar e relacionar novas ideias latino-americanas. Começou em 2007, com foco em música, para em seguida expandir seu interesse sobre produções e artistas com trabalhos nas áreas de ilustração, design e literatura. Cria e articula projetos, organiza publicações, mostras, e promove ciclos de música.

(…) an independent network formed to gather and correlate new Latin American ideas. Started in 2007, aiming at music, which was followed by the widening focus, looking for artworks and artists from fields like illustration, design and literature. The network creates and articulates projects, organizes publications, exhibitions and promotes music cycles.

The collective is based in São Paulo, Brazil, and counts on collaborators living in several countries.

One of their projects [pt], Não moro mais em mim (I don't inhabit me anymore), combines songs by Adriana Calcanhotto performed by Latin American bands (free download), a website with illustrations by Gustavo Gialuca, and audible links followed by short comments by the bands on places where they have lived before.

Yet another initiative is Se quema y se acaba (It goes away as it burns) [pt]. As stated in the project´s page:

Se quema y se acaba é um pequeno livro de memórias. Uma coletânea de afeto e saudade. Convidamos 19 ilustradores latino-americanos a recriar – sob efeito do tempo e da imaginação – amigos, amores ou colegas que compartilharam a fileira da sala, trocaram recados proibidos, riram do tênis novo ou pouco se falaram. Pessoas que vieram para ir embora. Que se despediram com poucas palavras, e nunca disseram tchau.

It goes away as it burns is a tiny little book of memories. A selection of affection and nostalgia. We have invited 19 Latin American illustrators to recreate – influenced by time and imagination – friends, lovers or mates who shared school rows, exchanged forbidden messages, laughed at the new sneakers or barely talked to one another. People who came just to leave. Whose farewell was with few words, and never said goodbye.

Projeto Nosotros is building bridges to establish cultural bonds within the region. Their homepage reads:

Quando o resto do mundo pensa em América Latina, as primeiras imagens são do nosso folclore e dos povos mais antigos. Mesmo tendo muito orgulho do passado e reconhecendo o quanto ele enriquece a nossa cultura, sabemos que os países e os próprios latino-americanos mudaram muito desde então.

Para desmistificar essa visão que ficou parada no tempo, criamos este projeto que apresenta jovens artistas, profissionais criativos e suas produções na América Latina. Aqui, conversamos e debatemos sobre os processos criativos e referências destes profissionais.

When the rest of the world thinks about Latin America, the first images that comes to mind are those of our folklore and ancestors. As proud as we are of our past, acknowledging how it enriches our culture, we are aware that the Latin American countries and their people have changed a lot since then.

To demystify this vision stuck in time, we have created this project to present young artists, creative professionals and their work in Latin America. Here we can talk and discuss their creative processes and references.

And they do so with interviews, videos and comic strips like this one:

Projeto Nosotros [Project Us, in Spanish], a cultural project under a Latin American perspective. Nosotros Practical Dictionary, lesson 3 published with permission.

Projeto Nosotros [Project Us, in Spanish], a cultural project under a Latin American perspective. Nosotros Practical Dictionary, lesson 3, published with permission.

The image explains how to ask for straws in Spanish (in different places of the Americas) and shows how words can have completely different meanings depending on the country.

In contact with Priscilla Midori and Victor Marcello, the masterminds behind Projeto Nosotros, they were kind enough to indicate extra references of artists to be mentioned in this post. Here they are:

Berliac and Juan Sáenz Valiente [es], are artists from Argentina and stars of this video produced by Projeto Nosotros.

“The comics don't matter to anyone. You can do whatever you want because no one will see it as something serious”, says Sáenz at some point.

Agree/Disagree? Watch the video and see how creative freedom stems from that sense that nobody cares for comics, at least for Sáenz. Don't miss out the thoughts and views of those two artists.

Berliac + Juan Sáenz Valiente [from Argentina]. Video by Projeto Nosotros.

A wide array of initiatives indicate that Latin Americans have very powerful and creative forces in each country, approach subjects with varied techniques, ranging from raw humour to strong criticism, from routine facts of life to deeply human stories full of tenderness. Several initiatives are pursuing new identities while looking back too – where did we come from? Where are we headed to?

From a Brazilian perspective, this is a time when our heroes can hit the big screen in high definition, be them mainstream or independent. And the sounds we listen to, the graphics we stare at, come from very far places, but also from right beside us, in Spanish. ¡Que vengan más!*.

*¡Let there be more!
The two posts focusing on comic books and cultural interchange in Latin America are fruit of the collaborative involvement of Eddie Avila, Laura Vidal, Luis Carlos Díaz, Lully Posada and Sara Moreira. Also, a huge thank you to the artists who authorized us to post samples of their art – Projeto Nosostros (Priscila Midori and Victor Marcello), Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, Agustina Guerrero (Diario de una volatil), and to those who CC licensed their sites – Alberto Montt and Malaimagen.

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