Comics, Cartoons, Graphic Novels
- LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2023
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0279
- LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2023
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0279
The field of Latin American comics studies is relatively young. Though there are earlier studies of caricature, the most significant developments in studies of the region’s comics date from the 1970s and 1980s. During this period, intellectuals, scholars, and historians focused on comics as a neocolonial site of struggle or as expressions of autochthonous national-popular traditions. Some artists and scholars also explored the language of comics itself, setting out innovative approaches to page composition, interrelations between word and image, sequentiality, panel arrangements, or use of color, often as part of the wider political backdrop. Since that period, and particularly given the historic ties between comics and popular culture, the region’s comics have usually been read through the prism of the nation, a means of tapping into the social and political imaginaries of “the people.” That tendency persists into the twenty-first century: edited books tend to draw out overarching regional trends in introductions before individual chapters focus on individual national case studies and the work of specific authors. Much scholarship on Latin American comics has focused on the three countries that can claim to have had something akin to a comics industry: Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, the latter also significant as the conduit for translated works within the region. There are, nonetheless, a significant and growing number of studies of comics in other Latin American countries, particularly Chile, Colombia, Cuba, and Peru. There is also an established and influential body of work on Latinx comics, though that falls beyond the scope of this bibliography. Scholarship on comics in other countries remains, unfortunately, underdeveloped. Though reading Latin American comics through national narratives remains important, the increasingly transnational nature of Latin American comics in the new millennium—a situation facilitated by the digital turn, growth in indie publishers, international comics festivals, and a thriving and sometimes itinerant zine scene—has meant a shift toward more comparative and transregional studies. Innovative studies on specific works, authors, and magazines are being supplemented by new methodological approaches, such as recent studies of the graphic novel. Though there is scope for more research into artistic working practices, the wider roles associated with comics work (not just writers and illustrators, but also pencillers, inkers, editors, graphic designers, publishers, etc.), and audiencing (particularly using quantitative analysis), scholarship is becoming increasingly diverse, with long-standing political commentaries now embedded in more extended and far-reaching analysis of issues such as gender and sexuality, race, memory politics, and ecology, as well as a greater awareness of intermediality, which has opened up innovative and rich analytical avenues for comics analysis.
The overarching tendency in scholarship that tackles Latin American comics as a regional whole has been to use national traditions and developments as the cornerstone of analysis. The early, groundbreaking overviews of Latin American comics, Merino 2003 (which situates Latin American comics under the broader umbrella of “Hispanic comics”) and Lent 2005, both take this nation-based approach, organizing their chapters by individual countries. Fernández L’Hoeste and Poblete 2009, a book that might be seen as one of the earliest in a new wave of Latin American comics scholarship, continued this approach in a more theoretical and analytical manner. It also set out the archetypal structure of the several edited collections included in this section that address the region’s comics: a broad overview of historical trends and recurring tropes in the introduction, before individual contributors focus on specific nation-based studies, in this case mostly focused on individual publications and famous comic characters. Just as Fernández L’Hoeste and Poblete focused on national identity, rather than producing overarching historical overviews, other collections have also focused on specific issues or themes, including the way comics engage with Latin American memory politics in 20th- and 21st-century comics in Catalá-Carrasco, et al. 2017, how comics address Latin American history in Carrillo Zeiter and Müller 2018, or the diverse manifestations of comics beyond print media in 21st-century Latin America in Scorer 2020. Despite this prevailing tendency to focus on national traditions, some works have also situated Latin American comics in wider comparative contexts to different ends: Masotta 1970, for example, positioned Argentine comics within a broader canvas of US and European comics as part of an effort to promote comics as an important element in the country’s visual art landscape. Dorfman and Mattelart 1975 (originally published in 1971 in Spanish under Allende’s Unidad Popular government) radically undermined the long-standing view that comics were mere entertainment for children and young adolescents by looking at the ideological content of the Disney comics that were circulating in Latin America in the mid-twentieth century. Espinoza 2017 reads Latin American comics as cultural expressions of deterritorialization and cultural hybridity during the neoliberalism era, and, more recently, Aldama 2020 explores depictions of indigeneity in Latin American comics amid a broader canvas of comics and indigeneity in the Americas and Australasia to highlight transnational trends and connections. Such transnational approaches are likely to become increasingly common in the years to come.
Aldama, Frederick, ed. Graphic Indigeneity: Comics in the Americas and Australasia. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2020.
This book includes several chapters that discuss Latin American comics, with contributors highlighting in particular how comics draw on pre-Columbian mythology and history when addressing indigeneity. By placing comics from different countries and regions together, the book highlights the shared, transnational nature of the struggles of racially marginalized groups. A useful intervention into a growing area of research for (Latin American) comics scholars.
Carrillo Zeiter, Katja, and Christoph Müller, eds. Historias e historietas: Representaciones de la historia en el cómic latinoamericano actual. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018.
Reads Latin American comics in relation to history and memory in the region. The quality of the contributions varies considerably and there is an overreliance on certain studies (e.g., Merino 2003) at the expense of other relevant works. There are, however, some excellent chapters, including Rike Bolte’s analysis of Latin American comics and memory and the project Historietas por la identidad, and Juan Poblete’s analysis of Lalo Alcaraz’s La Cucaracha and Migra Mouse.
Catalá-Carrasco, Jorge, Paulo Drinot, and James Scorer, eds. Comics and Memory in Latin America. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 2017.
This edited collection explores the relationship between comics, history, and memory politics in different national contexts, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Peru. Grounded in theories of social, cultural, collective, and prosthetic memory, the past in comics is explored via narrative, image, and form. The introduction includes a brief history of Latin American comics, theoretical discussion of memory and history, and analysis of the formal properties of comics in relation to memory. Also available in Spanish.
Dorfman, Ariel, and Armand Mattelart. How to Read Donald Duck. New York: International General, 1975.
A seminal work for the study of Latin American comics, though the focus is actually on the consumption of Disney comics. Highlighting how Disney’s comics were propagating capitalist ideologies as part of what the authors saw as US cultural neocolonialism, the book is a classic example of left-wing revisionism. Copies were thrown on bonfires in Valparaíso after the right-wing coup d’état that overthrew Salvador Allende and brought Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973. Originally published in Spanish in 1971.
Espinoza, M. “Neoliberalism in the Gutter: Latin American Comics and Society since the 1990s.” Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature 42.1 (2017): 1–18.
This reading of Latin American comics in the neoliberal era argues that, much like the wider social and political landscape, deterritorialization and cultural hybridity are the principal traits of the region’s contemporary comics. Brief analytical references are made to comics from Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Chile, highlighting the interplay of humor and political critique.
Fernández L’Hoeste, Héctor, and Juan Poblete, eds. Redrawing the Nation: National Identity in Latin/o American Comics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
This essential book provides a continental approach to Latin/o comics, theoretically grounded in cultural studies. It is not a history of comics but an examination of how comics have played a prominent role in the configuration of national identities in Latin America. It draws on Martín Barbero’s concept of mediation, claiming that comics have constituted one of the most important media forms in terms of the connection between socioeconomic modernization, cultural matrices, and mass-mediatization.
Lent, John A. Cartooning in Latin America. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2005.
This seminal, early work includes twenty-three chapters mapping Latin American comic art in Argentina (4 chapters), Brazil (4), Chile (3), Colombia (2), Cuba (3), Mexico (2), Peru (2), Uruguay (2) and Venezuela. Most contributions first appeared as articles in the International Journal of Comic Art, Latin American Perspectives, and Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Sobre la Historieta. An excellent, albeit older, entry into Latin American comics by a leading comics studies scholar.
Masotta, Oscar. La historieta en el mundo moderno. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1970.
An important early example of Latin American comics criticism. Part of Masotta’s efforts to address comics with “the respect it deserves,” a comment made in the magazine LD: Literatura dibujada (1968–1969). The first part is a historical review of US comics. The second focuses on European comics, and the third on Argentine comics. The latter analyzes the work of Héctor G. Oesterheld, Hugo Pratt, and Alberto Breccia. Also included is a chapter by Oscar Steimberg on Patoruzú.
Merino, Ana. El cómic hispánico. Madrid: Cátedra, 2003.
This excellent book explores comics as a cultural manifestation of peripheral modernity within the consolidation of mass societies. After a theoretical framework that sets out to legitimize comics within a wider cultural canon, Merino focuses on local folkloric comics in Spain under the publisher Bruguera; revolutionary and didactic Cuban comics since 1959; the interplay between the urban and the rural in Mexican comics; and the fantastic in Argentine comics, principally in the work of Héctor G. Oesterheld.
Scorer, James, ed. Comics beyond the Page in Latin America. London: UCL Press, 2020.
Explores manifestations of comics in Latin America beyond textual analysis of print media. Contributors address global and national consumption networks, comics industries, the rise of digital comics and online platforms, comics in public spaces and as part of political campaigns, and as educational tools. Covering comics in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay, the book includes a comic drawn by Jesús Cossio about comics pedagogy and the internal armed conflict in Peru.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Abortion and Infanticide
- Agricultural Technologies
- Alcohol Use
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Anti-Asian Racism
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Beauty in Latin America
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Bolaño, Roberto
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Borges, Jorge Luis
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- California Missions, The
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Central America, The Archaeology of
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Latin America, Crime and Punishment in
- Colonial Latin America, Pilgrimage in
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Comics, Cartoons, Graphic Novels
- Contemporary Indigenous Film and Video Production
- Contemporary Indigenous Social and Political Thought
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Cortés, Hernán
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Fernando
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- Education in New Spain
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Franciscans in Colonial Latin America
- From "National Culture" to the "National Popular" and the ...
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender and History in the Andes
- Gender during the Period of Latin American Independence
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Gentrification in Latin America
- Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- History of Health and Disease in Latin America and the Car...
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Honor in Mexican Public Life
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Independence in Argentina
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jesuits in Colonial Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Theater and Performance
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- LGBT Literature
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Menchú, Rigoberta
- Mesoamerica, The Archaeology of
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Mexico, Health Care in 20th-Century
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Mining Extraction in Latin America
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Mystics and Mysticism
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- Natural Disasters in Early Modern Latin America
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Nuns and Convents in Colonial Latin America
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Ortega, José y Gasset
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Ponce de León
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Portuguese-Spanish Interactions in Colonial South America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Science and Technology in Modern Latin America
- Sephardic Culture
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- South American Dirty Wars
- South American Missions
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Sports in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 19th Century and Modernismo Poetry in Spanish America
- 20th-Century Mexico, Mass Media and Consumer Culture in
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Tourism in Modern Latin America
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- US–Latin American Relations during the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Women's Property Rights, Asset Ownership, and Wealth in La...
- World War I in Latin America
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas