I like making comics and illustrations because they are an accessible way to explore complex issues. I studied Art History at the University of Texas at Austin and I’m mostly self-taught in illustration and painting. I have published work with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. In 2018 I received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for my illustrations in the graphic biography Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications 2017). My first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle was written by Isabel Quintero and will be published in Summer 2019 by Kokila, a Penguin Young Readers imprint.
Thanks for taking the time to look at my work. If you're an art director or editor I'd love to hear from you about collaborating on something.
Zeke Peña is a cartoonist and illustrator from El Paso, Texas. He studied Art History at the University of Texas, Austin and is self-taught in illustration and painting. He has published work with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. In 2018 he received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for a graphic biography he illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide. His first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle was written by Isabel Quintero and will be published in Summer 2019 by Kokila, a Penguin Young Readers imprint.
AWARDS + ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
for Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide
2018 Boston Globe Horn Book Nonfiction Award Winner
2019 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
2018 Moonbeam Children's Books Gold Award Winner
NPR Best Books of 2018
Booklist Top 10 Arts Books for Youth: 2018
One of School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2018
Photo by Sara Waldorf 2018.
This 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award–winning biography introduces readers to “an icon. Orgullo mexicano. Maestra.” Photographer Graciela Iturbide’s (b. 1942) story is told in comic-panel format, with striking black-and-white illustrations, high-quality reproductions of her own photographs, and spare first-person narration drawing upon her writing and interviews; interspersed are section introductions in a more conversational third-person, direct-address text. Together the sections trace, in not-quite-linear fashion, Iturbide’s travels from her home of Mexico City to the neighborhoods of East L.A. and Tijuana; the pueblos of Oaxaca and Juchitán; Jaipur in India; Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Coyoacán; and beyond. We see the development of the many “obsessions” she is compelled to document and understand through her work: birds and the freedom of flight, death, life in “in-between” spaces, ritual, gender politics, the stories objects tell. Iturbide’s photography, frequently featuring strong women at the center of their indigenous communities, is intensely personal and culturally specific, yet universally resonant. Her philosophy is rooted in “intimacy and respect” (“I respect my subjects because I am subject, too. Always”) and in curiosity about liminal places where “the present and past,” “the indigenous and postcolonial,” “the real and the imagined” overlap. As author and illustrator document Iturbide documenting hersubjects, they embrace all of these elements of Iturbide’s ethos. A powerful homage to the five-decade evolution of an artist still working — and still evolving — today. Additional biographical information and a recommended reading list are appended. KATIE BIRCHER
From the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Beginning by thanking the teachers in the audience, calling them “keepers of culture, protectors of everything we value,” Peña spoke about how he came to illustrate the graphic biography, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero (Getty Publications). Peña, whose background is in community organizing, initially became familiar with the photographer while on a road trip through Mexico. When he and Quintero teamed up for the project, he made the decision to draw less from historical context, and more from Iturbide’s photographs themselves. However, he didn’t want his illustrations to be replicas of Iturbide’s images, but to instead express a similar “visual language.” As Iturbide often captured in her photographs, he hoped to distill something of the “in-between space,” or the moments that occur after laughter subsides, or artifice falls away. Throughout his process, he remained cognizant of the tricky line between “fact and imagination,” and how much leeway an author and artist have when creating a story of a person’s life.
Excerpt from A Gathering of Minds: A Hopeful and Incisive Bank Street Book Festival - By Matia Burnett | Publisher’s Weekly Oct 30, 2018