A study of how a nation's comics artists grapple with economic upheaval.
¡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.
Illustration--From Guía del migrante mexicano (Guide for the Mexican Migrant), courtesy Ministry of Foreign Relations, Mexico
Bruce Campbell —
Bruce Campbell is associate professor of Hispanic studies at St. John's University/College of St. Benedict. He is the author of Mexican Murals in Times of Crisis.
Campbell, Bruce. ¡Viva la historieta!: Mexican comics, NAFTA, and the politics of globalization. University Press of Mississippi, 2009. 234p bibl index afp; ISBN 9781604731255; ISBN 9781604731262 pbk. Reviewed in 2009aug CHOICE.
Analyzing Mexico's globalization experience through the medium of comic books, Campbell (Hispanic studies, St. John's Univ./College of St. Benedict) pays close attention to the launching of NAFTA in 1994 and US-led trade agreements that followed. The author orients chapters to specific historietas (comics) that relate to entities and elements of Mexico's political economy: migrants and social reality in the US (El Libro Vaquero), Mexican popular sentiment about US culture (El Libro Semanal), the transnational corporate marketing of Mexican pharmaceuticals internationally (Las Aventuras del Dr Simi), the politics of national economic development and questionable neoliberal globalism (La Familia Burrón), and cultural and ideological critiques of Mexico's globalization efforts (Operación Bolívar and El Bulbo). Campbell makes the point that though readership of comics has decreased since their heyday in the 1940s-70s, their use in the political process for propagandistic mass appeal has expanded. Though this reviewer would have appreciated better coverage of the rich history of Mexican comic books and of recent comic-art scholarship, particularly that of Héctor D. Fernández L'Hoeste, this carefully researched book--which incorporates a great deal of social science and humanities literature--adds to an area sorely in need of further study: political economy and comics.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. -- J. A. Lent, Temple University