Comic Heroes - - Contents -

In­tro­duc­ing our reg­u­lar colum­nist: Leah Moore!

Ibe­gan typ­ing this in a tiny court­yard, out­side my villa, where the kind folks of Pix­e­latl had put me while I at­tended their trans­me­dia fes­ti­val. The fes­ti­val pro­motes and cel­e­brates the cre­ative ta­lent abun­dant in Mex­ico in comics, an­i­ma­tion and video games.

Ni­mona cre­ator Noelle Steven­son was a guest, as well as Book Of Life cre­ator/ di­rec­tor Jorge R. Gu­tiér­rez and John Andrews, cre­ator of Beavis and Butthead.

This was a world class event.

I strug­gled to com­pute that it was a con­ven­tion, be­cause there were flamin­gos and tou­cans and the set­ting was a lush trop­i­cal gar­den where peo­ple lounged on bean­bags in sun­shine un­der palm trees. It was a con­ven­tion though, with booths sell­ing Cin­tiq tablets, comic books, art sup­plies and even re­mote-con­trolled drones. There were talks and pan­els which were al­ways packed out, and where the Q&As felt too short.

We were there partly to judge a comics con­test, where creators pitched their projects. If they made it to fi­nal­ists they would have their comics printed, and if they went on to win they would get tick­ets to San Diego Comic-Con. It’s a big deal.

My­self and Daniel Mer­lin Good­brey, one of my co-con­spir­a­tors on Elec­tri­comics sat down and heard eight pitches.

Ri­cardo Farías and Diana Hernán­dez showed us Inc, a sci-fi adventure where ex­tremophiles are en­gi­neered to give hu­mans the power of in­vis­i­bil­ity. There was Aquí Está El by Oren Juice, a haunt­ing tale where pres­sures and ex­pec­ta­tion are vi­su­alised in dis­turb­ing de­tail.

Si­nap­sis­tem by Al­berto Hernán­dez Velázquez is set in a sin­is­ter world where the rich use the poor in a grue­some video game. And En Busca de Chi­mango by Ro­drigo Macareño Bringas is about a young boy’s quest for a strange crea­ture which brings him to a li­brary and then adventure.

Our favourite, and stand out ta­lent, was Un Claro En El Basque by Ale­jan­dra Elena Gámez, where a girl dis­cov­ers some­thing un­ex­pected in the woods, and finds her­self drawn into a strange and mys­te­ri­ous world of fan­tasy and folk­lore.

Fi­nal­ists were El Nahualo by Mario Garza and Juan Manuel Colín. A beau­ti­fully drawn

mytho­log­i­cal adventure fea­tur­ing di­verse crea­tures from Mex­i­can folk­lore, and Ego­ista by José Gar­cia, with his in­cred­i­ble line work, and in­no­va­tive story about so­cial me­dia. We also picked out @ElTwitIl­lustrado, which turns tweets from the artists’ time­line into one panel gags.

There was not one that re­sem­bled a main­stream comic, in style or con­tent. Not one that was not as unique as its cre­ator.

I am used to a con­ven­tion cir­cuit where cre­ative ta­lent is bril­liant, but where the goal seems to be to en­ter the main­stream, a big brand clique who have con­trol of a small cast of char­ac­ters.

There are many creators and pub­lish­ers who strive to bring some­thing orig­i­nal to the mar­ket, but on the con­ven­tion floor, at­ten­dees are bom­barded with the same lo­gos, the same merch, the same prop­er­ties.

We must be care­ful not to con­flate the in­fin­itely mal­leable medium of comics with the in­dus­try of comics, which re­mains tied to prac­tices from over 60 years ago.

Comics as an in­dus­try has ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to in­no­vate. Ev­ery se­ries, and is­sue is a chance to bring some­thing fresh and there are creators and pub­lish­ers who do suc­ceed and do that. They make things that are unique and full of heart, and I would urge creators and read­ers to seek out this nov­elty.

I am not sug­gest­ing that we should throw away the cul­tural bedrock on which the whole medium is grounded, far from it, but we should try to make comics that no­body else could make; things that speaks from our hearts, and which con­tain some part of us.

We came home daz­zled by the pas­sion, in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity so abun­dant at Pix­e­latl. My take-away from it? This is a tiny sam­ple of what Mex­i­can creators have to of­fer. The world should keep its eye on them, for there are won­ders in store.

“There was not one that re­sem­bled a main­stream comic in style or con­tent”

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