Comic author Eric Esquivel told Remezcla today (October 18) that he wants “Border Town,” the graphic novel series he developed with artists Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain, to confront the violence that political and personal borders force on people.
“It was not just about the physical border between [the United States] and Mexico; it’s about the borders we put up between each other,” he says. “These fake borderlines that are manmade concepts, and even things that we divide between, like gender and stuff like that. It seems like a lot of folks are benefitting from drawing these imaginary lines between each other.”
“Border Town” tells the supernatural story of Frank, a high school student of Mexican and Irish background adjusting to his new life in an Arizona border community. Several of the comic’s themes highlight the various ways that people can identify as Latinx. For instance, one sequence involves Frank discussing himself as half-Mexican, to which another character tells him that he’s not half anything—that he can be wholly Mexican, Irish and American.
“Every day, I get a tweet from someone that says they were teary-eyed reading that panel,” Esquivel, who identifies as Mexican of Irish descent, says. “I have parents who’ve told me they gave it to their daughters and their sons to read. There is a school that has that comic as part of their Chicano lit class. That idea is such a rarely communicated idea, that I’m really proud that it’s in there, but initially I was terrified. This whole comic was basically so I could have that panel in there, so somebody else could read it and understand their place in the world.”
But not all of the attention has been positive. Esquivel says that he received death threats while promoting the book.
“When it was announced that I was going to appear in San Diego Comic-Con in a Vertigo panel, the tweets [people] were sending me were, ‘We’re not going to send ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]; this time we’re sending exterminators.’”
Learn more about Esquivel’s experience with “Border Town” at Remezcla.com.