Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Broadening one's point of view.

I haven't been posting a lot, but I've been reading a lot, and thinking even more.

See, when I joined Friends of Lulu's Directors board, one of the things I said was that I could bring a different perspective to the organization, as I'm a very new person to the american comic book industry, but have a lot of experience in the Mexican comic book industry (What little is left of it)

Of course, the opposite is true too. And while one could make a point about anglo-centrism, and how many things on the internet automatically assume that a) the reader can read english, and b) the reader is in the USA, there's a lot to say about what we, as in everyone who lives outside of the USA, can learn from that anglo-centrism.

In the case of women and comics, for instance, I think we're in a pretty even territory to speak about the problematics we face. There aren't many mexican comic books being produced right now, but the "women as object" problematic is as notorious here as it is in America. I think that might be true everywhere, although I suspect places like Japan have a complete different set of problems to deal with.

In the case of the industry, and the sad death that some people like to annouce for it, with the eternal 'big summer events' and the trace artists, and porno-faces, and continuity problems... well, we (and by we, I mean Mexicans who live in Mexico) might be only able to contribute as readers. Our industry is completely different, we don't have 'corporate owned characters' and so all the attempts to revive the industry here can only be likened to the independent american comics, even when our comics may or may not be supported by an editorial. In that field, our opinion matters as much as any other reader. We're consumers, but our industry, and our country, has a lot of different troubles that I think makes it difficult for us to relate. Unless, of course, we're talking about those who work on both industries. Humberto Ramos, for instance, can talk with a lot of authority about how is both places are different because he has worked professionally in both. He wouldn't be speculating, he would be talking from experience.

Censorship, on the other hand, is that field in which I don't think anyone can find an even field when we take in account different cultures. Forget about what is pornography or not (Nipples? Boobs? underwear?) we cannot even agree in age of concent. UK has one, USA has another, México has a very strange policy about that. And once we field that one hurdle, we get in deeper waters as we try to define what is 'acceptable' and that changes from country to country. Talking about that would take us years.

And then we get to the on the one subject that I must confess that I was completely ignorant about until I started reading other blogs, especially Cherry Lynn's via When Fangirls Attack, and that is race in comics.

Living in Mexico, I had the luxury of living in a sort of bubble when it comes to racism. I am not saying that Mexico has no racial problems, but they're not in the same league as the USA. It does help that most of our population is mestiza, mixed, and thus we've got a bigger trouble with class issues than with race issues. At least where I was growing up, what mattered was the money you had, not the shade of your skin.

That is not to say, of course, that we, as a country, are not aware of the racism problems in the world. It's just that we see them a bit different than what is seen outside our country (And for that, you can google the Memin Pinguin incident. That was a very good example of different contexts). The most sexy woman in mexican comics has been, for a long time, considered to be Rarotonga, who, while she could be seen as the 'femme fatale' stereotype of a black woman, at least was always drawn as a black woman.

So it's been enlightening to read every post I've read in different blogs about diversity in comics, mostly because it's helped me to challenge my own views and my own attitudes about it. I was raised upon the principle that people are people, no matter their gender, race, economy status, or religion, and for that I've always thanked my parents, but until I got into the internet, until I got into publishing, I started realizing that no, not everyone has been raised the same, and the problems are very real.

And so far, the best education I've gotten is from reading, reading the comments, and being able to recognize that educating one's self is the best way to start solving that problem.

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