Bennett, Marek – Nicaragua




There’s a good reason why more people don’t do travel journals: it’s too expensive to travel.  At least that’s my theory, it’s possible that most people who aren’t me just don’t like travel journals, although that seems at least mildly ridiculous.  Marek has gotten around this slight problem through a grant that lets him and a couple of other people have basically a cultural exchange program: some Nicaraguan students came to the US to make comics, and they were soon on their way to Nicaragua to teach their craft.  Honestly, the fact that we’re still giving out grants for things like this gives me some small hope that maybe this country as a whole really does value art and the value of learning things from other cultures.  From Marek’s past minis it’s clear that he’s an ideal choice for this sort of thing, as his instructional minis were genuine all-ages books, useful to everybody.  It’s also clear from this book that he just can’t stop teaching, as he takes time to jot down the things that it takes to make a successful travel comic.  Everybody who’s just starting out should really check out this book and his minis.  Getting a handle on the basics is clearly not easy for some people, but between him and Scott McCloud it should be easy to get a general idea of how to make comics.  Anyway, this graphic novel is an impressive thing, taking the reader through various parts of Nicaragua.  It shows all kinds of aspects of their lives (things you wouldn’t even think about), how Marek and his friends fit in and even has a (very basic) history of the region.  Best of all, of course, is how the kids react to making comics.  It’s clearly an alien concept to them at first, but Marek works at it, has some basic examples of how to tell a story with pictures and it’s impressive how quickly he’s able to get through to these kids.  This is a review copy and it says that more actual samples of their work will be available in the actual printing, with even more samples up at his website.  I’m sticking to generalities about this because it’s almost impossible to go into something to filled with specifics.  Marek details the result of his asking a stupid question early on (even though it’s a question just anybody would have asked), the various living arrangements, the kids getting out of school and going right to work, the food (and how it changed wherever he went), even briefly going into the political situation.  This is an engrossing work, miles above everything else I’ve seen from Marek, and it’s not like what I’ve already seen was bad.  This is the kind of thing that should be taught in schools to show what we’re capable of as a race if we just stop to listen to to what the other side is saying.  I loved it and  it’s a measly (for the size) $10.


Posted on April 22, 2010, in Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Bennett, Marek – Nicaragua.

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