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date: 26 September 2022

Comic Book Depictions of the Mexico City Earthquake of 1985locked

Comic Book Depictions of the Mexico City Earthquake of 1985locked

  • Gabriela Buitrón VeraGabriela Buitrón VeraBinghamton University

Summary

On the morning of September 19, 1985, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake shocked Mexico City. Approximately 10,000–15,000 people died and hundreds of buildings collapsed. Many representations of this event emerged in the aftermath. Newspapers, chronicles, testimonials, and photographs were some of the mediums that reported this tragic event, and the most immediate comic book response to the catastrophe was Terremoto 85: Historias reales del dramático suceso (1986). This graphic narrative draws from a long line of Mexican comic books that had promoted conservative cultural values for decades. By portraying the nuclear family as an allegory of the nation, its characters are represented as ignoring—rather than participating in—the sociopolitical upheaval taking place around them. The comic suggests that it is only by embracing normativity and gender norms, as well as by contributing to the procreation and production of the nation, that readers can become exemplary citizens. Furthermore, this graphic narrative shows that only characters depicted as “exemplary” get to have “happy endings.” By articulating disaster in this manner, Terremoto 85 obscures the real civil disobedience and direct action that surged after Mexico City’s earthquake of 1985. In so doing, the comic book participates in the erasure of well-recorded civil responses to the earthquake. It also demonstrates how national narratives often glorify exemplary citizens and contribute to the exclusion of vulnerable and precarious populations. A careful read of this graphic text can help one examine 20th- and 21st-century national emergencies in Mexico, Latin America, and beyond.

Subjects

  • History of Mexico
  • Cultural History
  • Gender and Sexuality

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