A small crowd scattered among a classroom in William Ox;ley Thompson Memorial Library to see professor Frederick Luis Aldama’s presentation on Latino comic books and graphic novels.
The presentation, titled “Your Brain on Latino Comics,” takes the same name as Aldama’s book, released in 2009 and published by the University of Texas Press.
“Nobody knows about Latino comics, and yet there are a lot of these guys doing this work and a lot of people reading the stuff, it just hasn’t been archived,” said Aldama, 41. “People haven’t made an academic attempt giving it visibility like Faulkner and all these guys when you mention their name everybody knows about.”
After engaging the crowd and finding out what its favorite comic books and graphic novels were, Aldama went on to speak for more than 45 minutes about things such as the history of Latino comic books and the representation of Latino characters in mainstream comics and graphic novels. The entire lecture was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation and was followed by a question and answer session with the crowd.
Some of the many items discussed by Aldama included the Hernandez Brothers long-running series “Love and Rockets,” El Dorado, a character in the popular comic series “Super Friends,” and Vibe, a product of DC Comics.
This is not the first book written by Aldama, whose other works include “Postethnic Narrative Criticism, Brown on Brown,” “Why the Humanities Matter: A Common Sense Approach” and 2008’s “Dancing With Ghosts: A Critical Biography of Arturo Islas,” which received an MLA award.
“His work in general is just really strong,” said Evan Thomas, a 23-year-old graduate student studying English. “He’s got an interdisciplinary that gives him a strength and adaptability that will really serve him in the long run.”
Aldama also spoke about the academic merits of comic books and graphic novels being used in the classroom. Not only does Aldama use them as a part of all of his classes, but in the past few years the university has introduced several classes with curriculum based upon comic books.
“Comic books, just like novels, can be simple minded or they can be completely complex and interesting,” said Aldama. “By writing books and publishing them with academic presses, what it does is it works sort of top down to give legitimacy to it as a very carefully crafted storytelling mode.”
Nancy Courtney, coordinator of outreach and engagement for the libraries, said that the event was put on by OSU Libraries as a part of its ongoing Humanities series.