'Comics and the Latin American City: Framing Urban Communities' - First-year report

17 November 2017

The Leverhulme-funded international network, ‘Comics and the Latin American City: Framing Urban Communities’ - directed by Dr James Scorer (SALC) and with partners based in Bristol, Denmark, Colombia and Argentina - recently came to the end of its first year.

The project is exploring how comics help shape identities in urban Latin America by appealing to a diverse public via print media, public art and online communities. Partners have been analysing the representation of cities in comics, mapping site-specific uses of comics in physical urban landscapes, and determining their value as cultural capital in festivals and on websites.

The main focus of this year was the week-long series of events that took place in Buenos Aires in August. Events included workshops, walking tours, discussions with comics creators and a visit to the comics archive at the National Library. Partners were even invited to don boxing gloves to enable them to ‘read’ one example of an augmented comic created by students from the Faculty of Design at the University of Buenos Aires.

The project’s website, which contains further information about these events and the project partners (with portraits by Colombian artist LA Watson), will also soon host a database that is being put together by the network. Available for download and to be updated periodically throughout the course of the project, the database will contain sections on:

  • primary and secondary sources related to comics and the city in Latin America
  • websites and blogs related to Latin American comics
  • comic festivals and events taking place in Latin America
  • public spaces in Latin American cities related to comics (e.g. murals, statues, graffiti)
  • publishing houses and comics stores located in Latin America

An interactive map of some of the public spaces listed in the database is also currently under development. The map will serve as an interactive source which will both locate comic sites in cities and provide further information on them, such as photos, details on authorship, additional links, and any other information of interest.

Partners are now working towards their contribution to Entreviñetas 2018, an annual, non-profit, culture and arts festival that takes place in Colombia and which is dedicated to graphic narratives. The event promotes reading through images, working with bookshops and public libraries, and funding comics research. Preliminary discussions about the final event of the project, an international conference due to take place in Manchester in 2019, have also begun. The current idea is that this conference will broaden the focus of the project and include speakers and artists working on comics and the city in other parts of the world as well as in Latin America. The hope is that discussions will include reflection on comics and their relation to global crises (environmental,  housing, immigration, etc.), to digital technologies, and to cultural production and the creative economy.

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