Su­per­pow­er­ing la Raza

Lat­inx Comic Book Sto­ry­telling

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - Casey Sanchez I For The New Mex­i­can

IFLat­inx Comic Book Sto­ry­telling: An Odyssey by In­ter­view were merely Fred­er­ick Luis Al­dama’s fifth book on the sub­ject in 10 years, that feat alone would be im­pres­sive. (Lat­inx, pro­nounced “La-teen-ex,” is a term that is both gen­der-neu­tral and trans-in­clu­sive that has emerged pri­mar­ily in academia and ac­tivist so­cial me­dia to re­fer to per­sons of Latin Amer­i­can her­itage.) But Al­dama’s new tome on the ever-ex­pand­ing uni­verse of Lat­inx comics is also one of 29 books he has pub­lished in the last 14 years. It’s a vast oeu­vre that in­cludes Al­dama’s own bilin­gual flash fic­tions along with his well-re­garded stud­ies of Lat­inx pop cul­ture, cin­ema, fic­tion, sports, and mul­ti­cul­tural modes of hu­mor. A distin­guished pro­fes­sor of arts and hu­man­i­ties at the Ohio State Univer­sity, Al­dama also lec­tures on video games and vis­ual art, di­rects the univer­sity’s Latino and Latin Amer­i­can Space for En­rich­ment Re­search (which he also founded), and serves as an af­fil­i­ate fac­ulty mem­ber at the Cen­ter for Cog­ni­tive and Be­hav­ioral Brain Imag­ing. With a sched­ule that packed and a ros­ter of in­tel­lec­tual pur­suits that deep, why has this man writ­ten five books on Lat­inx comics? Al­dama makes a point that is bol­stered by the num­ber of comic artists in­ter­viewed in this an­thol­ogy: Lat­inx comics may be the 21st-cen­tury’s only art form that has re­mained vi­tal and ac­ces­si­ble to young peo­ple while still man­ag­ing to con­vey the his­to­ries, pol­i­tics, and mytholo­gies of Me­soamer­ica and the Caribbean and also speak­ing to the deeply per­sonal con­flicts of their read­ers. With their ten­dency to be caught be­tween worlds, comic book he­roes flex their su­per­pow­ers as they tran­scend the mun­dane strug­gles that en­snare so many, in­clud­ing a dys­func­tional fam­ily life, an un­car­ing cul­ture, or an un­for­giv­ing job. “With an ab­sen­tee fa­ther, you are forced to de­fine man­hood your­self. Comics were an ob­vi­ous draw. Su­per­heroes es­pe­cially,” says Alex Oli­vas, a Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based comic artist in­ter­viewed in the book. Oli­vas’ own fa­ther was both a so­cial ac­tivist and a fed­eral in­mate. “They used the same for­mula that Dis­ney used: vic­tim­ized or­phans deal­ing with the legacy of their par­ents who be­come so­cial cru­saders. At their worst comics are male ado­les­cent power fan­tasies. At their best they taught gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren to read. Th­ese sto­ries taught fa­ther­less boys and girls about morals and ethics . ... Comic books al­lowed me to ex­plore my Latino her­itage and to de­fine man­hood for

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