cover image What Remains: Personal and Political Histories of Colombia

What Remains: Personal and Political Histories of Colombia

Camilo Aguirre. Uncivilized, $16.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-941250-49-5

Aguirre’s ambitious debut documents the terrors committed by the Colombian government over the past 75 years. The nation’s violent history is recounted in stories from guerrilla fighters, historians, unionists, and other activists who have experienced oppression, along with hard data (often written out, without panels) emphasizing the body count from horrifying murders and victims of “armed conflict” under former president Alvaro Uribe. The strength of the graphic storytelling lies in Aguirre’s inclusion of voices of his own family, including his grandmother and father. But when he seeks out portraits to supplement his personal ties, he admits, “I ended up with a bunch of stories about the ELN [National Liberation Army].” He reaches out to scholars and activists for help in mapping the complexities of the political movements, for example drawing how a man’s uncle was kidnapped by the ELN. The insights into his journalistic processing are endearing but highlight the stitched together shape of the volume. At one point, a professor asks, “So what are your intentions with this project?” and Aguirre responds, “I don’t know.” That uncertainty, while frank, can leave the reader feeling on shifting ground. Brushy drawings illuminate the painful narratives in a beautiful gray-wash. It’s an arresting series of testaments, but readers may be left wanting more from this difficult-to-unpack history. (July)