Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Two autobiographical graphic novels for the Spanish class

I'd like two introduce two graphic novels that have two of the features that I have considered important in previous posts: they portray personal stories and deal with controversial issues that can lead to discussions and research in our classes. The authors, Cristina Durán and Miguel Ángel Giner, are a couple of artists from Valencia, Spain. They have produced numerous artworks since 1993 in fields such as text books illustration, publicity, comics, etc. at their own art studio.

In 2009 they published their first autobiographical graphic novel, Una posiblidad entre mil (A chance out a thousand). Cristina and Miguel Angel have their first child, Laia, but her life is at risk starting when she was born due to health issues. Their daily routine consists of visiting hospitals, rehabilitation units and doctors. There is only one chance in a thousand for the baby to survive and she fights to grasp it with all her strength, affecting everyone around her with her zest and optimism for life.

The novel follows the authors' physical and emotional trip until Laia starts to go to school. We witness their devastation when they have to assume Laia´s condition that will affect her for the rest of her life. But we also witness their determination to shower their child with love and care through this often harsh journey.

Some  of the the discussion themes in the novel are:
  • Parenthood
  • The integration of handicapped children and the acceptance of the differences
  • The role of family and society
  • The importance of determination to achieve our dreams
La Máquina de Efrén, published in 2012, is the continuation to Una posibilidad entre mil. The graphic novel continues the journey initiated after Laia's birth. Cristina and Miguel Ángel always wanted to have one more member in the family, an adopted child. Both authors tell us the process of getting an adopted girl from Ethiopia. We experience their excitement, their anguish through all the bureaucratic process and the joy of achieving their goal of having one more child in the family. We also witness their trip to an unknown country for them, Ethiopia, and share their respect for a country full of problems but full of dignity too.

As in Una posibilidad entre mil, there are numerous topics to discuss with our students:
  • Parenthood
  • Responsibility
  • Adoption
  • First world versus third world
  • Multiculturalism
  • The right of everyone to happiness

Our students will definitely enjoy following Cristina and Miguel Angel's emotional journey through parenthood, compromise and commitment to their family and values. They will get attached to the characters and will realize about the importance of learning to respect the differences and being able to accept everyone. 

The authors talk about their work together and about adoption in La máquina de Efrén.
The graphic novels' website.
The authors' study website.
Pillada por ti, a free online comic on violence against women by the same authors.
Article in newspaper El Mundo on Una posibilidad entre mil.
First pages La máquina de Efrén
First pages Una posibilidad entre mil