The essayist, translator, editor and scholar discusses his latest work, an autobiographical graphic novel with artist Santiago Cohen.
Ilan Stavans does so many things that most of his readers likely struggle to keep track of them. Stavans is a renowned essayist, translator, editor and scholar. The publisher of Restless Books, he was the General Editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. He’s written or co-written dozens of books including Quixote: The Novel and the World, Singer’s Typewriter and Mine: Reflections on Jewish Culture, Octavio Paz: A Meditation and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years, the first of a two-volume biography. He’s the producer and host of the podcast In Contrast, a fiction writer and playwright, and his debut volume of his own poetry, The Wall, comes out this year as part of the Pitt Poetry series.
Stavans is also a lover and writer of comics. He’s collaborated with Lalo Alacaraz on two books (Latino USA: A Cartoon History and A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States) in addition to writing graphic novels like Mr. Spic Goes to Washington and El Iluminado. His new book, a collaboration with artist Santiago Cohen, is Angelitos.
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The Ohio State University professor discusses the new imprint, Latin comics, his new website and more.
Frederick Luis Aldama is an Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University where he teaches in multiple departments. One of his passions has always been comics. He’s written books like Your Brain on Latino Comics: From Gus Arriola to Los Bros Hernandez and co-edited books like Graphic Borders: Latino Comic Books Past, Present, and Future, among many others. His new project is the Latinographix imprint, part of Mad Creek Books at Ohio State University Press.
This month the imprint is releasing its first book, Alberto Ledesma’s Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer, and Aldama also launched a website, The Planetary Republic of Comics. We spoke recently about these projects, the conversations he’s hoping to launch around about Latinx comics and talks about the books he’s publishing in the coming years.
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In his first book, Alberto Ledesma combines comics, illustrations and essays to examine what it means to be undocumented in the United States.
Alberto Ledesma’s first book, Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a pre-American Life combines comics, illustrations and essays to examine what it means to be undocumented in the United States. It’s a deeply moving book that is very personal, but Ledesma is also interested in using his own story as a springboard to discussing other topics and towards a larger conversation. Ledesma has a love of comics, and makes clear in the book that keeping a sketchbook is key to how he works. It is a deeply felt, very political book that eschews narrative and seeks many ways to think about these political concerns and the artistic approaches of combining text and art.
The book is the first of a new imprint, Latinographix, part of Mad Creek Books at Ohio State University. Ledesma holds a doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and works there today, but he’s very interested in starting a much wider conversation around these issues and how they relate to questions of American identity.
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