By Robin Nelson
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And another reads: “You advance my cause. I want the entire country to see how you ﬁlthy mestizo animals feel about your superior White Masters. ” (jacket cover). Clearly, Alcaraz chose to put these misreadings on the jacket cover to show how racism can prevent a reader from recognizing a narrative blueprint that uses devices and signposts to satirize contemporary society as well as to poke fun at identity politics generally. 5 Mainstreamed Compadres The Latino comic book and comic strip author-artists interviewed here speak of a variety of cultural inﬂuences: ﬁlm, literature, music, mythology, alternative comic books, and so on.
4 The Good, Bad, and . . Beautiful Latino comic book author-artists can complicate characters and their storyworlds in how they present values—in how a character’s individual values conﬂict or align with those of the collective, for example. Rafael Navarro invests his eponymous character Sonambulo with a certain 1950s machismo that rubs an overview of latino comics up against the values of the twenty-ﬁrst century. At the same time, the complexity of such a character as Sonambulo (who betrays his own bitterness over not being college educated) increases the reader’s evaluative engagement: we are sometimes with him and sometimes against him.
One way or another, this has lead to ethical concerns. If they do move us to think and act, then shouldn’t we promote certain comic book stories over others? This is most clearly seen in Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent (1954), which identiﬁed comic books as sources of increased teen suicide, queer sexuality, and procommunist sentiment; the study led to the establishment of a self-censoring machine—there would be no more Batman or Robin, sexual innuendo, scantily clad women, or violence under the 1950s Comics Code.