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History of Fotonovelas

The Fotonovela Production Company is a family-owned and operated business and is a subsidiary of ACMA Social Marketing (www.acmasocialmarketing.com).

The Matiella y Naegelin family has been producing educational fotonovelas since 1983. We have produced dozens of fotonovelas and other forms of
photo-literature for Spanish and English speaking audiences on a variety of topics from HIV/AIDS to Diabetes to Alzheimer’s Disease to how to help children excel in school.

Fotonovela History

Fotonovela scholars date the origin of fotonovelas back to post World War II when the photo-booklets were first produced in Italy as a by-product of the film industry. They began as a pictorial summary of Hollywood films and then evolved into their own unique medium. Some of the earlier fotonovelas in the 1950’s and 1960’s were written by the famous Spanish romance novelist, Corín Tellado. From the early 1950’s to the 1980’s, Mexico was at the center of the fotonovela and historieta boom. Irene Herner, the Mexican sociologist and author of the seminal work on fotonovelas, Mitos y Monitos(1), reported that in 1979 Mexico was publishing 70 million copies of fotonovelas and historietas per month.

History of Fotonovelas

The use of educational fotonovelas began in the 70′s with organizations such as Aid for International Development, who produced fotonovelas to address the issue of family planning in Latin America and Africa.

Ana Consuelo Matiella, the President of The Fotonovela Production Company produced her first fotonovela in 1983 for the National Arthritis Foundation. Dolores y Esperanza was the first fotonovela produced on arthritis. This fotonovela launched Matiella’s career as a fotonovela developer and producer. Since then, Matiella has produced over 60 fotonovelas on various health and education topics.

History of Fotonovelas

Dr. Herner, in her introduction of Mitos y Monitos, marvels at the potential of using fotonovelas and historietas to educate the masses. “Why is it that Mexico has allowed this medium to fall by the wayside instead of implementing it with its potential for mass and systematic utilization to accomplish some of its most important educational and social goals?” (1) Indeed, one would have to agree with Dr. Herner, that in a country that suffered from staggering illiteracy rates, there could be so many millions of every day people reading these little booklets on buses, street corners, during their lunch hours and coffee breaks, and at home in their leisure time.

(1) Herner, Irene. Mitos y Monitos: Historietas y Fotonovelas en Mexico. Mexico, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1979.