I have recently started to have a look at Colombian history inspired graphic novels. After caminos condenados, Los Once (2014, Laguna Libros) was a logical consequence, especially considering its focus on Bogota. The novel takes the reader to the siege of Bogota’s Palace of Justice in 1985, from the perspective of a handful mice living in the palace. What is interesting about this view from an insider-outsider, is how it allows to get a feeling for the situation of not knowing what is happening, a strong feeling of being threatened and vulnerable, and of not understanding even when things are supposedly said clearly.
The mice ar probably an alusion to the famous Maus comic by Art Spiegelmann. But instead of cats, Los Once uses different kinds of birds and dogs to represent military forces, police and members of the M-19 guerrilla group. To me, it was not quite clear who was who, as shapes and figures often transform into each other, but maybe this was also intentional, to further underline the feeling of not knowing whom to trust, and makes clear that no-one was “the good guy”, there.
How did I come across the book?
I wanted to read it for a while, and had heard about it when it was just out, but didn’t search for it actively. After I read caminos condenados, however, I decided to have a closer look at other graphic novels.
When and where did I read it?
March 8th, International Women’s Day. The heavy rains outside made it easier to go through with the plan of striking, and to avoid working on anything else, I decided reading would be a good substitute.
Can you still call it reading, when it’s actually comic drawings? I’m gonna go with Yes, here. Gemma Correll’s beautiful The Worrier’s Guide to Life (2015, Andrews McMeel) is most definitely something you want to read or look at in a time of crisis. The “World Champion Over-Thinker” created some wonderful illustrations of all the things one can worry about, spanning every issue from health, fashion, social gatherings, work, travel, leisure, and of course love. You might just have a look at her beautiful tumblr here to get some impressions of her work.
Does it work?
Well, the one thing that’s for sure is it will make you laugh, and maybe that really is all that was missing for your day to be a tiny little bit nicer than you thought. Also, especially her work on periods and body positive attitudes help make some serious troubles more visible and raise awareness without the niggling. My personal favorite? The impostor-syndrome suffering fetus: “I bet all the other fetuses are way further along in their development…” – “What am I doing with my life?”