García’s cartoons consistently speak truth to power, weaving a narrative of fierce and continuous resistance.
Along the way, García pays tribute to his influences. One cartoon depicts Liberty reading Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States in bed next to Uncle Sam. She grips its pages tightly as she frets to herself, “I’ll never look at Sam the same way again.” Other inspirations cited by García include African-American graphic artist Elizabeth Catlett, who worked in the revolutionary Mexican print artists’ collective Taller de Gráfica Popular; and José Montoya, a pioneering art activist in the Chicano movement.
García’s messaging is crystal clear, though the brutal honesty of his images may be disturbing. The historical perspective threaded through the cartoons is centered on the story of the conquest of the Americas, with its ensuing problems of capitalism and racial inequality. His easily recognizable figures — cigar-chomping fat cats, a blindfolded Greco-Roman Lady Justice, Liberty and Sam, piggy policemen — would be equally at home in a newspaper from the Gilded Age. The situational violence and gluttony he imbues these characters with, however, is woefully contemporary. As a collection, García’s cartoons consistently speak truth to power, weaving a narrative of fierce and continuous resistance.
In his foreword to the book, editor Frederick Luis Aldama praises the intensity of García’s images, calling them “precisely the kind of one-panel
cartoons that I seek out to experience discomfort more than comfort. García’s geometric eye for art and sharp ear for dialogue and commentary clear the space for us to perceive, think, and feel anew about the world we inhabit.” The weight of the world may rest on García’s pen as he distills and exorcises painful truths on paper. But as long as he continues drawing on his anger, readers can benefit from the catharsis his work provides. — Molly Boyle
Eric J. García presents Drawing on Anger at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10. The NHCC is at 1701 4th St. SW, 505-246-2261. There is no charge for the event.