Ruins is the newest graphic novel by Peter Kuper, a New York City writer and artist that has created many comics, but is still fairly unknown to the mainstream. Whenever I see that he has published a new work, it makes my world a little bit brighter. His works are mostly fiction, but sometimes based on real events and things that have happened in his life. So I guess you could say many of this works are sort of autobiographical, slice-of-life, alternative, and observational. He has also done adaptations of Franz Kafka’s work like The Metamorphosis. The last thing I read by him was Stop Forgetting to Remember, which I enjoyed greatly (and might be the best place to start if interested in his work), but I’ve also read a number of his other works.
Ruins is a work of fiction, though many aspects of it were inspired by real events that he, his wife, and daughter experienced during their two years spent living in Mexico. There are a couple of storylines that crisscross throughout the book. One of them is the actual story of a couple going to Oaxaca, Mexico so that the wife can work on a book, and so the guy can work practice his art and drawing bugs (that area is known to flourish with it number of bugs, insects, and animal species).
There’s another story that intersects the book and that’s the migration of the monarch butterflies as they fly from Canada to Mexico--a 2,000 to 3,000 mile trip. A remarkable aspect of their life cycle is that while most generations only live 3 or 4 weeks, the generation that makes this arduous migration can live up to 9 months. Also of note, their population has been diminishing due to their habitats disappearing. You can read more about that at: monarchwatch.org
Another part of his book concerns itself with the politics that was going on at the time concerning a teacher’s strike. They had just gotten a new governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, and many of the locals didn’t like him and were striking in protest. In 2006, Ortiz ordered the police to attack the striking teachers in the early hours of June 14th. Over the next several months, police clashed with the strikers, and a number of union members were either wounded or killed. The strike became an international incident on October 27th when U.S. journalist Brad Will was killed by undercover police.