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[Jabaz, page 5 of 5]

This deeply conservative, religious culture forms the background for the Guadalajara humorists' radically irreverent cultural practice. The Guadalajara political humorists were direct participants in the challenge to the political system that gathered momentum in the country in the 1980s, accelerated by the events of 1968, the thwarted elections of 1988, and the scandal-ridden presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Their work will remind many readers of the social critique articulated through the famous visual humor of José Guadalupe Posadas at the beginning of the 20th century. Posadas used the skeleton, the calavera, as his icon, implying that just as no one escapes death, no one is eligible to escape his satirical pen.

Jabaz identifies a more recent genealogy, a trio of great Mexican political cartoonists and comic book makers of the 1960s: Rogelio Naranjo, whose cartoons still appear in the daily El Universal and the weekly Proceso; Magú, cartoonist at La Jornada since its inception; and Rius, inventor of two influential comic series of the 1960s, Los agachados and Los supermachos. Rius's combinations of photography, cartoon caricature, and engraving inspired Baz to experiment with multimedia design and montage. Magú's ability to mock rigid pieties of the left while retaining solidarity guided Jabaz in developing his own form of humor. Of his former students, Jabaz cites Jiz and Trino as the two who influenced him most.

How does he do it?

Jabaz makes his photomontages on a Macintosh using Photoshop and an image manipulation program called Supergoo. He has a computer card that enables him to digitalize sequences clipped from television and analyze them frame by frame to choose the image that suits him best. The use of the real faces of public figures makes Jabaz's work original and audacious. He has become a master at capturing the faces of the powerful in their hilariously expressive moments. Since everyone has such moments, the satire is deeply egalitarian.

Jabaz's montages nearly always display more than one person, underscoring that corruption and abuse lie in the relationships people build with each other, not in the actions of individuals. Images of dancers in a row, players on a team, or actors in a play, for example, carry these relational meanings. In his parodies Jabaz represents people in motion, often performing a group activity. A social vision underlies this practice: society is not created by beliefs, nor by the sum of individual actions. Whatever form society takes, it's created collectively by the coordinated actions of all its members.

Everything depends, however, on Jabaz's unsurpassed technical skill at mounting the images fluidly and realistically. Jabaz sees this realism as the chief originality of his work in relation to the line-drawn editorial cartoon. Real images, he argues, have more force, a greater ability to bring realities home to readers rather than distancing them through the intentionally exaggerations of caricature. At the level of verbal meaning, something else goes on in Jabaz's work, exemplified early on by the memorable "paro obrero." His preferred verbal game is the pun. He loves to assemble images that bring out second meanings in commonplace phrases. Often he uses the metaphoric bent of vernacular language to do so. This practice goes to the heart of the Moneros Tapatíos' aim of deranging pieties. The pun is a disordering device that uses the built-in slippages and bifurcations of language, the fact that most words, including those that express sacrosanct beliefs, have more than one meaning. "Nosferatu" becomes "Nosfregato." These bifurcations and slippages are the very reason pieties are always unstable and never to be blindly trusted. Today's terrorist is tomorrow's freedom fighter.

Rereading my words here, I realize that, in its admiration for Jabaz's work, my text makes a piety out of impiety. Jabaz, reading this, may find himself tempted to defuse it by making a cartón about himself.

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