We Live Here

Our New Columnist

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We moved to the Key Peninsula from Seattle in 2019. We had and continue to have such vivid impressions of this place — so many stories, discoveries, wilderness encounters, new family members and rituals — that very early on I knew I had compelling material for a comics series. The title was easy too: “We Live Here,” because that’s what we kept joyfully shouting over and over when we first moved to Longbranch.

As a scholar and a maker of comics, I find this medium an ideal means to communicate by image and text a little of what it means to reside in our corner of heaven.

I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas along the border with Mexico. I have been reading comics since I was 5; they helped me learn to read and write English. Almost as soon as I started reading them, I started making them. They rewired my young brain; they were an important step in my journey of assimilation — becoming someone with an identity separate from my first-generation immigrant mother and my working-class roots — though I’m still very proud of both.

I made comic strips for my high school newspaper, my college paper and for a small English-language newspaper in Moscow, Russia, when I lived there. After graduate school when I moved to Seattle to work at the University of Washington. I discovered a fabulous community of comics artists who would gather once a month at Café Racer to produce a collective comics zine called “Dune.” Last year (2020), I put out my first comics collection, “The Phantom Zone and Other Stories” from Amatl Comix. I’m working on my second book of comics now..

José Alaniz is a professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Department of Cinema and Media Studies (adjunct) at UW. He lives blissfully with his wife and 25 animals in Longbranch.


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