Hello? Hello, is this Ric Estrada?
This is Ric Estrada.
Hi, my name’s Eric Jepson. Sal Velluto gave me your phone number, I hope you don’t mind.
No, I don’t mind.
Oh, great. I work with a Mormon criticism site called Motley Vision and Sal and other people call you the Father of Mormon comics. I was wondering if I could talk to you about that a little bit. I don’t know when a convenient time would be.
Oh, Sal does. Sal Velluto?
He calls me?
That’s what he calls you: the Father of Mormon Comics.
Oh my goodness! Wow. Another honor.
When I wrote my seminal much heralded totally awesome somewhat overhyped survey of Mormon comics for Motley Vision last year, all I had to say about Ric Estrada was that he had written a Mormony story for a national comics publisher. I said: “‘The “Mormon” Battalion’ was a six-page sequence in Our Fighting Forces #135, 1972, by Ric Estrada (not LDS, presumably).” Ends up this was incorrect. As DC and The Friend artist Sal Velluto wrote me the same day, “Ric Estrada is the first LDS artist in the history of comics. His story needs to be the heart of your piece.” So I did a bit of research and, well, my original comment would have been somewhat like saying “The Journal of Discourses includes many sermons by Brigham Young (not LDS, presumably).” The grossness of this error requires some serious restitution, even if Brother Estrada himself is a marvelous person who doesn’t seem to hold my sins against me.
Continue reading “Ric Estrada: Call me the “Trailblazer””
Last week on the NPR radio program On The Media, in a segment titled “Vanishing Reviews,” I heard a great story from Steve Wasserman, a past editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review. It seems that Wasserman had been told by Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes that his ignorance of an early Mexican writer and Saint, Sor Juana de la Cruz, would be, in the Spanish-speaking world, “as if you said the word Shakespeare and got a blank stare.”
So, when Penguin Classics came out with an English translation of the works of Sor Juana de la Cruz, Wasserman decided to feature the author on the front page of the Book Review. But his American-educated superiors at the Times objected saying “Sor Juana who?” Wasserman then carried the mockup of the issue into the executive lunchroom and sat it on the table while he ordered lunch. There, a Mexican-born waiter noticed it, and exclaimed: “Sor Juana!” Wasserman asked, “You know who this is?” “Yes,” the waiter replied, “every school child in Mexico knows Sor Juana de la Cruz.”
Wasserman won the day and the issue was published and gained a flood of reader response. It seems one third of the Times’ audience speaks Spanish as their native language. The responses acclaimed the Times for finally recognizing their culture.
Now, I have a couple of questions about this:
- First, could you substitute a Mormon writer who is as important to Mormons culturally as Sor Juana de la Cruz is to Mexicans? Is there a writer that fits this bill? Or is it just that you don’t know enough about Mormon literature to know if there is one? *(see my note on this at the end of this post)
- Second, If there were such a writer featured in a major book-related publication, would most Mormons even know who the writer is?
Continue reading “What Should Mormons Know About Mormon Culture?”