Latino U.S.A.: A Cartoon History

Latino U.S.A.: A Cartoon History

Latino U.S.A.: A Cartoon History

Latino U.S.A.: A Cartoon History


In this cartoon history of Latinos, Stavans seeks to combine serious literature and history with the inherently theatrical and humorous nature of the comics. Illustrations.


Splash!!! Kaboom!!! Ay diosito, y ahora, ¿quién nos salvará? -Kalimán: El hombre increíble

Pop art, the highbrows say, is junk. It results, so the argument goes, from the masses wanting to satisfy their spiritual thirst without any sense of refinement. Pure art is the result of an artist's finding an aesthetic way to channel his purposeful alienation from society into an original and authentic creation. But pop art--in German, kitsch--is art by imitation: second-rate, derivative, a hand- me-down. It does not come about out of inspiration but is assembled, manufactured, and thus, has no soul to speak of.

The problem with this view, of course, is that it is utterly false, to say nothing of snobbish and supercilious. If everything popular is by definition unworthy and inadequate, then all modernity, from beginning to end, is counterfeit, particularly in the vast regions of the globe where Europe was for endless years the sole provider of so-called legitimate art.

I came of age in Mexico, in the 1970s, surrounded by fast food, American TV sitcoms, cartoons, and Muzak. "Is there a true national art?" asked the intellectuals, distressed by the prevailing "colonial" mentality. The United States is nothing but artificial, they claimed, looking instead to Mexico's rich past. Why . . .

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