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Research Presentation Arts & Humanities

Boys Love in Latin America: The Migration of Aesthetics in Contemporary Graphic Narrative

Presentation By Camila Gutierrez Fuentes


In this piece, I examine the appearance of Japanese Boys Love tropes (BL) in Latin American comics about sexual alterity, to show how the aesthetics of graphic narrative operate in the realm of World Literatures. Using the methodology of visual analysis, first, I typify some of the iconographic language of BL, connecting it to girls’ print culture in Taisho and early Showa Japan. Second, I examine the work of Pía Prado-Bley, a Chilean artist who borrows Japanese comics’ iconographic language to draw same-sex love scenarios in historically censored spaces such as saltpeter miners’ protest and massacre in 1907 Iquique, Chile. Through visual analyses, I explain how the author’s strategic use of Japanese homo-romantic iconography inserts her pieces in a global literary network, as her visual/narrative tropes are globally recognized by BL-reading audiences. To conclude, I discuss Franco Moretti’s views on evolving genre morphologies to address how Latin American Boys Love comics unsettle so-called “generic” categories in Comics Studies (e.g., manga, comics, tebeo and historieta). The importance of this work lies in recognizing that the medium of graphic narrative facilitates a transnational flow of genres not unlike the novel’s, while also adding a visuality where there has not been one. As a result, I argue that these comics integrate the local microcosm of Latin America into the global cultural of exchange of Boys Love imagery, adding a multimedia layer to David Damrosch’s ground-setting views on “glocal literature” as World Literature.

Recording of Oral Presentation

Slides from Oral Presentation


This work is relevant to the field of comics studies because it subverts misconceptions regarding so-called "comics genres", which in reality are descriptors of regional publishing styles. The work differentiates between visual-textual generic tropes, and the geographical origin of those tropes; dissociating one from the other. The work also introduces queer comics from Latin America into the realm of graphic narrative as world literature. This innovates in that the "global" or "worldly" elements are found to be encoded on the page, rather than dependent on translation, circulation, or canonic validation.


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