Eisner Award 2016 Winner – Best Graphic Album
Samantha and George are a couple heading towards a sabbatical year in the quaint Mexican town of Oaxaca. For Samantha, it is the opportunity to revisit her past. For George, it is an unsettling step into the unknown. For both of them, it will be a collision course with political and personal events that will alter their paths and the town of Oaxaca forever.
In tandem, the remarkable and arduous journey that a monarch butterfly endures on its annual migration from Canada to Mexico is woven into Ruins. This creates a parallel picture of the challenges of survival in our ever-changing world.
Ruins explores the shadows and light of Mexico through its past and present as encountered by an array of characters. The real and surreal intermingle to paint an unforgettable portrait of life south of the Rio Grande.
“With a monarch butterfly serving in the role of all-seeing observer flying poetically above it all, the constantly remarkable Peter Kuper details the travels and travails of a creative New York couple who move to Oaxaca to find inspiration and revitalize their lives. Kuper’s art is, page after page, astonishing.” – Jules Feiffer, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist
“Maybe you’ve never been to Oaxaca, Mexico before, or maybe you know it like the back of your hand – either way, Peter Kuper’s beautiful, immersive graphic novel is the next best thing to being there. Gorgeous art, high stakes themes and a plot with a surprising twist combine to transform this pivotal moment in the lives of a culture, a country, a couple, and a butterfly into a timely and illuminating journey from north to south and back again.” – John Vaillant, Author, The Jaguar’s Children
About the Author:
Peter Kuper has created over a dozen graphic novels, including The System, Sticks and Stones and an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. He is co-founder of the political graphics magazine World War 3 Illustrated and since 1997 has written and drawn “Spy vs Spy” for MAD Magazine. He has been teaching comics courses for over 25 years in New York City and is a visiting professor at Harvard University.
This magnificent graphic novel by Kuper (The Metamorphosis, World War III) follows an American couple who decamp for Oaxaca, Mexico, for a sabbatical and creative recharge, only to get far more than they bargained for. Samantha is excited to find a new, quiet locale for writing her book while unemployed painter George can barely contain his anxiety. Meanwhile, a wordless parallel story follows a monarch butterfly on its lengthy journey south from the U.S. to Mexico. The pairing somehow works, though the elegant, aching beauty of the endangered butterfly's symbolic flight over a series of woeful disasters from farm worker inequality to the devastation of post-Katrina New Orleans can't help but overshadow Samantha and George's more mundane story, even after they're caught up in political unrest and the temptation of adultery. Partly autobiographical, Ruins was inspired by two years Kuper and his family spent in Oaxaca during the long, bloody teachers' strike of 2006, during which police killed several protesters and a U.S. journalist. Richly illuminated by Kuper's trademark light touch with relationships and steely political acumen, it's a beautiful, epic roman clef about the importance of seeking the new and questioning the old.