AVA 2021 Commendation

Breaking Tezcatlipoca

AUTHOR: José Sherwood González

LINK: Breaking Tezcatlipoca

ABSTRACT: Breaking Tezcatlipoca explores storytelling as a phenomenon in and of itself. As a graphic ethnography of Mexican family myths, this comic book is an overview of the stories about Sherwood Gonzalez’s great-grandparents and the multiple ways in which his family members conceptualise memory and perceive reality through intergenerational storytelling. Produced by Sherwood González, this project is reflexive in the way that it seeks to explore different conceptions and perceptions of how we remember and fictionalise our ancestors and how the affordances of the comics medium can trace graphic lineages from Mesoamerican codices to twentieth century comics about superheroes.  

Engaging with Mexican visuality, this comic applies an iconological lens to Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec Lord of the Smoking Mirror (Baquedano 2014; Olivier 2008) and uses drawing as a strategy to render visible a more ephemeral way of knowing; a mode of being for Mexicans that Sherwood Gonzalez’ grandfather and visual artist describes as a way of living with uncertainty. Sketching storytellers as calaveras (skulls) and luchadores (wrestlers), the complex and multiplicitous processes of memory are laid onto the page; allowing the reader to work through the complexities encountered within intergenerational storytelling at their own pace.

BIO: José Sherwood González is a British Mexican comics artist and visual anthropologist with research interests in memory, storytelling and multi-perspectival myth-making through visual, sensory and digital methods. Since 2014, he has worked in Mexico City, investigating the ways in which families create and embody myths through storytelling. A recent graduate from the MA in Visual Anthropology at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, José is currently pursuing a PhD in collaboration with SODA and FutureEverything on Mesoamerican Futurisms, a project which applies extended reality (XR) as a shapeshifting methodology to cultivate human (and more-than-human) transformations in Mexico City.

AVA 2021 JUDGES: Breaking Tezcatlipoca – Created by a Ph.D student is a graphic comic detailing a complex and difficult family history, shrouded in mythological tales of kin history set mostly in Mexico. A reviewer noted: “I think the style and artistry is incredible, as well as the painful, personal connection to the content and story.”

Jay Sokolovsky and Verónica Sousa, Judges (Multimodal Category)