Before I start, I just want to say that I will try my best to keep the politics to a minimum and focus more on the graphic novel as a whole. Immigration in the United States is a super complicated topic that I will not get into on this blog. This is a review blog and, while I do review things that have political leanings in them, I do my best to avoid putting my political views into them and just review the story and, in this case, the artwork.
With that, if you haven’t been living under a rock these past three years, immigration and the Mexico/America border is a hot topic. While the only viewpoints we see are from politicians, Americans and the news media, we never hear from the actual immigrants. Comic book writer Elisa Amado decided to change that with Manuelito with illustrator Abraham Urias.
The story is about a young boy named Manuelito who lives in a small village in Guatemala. Things have gotten extremely dangerous in the village due to the influx of gangs and soldiers making life hard for everyone that his parents decided to hire a coyote (a man who helps people cross the border illegally) to take him to live with his aunt in the US.
How accurate the journey in this book is is unknown, but the only peril shown in this comic are the soldiers, gangs and the coyote who everyone says is dangerous. While that sounds interesting, the tension is about as thin as the paper this comic is drawn on. Manuelito even has a cell phone THAT HE KEEPS WITH HIM THROUGHOUT THE STORY! There are some tense moments that stop being tense on the next page or so.
There is only one major negative that happens on the journey, but it’s to his friend Coco Loco.
The only great thing with the story is the writing. Amado does a fine job of letting the leader see into the mind of Manuelito and how he’s feeling in a certain situation. There isn’t much of it though.
The artwork is all pencil illustrations. They’re nice drawings that do manage to tell a sequential story. Many may not like this style, but for a story like this, you really don’t need anything spectacular.
While Manuelito does have good writing, the story is OK and the ending is but predictable. This is obviously just a way to tell a point, which it does a fine job of, but as a comic it’s mediocre. The pencil illustrations are great, though so kudos to Urias.