Drawing crime and justice in Latin American crime comics and graphic novels 1970-2015
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This project investigates contemporary Latin American crime comics in order to interrogate how these popular culture texts represent concepts of crime and justice. This study looks to crime comics that fall into the detective or private investigator genre between 1970 and 2015 from Mexico and Chile, precisely because they confront crime directly. In particular, the Mexican comic character El Pantera, created by Daniel Muñoz, and Ramón Díaz Eterovic’s detective Heredia from Chile are the primary focuses of this investigation. These two characters have formed a part of their respective cultural imaginaries over the last four decades and as such they serve as reference points for how concepts of crime and justice have evolved in Mexico and Chile. The investigation of these comic narratives brings to light that economic and political policies related to neoliberalism are seen as sources of crime and violence. This investigation proposes that Mexican and Chilean comics reveal that neoliberalism is criminal through the lens of popular criminology and that these comic texts are means of processing neoliberal violence and disappearance in the realm of popular culture. This research proposes new approaches to the study of Latin America comics by putting Mexican and Chilean crime comics into dialogue with comic theories by Scott McCloud, Thierry Groensteen, and Nick Souanis, as well as Latin American comic research by Bruce Campbell, Ana Merino, Anne Rubenstein, Harold Hinds and Charles Tatum. In addition, these comic texts are investigated through critical theories by Giorgio Agamben, Michel De Cearteau, Pierre Nora, Slavoj Žižek, and Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott. This research represents a unique approach to Latin American comics that take the contextual realities of contemporary neoliberal practices into consideration, and offers new comic theories such as the multibraid network, new gutter spaces, and the idea of “Ashes in the Gutter” to bring McCloud’s writings in touch with Mexican and Chilean realities. In addition, this dissertation provides one of the only histories of the Chilean comic industry written in English.