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Viva la historieta

Mexican Comics, NAFTA, and the Politics of Globalization

Bruce Campbell

Publication Year: 2009

¡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.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Cover/Title Page/Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This book could not have been written without the support of my wife and best friend, Jessica Cohen. Her loving patience and encouragement sustained me throughout the arduous process of conceiving a book-length argument, and her frequent willingness to shoulder more than her share of our domestic labor afforded me the luxury ...

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1. Introduction: Reading the Politics of Globalization in Mexican Comics

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pp. 1-21

This book examines the participation of Mexican graphic narrative in the continuing dispute over economic and cultural globalization in Mexico. Eight chapters focus on graphic narratives produced by and for Mexicans in the period following the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. ...

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2. Graphic Politics: Political Elites, Globalization, and “lo Popular

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pp. 22-46

The end of more than seventy years of uninterrupted rule by Mexico’s Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) coincided with an enhanced profile for the comic book in the Mexican public arena. For the first time since the establishment of one-party rule in 1928, an opposition party defeated the PRI in the 2000 presidential election. ...

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3. Lost in the Blue Eyes of the North: El Libro Vaquero Envisions the U.S. Side of the Border

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pp. 47-69

The historieta form is consumed predominantly by popular social classes whose cultural representation in official public discourse in post-NAFTA Mexico is used to emphasize an upper-middle-class experience and values in a manner consistent with the U.S. cultural model discussed in the introduction. ...

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4. Neoliberals Also Cry: El Libro Semanal and the U.S. Cultural Model

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pp. 70-91

Two young Mexicans, Marco Antonio and Adriana, sit aboard an airplane en route from Canada to Mexico City. She left Mexico after her father died, and completed a university degree in Canada. He was her childhood friend, and bought her father’s business shortly before the elder man’s death. ...

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5. Empire at Work: Comic Books and Working-Class Counterpublics

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pp. 92-117

Reading comic books is generally prohibited on the job—except, that is, when the comic book in question is part of the internal communications strategy of the employer. The Mexican auto parts enterprise Rassini, for example, distributes to its 4,550 employees Contacto Comix, ...

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6. Memories of Underdevelopment: La Familia Burrón and the Politics of Modernization

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pp. 118-141

Gabriel Vargas’s La Familia Burrón is uniquely valued as an expression of Mexican national identity that transcends demarcation between “high culture” and popular culture. The cultural imprint of Mexico’s one-time extensive comic book industry is felt in the sentimental and nostalgic remembering of the golden era of the 1940s through 1960s, ...

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7. Capitalism’s Hero: Las aventuras del Dr. Simi

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pp. 142-163

Dr. Simi is short, and his round bald head, snow-white eyebrows, and handlebar mustache indicate that he is elderly as well. His demeanor is generally pleasant, and understandably so, since he lives a life without personal adversity. He has access to unlimited means of travel—late-model cars and trucks, helicopters, and even airplanes ...

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8. Operación Bolívar: The Work of Art in the Age of Globalization

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pp. 164-186

“When our Spanish ancestors arrived on the continent,” reads the brief introduction to Edgar Clement’s graphic novel Operación Bolívar, “they did not come alone, with them came their gods and their armies of armed angels. For our indigenous ancestors these angels were not the incense vendors of the present day, ...

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9. El Bulbo Vs. The Machine: Graphic Artistry as Superpower

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pp. 187-211

The superhero takes flight, launching himself in a long arc over the city with a look of determination and righteous purpose in his eyes. In his sights: a monstrous threat to the innocent citizenry looms on the horizon, a swath of crushed buildings and terrorized victims trailing behind. ...

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pp. 212-220

Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart read Donald Duck in order to expose the imperial cultural model at work. Their critical reading operated at a parallel to a productive project aimed at launching a nationally oriented cultural model, grounded in the authentic needs and sensibilities of popular sectors, and subtending a “true” national sovereignty. ...

Works Cited

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pp. 221-226


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pp. 227-234

E-ISBN-13: 9781621030706
E-ISBN-10: 1604731265
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604731262

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2009