Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jose Guadalupe Posada and Sensational Press Images

"Very Interesting News" reads the 1910 headline about the sensational story of Antonio Sanchez who goes berserk with an axe killing his parents, wife and infant son. He then eats his son! The image communicates the horror of the event in no uncertain terms. If Sanchez did devour his son, any question of what it might have looked like is resolved with this image. Although it is unsigned it was likely drawn by Posada and certainly approved by Antonio Vanegas Arroyo. We believe it serves as an excellent example of Vanegas Arroyo's sensational practices and also indicative of the collaborative nature of their relationship. Who directed the body parts with bodies strewn about, the bulging eyes and mad look of Sanchez? Then there is the baby being eaten, not chopped up into bits but eaten whole, perhaps while alive! The shear grotesque look and terror of the image helps to reinforce the moralistic aspects of the story line, which ultimately is warning the reader not to gamble. Sanchez loses all he has gambling and when his father refuses to pay his debt, the tragedy ensues. Eventually Sanchez is apprehended, tried, convicted and put to death. His body is then destroyed by natural elements. It seems justice must be served. Posada throws in some diablitios "little devils" perhaps to show how the devil is around to lead us astray. There are many examples of such sensational images in Posada and Vanegas Arroyo's collaborative work. In Posada's day images could be constructed to portray events or emphasize certain points. Now days we have color photographs and film, digital and immediate appearing via Internet or satellite broadcast but the fundamental sensational elements used by Vanegas Arroyo and Posada are the same that we use today.