June 2, 2023 3:17 pm

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-known and celebrated cartoonists in Mexico , Jose Trinidad Camacho , superior identified 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 , prior to we speak about this exhibit of Trans Planet , speak a tiny bit about your self and your obsession with pop culture , each professionally and personally.

S3: Nicely , I discovered how to study from comic books. My sister and my grandmother , Anna , raised me on Small Dot Archie comics Sad Sack. And actually I discovered to study with comics. So comics , pop culture , well-known entertainment , you know , have been my planet. And I was born in the early 60s. And so tv was anything. I 1 of my early publications and my mother got my late mother got pretty mad. I mentioned I was raised by tv. Correct. But but it is correct. If not , soon 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 have been our entertainment and tv in Laredo prior to 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-known and entertainment was my IV bag , suitable ? That is that is just what I really like to do. And so personally , they have been a refuge for me. They have 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-known 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 truly investigated that. Yes.

S3: Yes. My initially significant 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 , mainly because it is viral. The thought certain concepts 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 considering the fact that Lupe Vélez. But the thought of the unfavorable thought of the and you say Mexican , but , you know , most Latinos , there are these funny tiny boxes that I had to open and investigate mainly because they are so endemic. That is , they are a all-natural aspect of the background of American entertainment. So I wanted to break that down. That is why I referred to as it a seductive hallucination , mainly because it is everywhere. It is entirely permeated consciousness to the point exactly where it has to be broken down mainly because we never believe 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 system focused on comics and type of elevating it on this academic level. I am so. Excited.

S3: Excited. I am a pretty modest player in it , but I am a aspect of what is now referred to as the Center for Comic Research at San Diego State University. The two ringleaders are this extraordinary professor of history , Beth Pollard , and an equally exceptional 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 considering the fact that 1985. I began at Cornell University when I was nevertheless a graduate student. And I’ve taught and written and published about comics as as a type of side gig , a tiny side hustle considering the fact that 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 planet at the Comic Con Museum , and this is Jose Trinidad Camacho’s function. So inform me a tiny bit about type of your familiarity with him and type of the lineage from exactly where he comes from in terms of his cartooning ? Positive.

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 start off 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 identified for his left wing satirical revolutionary comics 3. You know , at the at the finish of this cycle is just a pretty achieved , funny , silly , nasty , dirty comic book comedian. You know , I was considering for an American audience not familiar with Reno’s function , who could possibly we believe of him as ? And he’s type of silly. So not Garry Trudeau , not Doonesbury , but Garry Trudeau , Doonesbury plus Jon Stewart , possibly from The Every day Show. Sassy , ironic , comedic , and then a tiny nasty. You know , he’s he’s got some dirty stuff and it is cool. It is funny.

S2: Nicely , it is fascinating mainly because it appears like his function spans such a diverse variety mainly because he does children’s books and but he’s also accomplished a film which type of reminds you a tiny of Fritz the Cat and that type of lewd and crude style of comedy.

S4: Yeah , yeah.

S3: Santos And I cannot even say the title of it mainly because it is got a it is got some pornography there. His film belongs on Adult Swim. I imply , it is absolutely irreverent. It is about a wrestler and zombies. And this wrestler has this dominatrix , a lady , bare chested lady. You know , 1 of the factors that strikes me about Reno’s function is that we’ve got to be cautious as Americans not to impose our puritanical lens onto Mexico. Mexicans in common are significantly much more and this is regardless of it becoming a heavily Catholic nation , they are a tiny bit much more quick going about the physique. They are a tiny bit much more European about nudity. And so what could possibly scandalize us ? You know , I could see it on Fox News , suitable. 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 undertaking his children’s books , he’s just attempting to entertain. He’s pretty entertaining. I imply , why really should persons come out to the Comic-Con Museum to see the exhibition ? Due to the fact it is funny. But bring bring a pal who speaks Spanish mainly because there are a lot of jokes that are type of inside Mexi Mexican jokes.

S2: And mainly because this is for radio. Describe the visual style of his drawing. I guess.

S5: The closest approximation in American comic strips would be some thing.

S3: Style sensible would be like Hagar the horrible. He’s got a pretty loose and fluid freestyle. It truly 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 free of charge , 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 pretty silly. Yes.

S3: Yes. Yes. I believe 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 obtain out that Mexicans like Americans are just into the similar 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 believe we see that in in 3 news function. 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 ? Nicely , 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 believe of it as North American well-known culture. And so in his function , we should not be shocked to obtain 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 correct of most comic strips , is he’s got his eye open to hypocrisy.

S2: And you brought up Luchadores. Yeah. And speak a tiny bit about type of the value of that in Mexican culture and how it is played out in some of Chino’s function.

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 factors I mentioned there that I believe is correct is that Mexican wrestling in Mexico is like opera for the operating class. You know , we never have the blue hair’s going to see lucha doors , even though. You have got operating class persons who’ve worked tough week wanting to do some thing 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 function mythology , the fakery of wrestling is what appeals to persons. They know it is fake. They know it 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 persons. I imply , considering the fact that , you know , somebody , the initially human laughed when the other human slipped on a banana peel. We like to laugh at these factors. And that is what you get when you go to a Mexican wrestling match.

S2: 1 of the factors about his function , as well , is there is this pretty humanistic excellent to the type of humor that he’s undertaking.

S3: Yes , it appeals.

S5: I imply , this is not I imply , it is pretty much it pretty much does the function a disservice to contact Torino a Mexican cartoonist.

S3: He is. He’s Mexicano. He’s from Jalisco. He’s genuine proud of that.

S5: But the history of.

S3: Cartooning from the cave drawings of Lascaux to right now is just human beings attempt to leave a tiny trace of themselves behind. And what he leaves behind are some truly 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 planet will be on show at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park by way of July 5th. Coming up , a neighborhood author writes about a dystopian future that in lots of strategies puts our present into query.