Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Madonna dei Mambo


“Madonna dei Mambo” is a graphic nonfiction account of the Western Pennsylvania-born ballroom dancer, Diane McCarthy. At the time of the interview, McCarthy was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Never one to suffer quietly, McCarthy founded the annual Dance For Life fundraiser, with proceeds to benefit the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.

In this excerpted graphic narrative, McCarthy speaks on the topics of family, religion, and the freedom that comes with dance. McCarthy died in February of 2014 and was buried next to her mother in Youngstown (her father is buried in Masontown).

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Aimee Valentine is a writer and comics creator. "Madonna dei Mambo" is one of a series of interview-based narratives about women's lives, completed for her M.F.A. thesis at San Francisco State, where it was the writing program's premiere collection of graphic stories. Other stories from the series have appeared in Witness, No Tokens, and the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies. Aimee is also the founder/editor of inkt|art, a comics journal for female artists and writers. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature with Creative Writing dissertation at Western Michigan University where she is at work on a graphic novel. Diane (Fontaine) McCarthy, the subject of "Madonna dei Mambo," read her graphic story shortly before her death in February of 2014. Aimee is grateful to have known her.