By Chelsea P. Villareal
Today we’re delighted to welcome Joamette Gil of P&M Press to discuss Mañana: Latinx Comics From The 25th Century, which came out January 12, 2022! Mañana is also available digitally here, in Spanish hardcover here, and in Spanish digitally here.
What awaits Latin America in the next 500 years?
Mañana: Latinx Comics From The 25th Century is the first sci-fi comics anthology from P&M Press, featuring 27 stories by Latinx creators from across the hemisphere.
Set throughout Latin America in the 2490s and beyond, Mañana presents readers with a radical array of futures, ranging from post-apocalypse, to liberationist utopia, to slice-of-life magical realism.
“El futuro es nuestro.” The future is ours.
Thank you so much for offering up your time for a Q&A with WNDB, Joamette. We’re super excited about Mañana! Before we dive deeper into the anthology, I just wanted to give you the space to introduce yourself and P&M Press to our readers, who might not be familiar with your PDX indie publisher.
Thank you so much for having me! I’m a (gender)queer Afro-Cuban cartoonist from Miami, FL, living in Portland, OR, for the past 9 years. I got my start in the comics industry as a jack-of-all-trades, doing lettering, prepress, penciling, cartooning—you name it. My original comics work leans toward magical realism and autobiography / non-fiction. “Power & Magic” Press is so named after what I gravitate toward in comics, stories blend genre and fantastical elements with real-world experiences and power dynamics experienced by marginalized communities. I transitioned into publishing other people’s stories through the P&M Press imprint at the start of 2016, amid heated conversation in the industry about creator pay rates. P&M Press exists to increase the volume of publishing opportunities that pay fairly and cater specifically to what BIPOC, queer, and other marginalized peoples have to say and want to read. As of this year, our catalog includes five titles (most of which are either award-nominated or -winning) featuring over 100 creators from around the globe.
So, the anthology is called Mañana: Latinx Comics From the 25th Century—an amazing graphic novel anthology title. What inspired the project?
Thank you! The project was inspired by two somewhat disparate things: the practice of child separation at the US-Mexico border, and Poe Dameron. Both were heavy on my mind at around the same time during 45’s administration for very different reasons, but they converged to form a point of hopelessness. A complex Latine hero in outer space? In a futuristic setting? It was mostly unheard of in film, and downright ironic in light of all the futures our border patrol system has destroyed. From that place of hopelessness, I decided that a project centering Latine voices and the future was exactly what P&M Press needed next. In this anthology, we’re not just marketable-cool characters in an ensemble, but first-person authors of our own hopes, plans, fears, and visions of the future.
I know P&M Press launched the project on Kickstarter. What’s it like launching an anthology campaign on the platform?
I don’t want to say it’s “easy”—because it absolutely isn’t—but it is massively empowering. The platform definitely made the difference in P&M Press staying an idle dream and P&M Press becoming a real company with repeat customers. It’s the go-to platform for creators with zero start-up capital for a reason. The Mañana Kickstarter was our fifth time using Kickstarter, and that’s a big part of how we were able to amass $75k in 30 days for a comic book. It will probably remain our standard way of financing books through preorders for the foreseeable future.
Tell us a bit about the contributors! I’m looking at this Latinx contributor list and my eyes are poppin’ out with love, cartoon-style. You’re also a contributor, yes?
I am! My contribution was “Miami Story,” scripted by me and drawn by Ashanti Fortson, an award-winning Afro-Mexican American cartoonist and a pure gem. A few of my personal favorites include “A Dream Of A Thousand Stars” by Alberto Rayo and Sebastian Carrillo, “Bats and Fish” by Tristan J. Tarwater and Molly Mendoza, and “A Little Esperanza” by Jamila Rowser and Maddie Gonzalez. Those six people alone either live in or have heritage from five different Latin American countries, three distinct indigenous American peoples, and the African diaspora. Their careers span from “just getting started” to “Eisner nominee,” which I love because half the point of P&M Press is to lift up new voices!
You have a beautiful page introducing Mañana to the reader as “science fiction, at its best, predicts humanity’s problems and presents imaginative solutions”. What are a few of your favorite science fiction books? Reading anything good right now?
Would you believe I don’t read a ton of sci-fi? Some of my favorite sci-fi television and films, though, are Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Mobile Suit Gundam, Annihilation, and Akira. (I do also love pulpy space adventures like Star Wars and Cowboy Bebop!)
Going back to your Introduction page—some folks, including myself, love the concept of speculative science fiction and using it as a tool for aspirational futures in education. How do you think teachers and librarians could use this anthology to spark those civic imaginations in students to change the world?
I think exposing students to these materials is step one! It’s often a shock to people that some of the anthologies we publish even exist in the first place because the expectation that certain people and stories are ignored is so cemented. In addition to exposure, I know that I would have enjoyed more chances to express myself through drawing in school. Inviting students to draw their own visions of their community’s future could be emboldening, and posing critical thinking questions like “what would need to happen for a future like this to come about”, “what is happening right now that could prevent or cause this future to occur”, or “what does this version of society say about the people who live in it”, would serve to spark important conversations and develop media literacy.
Brings me to my next question, how do you feel the graphic novel industry is doing right now in terms of Latinx representation—on the story and creator front? Do you think we can see our own stories these days?
My short answer is, “badly, and not really”; granted, I am a critic and a fixer by nature, haha. Longer answer: there are innumerable, incredible Latine comics creators out there, but from what I’ve seen, they’re not offered graphic novel deals as often (or as big) as white creators in the same space. One in every five Americans is Latine, yet we still see way more Latine characters written by non-Latine people than the other way around, let alone Latine voices representing themselves. That’s not to say that there’s nothing (check out Lowriders In Space by Raúl the Third and Cathy Camper, Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo, La Voz De M.A.Y.O. Rambo by Henry Barajas, and Angola Janga by Marcelo D’Salete, dear readers)! We’re on the rise, especially thanks to Latine editors gaining ground in the industry and fighting that good fight.
Finally, where’s the best place for folks to get the book?
All of our books are available directly through our online shop at powerandmagicpress.com and select comic book stores in the US, Canada, and UK! Retailers and librarians worldwide can contact Anne Bean of Emerald Comics Distro to carry our books as well.
Joamette Gil is a queer, Afro-Cuban, Eisner Award-winning cartoonist and founder of P&M Press, home to Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology. As a creator, she is best known for her luminous representations of queer people of color in multiple genres, from speculative fiction to educational works. As a publisher, her devotion is to LGBTQIA and BIPOC creators making a living while living their truth.
Chelsea P. Villareal is a children’s media strategist from Portland, Oregon. She holds a BUPA in Political Science & Media Studies from Portland State University and is currently completing her Master’s in Communication & Education at Columbia University, with a focus on civic imagination and Latinx representation. She works on the Brand Marketing team at Penguin Young Readers and lives in Brooklyn with her partner and two lazy feline beasts. As Program Manager at WNDB, Chelsea handles the Internship Grant Programs.