OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Omar Felipe Mauri Sierra, winner of the 1993 National Prize for Children's Literature, emphasizes that comics are an excellent way to present important historical events and support learning. Photo: http://www.cnctv.icrt.cu

For the writer Omar Felipe Mauri Sierra (Bejucal, La Habana, 1959), who has produced a vast body of work for children and youth, the comic book or ninth art, as it is also known, could become a effective vehicle in Cuba today, to promote our patrimonial, historical, and cultural values.

According to Mauri, uniting, organizing, and supporting creative collectives devoted to the genre looks to be a necessity. It has been shown, he says, that the comic book or graphic novel, far from damaging reading habits at an early age, develops them, combining two different kinds of literacy: graphic and written word.

The genre's communicative power, he explains, goes back ages, to cave pictographs, Egyptian hieroglyphics, ancient canvases and wall hangings, Trajan's Column, Mesoamerican codices, medieval scrolls, etc. The French Revolution used such works as a humoristic "guillotine" against the morally decadent aristocracy. The development of printing (especially rotary) and newspapers, at the beginning of the 20th century, contributed to generalizing cartooning.

It is said that Hitler prohibited the reading of comics in Germany, and during the Cold War, paper superheroes were true Trojan horses used against socialism, liberation movements, and progressive forces.

Well aware of the communicative and educational power of comics - which are enjoying a golden age internationally - of their importance in contemporary culture and new technology (animated film, video games, TV, etc), this creator has written several scripts for graphic novels since 2015.

In this work, he has encountered the interest of several Cuban publishing houses and a number of young drawers and painters who he has brought together in what he likes to call a creative group.

They are visual artists graduated from the Eduardo García Delgado Arts Instructors School in Havana, the Eduardo Abela Academy in the province of Artemisa, and the Advanced Institute of Art (ISA); as well as communications and audio-visual professionals from municipalities in Mayabeque and other provinces.

His first two scripts were for Juan Delgado. Un relámpago a caballo, illustrated by Wimar Verdecia Fuentes, and Las estrellas del general Quintín, with illustration by Maykel Luis García Díaz, released by the Union of Cuban Journalists’ (UPEC) Pablo de la Torriente publishing house, and Gente Nueva, respectively. Since then, Mauri has written Tiempos de cocuyos, with drawings by Wimar Verdecia Fuentes, María Ester Lemus Cordero, and Irán Hernández Castillo, published by the Pablo de la Torriente house, and El oro de Oyá, illustrated by Wimar Verdecia Fuentes, published by Capitán San Luis.

A comic, Mauri tells us, used as an instrument of reaffirmation, liberation, and justice, is an infallible weapon. Today, when the denial of memory and oblivion are an important part of imperialism's strategy, the graphic novel extends its hand to history and the nation's authentic values, to reach younger generations with immediacy, imagination, and novelty.

If a picture is worth a thousand words: an anecdote is good for a thousand pictures. This is our goal, states the author, who is already thinking about new scripts.