Old perils, old fears: The (still) vulnerable creole body in Selva Misteriosa

Rafael García Roncalla, Bielefeld University, Germany:

In 2019, the Peruvian comic strip Selva Misteriosa was republished in the format of a graphic novel, reintroducing one of Peru’s most important comic referents to a contemporary audience. An icon of the early 70s, Selva Misteriosa is an adventure comic that follows Javico, an adventurer and family man making a living in the Peruvian Rainforest. The main focus of this article is tracing back the corporeal representation in the comic as a remnant of the anxieties the Spanish colonizers faced when confronted with the new environment of the Americas. This paper argues that, although the understanding of the body has changed dramatically, the underlying anxieties the Spanish conquistadors faced have remained with the Peruvian creole elite, and Selva Misteriosa shows a new expression of these anxieties in the, at the time, still unknown environment of the rainforest. In this regard, Javico’s idealized body and subjectivity is contrasted with the vulnerability the creole body still shows in the character of “El Finado”. As such, the ambivalent portrayal of the creole body shows the lack of resolution for the possibility of contaminating and changing the purity of the creole body and subjectivity.

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