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Welcome to Kawtizin, a magical Latin American city

-Hey, you, have you heard of a place called Kawitzin?

-Come along, sit with me, I’ll tell you about it, but be patient, because it’s a long story. I like to share it because it makes me remember my own village, I think that –in a way- everyone should know it, so we all can learn about them. And pay attention because I’m sure you’ll probably end up telling this story to someone else...

Aerial view of the fictional Latin American city of Kawitzin, a solar punk owl that soars over the city
Aerial view of Kawitzin, a solar punk owl that soars over the city

We would like to have this kind of face-to-face conversations with all the readers of our saga Bodies of Sand, especially because oral tradition is important to the identity of the American cultures; sharing the histories and advice through a story told out loud is something that is still done. We have talked about the whole saga before, so you may already know it is about nature, identity, and community. Now, we’ll show where the journey will begin, taking you to Kawitzin, the heart of our saga.

Our first issue is a poem about a city, like Homero's Iliad, which was his way of mythologizing the foundation of Rome. We also like to compare it to Neil Gaiman's A Tale of Two Cities" in which he wonders about the sleeping cities and their dreams, since, like him, we believe cities have memories and life, as long as people inhabit them. As living beings, cities have their own personalities, as we learned on the Invisible Cities of Italo Calvino; they can have bad sides like in Frank Miller’s Sin City, and they can hide secrets as we see in Más allá de las ciudades by Alejandra Gámez.

Cities are characters in stories because they shape us as much as we shape them. Their history is the history of communities, and the way they are built, and their secrets become part of us. Sometimes, people can tell where you are from just by the way you do certain things, such as how we prepare food, how small or big is the personal space, if we use shoes inside the house, how much amount of traffic makes us desperate, all of this is an inheritance of the multiple interchanges of all the cultures and ideas that got mixed during the history of the place you came from. When Andrea Gonzalez gave us the first version of the manuscript, we were delighted to have in our hands the history of a magical Latin American city in which the whole saga will be developed. She is the historian of Kawitzin, and she loves it so much that she was willing to let us move through it as explorers.

Our first close-up starts before there even was a city: we became spectators of a defining moment that encapsulates the main theme, which is the eternal cycle of life and death. We get to know Azomalli, a supernatural being who takes care of Kawitzin because he marvels at living beings and wants to see everything that they can achieve. It is due to its intervention and Xacayatl's, another supernatural being whose agenda is opposite, that the city is founded by a nomad tribe.

The origin and history of places talks to us about communities and the decisions they make based on the context they are living in. This goes beyond cities, it can be about villages, small towns... any place where human groups decide to establish has a history! Where and how to distribute houses, public spaces, and what we know as services, all of that has a reasoning and tells a story on its own. Beyond the magical reasons, Kawitzin, like many cities in the pre-colonial era, was built in a place nearby a water supplier, in this case a river, and the place was chosen not just for that, but because of the natural richness of the area. The same goes for all the changes the city will endure. Magic is involved, but it is not going to be the main factor, because the decisions will always be made by the community.

The first volume of the series had to be split into 2 issues, so the foundation of Kawitzin is divided. In the second one, we will know about the present and future of the city, which will give us hope when we get to read their struggles, because we'll know that somehow things will find a way to be resolved. Issue by issue, while the full story will be unfolded in the town, we hope for you to feel as Ageya, Yolo, Ome and the rest of the characters, and to feel as we do: as kawisteco.

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