Review of Ruins by Peter Kuper

A worthy and important work of graphic storytelling. 

A married couple take a sabbatical in Oaxaca. He is a struggling insect-enthusiast, and she is working on a novel. They gravitate away and toward one another while they explore the urban desolation and natural splendor of their surroundings. It resonates strongly with political tensions, historical tidbits, and entomological side comments. They see the good and bad of a “ruined” country in the sense that the incredible store of rich resources and historical value have been subjugated, ravished, and despoiled for 400 years. They engage with the local people in their fight for vague political movement, while tackling their inner demons. Establishing a second home in a foreign country always requires sacrifice. Countries swallow people whole. You get digested by your environment, and that digestive juice transforms you. Will they emerge whole? The motif of butterflies and their supernatural migrations is woven through the narrative. An absorbing read that doesn’t overstay its welcome.