Lila Quintero Weaver was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but moved to Alabama at age five. She grew up in Alabama during the 1960s at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Weaver’s first book, Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White is based on her experiences during this time. Weaver has said that she was influenced by other graphic memoirs, such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Craig Thompson’s Blankets.
However, Darkroom is entirely its own, and it is an important narrative about racism in the South from a perspective not usually seen, the perspective of an immigrant. An outsider’s view is both necessary and interesting, because as an observer, Weaver had not lived through any of the historical events or context of such a movement. As she has said, most people living in the South were victims or perpetrators, and the lack of history gave her a created a different impact as an observer.
Darkroom offers a unique look at racism in the Jim Crow South, but it is very much Weaver’s story as well. In the book, she takes notice of America’s inequalities while struggling to find a place in American society, where culture values differ greatly from the ones she knew in Argentina.
Weaver is a self-taught artist, and Darkroom showcases her many talents. The writing is fluid and the art, done in grayscale, complements the writing well. Together, they create a graphic novel that is relevant and useful for teaching this period of United States history.
So far, Darkroom is Weaver’s only graphic novel, though her second, titled That Year in the Middle Row, is slated for release in 2018. Weaver also contributes to Latin@s in Kid Lit, a blog that spotlights children’s and young adult literature that features Latino/a characters, themes, and authors.