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Viva la historieta

Viva la historieta: Mexican Comics, NAFTA, and the Politics of Globalization

Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Viva la historieta
    Book Description:

    ¡Viva la historieta!critically examines the participation of Mexican comic books in the continuing debate over the character and consequences of globalization in Mexico. The focus of the book is on graphic narratives produced by and for Mexicans in the period following the 1994 implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an economic accord that institutionalized the free-market vision of relationships among the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

    Eight chapters cover a broad range of contemporary Mexican comics, including works of propaganda, romance and adventure, graphic novels, a corporate "brand" series, didactic single-issue books, and a superhero parody series. Each chapter offers an examination of the ways in which specific comics or comic book series represent Mexico's national identity, the U.S.'s influence, and globalization's effects on technology and economics since the passage of NAFTA.

    Through careful attention to how recent Mexican comics portray a changing nation, author Bruce Campbell reveals a contentious range of perspectives on the problems and promises of globalization. At the same time, Campbell argues that the contrasting views of globalization that circulate widely in Mexican historietas reflect a still unsettled relationship between Mexico and its superpower neighbor.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-070-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 INTRODUCTION Reading the Politics of Globalization in Mexican Comics
    (pp. 1-21)

    This book examines the participation of Mexican graphic narrative in the continuing dispute over economic and cultural globalization in Mexico. Eight chapters focus on graphic narratives produced by and for Mexicans in the period following the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. NAFTA represents an important historical reference point because the economic accord institutionalized the so-called Washington consensus—that is, the U.S.-led “free-market” vision of globalization, which favors private sector control of economic policy and the rollback of public guarantees for social services, education, health care, and the like—in the relationships between the United...

  5. 2 GRAPHIC POLITICS Political Elites, Globalization, and “lo Popular”
    (pp. 22-46)

    The end of more than seventy years of uninterrupted rule by Mexico’s Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) coincided with an enhanced profile for the comic book in the Mexican public arena. For the first time since the establishment of one-party rule in 1928, an opposition party defeated the PRI in the 2000 presidential election. The historic victory went to the candidate of the conservative Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN; National Action Party), Vicente Fox. Fox had campaigned with the public endorsement of “Kalimán, el hombre increíble,” a turbaned Mexican superhero with mystical powers who has been a staple of Mexican comics...

  6. 3 LOST IN THE BLUE EYES OF THE NORTH El Libro Vaquero Envisions the U.S. Side of the Border
    (pp. 47-69)

    Thehistorietaform is consumed predominantly by popular social classes whose cultural representation in official public discourse in post-NAFTA Mexico is used to emphasize an upper-middle-class experience and values in a manner consistent with the U.S. cultural model discussed in the introduction. Despite important conflict among political elites, official discourse generally is cut more to the measure of upper-middle-class sensibilities, even when the comic book is used to give that discourse mass appeal. This explains why the Fox comic book’s representation of Mexican workers is immersed in technical economic details and tourism, and why López Obrador’s comic book version of...

  7. 4 NEOLIBERALS ALSO CRY El Libro Semanal and the U.S. Cultural Model
    (pp. 70-91)

    Two young Mexicans, Marco Antonio and Adriana, sit aboard an airplane en route from Canada to Mexico City. She left Mexico after her father died, and completed a university degree in Canada. He was her childhood friend, and bought her father’s business shortly before the elder man’s death. They have issues. (She doesn’t trust his motives.) The scene of their dialogue is displayed in a series of horizontal panels, two per page, the characters and their environment rendered in detail, if somewhat stiffly, in a brownish ink. The perspective alternates from panel to panel between views of the interior and...

  8. 5 EMPIRE AT WORK Comic Books and Working-Class Counterpublics
    (pp. 92-117)

    Reading comic books is generally prohibited on the job—except, that is, when the comic book in question is part of the internal communications strategy of the employer. The Mexican auto parts enterprise Rassini, for example, distributes to its 4,550 employeesContacto Comix, thematic stories featuring fictional company workers Lupita Bujes Maquinado y Resortes and Pepe de la Muelle Disco Ybarra. Installments in the series refer the reader to company-defined values “such as leadership, team work, or annual production goals set by management” (Ramírez Tamayo). Produced on contract with ¡Ka-boom! Estudio, the comic book characters are intended to facilitate factory...

  9. 6 MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT La Familia Burrón and the Politics of Modernization
    (pp. 118-141)

    Gabriel Vargas’sLa Familia Burrónis uniquely valued as an expression of Mexican national identity that transcends demarcation between “high culture” and popular culture. The cultural imprint of Mexico’s one-time extensive comic book industry is felt in the sentimental and nostalgic remembering of the golden era of the 1940s through 1960s, when series likeLa Familia Burrón, Kalimán, Fantomas: La amenaza elegante(Fantomas: The Elegant Menace), and others enjoyed mass readerships under government supports for the domestic cultural market. In one recent news article, the Mexican comic book is lamented as a thing of the past: “a species gone extinct,...

  10. 7 CAPITALISM’S HERO Las aventuras del Dr. Simi
    (pp. 142-163)

    Dr. Simi is short, and his round bald head, snow-white eyebrows, and handlebar mustache indicate that he is elderly as well. His demeanor is generally pleasant, and understandably so, since he lives a life without personal adversity. He has access to unlimited means of travel—late-model cars and trucks, helicopters, and even airplanes—and is always accompanied by beautiful women, who form his “Team Simi.” He is worldly and well-read, travels constantly, revels in competition as an end in itself, and celebrates “cultured” knowledge (for example, Shakespeare, Gandhi). His style of dress is modestly formal, except on special occasions, when...

  11. 8 OPERACIÓN BOLÍVAR: The Work of Art in the Age of Globalization
    (pp. 164-186)

    “When our Spanish ancestors arrived on the continent,” reads the brief introduction to Edgar Clement’s graphic novelOperación Bolívar, “they did not come alone, with them came their gods and their armies of armed angels. For our indigenous ancestors these angels were not the incense vendors of the present day, they were emissaries of destruction. Between the sword of Cortés and the sword of Saint Michael the Archangel there was no difference” (1). In response to fierce resistance from the indigenousbrujos(medicine men) andnahuales(guardian animal spirits), “the Holy Inquisition closed ranks with the archangels in the persecution...

  12. 9 EL BULBO VS. THE MACHINE Graphic Artistry as Superpower
    (pp. 187-211)

    The superhero takes flight, launching himself in a long arc over the city with a look of determination and righteous purpose in his eyes. In his sights: a monstrous threat to the innocent citizenry looms on the horizon, a swath of crushed buildings and terrorized victims trailing behind. The superhero aims himself like a bullet, rocketing through the sky directly at his target. The self-sacrificing hero, equipped with extraordinary powers—an exceptional individual who serves as protector of the everyday, ordinary mass of society—throws himself into the path of the oncoming horror. This embodiment of the collective good slams...

    (pp. 212-220)

    Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart read Donald Duck in order to expose the imperial cultural model at work. Their critical reading operated at a parallel to a productive project aimed at launching a nationally oriented cultural model, grounded in the authentic needs and sensibilities of popular sectors, and subtending a “true” national sovereignty. Their reading was a critical market intervention—a guide for consumption, and an opening of cultural space for imagining an alternative symbology and discourse in the cultural market. Their argument also presented the rationale for a state policy that would favor Chilean production. Such a policy is...

    (pp. 221-226)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 227-234)