Cómix Latinx: Hector Rodriguez on EL PESO HERO: BORDERLAND

Great writing by Chris Hernandez for Comicosity: http://www.comicosity.com/comix-latinx-interview-hector-rodriguez-el-peso-hero-borderland/?fbclid=IwAR1hr5Ung-FTzaGkkFF1NFqiS6LQuv8KNj73bga4S-k0EPpqlGR2bqBtkck

A few years ago, we couldn’t have imagined a world where a reality TV show actor could be elected President of the United States. Then we couldn’t imagine our children being taken from their parents and being held in cages where some die.

These realities make belief in a super hero that come and save us from these waking nightmares not only plausible but necessary. We don’t need god-like heroes from far off planets or other dimensions, we need real people that stand up to hatred. For the past eight years comic book creator Hector Rodriguez has been writing stories about very relatable, down to earth hero: El Peso Hero. This week Rodriguez, along with artist Chema, launches his ninth book, El Peso Hero: Borderland.

El Peso Hero is the story of a modern Mexican super hero that uses his strength to protect the people along both sides of the U.S./Mexican border from those that abuse their power. In El Peso Hero: Borderland, “El Peso Hero joins a group of refugees as they go through the registration process at a detention facility.” I had the opportunity to sit down with Rodriguez to discuss El Peso Hero, some of the issues that he confronts in his new book, and the books affect on local students.

Chris C. Hernandez: What is the symbolism behind the cover art for Borderland?

Hector Rodriguez: Barriers don’t make good neighbors. Especially in the southwest where there is a lot of shared history between the U.S. and Mexico with its cross-pollination of people. By putting a barrier in between it’s breaking history, breaking families, break language and culture. The symbolism of that barrier is very threatening to everybody that lives there. El Peso Hero, being a border hero, having him breaking through the wall is something that is very natural. I’ve gotten comments like “Why is he not holding the American flag?” or “Why is he invading?” “Is Mexico invading?” It can be threatening having a super hero with those abilities seemingly invading your country. The U.S. almost feels like they own the idea of a super-hero.

CH: What kind of super-hero would you consider El Peso Hero to be?

HR: I get asked if he is a vigilante, but I wouldn’t call him that. He is a super-humanitarian. In the story he is given the abilities and power to do good and he feels that it is his responsibility to do the best he can. He feels compelled to follow that.

CH: What compelled you to create El Peso Hero?

HR: So, I actually wrote borderlands in 2015 before Trump. I had launched him in Summer 2011 as a webcomic because there was always a need for immigration reform and always people living in the shadows as second-class citizens in our community.  It’s a bridge between cultures and issues having a super-hero dealing with all those things and really it has never been done. El Peso Hero is definitely not the first, but we haven’t seen a Latino super hero dealing with contemporary issues in a long while. In Marvel and DC comics there have been a lot of b-listers and stereotypes because a lack of Latino creatives behind those characters There’s not a representation of Latino creators. I’m lucky to be in a position to get a pulse of the community as an educator being in an urban city dealing with the community and listening to families.


CH: What can you tell us about Borderland and some of the ideas behind the stories in it?

HR: I wanted to put El Peso Hero in a position where in order to get inside he had to embed himself. He discovers the children; that’s something we had to go back and add in. It got darker. We couldn’t even imagine that ourselves. We had readers asking what the world was like outside the border in response to El Peso Hero. So, we explore how would the US government react to a Mexican super hero; going in and out of the country without impunity. We also discover the origin of his name in this book. Everyone along the border had a nickname. I had a nickname.  Belittling him. The people though take that and as a sense of empowerment take that nickname for him as their own.

You take away all the layers, him being male, Mexican, Latino, Spanish-speaking, Norteño…take those away and deep down inside it’s a very human story. It’s a very impossible situation that he’s facing. The story progresses through struggle. And sometimes its more about the characters around him and how they respond to this unwavering character with a strong moral compass. It’s compelling.

CH: You also touch on the theme of Coyotes in Borderlands?    

HR: Some of them feel a duty as guides or compasses for the people crossing or else the people may die. They know the terrain. It’s a double-sided aspect because even though they are doing good they also get paid to do that.  So, from this particular Coyote we get to see where El Peso Hero gets a lot of his moral compass from. These two stories add to the overall story-arc and at the same time are reflections of what has been going on regardless of what year it’s happening.

CH: You are a teacher, but you also do presentation at other schools and school districts about El Peso Hero. How do the students react?

HR: They get excited seeing all these things. They feel like they own El Peso Hero themselves. It’s a sense of ownership that’s unique to them because he may look like their Tío dressed in blue jeans and boots. He’s very accessible to him. Characters like Blue Beetle, who is supposed to be this Chicano from El Paso, isn’t really reflective of the kids. He doesn’t have anything to do with the community. He’s always in the watch tower or out in space on otherworldly missions. It’s not really something rooted in out culture. It’s almost feels like a handout. Or America Chavez who sees herself as Latina, but is an alien? It’s like they can’t give us anything. Latinos have their own stories and are very organic and grassroots.


I have a student who is writing a Corrido of El Peso Hero. It’s exciting to see them excited about him. Sixty-five percent of the student body are Latinos in Texas. Doing these presentations about El Peso Hero is very empowering for the students because they see someone that has a last name like theirs making comic books with a super hero that speaks Spanish. They have a lot of questions about the hero and especially about the process because they want to make their own comic books.

CH: What’s next for El Peso Hero?

HR: I’m already writing the next story which will bring the overall narrative to a conclusion of this journey that he has been on since the beginning. Sometimes the headlines catch up to me. Somethings that I wrote about years ago is unfortunately coming true now. It’s hard to pinpoint issues because Latinos are such a diverse group. For example, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez is creating La Borinqueña and that deals with the issues of PR. El Peso Hero deals with aspects of the Southwest and immigration.

Look for more information and the new El Peso Hero: Borderland graphic novel here!


El Peso Hero Confronts Immigration Detention Facilities in Latest Comic Book

A new announcement from Rio Bravo Comics, LLC, which was shared with media earlier this month:

DALLAS — Rio Bravo Comics released an unprecedented story featuring the border hero, El Peso Hero. There have been unprecedented surges of unaccompanied children migrating to the U.S. without a parent or legal guardian. These unaccompanied minors held in detention facilities have skyrocketed, and large number of children are teenagers from Central America who came to the United States as unaccompanied minors without their parents. The teens are mostly being held in a system of more than 100 shelters, with a heavy concentration along the U.S.-Mexico border. Many minors are also being held in facilities with long histories of alleged abuse, sexual violence, or neglect.

In the latest book El Peso Hero: Borderland, El Peso Hero joins a group of refugees as they go through the registration process at a detention facility located near the border at Carrizo Springs, Texas. El Peso Hero is on a mission to rescue and free the children from cruel captivity. The story features for the first time every in a sequential comic book narrative the realities of unaccompanied children in detention facilities.

El Peso Hero: Borderland is available worldwide, and the list of comics for the highly popular franchise now includes new El Peso Hero stories, only from Rio Bravo Comics. El Peso Hero: Borderland is the ninth book in our series and the exciting second book of the El Peso Hero Border Stories series. The new book is currently be sold exclusively through riobravocomics.com.

The company’s first publication was EL PESO HERO #1. Created by Hector Rodriguez, El Peso Hero is a comic book heavily influenced by the modern-day challenges people from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border face. The main story is centered on El Peso Hero, a rogue hero who is standing up against Mexico’s cartels, corrupt officials and human traffickers.

El Peso Hero has been one the most internationally talked about Latino superhero in decades. With more focus on modern social issues such as immigration, human trafficking, and institutional corruption, El Peso Hero has garnered attention and praise from the Latino community, and has been featured on American Way Magazine, Univision, CNN, Telemundo, Fusion, CBS, NBC and countless of other media sites worldwide.

For more information on El Peso Hero, please visit the official website or Rio Bravo Comics, LLC.

Cómix Latinx Interview: DESIREE RODRIGUEZ

A riveting interview done by Chris Hernandez for Comicosity.com: http://www.comicosity.com/comix-latinx-interview-desiree-rodriguez/

Bring up a comic book title with another reader and you might get asked who wrote it or who drew it. It’s very rare, if ever, that you will hear a book referred to by the name of the colorist, letterer, or editor. The rest of the team if even remembered is often relegated the status of hired help: paid to neither be seen or heard. Though comic book culture tends to elevate one job over the other, editor Desiree Rodriguez points out that it is more than just a one person effort. “Every part of the team is important,” Rodriguez says. “The most obvious aspects of a comic – the art and storytelling – get a lot of focus which is completely understandable, but lettering, colors, and editing all play a huge part in the creation of that book”

Rodriguez, a Boricua and New Jersey native, knows exactly what she is talking about: her job as editor is to orchestrate the team, the story and art of a comic book story. “I believe a good editor is there to make the book better, to help enhance the story,” she says. Rodriguez is an editor for Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime line, was co-editor for the Puerto Rican Strong anthology, and wrote a story that is included in the Ricanstruction anthology. She not only helps to shape plot lines and characters in comics but is also helping to shape and promote the Latinx narrative in comic books. She has spoken on and written a number of journalistic pieces centered around Latinx identity and even coined a hashtag, #BeingLatinxinComics, to further the discussion online. I got in touch with Rodriguez to find out more about the importance of an editor in the comic book creation process and to discuss Latinx creators in comic books today.

Chris C. Hernandez: Tell me about your relationship with comic books.

Desiree Rodriguez: When I started reading comic books it was more stuff like Fruits Basket, Rurouni Kenshin, Red River, that was the stuff I grew up on. As I got older I started reading more DC trades with some X-Men and Avengers stuff thrown in.

I had always loved western comic stories, I grew up watching Spider-man, Teen Titans, Justice League, Static Shock. The entire DC animated universe was really formative for me in the same way anime shows like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho all were. They told these stories of heroes, fighting against incredible odds with optimism and compassion.

My favorite sort of character was always the one who was kind, compassionate, even in the face of their own traumas. You know the ones people always say are boring or naïve or dumb? Those were my favorite characters. Also, Scott Summers but people give me a lot of grief for that. But those characters always inspired me the most.

CH: When did you decide to make comic books a career?

DR: Oh gosh, like most Latinas I was always taught to get a stable job, stable career, get married and have kids. I was originally going to be a teacher and treat writing online as a side gig. You can’t make an actual living writing is what I always told myself. But when I moved, I sort of restarted my life a little bit. And with it, decided, what the heck I’ll really put my all into making a career out of doing something in comics. So I wrote, and wrote about comics, movies, television but always about the characters and stories I grew up loving.

I can’t say there was a single point in time when I was like, “yes I’m going to make comics my career” because there wasn’t. It was a slow-going process, a lot of learning, a lot of work, and a bit of luck. Joe Illidge gave me my first job as his part-time assistant working at Lion Forge on the Catalyst Prime line. I was honestly shocked. I always tell people that when he called me I thought we were going to talk about Batman and instead he offered me a job! Now I’ve been at Lion Forge for two years, working full time, editing my own books, I’ve been blessed really.

CH: Why is an editor an important part of the comic book creation team?

DR: Every part of the team is important, the most obvious aspects of a comic – the art and storytelling – get a lot of focus which is completely understandable. But lettering, colors, and editing all play a huge part in the creation of that book.

For editing, a good editor will try to enhance a story’s potential. Where can the story be improved? Let’s change the art here a bit to enhance this scene. Maybe change this character a bit to add some more diversity to the cast. Stuff like that. As well as keeping the team together, keeping the flow of communication moving, getting that book to print so it hits the shelves and gets into the hands of the readers.

But I believe a good editor is there to make the book better, to help enhance the story, but not be the writer, or the artist, or the colorist. I respect every aspect of creating a comic because I respect the time, effort, and craft that goes into that part of the work.

CH: Tell me about some of the different aspects of being an editor? At what point do you come into the comic book making process?

DR: We’re there right at the beginning. When a writer pitches an idea or a story we’re there to help form that idea into a fully fleshed out story or suggest ways it could be better. Maybe there’s a story beat that’s missing, or one that could be expanded upon.

CH: What skills or qualities should a person have to become an editor? What do you have to study to become an editor?

DR: I was lucky, I had a good mentor in Joe, and I can still ask him for advice today. He’s been someone I really respect and admire whose helped me in my career a lot. Then there’s all the amazing editors I work with at Lion Forge.

One thing in particular I love is there’s so many women editors I work with, from Senior level to Assistants, it makes for this great unique environment where you don’t feel like the only woman in the room. Which has happened for most of my time in comics.

There’s also many editors in the industry I really admire like Joamette Gil, Kat Fajardo and Tanaka Slotts. All three are amazing women of color who have award winning books under their belts that didn’t require any big publisher help. They’re telling stories that are wide-spread about various marginalized communities and killing it.

I think some of the skills of a good editor include: good communication skills, respect for others, networking, and understanding the medium top to bottom. You have to understand how an artist works, and the work that goes into drawing a page or a cover for example. I can’t draw, but I’ve been studying just, basics ya know? So I can understand how they work, from line art to colors to letters. I’m still learning though, which I think is another important skill to have, the wiliness to learn. You’ll never know everything and that’s okay, be open to learning new things.

Oh, and technology, keep up with the tech it’ll help you stay organized.

CH: Of course, language adds another aspect to the process of editing a Latinx-centric comic book, but are there any other differences?

DR: I would say the cultural aspect. I’m proudly Puerto Rican, but if I’m editing a book with say, a Mexican-American lead that doesn’t mean I automatically know everything there is to know about what it’s like to be Mexican-American. Sure, there’s crossover, but I haven’t lived that particularly experience. Just like an editor who may be Mexican won’t know the exact experience of what it’s like being Puerto Rican. There’s nuances there you have to respect, learn, and research.

CH: What is your opinion of the current state of Latinx comic books?

DR: I think it could be better, that’s not to say we haven’t made progress, we have. There’s more Latinx characters, creators, and stories in the industry today then say ten or twenty years ago, but we can’t settle. We can do better, and we should always strive to be better.

I’m really excited to see that the La Raza Anthology was recently nominated for an Ignatz Award, and I’m so happy to see Eric Esquivel writing a Vertigo book called Border Town of all things. Like that shit right there is dope, that’s the stuff I want to see. Then you have brands like LatinxGeeks that go to cons, run panels, organize hashtags, promote Latinx written and centric books, comics, TV shows, movies everything.

So, there’s certainly been huge improvement and I think what needs to happen is the continuation of that improvement. We need more Latinx voices within the industry from top to bottom – editors, writers, artists, design, etc. And those voices need to be diverse voices, Afro-Latinx voices especially tend to be drown out or forgotten when discussing Latinx creators or Latinx representation in general. But we can’t have true inclusion nor true, honest, and real representation until we acknowledge all parts of our community and work to uplift the entire community.

So, we’ve made progress, we’re making progress, but we still have a long way to go and grow.

CH: In reviewing and writing about Latinx comic books I’ve noticed that there appears to be a lack of Latina comic book creators that are telling their stories as well. What do you think can be done to change this?

DR: I think it’s not so much there’s a lack of Latina creators, more so there’s a lack of opportunities provided to them. When we were putting together Puerto Rico Strong, one of the things we all pushed for and agreed upon was that a majority of the talent would be Latinx. We also made it a point to reach out to Latina and Latinx creators. They exist, there out there, you just have to look, and give them the opportunity.

I’m a part of a really great Facebook group for Latinx creators and there’s tons of women in the group, heck it was started by a Latina! It’s just a matter of putting in the effort of looking. It’s easier, I think, to create a Latinx character and say, hey my friend – who happens to be a white guy – is a great writer he should be on this book as an editor. And that guy probably is a great writer! I’m not discounting that, but was there any effort to find a Latina to write that character? When the topic comes up,

I’ve seen a lot of arguments that amount to “well there just aren’t any Latinas out there” or some fans will go “well the job went to the best person (who happens to be white)”. It rings false to me because I know there are talented Latina writers out there who are making great indie comics and just haven’t been given the chance to break into the larger industry. No fault of their own, they’re talented as hell, they’re just not being looked at. I don’t think it’s straight up refusal, more like soft ignorance. This is why it’s important to have these discussions, to uplift the community, to learn more about the untapped talent and audience pool at hand.

I firmly believe there are two ways to cure ignorance, one is education the other is empathy. You have to learn about a marginalized community to understand the specific oppressions they’ve faced and still face, but you also have to have empathy for them and want to learn and be a real ally. When it comes to comics, we have to expand our horizons both on the page but also behind it. We have to have creators of all backgrounds existing in various places in comics. And not just as Editors but higher up as well, so we can get the best stories that can be as inclusive and true as possible.

CH: What are some good books that you recommend reading for people wanting to expand their experience with Latinx comics?

DR: Okay so I already mentioned the La Raza Anthonlogy, so that one for sure.Power and Magic isn’t strictly a Latinx comic book but a publisher run by an Afro-Cuban editor so I would support them and their books which are all fantastic.

Frederick Luis Aldama has an entire library of great books that talk about Latinx representation in comics so if you’re looking for something more academic he’s a great place to start, especially his recent book Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics (Latinx Pop Culture).

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez is another easy pick with his La Borinqueña series, including his charity anthology with DC, Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico.

I’m going to throw in some shameless self-promotion and say Puerto Rico Strong, which was a charity anthology Lion Forge published that I worked on as well.

I would also recommend folks check out the #BeingLatinxInComics and #LatinxCreate hashtags on Twitter for more recommendations, and to find more Latinx creators to support.

Learn more about Desiree and her current projects on her website: https://latinasmediamusing.com/

9 queer Latinx books you have to read before you die

Check out the original article by Vania Castilla for Borderzine here: http://borderzine.com/2019/03/9-queer-latinx-books-you-have-to-read-before-you-die/?fbclid=IwAR1Ajzi4cxJ5JPfUrQMrY-UzaUDDcvhiHmjiAb-MqrLeRq4BTF9VE-koVOg

Last summer I had the opportunity to work alongside filmmakers Angie Tures and Henry Alberto as a production assistant on a project that brought the work of noted poet and author Benjamin Alire Sáenz to life on film.

Sáenz and I spent most of the day together talking about film, poetry, and really just about how funny life can be. He gave me a copy of his book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.” I opened the book and didn’t put it back down until the last page. I laughed, cried, found love, lost love. I had never experienced reading a book whose story was so similar to my own.

Knowing that there were books like this, I set out on a quest to find other books written about the queer Latinx experience. Knowing there must be others looking for similar books, I’m going to make life a little easier for you. Here’s my list of essential reading of queer Latinx books you have to read before you die.

1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Queer 1.jpg

At the top of any queer reading list, you’ll find “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”. One of the many reasons it’s at the top of mine is the book is written by El Pasoan and award-winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz. The coming-of-age story is set in El Paso and follows the lives of two Mexican-American boys and their unique friendship. The book is currently being adapted for the screen and being directed by Latinx filmmaker Henry Alberto.

2. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria E. Anzaldúa


Gloria E. Anzaldúa is one of the most prolific and influential theorists in Chicano Studies. Redefining the Chicanx experience by giving a voice to its women, she spent her life documenting the Chicana experience. In her semi-autobiographic book, she writes about her experience growing up brown, queer and a woman in Texas. The book is written in both Spanish and English – many times living in the in-between of both languages.

3. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera


If finding representation of the queer identity in literature is difficult, finding a character like Juliet is as close to a miracle as it gets. Juliet is getting ready to leave the Bronx and head to Oregon to pursue an internship with her favorite writer. Afraid of how her family might react to her being queer, she decides that because she’s leaving it’s the perfect time to come out to her family. One of the biggest takeaways is how the book tackles white feminism and the need for women of color to have a voice.

4. We the Animals by Justin Torres


There are few books that can capture what it’s like to grow up in an abusive home. Three brothers form a formidable bond as they navigate through their childhood. The narrator must follow a different path as he discovers his queerness. The dark and fragile story was recently released as a film last year and directed by Jeremiah Zagar.

5. America Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s an openly queer superhero! This is the “book” for people who don’t like to read. Gabby Rivera does it again but this time partnering with Illustrator Joe Quinones and bringing America Chavez to life. America Chavez is the latest superhero to join the Marvel Universe. She’s not your average superhero and this isn’t your average comic.

6. Chulito by Carlos Rico-Gonzalez


Chulito is a 16-year-old boy growing up in the South Bronx who starts realizing he might have more than just friendly feelings towards his best friend Carlos. When Carlos is ostracized by the neighborhood for being gay, Chulito has to decide between his community and his best friend. “Chulito” is a work that challenges the idea of gender norms and what it means to be a “man.”

7. The Rain God by Arturo Islas


Another author El Paso can be proud to claim as their own is Arturo Islas. He was one of the first Chicanos to be signed by a major publishing house. The Rain God is one of only two books completed by the author before he died in 1999, due to complications brought on by AIDS. The book tells the story of a Mexican family struggling to adapt to the “American” and the immigrant experience.

8. More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Aaron Soto, a 16-year-old Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx struggles to find happiness. Aaron hears of the Leteo Institute – a company that promises to erase painful memories so people can move forward – and decides it would be best if he could forget he’s gay. What follows is an honest portrayal of struggling with depression and mental illness.

9. Gulf Dreams by Emma Perez


Published in 1996, “Gulf Dreams” is considered one of the first Chicana lesbian pieces of literature to be print. It tells the story of a young girl growing up in a rural and racist town in Texas. The narrator telling a gripping and heartbreaking story of her childhood and of the first girl she ever loved.


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Getting Her Own Comic Book

This has made its way around the interwebz by now, but just in case:  Sam Stone for cbr.com reports: https://www.cbr.com/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-comic-book/?fbclid=IwAR2lrhT3kFx3QfSEx95zgX66tyo0tE3KvJDUHbMOUsz1RHP23xH9pF5HXJQ

In office for less than two months, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is already making her presence felt throughout Washington, D.C. Now, she will star in her own comic book.

Devil’s Due Comics has announced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force, a one-shot special commemorative issue, will be released on May 15. Featuring an all-star lineup of creators, including Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother) and Jose Garibaldi (The LEGO Movie 2), the issue will feature an anthology of short stories as the Congresswoman takes on the GOP in heroic, satirical adventures. The variant cover illustrated by Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash) is below:


“It’s no secret that AOC has become the unofficial leader of the new school, and has sparked life back into Washington and that’s reflected in the enthusiasm on display by the men and women contributing to this project,” Devil’s Due Publisher Josh Blaylock observed. “While we all don’t agree on everything, we share a common excitement for the breath of fresh air the new Congress brings. I hope this is as much a cathartic release for readers as it has been for us creators.”

A portion of the proceeds will go to support the USO and RaicesTexas.org, a nonprofit organization committed to providing legal services to immigrant families and refugees.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force by Jill Thompson, Dean Haspiel, Jose Garibaldi and more is scheduled to go on sale on May 15 from Devil’s Due Comics.

March 15-16: The Latino Comics Expo hits Modesto, CA!

THE LATINO COMICS EXPO comes to Modesto Junior College, courtesy of MJC Literature and Language Arts & ASMJC. The nation’s premiere Latinx comics convention will host an exhibitor hall and a variety of panels and workshops celebrating Latinx creators in comics, animation, design, illustration and more!

Admission is free and open to the public. Free parking.

Where!? Modesto Junior College West Campus

2201 Blue Gum Ave, Modesto, CA 95358




(W) Marco Lopez, Ivan Plaza
(A) Alessandro Micelli, Bryan Magnaye
(CA) Alessandro Micelli, Leo Colapietro
Price: $3.99

At the triumph of a centuries old galactic war, all that was left of the warriors were Solar and Super Astro. They headed off into space to never to be heard from again…or so they thought. After a millennia of intergalactic travels, their ship crashed on Earth. Their powers had vanished and they settled into their new mortal lives. Now, years later, a message from the deepest corner of the universe has interrupted their ordinary lives. A recent accident has released an immense destructive power back into the world, a power that they thought was lost forever. What epic adventure awaits them? Who’s attempting to contact them and how can they save not just our planet, but the universe itself?


By Christopher C. Hernandez, Comicosity


— Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1982 Nobel Lecture

Gabriel Garcia Marquez recognized the importance of Latin America’s self-representation in storytelling. Marquez points out that Latinx peoples have a history of our stories being told for us and about us, but rarely by us. It’s an important realization that is still trying to be impressed upon both Latinx and non-Latinx peoples alike.

Only in the past few years are we starting to see some headway made in the U.S. as to how our cultures…our lifestyles…our stories are portrayed in entertainment media. This fundamental blasé attitude towards representation of Latinx stories is what makes works like Tales from La Vida: A Latinx Comics Anthology monumentally important.

The importance of Tales from La Vida lies, in part, with the nakedness of which each creator’s confession is presented to the reader. Anthology editor Frederick Aldama’s charge to the authors gave life to the spirit of the book: share a hinge moment in their life as a Latinx. There are many important events in our lives that, if allowed, can take part in determining how we react in any given situation. Some events in our lives have the power to completely reshape the way we think about our world. The stories shared in Tales do exactly that for the authors. These stories are those in which the protagonist is set apart from the rest of the world and yet brought home to where they belong. They are moments of plurality. We are set apart from others and at the same time made part of a larger whole. Aldama’s simple thesis enables the participants to beautifully capture and release these truths to the readers.

Whether or not it was easy for the authors to share these intimate “ah-ha” crossroads, they are indeed laid bare and done so passionately in word and illustration. In some stories the reader can even tangibly discern the struggle of the creator’s story unfold. The storytelling is that good. Some authors use simple methods and others use more nuanced and symbolistic devices but all of them hit home runs. No one entry, though, “beats” another for best story of the anthology. They are all equally weighted. Whether it is about paths not taken, gender issues, sexuality issues, family issues, discrimination issues, or culture issues, each carries the impact of being life changing for the creator.


The anthology is also a form of self-therapy for both creator and reader alike. As each creator works through, or shares what they have already solved, it does the same for readers. They may identify with some or all the issues presented. For some readers it may be the answer they have been looking for, or it may unlock a path towards finding that answer. For others it may reveal a hidden issue that has yet to be stumbled upon. This works on both an individual and on a group level. The stories group us together with the collective feelings of our elders and peers. They impress upon us the emotional impact others have faced because they are just like us. We may never face those same moments, but we do become affected by them by proxy.

Again, the frankness of the stories aides in this but also the variety of the way the stories are presented. For just as many different issues are dealt with there are an equal amount of art styles rendered. The styles are realistic, photo-realistic, sketches, paintings, cartoon-y, and abstract. There is artwork from seasoned creators and new comers, but all are people baring their souls, as every artist does, for other people and other times to see. Art has a way of reaching people that cannot, do not, or will not be reached. It involuntarily stirs the mind like a masterfully composed violin piece. It forces people to react. While words can be glazed over, the language of art only takes a fleeting glance and it’s there in the brain. The subconscious takes that input and puts it to work. Complex messages and emotions can instantly be imparted to the observer with thin or thick strokes, color, black and white, or blank page with just a few words. Whether or not the creators consciously endeavor to attach this meaning to the art it still can’t help but be there. The art of Tales is so varied and impactful that just a glance at its pages captures the reader’s attention, pulling them in for more.

Reading these stories feels very personal and nostalgic even, like flipping through the pages of a family photo album. Readers may feel both the urge to hide it away—protecting it from the prying eyes of strangers—and the prideful urge to show it to everyone. Like the chismosa Tia that wants to tell all the stories of her family to a newly married-in addition. It is, however, extremely important that Tales from La Vida be shared with everyone. It is up to each reader, of course, to do what they will with Tales but it can be used as a guidebook for a better understanding of Latinx peoples.


Of all the stories and creators, Jules Rivera’s piece, “The Continuum”, stands out amidst the others as possibly representing the overall message. Her own experience is unique and yet communal at the same time, but it is her conclusion that helps bring the rest of the voices of the anthology into focus. “The Latina experience is not one moment. It’s all the moments.” While Aldama’s original guidelines require the storyteller to pick one moment, it is the sum of all the moments within the pages of Tales that makes us who we are. Just as the human body is made up of different systems, organs, and cells: collectively they make one person. Rivera continues: “I am Jules Rivera and that’s what it means to be a Latina.” The experiences have and will continue to shape us as we move through this world just as Rivera’s art shows her travel down the path of life. Do we let those experience control us, or do we control them as she now does?

In 1562 a Franciscan monk burned 27 illustrated Mayan books that contained our ancestor’s way of life and later set about interpreting our reality through his own patterns. Centuries later we are still trying to relearn what was lost by this act. Collecting our own stories in anthologies like Tales reincarnates the traditions of our forebearers.

These are all our stories. Every single one. We have dealt with all these issues at some point or another because we are Latinx. We are descendants of the indigenous peoples of the Americas—mixed, colonized, and gentrified with foreign blood and ideas. We are who we are now because of the past 500 years of key moments. Because of this we need to hold on to and uplift collections like Tales. They are crucial to propagating our stories and our lives.


Jasmin Medrano gives a dynamite write up of the comic El Peso Hero to promote its exhibit at Texas A&M University: http://maroonweekly.com/border-stories-told-through-comic-art/?fbclid=IwAR1NBjBZNGnevMC3f7OzsENR8SydtCKf8_3cr6v-ELdR3Hd6BoFAYx7E4uc

With all of the negative drama at the border spiraling, one artist turns the tables, making it a positive platform for a public servant vigilante. The MSC Visual Arts Committee is proud to present artwork by comic artist Hector Rodriguez that will feature a Latino comic book superhero series known as “El Peso Hero” who shows the struggles of both sides.

Based on a rogue hero battling border issues such as Mexican cartels, human trafficking, and border corruption, the popular series has gained wide international media attention, including coverage by CNN, UNIVISION, and TELEMUNDO. And even though his comics are captioned in Spanish, his audience remains large and open to all.

Rodriguez himself is not superhuman but a bilingual educator who works with low-income students who come from the same unfortunate background as the refugees in his comics. The hero is said to defend Mexican refugees that cross the border to evade violence and government corruption, and is highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat with strength and immunity just like Superman. The cartoon style makes it more accessible to kids. Not only is the hero relatable, but the series also shares the border struggles in a different light. Latinos are not typically featured in comic books, much less featured on the covers, and it became a goal of Rodriguez’s to give his students a role model.

While the comics do not take a political stance, Rodriguez does try to counter the negative rhetoric he feels is incited by 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump. Rodriguez even created a special Donald Trump cover that shows the main protagonist, “El Peso Hero” knocking his fist into President Trump’s face.

With the comic series being a unique and tasteful blend of history, art, and current events, it is a powerful demonstration of art with a message. The showcasing will take place Wednesday, January 16, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. through Sunday, March 3, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. in the MSC Reynolds Gallery.

Meet Melina Chavarria, author of The Magic Glasses


Today we’d like to introduce you to Melina Chavarria.

Melina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was in college when I first fell in love with writing. I had just discovered Xicano writers like Luis Rodriguez, Victor Villasenor, and Sandra Cisneros. However, it wasn’t until 15 years later that I made the decision to take a risk on myself and focus on my writing. I started off with blogging about my journey with motherhood and raising children on the Autism spectrum. Over the last few years, I have focused mostly on writing poetry and on a comic book series I co-created, with my partner, Jean Munson, called “The Magic Glasses.”

Currently, I am still focusing on further developing our comic book series, but I am also starting a new zine. I am now working as Editor and Chief for DSTL Arts, on a publication called Aurtistic Zine. Aurtistic Zine is focused on acceptance and showcasing the diverse talents of autistic individuals as well as their family members.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The journey is never linear, and the biggest challenges have been to overcome self-doubt and fear. Most of those fears steam from worrying about how readers will receive my work. Will readers connect with my work? I learned to silence those fears by reminding myself, that although everyone may not become a fan of my writing, I will find people that connect with my work. And even if my stories only connect with a few people, the journey will have been worth it.

In writing my comic book series, I also found it challenging to find the right artist to collaborate with. You hear a lot of things about the comic book industry not being open to women, and you do not see a lot of women of color represented in the industry. So I really wanted to wait to meet and work with someone that shared my values of having more and better representations of women of color in comics. I was fortunate to meet and work with Jean, who is a passionate feminist and leader in the comics industry.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
When we created “The Magic Glasses” comic book series not only did we want to have a better representation of women of color in comics, but we also wanted to share the stories and experiences of the real women from our communities and share some of the things that are actually happening in our communities today.

I would say we are known for being advocates and champions for women of color in the comics industry. What I am most proud of is being able to share stories about the women living in South Central Los Angeles, and I hope to continue to do so in a positive light.

What were you like growing up?
I was a rebellious nerd growing up. I always did very well academically in school and enjoyed reading anything I could get my hands on. But I was always opinionated and strong-willed.


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