Located throughout Latin America in the 2490s, MAÑANA: 25th Century Latinx Comics (available now in English & Spanish) presents readers with a radical array of futures, ranging from post-apocalypse to liberationist utopia, to the magical realism of a slice of life. With over 270 comic book pages featuring 27 young adult sci-fi stories from Latinx creators in the United States and Latin America, Joamette gil is the editor of a project of such scope, as well as the head of Electric and magic press, the editor of MAÑANA. Joamette is also a designer, illustrator and letterer in several other projects. Our own reporter Duna had the chance to chat with Joamette about MAÑANA, its creation, its editorial process, its range of diverse visions for the future, etc. Here is the result.
Comic Watch: Thanks so much for speaking with us, Joamette! Well, first of all, can you tell us where the idea of MAÑANA came, and what are the things that helped it flourish in the 50+ creator anthology that we get?
Joamette Gil: MAÑANA, as a concept, arose out of two disparate places: the excitement I witnessed among my fellow Latins when Star Wars started recruiting more Latin actors, and the desperation I felt in the face of the child separation crisis at the border. Our imaginations revolve around the stars and the future, but our realities are complicated by violence and trauma, making many of us doubt a future. I wanted this anthology to reflect as many different Latin American cultures as possible and as many versions of the future as possible. We did the work of matching writers with candidate artists, and the result was the greatest creative team we’ve ever worked with at P&M Press.
CW: You are the editor and senior editor of Power & Magic Press, the press behind the edition. MAÑANA. How did this project get started?
JG: P& M Press started in early 2016 with the call for applications for POWER AND MAGIC: Queer Witch Comic Book Anthology. In a nutshell, I was not happy with my experience working in comics so far, especially the low pay. P&M Press is my way of giving other BIPOC and queer creators the chance to work on projects that center their experiences, treat them with respect and pay them fairly.
CW: I have noticed the emphasis on LGBT + creators and creators at other intersections both in MAÑANA and in the other press anthologies. What do these diverse perspectives – sometimes in multiple ways – add to the books?
JG: They are the beating heart of our press! Adequate representation by / for / of marginalized people has never existed in the Americas. The most well-known and mundane story can become instantly fascinating just by inserting a BIPOC or queer person, because that’s how rare it is still to see us centered in any medium. But beyond adding us to the stories we already know, BIPOC and LGBTQIA + people have totally original experiences and perspectives that have yet to be told to a large audience. This is what interests P&M Press: the freedom of marginalized creators to invent and reinvent freely.
CW: Most visions of hegemonic sci-fi narratives (white, wealthy, European, male) focus either on a future completely detached from the past (“progress”) or on a future that repeats past failures, especially . In MAÑANA we have links with the past that seem much more enriching to us from the past and look at it in a totally different way. How do you think these voices can bring something different and important to science fiction?
JG: MAÑANA’s stories cover many different visions of the future, some totally utopian and others… rather dark! Darker futures always contain a seed of hope, if not a way out of potential disaster. Ultimately, each story is very human, focusing on the impact of the future on people’s bodies, relationships, working lives, beliefs, lifestyles, and philosophies. The past is omnipresent, as it indicates what each character values, how they live, what they have never known, and which choices were mistakes. In that sense, it’s a very Latin book. The shadows of colonization, capitalism and environmental destruction are there, as are the light of revolution, indigenous survival and black joy.
CW: Some comparisons have been made of how many visions of dystopian fiction in pop culture tend to make their “scandalous and horrific futures” basic things that many BIPOCs already relate to: poverty, oppression, the emphasis on survival rather than passion. How do you think this futuristic story written by Latin challenges this vision?
JG: MAÑANA challenges this by ignoring “horrible futures” for the purpose of teaching empathy or warning the reader to “beware of consequences!” Whenever the future is far from perfect, our characters use their ingenuity to survive and thrive together despite everything (sounds familiar to you?), Or the story goes that our characters learn something about life under the circumstances. For example, in “A dream of a thousand stars” by Alberto Rayo and Sebastian Carrillo, the indigenous peoples of the Andes are the ones who master interstellar travel and harness the power of several suns… which leads to very, very big social problems. The story follows two queer Andean women (a scientist and a soldier) on a mission to save all lives. It merges the themes of human potential, pride, cooperation and religious conflict, in a future scenario that would be absolutely frightening.
CW: As the publisher of the book, how did you approach your writers by addressing themes that are somehow related to the land and its people (even though it’s a vast land and a great amount of cultures) ? Do you think this is any different from editing a supposedly “pure” book?
JG: Excellent question! I decided early on that I wouldn’t accept story pitches taking place anywhere the creators weren’t originally or had never lived. The rest is not much different from how I would edit anything, fictitious or not. One of my jobs as an editor, in my opinion, is reading and asking questions when elements of a specific culture that I’m not familiar with appear in a script, both to check for accuracy and to get a feel for what is respectful and what is not.
CW: In addition to being an editor, you are also a designer, illustrator and letter writer, having done comics for The Nib, Everyday Feminism and for Power & Magic Releases, and lettering for projects like Archival Quality (which was a 10 / 10 for our reviews) and Mooncakes. How do your experience as a publisher and your experience as a creator intertwine, and what do you like most about these multiple activities?
JG: Comics have fascinated me for a very long time, so I’m truly grateful that I was able to participate in almost every aspect of their creation! I would say this is my greatest strength as a publisher. I understand how every aspect of the process works, why it matters, how it can go wrong, and most importantly, what it feels like to make a comic.
To follow Electric and magic press To Twitter, to have MAÑANA now in their shop, and follow Joamette to Twitter and Instagram for more! You can also watch our video interview here with designers Alberto Rayo and Desiree Rodriguez on MAÑANA!
Talk about ‘MAÑANA: Latinx Comics From The 25th Century’ with JOAMETTE GIL