September 15, 2017
Latinographix, a new comics series from OSU Press, hopes to give voice to Latinx in the US
by Alex Primiani
While the larger literary world is (very) slowly acknowledging the inherently diverse population of its readers, those who write and promote comics and graphic novels are working tirelessly at incorporating the voices of minorities and immigrants into the genre. Yesterday, Eric Lagatta of the Columbus Dispatch reported on Ohio State University Press’s new series devoted to Latinx comics, edited by OSU professor Frederick Luis Aldama. Under OSUP’s trade imprint, Mad Creek Books, the series—called Latinographix—hopes to publish four books a year, the first to be published September 22.
Lagatta interviewed both Aldama and author Alberto Ledesma. Ledesma came to the US as an undocumented immigrant in the 1980s, finding solace in the world of comics. Now Berkeley’s graduate diversity director for arts and humanities, he has recorded his experiences growing up as an undocumented student in the graphic memoir Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life, which will be Latinographix’s first publication.
The book couldn’t come at a more urgent time. In light of President Trump’s attack on DACA and the Dreamers already in this country, Aldama hopes Ledesma’s work will resonate with readers. “It’s an important declaration of the need for people to recognize the humanity of those we co-habitate with… It’s a way of reminding the world that your neighbor is a human being.”
Both professors told Lagatta of the safety they found in the DC and Marvel worlds as children, how disconnected they felt from the larger American narrative, and their ultimate successes in the US despite that narrative.
Ledesma, who once taught ethnic studies at Berkeley, said he hopes that readers of his book come away with an understanding that most immigrants, documented or not, simply want to contribute to American society.
“What I want to do is get people into the life that I’ve led in a way that they’re not put off,” he told Lagatta.
Change may be slow but it is indeed happening. This week the National Book Foundation is releasing it longlists for the annual National Book Awards. More than half of the authors included in the Young Adult list are people of color.
Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.