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Vol. 8 No. i (2020): Spring 2020

Border Town: Subversion of Mexican-American Racialized Stereotypes in the American Southwest

November 27, 2023


The stigmatization of Mexican-Americans in the United States can be traced back to racism following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and is continued by many forms of media. Representation of Mexican-Americans in print media through the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century has been extremely stereotyped, often criminalizing Mexican-American men, hyper-sexualizing Mexican-American women or portraying Mexican-Americans as savage overall. While written media can only describe these stereotypes, comics can illustrate them, placing comics in a unique form of print media. When analyzing Eric M. Esquivel’s comic Border Town, the author along with artist Ramon Villalobos reinforce the criminalization and hyper-sexualization of Mexican-American men and women that could be seen as regressive; however, the frequent subversion of these stereotypes suggests a pro-resistance stance to anti-Mexican attacks. Ultimately, Border Town’s pro-resistance stance to anti-Mexican sentiment can be seen through the subversion and reinforcement of traditional use of Mexican-American stereotypes in this comic. In essence, this essay demonstrates how late nineteenth-century germ theory, stigmatic criminalization of Mexican-American men, and hyper-sexualization of Mexican-American women, transferred from social contexts to comics that Eric M. Esquivel subverts in his comic Border Town. Fundamentally, Border Town challenges traditional anti-Mexican stereotypes in comics by including Mexican-American characters who question the way they are stereotyped, manipulate their stereotypes to protect themselves or another, and then become socially accepted by those they protect.