"You must begin a reading program immediately
that you may
understand the crises of our age," Ignatius said solemnly . ... "You
may skip the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. That
dangerous propaganda. Now that I think of it, you had beuer
skip the Romantics and the Victorians, too. For the contemporary
period, you should study some selected comic books."
- John Kennedy O'Toole,
A Confederacy of Dunces
Why bother studying Mexican comic books and the other
trashy periodicals that sit beside them on newsstands? There
are good reasons to think them trivial.
As chapters 3 and 4 showed, comic books and similar
publications were at the center of several political contro-
versies between 1942 and 1976. But these campaigns against the use of
bad language and depictions of naked ladies had few direct results. They
did push the government into creating laws regulating the content of
illustrated periodicals and setting up a censorship bureaucracy. But since
the laws were unenforceable-indeed, they may have been designed to be
unenforceable-the promulgation of these new regulations and the hiring
of censors was hardly a triumph of popular activism. Furthermore, anti-
and antipornography campaigns were only examples of the many
forms of antimedia protest that cropped up in Mexico after about 1930.
Trashy periodicals were nothing exceptional to the people who protested
against them and the protests came to nothing in any case.
Like the politics around
the comic books themselves might
be described as dwindling into nothing. As chapter 5 demonstrated, the
present-day aesthetic potential of Mexican comic books is, to be polite,
strictly limited: they do not offer much visual or narrative pleasure any-
more. Other authors have begun to construct a canon of the great artists
and writers of the past, such as Carlos Vigil, Jose G. Cruz, Guillermo Marin,