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”