S1: Welcome back. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition. Comic-Con Museum just opened Torino’s Planet. The exhibition showcases 1 of the most well-liked and celebrated cartoonists in Mexico , Jose Trinidad Camacho , superior recognized as Torino. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando wanted to location the exhibit in a larger pop culture context , so she spoke with author and San Diego State University English professor William Riccio.
S2: Bill , ahead of we speak about this exhibit of Trans Planet , speak a small bit about oneself and your obsession with pop culture , each professionally and personally.
S3: Properly , I discovered how to study from comic books. My sister and my grandmother , Anna , raised me on Tiny Dot Archie comics Sad Sack. And actually I discovered to study with comics. So comics , pop culture , well-liked entertainment , you know , had been my globe. And I was born in the early 60s. And so tv was every little thing. I 1 of my early publications and my mother got my late mother got quite mad. I mentioned I was raised by tv. Appropriate. But but it really is accurate. If not , right after college , we get our Television trays and we’d sit in front of the tv. So Television comics , the films. I grew up in Laredo , Texas , along the border. They had been our entertainment and tv in Laredo ahead of cable was , you know , we had 3 , two or three American channels and we had seven Mexican channels from Nuevo Laredo. And so English and Spanish , well-liked and entertainment was my IV bag , ideal ? That is that is just what I like to do. And so personally , they had been a refuge for me. They had been supply of not just entertainment. I discovered I am an English professor now and my deep affection for language , each English and Spanish , is a outcome of pop culture. And so for me , that was like the wealthy treasure trove from which I derived a lifelong obsession with comic books and tv and well-liked culture.
S2: And you went on to study type of Mexican American stereotypes that proliferate in American pop culture and have written about that and genuinely investigated that. Yes.
S3: Yes. My 1st big book was Tex-Mex Seductive Hallucinations of the Mexican in America. And it was wholly focused on the evolution of Mexican stereotypes in the United States , sort of like like COVID , the evolution of the virus , due to the fact it is viral. The concept particular tips of Mexicans transcend books , tv , billboards , films. The the bandit , of course , the now the narco. The bandit has evolved from Pancho Villa into the narco , the drug narco drug dealer. The Latina hot blooded , attractive femme fatale , of course , has been a staple due to the fact Lupe Vélez. But the concept of the adverse concept of the and you say Mexican , but , you know , most Latinos , there are these funny small boxes that I had to open and investigate due to the fact they are so endemic. That is , they are a all-natural element of the background of American entertainment. So I wanted to break that down. That is why I known as it a seductive hallucination , due to the fact it really is everywhere. It is entirely permeated consciousness to the point exactly where it has to be broken down due to the fact we do not feel about it any longer.
S2: And we are sitting right here at the Comic-Con Museum and you are a professor at San Diego State University , which now has a plan focused on comics and type of elevating it on this academic level. I am so. Excited.
S3: Excited. I am a quite tiny player in it , but I am a element of what is now known as the Center for Comic Research at San Diego State University. The two ringleaders are this amazing professor of history , Beth Pollard , and an equally outstanding librarian of unique collections. Pamela Jackson and I get to play in their sandbox and what I get. I’ve been teaching comics the university level due to the fact 1985. I began at Cornell University when I was nonetheless a graduate student. And I’ve taught and written and published about comics as as a type of side gig , a small side hustle due to the fact then. And fortunately I get to collaborate with Beth and Pam and a entire group of professors , lecturers and staffers at SDSU that are into comics.
S2: We are right here in Torino’s globe at the Comic Con Museum , and this is Jose Trinidad Camacho’s operate. So inform me a small bit about type of your familiarity with him and type of the lineage from exactly where he comes from in terms of his cartooning ? Certain.
S3: Mexico has a wealthy tradition of sequential art , that graphic narrative , these are the fancy terms as professors contact comics , but they are comics and. And he’s in a lengthy line. I guess it would commence with Jose Posada with his printmaking shop in Mexico City and then moving into the 20th century. You have a cartoonist like Rios , who was recognized for his left wing satirical revolutionary comics 3. You know , at the at the finish of this cycle is just a quite achieved , funny , silly , nasty , dirty comic book comedian. You know , I was considering for an American audience not familiar with Reno’s operate , who could possibly we feel of him as ? And he’s type of silly. So not Garry Trudeau , not Doonesbury , but Garry Trudeau , Doonesbury plus Jon Stewart , perhaps from The Each day Show. Sassy , ironic , comedic , and then a small nasty. You know , he’s he’s got some dirty stuff and it really is cool. It is funny.
S2: Properly , it really is intriguing due to the fact it appears like his operate spans such a diverse variety due to the fact he does children’s books and but he’s also performed a film which type of reminds you a small of Fritz the Cat and that type of lewd and crude style of comedy.
S4: Yeah , yeah.
S3: Santos And I can not even say the title of it due to the fact it really is got a it really is got some pornography there. His film belongs on Adult Swim. I imply , it really is undoubtedly irreverent. It is about a wrestler and zombies. And this wrestler has this dominatrix , a lady , bare chested lady. You know , 1 of the points that strikes me about Reno’s operate is that we’ve got to be cautious as Americans not to impose our puritanical lens onto Mexico. Mexicans in basic are substantially a lot more and this is in spite of it getting a heavily Catholic nation , they are a small bit a lot more quick going about the physique. They are a small bit a lot more European about nudity. And so what could possibly scandalize us ? You know , I could see it on Fox News , ideal. Or The New York Post , children’s book artist pens , pornographic animated film. And then , you know , we’d all be , oh , my God , we got to cancel him. But no , no , he’s he’s a nasty and sassy and irreverent. And when he plays to adults , he’s , you know , playing to an adult audience. But when he’s performing his children’s books , he’s just attempting to entertain. He’s quite entertaining. I imply , why should really men and women come out to the Comic-Con Museum to see the exhibition ? Simply because it really is funny. But bring bring a pal who speaks Spanish due to the fact there are a lot of jokes that are type of inside Mexi Mexican jokes.
S2: And due to the fact this is for radio. Describe the visual style of his drawing. I guess.
S5: The closest approximation in American comic strips would be anything.
S3: Style sensible would be like Hagar the horrible. He’s got a quite loose and fluid freestyle. It genuinely appeals to me. He’s not 1 of these. It is not like Ernie Bush Miller’s Nancy. There is not. These are not meticulously planned and drawn panels. His panels are no cost , quick , floating , frenetic and funny. Funny. And he’s I have to say it once more , he’s type of silly. Some of his jokes are , you know , he’s not above a crappy pun , you know , to get the punch line. And some of.
S2: You speak about that , he’s he’s type of got some silly humor to him. And some of these appear political on 1 level , but then type of have a punch line that is quite silly. Yes.
S3: Yes. Yes. I feel that could possibly be some of the way we right here in the United States are attuned to Mexican.
S5: Art and culture.
S3: We presume at times the foregrounding of the political. And we’re aghast to uncover out that Mexicans like Americans are just into the very same crap that we Americans are. You know , that is that is the wonder. I imply , 1 of the conclusions of Tex-Mex seductive hallucinations of the Mexican is that Mexicans are no unique than Americans. That is , they are funny and racist.
S5: And unpredictable.
S3: And complete of irony and contradictions. They are human. They are human. They are all as well human. And I feel we see that in in 3 news operate. I imply , what does 3 no try to do as a cartoonist ? Essentially , he’s attempting to make you laugh now. He capitalizes on our familiar I imply , why does he appeal to an American audience ? Properly , a lot of his jokes are about American pop culture from The Avengers to Star Trek to Star Wars. Mexicans watch Television two and they go to the films. And so his concentrate is on we can feel of it as North American well-liked culture. And so in his operate , we should not be shocked to uncover these players. Now , he’s also got Mexican staples. He’s got Luchadores , he’s got the Mexican wrestlers. And what he’s got , which is what is accurate of most comic strips , is he’s got his eye open to hypocrisy.
S2: And you brought up Luchadores. Yeah. And speak a small bit about type of the value of that in Mexican culture and how it really is played out in some of Chino’s operate.
S4: Yeah , I a.
S3: Couple of years back I got to be 1 of the speaking heads in Carlos Avila’s documentary on Mexican wrestlers. And 1 of the points I mentioned there that I feel is accurate is that Mexican wrestling in Mexico is like opera for the functioning class. You know , we do not have the blue hair’s going to see lucha doors , although. You have got functioning class men and women who’ve worked difficult week wanting to do anything on a Thursday evening , a Friday evening , a Saturday evening. And they go to the fights. They go to the wrestling fights. And as Roland Bart pointed out in his landmark operate mythology , the fakery of wrestling is what appeals to men and women. They know it really is fake. They know it really is rigged. They are not there for a type of judicial straight outcome. They are there for the exaggeration. They are there for the clowns , for the spectacle , for the violence to men and women. I imply , due to the fact , you know , somebody , the 1st human laughed when the other human slipped on a banana peel. We like to laugh at these points. And that is what you get when you go to a Mexican wrestling match.
S2: One particular of the points about his operate , as well , is there is this quite humanistic high-quality to the type of humor that he’s performing.
S3: Yes , it appeals.
S5: I imply , this is not I imply , it really is practically it practically does the operate a disservice to contact Torino a Mexican cartoonist.
S3: He is. He’s Mexicano. He’s from Jalisco. He’s actual proud of that.
S5: But the history of.
S3: Cartooning from the cave drawings of Lascaux to nowadays is just human beings attempt to leave a small trace of themselves behind. And what he leaves behind are some genuinely funny meditations on the human heart and the human soul.
S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with William Riccio. The cross-border collaboration of Torino’s globe will be on show at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park via July 5th. Coming up , a neighborhood author writes about a dystopian future that in a lot of strategies puts our present into query.