Mexican Historietas: A History


Introduction

Terminology

Background Information

Women in Mexican Comics

Historietas: Beginnings to 1959

Censorship and the Historietas

Historietas: 1959 to 1999

Historietas in the 21st Century

Resources

Mexican Flag

Introduction

"In Mexico, the comic book is a basic necessity"
- Libros de Mexico, 1987.

(qtd. in Hinds and Tatum Not 1)

Throughout this class, I have come across passing references to Mexico's booming comics industry and was curious to find out more. I recall from previous trips to the country newsstands brimming with small, luridly colored comics, locally known as historietas, or 'little stories,' and the locals, young and old, flipping through comics of every variety on the buses and trains, on short breaks from their construction jobs, and on benches in shady plazas. Comics were visible everywhere, and appeared to be a fully integrated part of Mexican life, unlike here in Canada, where they have just recently begun to emerge from the dusty corners of specialty shops.

Upon embarking on my research for this assignment, I quickly discovered that comprehensive histories of the historieta are few and far between, and when they do exist, they are dated, covering only the Epoca de Oro, or 'Golden Age,' between 1930 and 1960, are available only in Spanish, or are limited to a specific facet of the proliferation of comics in Mexico. For example, two recently published books, Bruce Campbell's ¡Viva La Historieta! Mexican Comics, NAFTA, and the Politics of Globalization (2009), and Anne Rubenstein's highly influential Bad Language, Naked Ladies & Other Threats to the Nation: A Political History of Comic Books in Mexico (1998), examine Mexican comics through the lens of globalization, imperialism, and their broad role in the development of post-revolutionary Mexico (1921-present). Given the dearth of comprehensive resources, I aimed to piece together a history of Mexican comics from their beginnings - starting anywhere from pre-Columbian codices to promotional inserts found inside cigarette packages in the 1880s - to the present. I cannot make claims as to the exhaustiveness of my treatment, but I hope to provide an overview and introduction to a comics culture that is rarely acknowledged outside of Latin America. Please note that some resources have been translated with the assistance of Google Translate, therefore the cadence of some quotations may be somewhat awkward.

I will first provide a short glossary for reference, and then will lead you through a history of Mexican comics, with brief detours touching on notable cartoonists, known in Spanish as moneros or comiqueros and censorship issues, leading up to the present day status of the industry and comics culture in the nation. I hope you enjoy this introduction to comics in Mexico, and that this presentation inspires you to find out more about the thriving and diverse comics culture in Latin America. Happy reading!

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This website was created by Brianna Erban for LIS 518: Comic Books and Graphic Novels in Schools and Public Libraries

Last updated December 1, 2009.