Wednesday, September 21, 2011


One of the great honors in creating FEEDING GROUND has been the reaction we received from author/scholar Luis Alberto Urrea. In "The Devil's Highway: A True Story," Luis literally wrote the book on the too real horrors of the stretch US/Mexico desert that has consumed lives for centuries and continues to serve as a battlefront of modern immigration. He writes non-fiction that reads like epic poetry and presents an even-handed picture of all players in accounts that are harrowing, human, and darkly humorous. The book was a primary source of research in preparing FEEDING GROUND, our myth on the same subject, and it's with pride that we share Luis' Foreword to our Hardcover Collection, below:

by Luis Alberto Urrea

As a writer, I am repeatedly confronted with the same question:  What are the most Influential books in your life? I always want to answer:  Armadillo Comix #2 by Jim Franklin.  You see, I came to writing through drawing. As much as my dad hated it, Batman and Hawkman fueled visions that later remained in my prose; unspeakable visions, spoken.  I’d love to see how many of us in the writing trade owe our “cinematic” styles to early comics and graphic novels.

As huge as the craft has become, comic books retain enough outsider, underground cachet to tackle subjects many of us wouldn’t dare touch -- not in polite company, not at Tea Party rallies.  One shouldn’t approach such vile, filthy subject matter as the worth of a human life, the dignity of a human soul, or the value of, as Bob Dylan once sang, “these children that you spit on.”  I’m talkin’ to you, Mr. Politician.

And, here is a series of books that leaps deep into the brilliant heart of darkness: the damned (in every sense) and glorious border.  The place I write about.  The place where I was born.

Swifty Lang and I share an interest in the exquisite horror and beauty of the wastelands through which the undocumented wanderers must struggle.  It is a formidable region of unforgiving landscape and gods who rule with little mercy.  In my book, THE DEVIL’S HIGHWAY, I stated that we are all aliens in this landscape, what I call “Desolation.”  For fans of the occult, this comes from The Book of Enoch.  Yeah, the lands wherein the fallen Watchers and their earth spawn, The Nephilim, are chained beneath the burning desert mountains.  They wait to return for their revenge.

How stunned and delighted was I when these amazing comics arrived in my mailbox.  As all great graphic novels do, these books create a literary work of searing poetry and awe.  The art allows us to see things we might not be able to—or want to—imagine for ourselves.  That my work has had even a little to do with the genesis of this epic is as cool as it gets.  I laugh out loud in appreciation when I see the smugglers (Coyotes) and The Devil’s Highway itself, the sly gangsters come alive, as if they had jumped out of my book.  But I don’t laugh because it’s funny.  No. I’m whistling past the graveyard, amigos.  This shit’s scary.

What Feeding Ground has envisioned and what Lang, Lapinski and Mangun have captured, is the eldritch nature of this new myth.  The darkness at the heart of the sun-baked killing fields.  There is something…other about it.  There is something from our deep nightmares lurking there.  Yes, there is a relentless toll of suffering and death to go with the realistic adventure and thrills and violent action. That is a given—every border-book ever written deals with it. However, Border Patrol agents know, DEA agents know, the medicine people of those canyons and dunes know that something…other…lurks.

I’m trying to capture this Lovecraftian feeling in my own work.  Yeah, a little pissed that Swifty et al have done it first, and done it so well. This sensation is what the philosophers call “the sublime” in art.  It is beauty, but it is also terror. It’s a higher horror: a sense of the eternal, the dark, the overwhelming.  This epic is so addictive that it will lure you into a deep redrock canyon where the worst dream awaits.  It’s so bad; it’s so pretty.  It’s a festival of wonder that shows you the true awe of awful death.

Luis Alberto Urrea
Chicago, 2011