Heroine adds to comics' diversity
Writer, artist and entrepreneur Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez didn't see a comic book character that strongly reflected the Puerto Rican heritage of millions of Americans. So he decided to create one.
"La Borinqueña is the story of Marisol Rios de la Luz, who, as a student, sees the world with a passionate curiosity," he said in an interview with The Oklahoman.
As the superhero La Borinqueña, Marisol can harness the powers of nature to protect Puerto Rico from disasters and calamities.
"My ideal superhero is a woman because when I think of my heritage, my island, she has always been a woman to me," Miranda-Rodriguez said. "Our national anthem is titled 'La Borinqueña,' which literally translates into The Puerto Rican Woman."
Miranda-Rodriguez is of Puerto Rican descent and lives in New York City.
"I grew up reading comic books, and have always been drawn to superhero narratives," he said. "Perhaps it's because I grew up poor and was drawn to comic books for escapism. I do know as an adult that most of these narratives were always written by and from the perspective of white men."
Comics have embraced diversity more so in recent years, and Miranda-Rodriguez will be part of a panel in New Orleans to discuss and promote inclusion and empowerment.
Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans is sponsoring "Conversation: Comics, Graphic Novels, and Inclusivity" at 7 p.m. April 13.
The talk also features Kid Koala, Maria Stotter, and LeSean Thomas, and will be moderated by artist Soraya Jean.
"There is a significant amount of power when you write from your personal experience," Miranda-Rodriguez said. "There's a certain nuance to your characters that you just get, that someone can't pick up from reading an article or interviewing subjects for research."
Miranda-Rodriguez made his comics debut as a contributor to the graphic novel "Guardians of the Galaxy: Tales of the Cosmos." His story, featuring a Puerto Rican grandmother, received a strong response.
"This immediately opened my eyes to a demographic that was especially hungry for more stories that reflected our Puerto Rican heritage," Miranda-Rodriguez said.
Dozens of artists have signed on to help bring La Borinqueña to life, including George Perez ("New Teen Titans," "Wonder Woman"), who also is of Puerto Rican descent. Perez has signed on to provide the cover for the second issue of the comic, set to be available for pre-order in June.
"I wanted to show via this project that I could bring together artists from across the Puerto Rican diaspora to work with me. Many Puerto Rican artists came out strongly in support of this project, and the response has been humbling," Miranda-Rodriguez said.
Miranda-Rodriguez has been on tour across the country promoting the title, in some cases introducing new readers to Puerto Rican culture.
"I grew up reading comic books that did not look like me even though many of these characters grew up in New York City like me," he said. "I didn't know what Elvis Costello sounded like or what wheatcakes tasted like. With my book, it's time for readers to know what Eddie Palmieri sounds like and what pasteles taste like. If you want my advice? They sound and taste like love."
For more information about La Borinqueña, or to order the comic, check out www.laborinquena.somosarte.com.