A journalist tells about her migration experiences in a comic

A journalist tells about her migration experiences in a comic

Diana Moreno (Madrid, 1987) looks exhausted as she climbs the stairs of a venue in central Madrid. Though the afternoon heat is unrelenting, the journalist smiles effusively, ready for her interview. Like the protagonist of the comic in which he fictionalized his journey, Dibujantes de traces (Libros.com, 2022), Moreno will gradually gain self-confidence and clear his doubts, which at first translates into an infectious nervous laughter that as the of the conversation disappears.

It is not surprising to confuse the person -Diana Moreno- with the character -Daniela Giménez- as both emigrated to Brighton (UK) three years before Brexit began and visited Athens (Greece) at the time of greatest rudeness and attention Media coverage of the “misnamed refugee crisis” as the author herself defines it. Like Moreno, the protagonist left her country after graduating in journalism and being rejected for jobs she was overqualified for. The cartoonist admits it was a “very worrying” situation; his first “break of naivety”.

An authentic comic heroine, however, Daniela Giménez sheds that naivety when she finds her destiny: portraying stories of people with fewer privileges than herself. Her journalistic flair and empathy will lead her to focus on international south-north migration and from outside the EU, with which the comic describes the conditions of the Pakistani community in Brighton, the Syrian refugees in Athens or the African and Latin American Population denounced without papers in Madrid.

The contact with the work encourages Moreno to narrate his journey: he holds it on his lap and often consults it during the conversation. While the first chapter talks more about workers’ rights and the second more about the issue of housing or admission, the third focuses on “how undocumented people live, but also on hate speech”. In England it mainly depicts labor exploitation, in Greece it denounces the housing shortage of hundreds of asylum seekers and in Spain it focuses on the most vulnerable groups at the beginning of the pandemic, such as domestic workers or domestic workers.

Page after page, he draws successive accounts of dozens of people in trouble: extortion, unfair dismissals, marriages of convenience, evictions, deportations, neglect of minors, episodes of homelessness, prostitution, drugs…

In these scenarios, she also experienced “exciting” moments, such as the union support of workers in Brighton, the spontaneous organization of neighbors in the Hellenic squats, or the creation of solidarity and food banks in Madrid. The comic mirrors the journalist’s own sentimental ups and downs, who acknowledges she’s had a “bad time” during the pandemic but insists she doesn’t equate herself with people who have been forcibly displaced or find themselves in an irregular administrative situation .

Excerpt from the comic 'Drawings of Footprints' (Libros.com, 2022).Excerpt from the comic “Drawings of Footprints” (Libros.com, 2022). Diana Moreno

Moreno colored the scenes of his life and work with different nuances. Living in cold and blue England for three years, spending a month in warm and orange Athens, he portrayed the Madrid of the pandemic, set apart from the rest of the trip by its ‘green hope’. This visual differentiation also underscores the depth and roundness of the story’s characters, who change color with each chapter. Among the protagonists, Lea stands out, the person Dani wants to be and who embodies the most combative facet of her creator. According to the epilogue, Daniela’s adventurous boyfriend draws inspiration from the people Moreno admires most: “globetrotters, inquisitive minds, travelers, polyglots, trackers and trail-eaters”.

“Sometimes I wonder, journalist or activist? I think it’s not necessary to be neutral, although in journalism you have to try to be as close to reality as possible, but that doesn’t mean being neutral,” Moreno reflects, clarifying the comic’s theme: “You you go with a story already in your head, and sometimes reality dissects it”. As a journalist, “but you have to tell what’s happening,” he concludes.

The author herself shows this confrontation in her work, militancy and professional collaboration. She is a member of CNT Madrid, collaborates with Fundación porCausa, is the editor of the blog Con M de en Público and works on the Unicef ​​​​​​Child Friendly Cities project. He has also published articles in EL PAÍS and other leading newspapers and magazines. Moreno is a journalist specializing in migration, and although she does not see herself as an activist or a trade unionist, in the comic she features different episodes that relate to both worlds. The apparent incompatibility of journalism and activism is resolved by the fact that “a journalist will always position himself” when choosing an investigative topic and its approach (framing). “In the end you have to side with one another, like the human rights side,” he says.

“The fact that a journalist cannot enter a CIE is a problem”

Trace Illustrators is “narrative or fiction” framed as comic book journalism, a genre that today offers “many possibilities” for its creator. Although he is mainly inspired by current information on migration and by PorCausa reports such as New Migration Narratives, Growing up without Papers or The Immigration Control Industry, Moreno also acknowledges the influence of his favorite TV series The Wire (HBO, 2002). For the cartoonist, both fictions are based on a lot of journalistic work, which gives them veracity and encourages audiences “to see reality, even if it’s fiction”.

By the end of the interview, the person and the character have finally merged, all doubts have disappeared. Moreno concludes that the comic is a tribute to his profession and that although there is “much rot and much corruption” the audience must understand that “journalism is a public service and necessary to democracy”. “The fact that a journalist does not have access to a CIE is a problem, because then we do not know what is happening inside,” he explains as an example and asks for respect for the investigation. “That’s our job,” he concludes.

Savior butcher He is a PhD student in International Migration and Cooperation for Development at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas and director of the podcast La Leyenda del Tiempo.

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