Resurrecting ‘Stories That Must Not Die,’ A Chilling, Seminal Collection of South Texas Folklore by Juan Sauvageau

This piece by Joe Galvan is dynamite: https://www.texasmonthly.com/the-culture/stories-that-must-not-die-juan-sauvageau-south-texas-folklore/?fbclid=IwAR2sJMUsPo0z6bhiElWcXG1IArxXhlHydnwPTjXfWZlB64qOzwYs11gOD0U

It’s a deep, midnight-colored October evening in 1992. The first chill of autumn has arrived in Harlingen, bringing a reprieve from the summer heat that has lingered too long. Eight-year-old me pulls a dog-eared paperback from my backpack and I turn on the bedside lamp. The book’s edges have yellowed, but the pages inside remain creamy white. Flipping through it, I can smell decades of history—its stories told countless times on cool concrete porches or warm wooden rockers or over coffee-stained kitchen tables. I read the title out loud—Stories That Must Not Die. Ask anyone who went to elementary school in South Texas what Stories That Must Not Die is, and you’ll hear a variety of answers. To scholars, it’s a collection of folklore. To teachers, it’s a valuable bilingual teaching aid. To students and parents, though, it’s a treasure trove of the region’s best-known, most beloved tales.

There is a sophistication and poise in Stories That Must Not Die, a sort of straightforward beauty in each of the collected stories. Juan Sauvageau’s Spanish translations bear the hallmarks of border Spanish—the indigenous loanwords, the syntax, the same two-stepping cadences and rhythms that aren’t found anywhere else. Think of your grandmother sitting under a warm yellow bug light under the carport on a humid evening, sipping a cup of black coffee, speaking with all the gravitas of a courtroom deposition about the apparition of the infamous Woman in Black, or the devil in the Bluetown well on the way to Brownsville. Try not to scoff at the miraculous cures that Don Pedrito Jaramillo made in his clapboard cabin in Hebbronville, tenuous proof of faith in a faithless world. Try not to say a prayer when you hear thunder crack through the bluest sea breeze of a hot South Texas afternoon. These are all things I read in Stories That Must Not Die, and was moved by the singular resonance of their simplicity and bilingual elegance.

These ghost stories are not merely told to frighten children into behaving. They are the record of a collective memory marred by colonialism and intergenerational violence, a world of ranches and chaparral touched by fire from Mexican muskets and Texas Ranger pistols and lightning from above. And we would not have them had it not been for a French-Canadian man who came to be known as Juan Sauvageau.

Born in Québec, John James Sauveageau was the author of all four volumes of Stories That Must Not Die. He lived and worked in Mexico, France, Spain, and other parts of the United States before coming to South Texas sometime during the mid-20th century to teach at what is now Texas A&M–Kingsville. Intrigued by idiosyncratic Tejano culture, he visited ranches and towns from Laredo to Brownsville in search of folklore.

By the mid-1970s the tales he’d collected were showing up in local newspapers, all over the Rio Grande Valley. Sauvageau—who had changed his first name to Juan—had collected a handful of stories in Spanish, translated them into English, and published them in 1976. All four volumes have an eye-catching design: The titles appear in a chunky Roman font, accompanied by a drawing of a jeweled, hilted sword pointing downward. Roel Montalvo’s illustrations are loopy and true to their 1970s origin (one of the depicted characters resembles Charles Bronson, helmet hair and all).

Sauvageau—who died in Meridian, Idaho in 2011—originally wrote Stories That Must Not Die with young readers in mind. Their entire purpose was to foster bilingual literacy and cultural understanding. At that point, very few people (Gloria Anzaldúa and Américo Paredes, for example) had tackled the torturous history of the Rio Grande Valley as a standalone subject. But Sauvageau carefully collected the stories and presented them in a storybook format, along with a word list and reading comprehension questions in both English and Spanish. Kids and teachers loved the stories for different reasons: teachers appreciated the folkloric tales’ educational impact, while scary story-loving kids ate up the accounts of ghostly weeping women, poor little naked birds, and vanishing hitchhikers–stories all situated in their own backyard.

But the real brilliance of Stories That Must Not Die lies in its matter-of-fact retellings of key moments in Tejano history. “Los Rinches,” for instance, is a half-true recounting of the Texas Rangers’ misdeeds in South Texas, which were only commemorated in recent years with a historical marker near Brownsville. Another tells the true tale of Gregorio Cortéz, whose exploits won him both the admiration and scorn of Texans north and south of the Nueces. Sauvageau carefully skirts controversy by glossing over some events, but otherwise correctly relays historical truths. For some Tejano kids like myself, these stories were the first time we’d been introduced to a history of our own people.

The book’s most famous tales have been inscribed in the memory of every Chicano child: Particularly that of La Llorona, who drowns her children in the Rio Grande (specifically in a place called “El Rincón del Diablo” in Laredo, “The Devil’s Corner”) because she cannot give them a better life. This version of the legend adopts a very American moral obsession with material security and happiness, and is markedly different than the more moralistic rendition in Mexico that reflects aspects of genocide. Another famous story, “The Handsome Stranger,” recounts how a spoiled, selfish girl disobeys her mother’s forbiddance to attend a dance and finds herself pulled into the arms of Satan himself in a horrifying whirl of sulphur and brimstone. Animal stories are included alongside the ghost stories, reflective of the ancient cultures of indigenous people on the lower border.

In their truest form, the stories preserved memories of a landscape punctuated with doubt and fear; the violence suffered by Leonora Rodríguez de Ramos, the ‘Woman in Black’ seen traversing the intersection of Highway 281 and Farm-to-Market road 141 near Ben Bolt, is both an historical fact and a moral admonishment. Her hanging (which occurred before statehood) is a bone-chilling reminder of the scourge of domestic violence that can exist within Hispanic families.

I often think of that cool Friday night when I read my first volume of Stories That Must Not Die, cover to cover. I read the other three volumes within weeks and acquainted myself with their facts as if I were investigating a crime scene. At school, details were embellished among children who’d heard them; the stories mutated into the tallest of tales. Adults were consulted to verify their accuracy. All four volumes were perpetually checked out by fascinated schoolchildren all school year long .

Sauvageau’s work is hard to find nowadays though—the forty stories have never been collected into one single volume, and aside from a few cursory reprints of individual stories with illustrations by regional artists like Noé Vela and Jessica P. González, a complete Stories That Must Not Die remains elusive. Their presence in the minds of Tejanos as a source of literary inspiration is impressive: taken as a whole, they represent an important South Texan variety of Southern Gothic literature. Countless writers (like Donna native and writer David Bowles) have cited Sauvageau’s work as an important contributor to the literary heritage of Texas. I myself owe a great deal of debt as a writer to Stories That Must Not Die, both as an appreciator of Texas history, and as a writer of fiction centered on the border and the people who live there.

In the hearts and minds of many Tejanos, however, these books remain enshrined as a quintessential goth essential. Like all things from South Texas, these cherished volumes of folklore deserve greater attention—a rediscovery—especially now as Texas comes to terms with the violent and vengeful ghosts of its not-too-distant past. As an adult I can see the animosity that belied the supposedly harmonious world of the Rio Grande Valley. I can see ruthless Texas Rangers, heartless Mexican brigands, powerless farm laborers, and unscrupulous land barons. I can see the wide plains of the border spread out like a tablecloth—a battlefield, a contest of wills—between traditional and emerging identities, touched by steel and born in blood and fire, separated by a stinking river.

When I read Stories That Must Not Die, I am reminded of the perennial tragedy and heartbreak that marked the lives of people who lived here, how close they were to losing it all, how unfortunate were those who did. Their legacy is immortalized in these fables, legends, ghost stories. For nearly five decades these tales have lingered with anyone lucky enough to read them—and they will continue to for years to come. In fifty years’ time there may be more Stories That Must Not Die that will both haunt and inspire our children. It will be up to us to explain, in our own way, why those stories matter.

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New Book: In Dust & Dusk by Esteban Rodriguez

“In Dust & Dusk by Esteban Rodríguez, the ordinary and the astounding enrich and enlarge each other. These poems shimmer with surprising phrasing and dazzling figurative language. We encounter ‘pews of dirt’ and the month of June becomes a ‘fugitive outrunning spring’s custody.’ There’s emotional range, too. Sorrow and wonder, and all their synonyms, darken and illuminate the poems. Rodríguez is a gifted poet who has written an impressive and memorable book.” —Eduardo Corral, author of Slow Lightning

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press) and the micro-chapbook Soledad (Ghost City Press, 2019). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Arts & Letters, The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Puerto del Sol, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. His reviews have appeared in PANK and American Book Review. He lives with his family and teaches in Austin, Texas.

New Podcast heading your way! “Imagining Latinidades”

Any podcast fans out there? There’s a new podcast heading your way called “Imagining Latinidades.”

You can read more about it at their website: https://podcast.imagininglatinidades.com/

Imagining Latinidades is a bi-weekly podcast about Latina/o/x Studies, which is spending its first year as a standalone and companion podcast for the University of Iowa hosted, Andrew W. Mellon Foundationfunded, Sawyer Seminar titled “Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging.”

Make sure to subscribe: https://podcast.imagininglatinidades.com/episodes/imagining-latini-what

The CXC-Sol-Con Interviews – Breena Nuñez on Identity, Autobiography & Crocodile Girl

This interview from Philippe LeBlanc is a little old (2017), but it’s a worthwhile read on a super talented writer/artist. https://www.comicsbeat.com/the-cxc-sol-con-interviews-breena-nunez-on-identity-autobiography-crocodile-girl/

 

Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (or CXC) is a four day festival in Columbus, Ohio celebrating the work of cartoonists and providing chances to learn more about the medium. It’s mission is “to provide an international showcase for the best of cartoon art in all its forms, including comics, animation, editorial cartoons, newspaper strips, and beyond, in a city that is a growing center of importance to comics and cartooning. We also focus on helping the next generation of young cartooning talent develop thriving careers that invigorate the industry for years to come.” In the spirit of this mission, the Comics Beat has conducted a series of interviews with some of the phenomenal cartoonists in attendance at this year’s Cartoon Crossroads Columbus. We hope that these interviews will improve our understanding of these creators voices, techniques, interests and influences as well as provide a platform for comics enthusiasts to discover new artists and challenge their conceptions of comics.

This year, Cartoon Crossroads Columbus is collaborating with SÕL-CON, The Brown and Black Comics Expo. SÕL-CON focuses on creators with a Latino or African-American background. It’s a different entity and convention than CXC, but they are collaborating this year to make a more wholesome experience for attendees. Some creators are attending this joint collaborative event and this includes Breena Nuñez. Breena is a cartoonist and musician based in the Bay area. She’s currently working on a crowdfunded project called They call me Mix, an autobiographical comic about how the author (Lourdes) came to identify as non-binary. We’ve talked about autobiography and the recurring themes of identity in her work.

Philippe Leblanc: For those readers who may not be familiar with you and your work, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Breena Nuñez: Sure thing! I’m a cartoonist and musician from the Bay Area of California who was mostly raised in San Bruno by my migrant family from Central America. After high school I attended San Francisco State and studied graphic design while also participating in a few student organizations such as USEU, MEChA, and Clinica Martin-Baro (a student run clinic based in San Francisco). But I feel like I’m not so much of a traditional designer since I use most of my time to create zines, mini-comics while also being an after school art teacher within the San Francisco School District.

PL: You will be illustrating a comic book called They Call me Mix, an autobiographical comic about how came to identify as non-binary that was successfully crowdfunded last month. The creator of the project, Lourdes mentions on the crowdfunding page that the project came about after talking with kindergarten classes about their experience over the past few years. This comic is an attempt to widen the audience for this discussion beyond those that can be physically reached. I’m curious to know how you got involved in this project and how this project interested you?

BN: They Call Me Mix is going to be published moreso as a bilingual children’s book and I’m very honored to have been asked by Lourdes to essentially illustrate some very intimate life moments. Lourdes knew of my illustration work through my Instagram profile and we coincidentally shared the same dance floor at an Oakland dance party/fundraiser hosted by Queer Qumbia. I was approached by Lourdes to see if I was interested in collaborating with them and I immediately said yes! I think the universe just kept guiding me to wonderful folks like Lourdes who are making a difference for children and young queer folks of color here in the Bay Area. I owe a lot to our community for embracing me, talking me through my own queerness, and for constantly sharing their love for my work.

PL: When you launch a crowdfunding campaign, you put yourself at the mercy of your audience, fans and the internet. They may not have been as responsive as you hoped, but the response was overwhelmingly positive. What do you think made this project so successful?

BN: Well, I believe it is the value that people see in Lourdes and in their story. It is a beautiful time to be a child because there are even more bilingual and multicultural books that are accessible to children. But I think Lourdes is beginning to make children’s books more queer for that little brown kid who is questioning their identity, and who’d like to see someone who went through the same experience they are going through.

PL: You’ve just released a new comic at the San Francisco Zine Fest called Dear Sentida. Could you tell us a little bit more about this comic?

BN: Hehehe, so this mini-comic was actually an assignment I completed for a studio class at California College of the Arts. It was more of a test for me to see how much fun I was having creating these characters that are based off of myself, my partner, and my overall awkward interactions I have on the daily. The little crocodile character is based off of my nahual (Mayan spirit) and will most likely reflect inner monologues that I have with myself when encountering socially awkward situations or moments of deep-deep thought when dealing with unraveling my ethnic identity. Dear Sentida will most likely be a small piece a part of a larger project which will be my masters thesis for the MFA in Comics program at CCA.

PL: You’ve been working on a strip called Sentimental Sequential, can you tell us a bit more about this?

BN: Doh!… this is pretty much is Dear Sentida. I apologize for the confusion but I changed the name of this smaller project from Sentimental Sequential to Dear Sentida because I always want to make sure that I’m also speaking to other awkward latinx folks who consider themselves to be emotional, shy, and self-conscious.

PL: You made a zine called Center of my Heart, which focuses on portraits of women that inspired you. How did you decided what and who to include in this zine?

BN: This zine is a love letter dedicated to the different Central American women who I feel empower me and the work I do. Many of the illustrations are inspired by other Central Americans who I have come across in my life within community organizing, zine fests, social media, and even when I traveled back to my mother’s home country of Guatemala.

PL: Do you have any new comics or material you’re bringing to CXC? If so, can you tell us a little bit more about them/it?

BN: I will be selling a mini-comic I released earlier this year called Crocodile Girl and it talks about the relationship I have with my nahual and how I use identity to real from acts of racism.

PL: Identity is a recurring theme in your work, whether it’s your involvement on They Call me Mix, or with your short comic Colocha-Head. Why is that?

BN: Well, I think as people of color in the United States we carry multiple identities. Sometimes we are asked to embrace them and other times we are discouraged to reveal certain parts of our identity. I sometimes ask myself if I’m Central American enough or if I’m even afrolatinx enough because our younger self were not always seeing black and brown characters celebrating their roots. Comics, children’s books, and zines are already building confidence in this new generation who get excited and prideful when they see characters that reflect their culture.

You can follow Breena Nuñez’s work on her website, or follow her onFacebook. You can also buy her work on her online store.

New Book: Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity edited by Grisel Y. Acosta

Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity is an exploration of Latinas on the periphery of both Latina culture and mainstream culture in the United States. Whether they are deliberately rejected or whether they choose to reject sexist, classist, or racist practices within their cultures, the subjects of these articles, essays, short fiction, poems, testimonios, and visual art demonstrate the value of their experience. Ultimately, the outsider experience influences what the larger culture adopts, demonstrating that a different perspective is key to remaking Latina identity. Outside perspectives include those of queer, indigenous, Afro-Latina, activist, and differently-abled individuals.

By challenging stereotypes and revealing the diverse range of narratives that make up the Latina experience, Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity will expand and deepen notions of the Latina identity for students and researchers of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

New Book: Cabañuelas by Norma Elia Cantú

Nena leaves Laredo, Texas, and moves to Madrid, Spain, to research the historical roots of traditional fiestas in Laredo. Immersing herself in post-Franco Spain and its rich history, its food, music, and fiestas, Nena finds herself falling for Paco, a Spaniard who works in publishing. Nena’s research and experiences teach her about who she is, where she comes from, and what is important to her, but as her work comes to a close, Nena must decide where she can best be true to her entire self: in Spain with Paco or in Laredo, her home, where her job and family await her return.Norma Elia Cantú is the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University. Her recent works include Transcendental Train Yard: A Collaborative Suite of SerigraphsCanícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, Updated Edition (UNM Press), and the coedited anthology Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art.

 

 

New Book: Ballad of a Slopsucker by Juan Alvarado Valdivia

Check out this new book from UNM press!

A young widower visits Chichén Itzá to honor his wife; family dynamics unravel at a child’s birthday party; the lead singer of a high school metal band faces his dreaded tenth reunion; a serial killer believes he’s been blessed by God to murder bicycle thieves—Alvarado Valdivia’s debut collection of short stories ranges from dark to light and is written with a storyteller’s skill and compassion. Based in Northern California and examining a variety of themes, including love, family, and masculinity, these stories offer an important new perspective on the experiences of Latinos and Latinas in the United States and complicate ideas of nationhood, identity, and the definition of home.

 

Juan Alvarado Valdivia was born to Peruvian parents and raised in Fremont, California. He is the author of ¡Cancerlandia!: A Memoir (UNM Press).

Cómix Latinx Interview: DESIREE RODRIGUEZ

A riveting interview done by Chris Hernandez for Comicosity.com: http://www.comicosity.com/comix-latinx-interview-desiree-rodriguez/

Bring up a comic book title with another reader and you might get asked who wrote it or who drew it. It’s very rare, if ever, that you will hear a book referred to by the name of the colorist, letterer, or editor. The rest of the team if even remembered is often relegated the status of hired help: paid to neither be seen or heard. Though comic book culture tends to elevate one job over the other, editor Desiree Rodriguez points out that it is more than just a one person effort. “Every part of the team is important,” Rodriguez says. “The most obvious aspects of a comic – the art and storytelling – get a lot of focus which is completely understandable, but lettering, colors, and editing all play a huge part in the creation of that book”

Rodriguez, a Boricua and New Jersey native, knows exactly what she is talking about: her job as editor is to orchestrate the team, the story and art of a comic book story. “I believe a good editor is there to make the book better, to help enhance the story,” she says. Rodriguez is an editor for Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime line, was co-editor for the Puerto Rican Strong anthology, and wrote a story that is included in the Ricanstruction anthology. She not only helps to shape plot lines and characters in comics but is also helping to shape and promote the Latinx narrative in comic books. She has spoken on and written a number of journalistic pieces centered around Latinx identity and even coined a hashtag, #BeingLatinxinComics, to further the discussion online. I got in touch with Rodriguez to find out more about the importance of an editor in the comic book creation process and to discuss Latinx creators in comic books today.

Chris C. Hernandez: Tell me about your relationship with comic books.

Desiree Rodriguez: When I started reading comic books it was more stuff like Fruits Basket, Rurouni Kenshin, Red River, that was the stuff I grew up on. As I got older I started reading more DC trades with some X-Men and Avengers stuff thrown in.

I had always loved western comic stories, I grew up watching Spider-man, Teen Titans, Justice League, Static Shock. The entire DC animated universe was really formative for me in the same way anime shows like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho all were. They told these stories of heroes, fighting against incredible odds with optimism and compassion.

My favorite sort of character was always the one who was kind, compassionate, even in the face of their own traumas. You know the ones people always say are boring or naïve or dumb? Those were my favorite characters. Also, Scott Summers but people give me a lot of grief for that. But those characters always inspired me the most.

CH: When did you decide to make comic books a career?

DR: Oh gosh, like most Latinas I was always taught to get a stable job, stable career, get married and have kids. I was originally going to be a teacher and treat writing online as a side gig. You can’t make an actual living writing is what I always told myself. But when I moved, I sort of restarted my life a little bit. And with it, decided, what the heck I’ll really put my all into making a career out of doing something in comics. So I wrote, and wrote about comics, movies, television but always about the characters and stories I grew up loving.

I can’t say there was a single point in time when I was like, “yes I’m going to make comics my career” because there wasn’t. It was a slow-going process, a lot of learning, a lot of work, and a bit of luck. Joe Illidge gave me my first job as his part-time assistant working at Lion Forge on the Catalyst Prime line. I was honestly shocked. I always tell people that when he called me I thought we were going to talk about Batman and instead he offered me a job! Now I’ve been at Lion Forge for two years, working full time, editing my own books, I’ve been blessed really.

CH: Why is an editor an important part of the comic book creation team?

DR: Every part of the team is important, the most obvious aspects of a comic – the art and storytelling – get a lot of focus which is completely understandable. But lettering, colors, and editing all play a huge part in the creation of that book.

For editing, a good editor will try to enhance a story’s potential. Where can the story be improved? Let’s change the art here a bit to enhance this scene. Maybe change this character a bit to add some more diversity to the cast. Stuff like that. As well as keeping the team together, keeping the flow of communication moving, getting that book to print so it hits the shelves and gets into the hands of the readers.

But I believe a good editor is there to make the book better, to help enhance the story, but not be the writer, or the artist, or the colorist. I respect every aspect of creating a comic because I respect the time, effort, and craft that goes into that part of the work.

CH: Tell me about some of the different aspects of being an editor? At what point do you come into the comic book making process?

DR: We’re there right at the beginning. When a writer pitches an idea or a story we’re there to help form that idea into a fully fleshed out story or suggest ways it could be better. Maybe there’s a story beat that’s missing, or one that could be expanded upon.

CH: What skills or qualities should a person have to become an editor? What do you have to study to become an editor?

DR: I was lucky, I had a good mentor in Joe, and I can still ask him for advice today. He’s been someone I really respect and admire whose helped me in my career a lot. Then there’s all the amazing editors I work with at Lion Forge.

One thing in particular I love is there’s so many women editors I work with, from Senior level to Assistants, it makes for this great unique environment where you don’t feel like the only woman in the room. Which has happened for most of my time in comics.

There’s also many editors in the industry I really admire like Joamette Gil, Kat Fajardo and Tanaka Slotts. All three are amazing women of color who have award winning books under their belts that didn’t require any big publisher help. They’re telling stories that are wide-spread about various marginalized communities and killing it.

I think some of the skills of a good editor include: good communication skills, respect for others, networking, and understanding the medium top to bottom. You have to understand how an artist works, and the work that goes into drawing a page or a cover for example. I can’t draw, but I’ve been studying just, basics ya know? So I can understand how they work, from line art to colors to letters. I’m still learning though, which I think is another important skill to have, the wiliness to learn. You’ll never know everything and that’s okay, be open to learning new things.

Oh, and technology, keep up with the tech it’ll help you stay organized.

CH: Of course, language adds another aspect to the process of editing a Latinx-centric comic book, but are there any other differences?

DR: I would say the cultural aspect. I’m proudly Puerto Rican, but if I’m editing a book with say, a Mexican-American lead that doesn’t mean I automatically know everything there is to know about what it’s like to be Mexican-American. Sure, there’s crossover, but I haven’t lived that particularly experience. Just like an editor who may be Mexican won’t know the exact experience of what it’s like being Puerto Rican. There’s nuances there you have to respect, learn, and research.

CH: What is your opinion of the current state of Latinx comic books?

DR: I think it could be better, that’s not to say we haven’t made progress, we have. There’s more Latinx characters, creators, and stories in the industry today then say ten or twenty years ago, but we can’t settle. We can do better, and we should always strive to be better.

I’m really excited to see that the La Raza Anthology was recently nominated for an Ignatz Award, and I’m so happy to see Eric Esquivel writing a Vertigo book called Border Town of all things. Like that shit right there is dope, that’s the stuff I want to see. Then you have brands like LatinxGeeks that go to cons, run panels, organize hashtags, promote Latinx written and centric books, comics, TV shows, movies everything.

So, there’s certainly been huge improvement and I think what needs to happen is the continuation of that improvement. We need more Latinx voices within the industry from top to bottom – editors, writers, artists, design, etc. And those voices need to be diverse voices, Afro-Latinx voices especially tend to be drown out or forgotten when discussing Latinx creators or Latinx representation in general. But we can’t have true inclusion nor true, honest, and real representation until we acknowledge all parts of our community and work to uplift the entire community.

So, we’ve made progress, we’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go and grow.

CH: In reviewing and writing about Latinx comic books I’ve noticed that there appears to be a lack of Latina comic book creators that are telling their stories as well. What do you think can be done to change this?

DR: I think it’s not so much there’s a lack of Latina creators, more so there’s a lack of opportunities provided to them. When we were putting together Puerto Rico Strong, one of the things we all pushed for and agreed upon was that a majority of the talent would be Latinx. We also made it a point to reach out to Latina and Latinx creators. They exist, there out there, you just have to look, and give them the opportunity.

I’m a part of a really great Facebook group for Latinx creators and there’s tons of women in the group, heck it was started by a Latina! It’s just a matter of putting in the effort of looking. It’s easier, I think, to create a Latinx character and say, hey my friend – who happens to be a white guy – is a great writer he should be on this book as an editor. And that guy probably is a great writer! I’m not discounting that, but was there any effort to find a Latina to write that character? When the topic comes up,

I’ve seen a lot of arguments that amount to “well there just aren’t any Latinas out there” or some fans will go “well the job went to the best person (who happens to be white)”. It rings false to me because I know there are talented Latina writers out there who are making great indie comics and just haven’t been given the chance to break into the larger industry. No fault of their own, they’re talented as hell, they’re just not being looked at. I don’t think it’s straight up refusal, more like soft ignorance. This is why it’s important to have these discussions, to uplift the community, to learn more about the untapped talent and audience pool at hand.

I firmly believe there are two ways to cure ignorance, one is education the other is empathy. You have to learn about a marginalized community to understand the specific oppressions they’ve faced and still face, but you also have to have empathy for them and want to learn and be a real ally. When it comes to comics, we have to expand our horizons both on the page but also behind it. We have to have creators of all backgrounds existing in various places in comics. And not just as Editors but higher up as well, so we can get the best stories that can be as inclusive and true as possible.

CH: What are some good books that you recommend reading for people wanting to expand their experience with Latinx comics?

DR: Okay so I already mentioned the La Raza Anthonlogy, so that one for sure.Power and Magic isn’t strictly a Latinx comic book but a publisher run by an Afro-Cuban editor so I would support them and their books which are all fantastic.

Frederick Luis Aldama has an entire library of great books that talk about Latinx representation in comics so if you’re looking for something more academic he’s a great place to start, especially his recent book Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics (Latinx Pop Culture).

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez is another easy pick with his La Borinqueña series, including his charity anthology with DC, Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico.

I’m going to throw in some shameless self-promotion and say Puerto Rico Strong, which was a charity anthology Lion Forge published that I worked on as well.

I would also recommend folks check out the #BeingLatinxInComics and #LatinxCreate hashtags on Twitter for more recommendations, and to find more Latinx creators to support.

Learn more about Desiree and her current projects on her website: https://latinasmediamusing.com/

Brothers co-author New Mexican folklore novel

by Elena Mendoza for KRQE: https://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico/brothers-co-author-new-mexican-folklore-novel/1867543405?fbclid=IwAR3NWFnHKpCi0L3lo1GraBVajQz31NqjjVDRzh5zyF9w7iDOGISW0uI_Iag

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A fictional children’s book based on real New Mexican folklore started as a dream for two local brothers and now they’re trying to make it a reality—but they’ll need your help getting it onto bookshelves.

Set in the village of Algodones in 1949, “Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera” incorporates New Mexico’s rich history while sharing a valuable lesson about forgiveness and friendship.

“It’s highlighting just the same way Mark Twain highlighted that culture of that time, we’re hoping to highlight our culture,” said co-author Carlos Meyer.

It’s a fictional tale of a curandera who lives alone in the bosque. She casts a spell on a village boy that turns him into a calf, and the rest of the book involves a quest to turn him back.

“The children have an adventure that day amongst the cottonwood trees in the Bosque, and they would discover why the curandera has turned into a witch,” said co-author Paul Meyer.

Albuquerque natives, co-authors and brothers Paul and Carlos, grew up playing in the bosque.

The book itself is based off a dream Paul had as a boy about a talking calf.

“I said, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty cool dream,’ so I wrote it down. I wrote it down and I said I’m going to write a little story about it,” said Carlos.

Over the years it’s taken on many forms. A short version was even picked up by famed Chicano publisher Octavio I. Romano.

This latest one has been eight years in the making.

“Being a native New Mexican, I really wanted to shine a light on this culture that isn’t represented a lot in television or literature,” said Paul.

The 166-page graphic novel is now complete.

The brothers have reached out to the public via Kickstarter to help raise money to print the first set of books.

“There’s a lot of expenses for printing a book so that’s what we’re hoping to do. We’re hoping to help with the printing cost,” said Carlos.

“It started as a literal dream, and now is metaphorically a dream that is coming to fruition,” said Paul.

The brothers are currently about a third of the way to their $6,000 goal.

CFP: Special Issue of Performance Matters

CFP: Special Issue of Performance Matters
Sound Acts: Unmuting Performance Studies
Deadline: Full submissions by 15 May 2019

Co-Editors:
Patricia Herrera (University of Richmond)
Caitlin Marshall (University of Maryland College Park)
Marci McMahon (The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley)

Let’s jam. If the history of performance studies has been a slow dance with “how to do things with words,” (J.L. Austin), then this special issue is an introduction to “how to do things with sound”. Luminaries working between sound and performance studies have entreated scholars to move beyond sound as a purely aesthetic object of study, harkening our ears towards understanding fault lines of power surrounding categories of difference (Brooks and Kheshti, “The Social Space of Sound,” 329-335).
This special issue of Performance Matters places theater and performance on the map in sound studies by tracing out how sound acts. “Sound acts” underscores how sound inaugurates bodies and power, and how bodies and power in performance produce meanings and significations for sound. For this special issue of Performance Matters, we solicit scholarly essays, sonic performance scripts, interviews with or manifestos from sound artists and practitioners that investigate sound as an aesthetic possibility and mode of resistance for minoritarian subjects. Our publication will be field defining in coalescing the sonic reverberations emerging in theater and performance studies.

Over the past decade, scholarship by and about people of color, as well as queer, indigenous, trans, and disability scholars has contributed exemplary studies of radical performance through sonic modes of analysis. This emergent work decenters the rapidly normalizing trend of sound studies as a white, able-bodied, masculinist, technological, and presentist enterprise, and has contributed theories of “sonic slave narratives” (Brooks), Latinx “sounds of belonging” (Casillas), the radical aesthetics of “the break” (Moten), black feminist “sonics of dissent” (McMillan), indigenous “sonic sovereignty” (Piatote), America’s “sonic color line” (Stoever), and “listening in detail” (Vasquez). Our special issue moves beyond reception studies to pump up the volume on theatre and performance studies methodologies, prioritizing the close analysis of embodiment, drama, and socio-cultural and political mise en scène of sound. This is a move that pays attention to sound in performance, how sound is an enactment of the body, and how sound shapes the listening body: how sound acts. What does sound do? What does sound stage? What are the new stages for sound in theatre and performance studies?

We’re interested in cultivating submissions around sound as it intersects with:
● Asian American studies
● Latinx studies
● African American and Afro-diasporic studies
● Black studies
● Indigenous studies
● Critical race studies
● Crip studies
● Queer studies
● Transgender studies
● Transnational feminist studies
● Critical disability studies
● Global south studies
● Circum-Atlantic studies
● Post/decolonial studies
● Theater/performance history (particularly methods for performance analysis pre-1900)

We solicit scholarly essays (7,000-9,000 words), sonic performance scripts and/or artists manifestos, and interviews (1,000-3,000 words). Submissions and inquiries should be e-mailed to soundactsspecialissue@gmail.com by 15 May 2019.

Accepted submissions will be notified by mid-June and the co-editors will send feedback by mid-July. Authors should be prepared to commit to revisions during summer 2019, followed by a public symposium and additional publication workshop at the University of Maryland in September 2019. Submission for external peer review will follow, with a tentative date of publication slated for May 2020.