Friday, July 30, 2010

Diario de Oaxaca: A Sketchbook journal of Two Years in Mexico by Peter Kuper 972.740222

Peter Kuper, a political artist and a comedy cartoonist, decided to try a change of cultural scenery in 2006 and skip the last two years of President Bush’s term. He moved to Oaxaca, Mexico to relax with his family and found himself surrounded by a teachers’ strike that became an international story of government corruption and control. He chronicled it all with sketches, letters home, and a diary presented side by side in English and Spanish. The result is a one of a kind piece of frontline journalism, travel document, and artistic expression.

This is a truly unique book. It achieves the rare feat of truly capturing a moment in time and place. Having never been to Oaxaca, I certainly can’t claim the book captures the Real Oaxaca, but it definitely captures the artist’s Oaxaca. This is a weird mix of story, art, graphic novel, and diary that is so much more interesting and original then the usual travel fluffery. It has political intrigue, fights against injustice, the Day of the Dead, and loads of insects. The art has quick ‘slice of life” sketches with pictures and other media added later. So it has a sense of capturing reality but also comments on it. It’s a really wonderful artistic achievement and both captures and celebrates a part of Mexico that is rarely looked at by America. If you are interested in art, comics, Mexico, or just want to practice your Spanish while reading a cool story with great art, then check this one out.

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