Jaime Cobian addresses the first Mexican comic and the image of gays

Jaime Cobián Zamora, militant for more than 35 years in favor of the rights of the LGBT community, founder of Codise AC, collector of comics and magazines and researcher on the issues of gays, lesbians and trans people, author of the book Los Jotos chatted with Milenio de your editorial projects.

He tells me that the contingency in the face of covid-19, benefited him as a catalyst for several projects that he had left in the pipeline …

I managed to sketch a series of books that are the fruit of more than 30 years of work and my love of collecting, especially comics and magazines. Since the pandemic began, I have been in fear that the mess will take me. I thought badly, how do I get all the projects? I’m one sneeze away from getting COVID, I’m diabetic, my blood is A Positive … Suddenly, I said to myself I’m going to finish all the books, so don’t get stunned and I dedicated myself, I’ve been many days until dawn … I made virtual presentations of all the books on my social networks (laughs), I am there for any comment.

How many books are there, what are they about and what is the progress in publishing them?

Los jotos, is a book that had two editions in Spanish, the first in 2013 with a thousand copies and the second was in 2014 with five thousand, the third reissue will be bilingual English-Spanish. Regarding the book From the comic strip to José G. Cruz, history of comics in Mexico, we are already in negotiations with a sponsor, in which I highlight the work of José G. Cruz, a multifaceted artist from Jalisco, creator of hundreds of comics such as Adelita and The Saint the Masked of Silver.

The other four volumes of the Los jotos series, we are hardly in talks with various publishers, in them I talk about the iconographic construction of gays in Mexico from the end of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century until 1989.

What can the viewer expect from each of these texts?

In the book by Los Jotos I talk about the presence of the homosexual community in the construction of Mexico from the mid-19th century until today, it is a dictionary because I speak hundreds of names that have been used to refer to homosexuals in Mexico and Latin America. It seems to me that now that I am bilingual it will be more successful, I would dare to say that there is no such book in the world.

In the case of the book From the comic strip to José G. Cruz, history of comics in Mexico … much has been written that the first comic appeared in England, but I would dare to say that the first comic in the world was Mexican, I am talking about the first comic strip entitled La orquesta, made in 1861 and the first Mexican and world comic was released in 1871, it is titled Rosa y Federico. The first comic book now in Mexico was Adelaido, El Conquistador in 1932, then Macaco came in 1934.

This monograph includes many illustrations from the comics I mention and others. In it we can see how the first Spider-Man was Mexican, we can also notice in Adelita how Superman appears in the Mexican Revolution, and know that the first Saint created by José G. Cruz, in which the character actually appears dressed in a habit Franciscan. That comic appeared in July 1952 and in September of that same year, after José G. Cruz made an agreement with Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, El Santo, el luchador, the first issue of Santo El enmascarado de plata appeared as it continued to appear. in the thousands of comics edited by José G. Cruz and which René Cardona takes up in the movies. It seems easy to mention, but it has taken me many years and a lot of work to get copies of all those magazines and review them.

We have just covered two books, tell me about the rest …

In the book Los Jotos II, La Caricatura Maestra del stigma, I show how engravers in the 19th century left engraving to make drawings. How they described the effeminate to a Mexican public that was very illiterate at that time, almost 95 percent of the population could not read or write, I am talking about 1840. The image of gays was built from two aspects, as a way of insulting politicians by dressing them as women and through the portrait of effeminate poses. In these cartoons we can see Benito Juárez, later Francisco I. Madero, for example. Portraying politicians like this was forbidden and there were many risks, however the cartoons are there.

I was interested in showing how heteronormativity was also built through comics. I have found images of Cri-Cri dressed as a woman, various homosexual characters in the comics by Gabriel Vargas and José G. Cruz, both men and women, in Los Supermachos in which Rius participated, also dialogues in which they talk about queers in Capulinita and so on, to mention a few examples.

He had told me an anecdote about Negrito Ramírez …

I treat this case in the book Object Photography to identify and point out. Los Jotos III. In it, the aspect is the same, to find the iconographic construction of homosexuality. The interesting thing here is how this photography of effeminates in magazines begins. In 1904 in Mexico the police began to photograph criminals in case they changed jail, or escaped, so that people could recognize them anywhere. Magazines began to appear with inmates from the Belén prison, for example, who were pedophiles, pedophiles or effeminate.

The initiative was so successful that soon the United States began to do the same with its inmates. In this book I show the photo of the first trans revolutionary, who fought in the ranks of Francisco Villa, known as Negrito Ramírez. Everyone believed she was a man, but when they kill her and have her funeral they realize she was a woman.

Tell me about volume IV and volume V

In Transformism, cross-dressing and other ways of living. Los Jotos IV, I speak and show stills of actors who got dressed, men who impersonated gays or women who dressed up as men, in Mexican cinema films from the beginning of the century until 1989. From Joaquín Pardavé to Chelelo, Luis Aguilar, Jorge Rivero, Silvia Pinal and Mauricio Garcés …

In Cinema, Theater and five minutes to insult. Los Jotos V, the reader will be able to find out about the films that were seen in Mexico since the beginning of the 20th century related to this topic and that spoke, for example, of the weakness of men with stigmas as gay or fagots. I found that by the 30s of the 20th century, gay scenes that lasted no more than five minutes were included in almost all movies. I also found some films by Charles Chaplin, in which homosexuality is addressed and data that caught my attention, such as the case of the film El effeminado, which lasted a year and a half in theaters in Guadalajara, when the standard duration of a successful tape was ten days old. ANDhe newspaper El Informador at that time advertised this film more or less like this: « If you want to know if your son is effeminate, come see this film. ».

An interesting practice was that integrating homosexual scenes in the films despite the fact that the history of the film’s theme was very foreign, that one, let’s call it advertising strategy, was preserved, and that of the eight poster designs that were designed by film for promotion, three or two of the designs included that homosexual scene from the film in question, because it was an interesting aspect for the public.

The purpose of these works is that they serve as references and a starting point for new generations who want to investigate this type of subject more thoroughly since I have realized that there are no studies of this type.