Nuevas Poligrafías. Revista de Teoría Literaria y Literatura Comparada, “Experiences of the Self in Comics“
Guest editors: Áurea Esquivel Flores y Alfredo Guzmán Tinajero
Since its origins, comics and their different traditions (historietas, bande dessinée, manga, etc.) have explored the territories of the self. Their authors have represented themselves in search of their own being and as a way of (re)constructing their images in the world. Since the seventies, representations of the self in comic narratives have been a prevailing resource along with others such as costumbrismo, satire, or the documentary, resources that broke with dominant narratives. This gesture towards the personal was one of the factors that favored the cultural recognition of the medium as well as its legitimation within academic reflection. The subsequent invention of the concept of the graphic novel, in addition to its editorial expansion, made it possible to delve into the experiences of the intimate, producing a plethoric creative phenomenon of innumerable and complex stories centered on sentimental, embarrassing, or painful events, which on many occasions pose particular approaches to the self, to the authorial, to the collective and to self-representation.
A widely recognized turning point of this phenomenon was Maus (1991) by Art Spiegelman, who, drawing on authors such as Justin Green, Robert Crumb, Will Eisner, or Harvey Peekar, took advantage of the ways in which the medium allows exploring the self and its relationships with memory, tradition, and pain. Another key moment in the long history of the experiences of the self in comics occurs at the turn of the millennium with the publication of two works that consolidated the paths of self-representation and emphasized the indispensable gaze of women in it: Persepolis (2000) by Marje Satrapi and Fun Home (2006) by Alison Bechdel. In these works, in which a gaze marked by the authors of Wimmen’s Comix or Ah Nana! is recognizable, it becomes clear that everyday life, identity, and growth are territories of expression and struggle in an environment apparently dominated by the heteronormative, the adventure and the puerile.