Kayden Phoenix Is Changing The Face Of Graphic Novels With Her Female Superhero Named Jalisco
Batman. Superman. Spiderman. The great superheroes always seem to be men. While we do have Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Super Girl, Storm, and others, for the most part, they’re always white. Thanks to Latino creators we know have superheroes that look like us, that tell our story and reflect our heritage. One such heroine is fighting back in a very cool and stylish way.
Meet Jalisco, a powerful Latina superhero that fights crime through the tradition of folklorico dance.
We love that right off the bat we know Jalisco is of Mexican descent and that she’s a dancer that has a passion for her culture. Jalisco is also facing the kind of violence that your typical male superhero doesn’t encounter. She’s fighting the violence that plagues women in Mexico at epidemic rates.
Here is the basis of her story: “Jalisco’s a humble girl that lives on the outskirts of Guadalajara. Her mom takes her to the park to cheer her up with folklorico dance, and out of nowhere— Jalisco’s mom disappears. Jalisco goes to the cops, who brush her away. She goes home in hopes that her mom is there, but she’s not. Jalisco ends up going to the bar to ask for help- anyone’s help. Again, everyone snubs her. So Jalisco sets off on her own to find her mom. Luckily for her, she gets saved by a band of Adelitas. They all know the fate of her mom but can’t tell her about the rampant femicide. Instead, Adella, the matriarch of the Adelitas, says she’ll train her so she can learn to protect herself. Jalisco says she just wants to find her mom. Adella tells her about Malinche, the traitor to our gender and the leader of the femicides.”
This is Kayden Phoenix, and she’s a director, writer, and creator of the graphic novel that centers around Jalisco.
In an interview with mitú, Phoenix said the initial idea behind Phoenix wasn’t merely to create a graphic novel. She didn’t feel like her culture was represented in the arts and did something about it.
“It just kind of happened naturally,” the Boyle Heights native said about shifting gears from her business background from Loyola Marymount University, to directing, writing, and eventually creating a graphic novel.
“I just started writing and realized no one had seen my work, so I thought ‘let me direct,'” Phoenix said. She adds that she basically had to teach herself how to create an entire project from scratch. Phoenix eventually founded the Chicana Director’s Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to be a network of Latina creatives and also to provide diverse content.
“That’s when I began creating Latina superheroes because, why not, we don’t have any.”
Phoenix uses her “why not” mentality as the prerequisite to starting any creative project. If she feels there’s a need for something, she doesn’t wait for someone else to maybe do it, she does it herself.
Phoenix has created a magical world all her own. It’s not just Jalisco that she thought up, but also five other Latina superheroes that will one day unite and fight crime together. One of those superheroes is Santa, a social justice warrior, who exists in the same universe as Jalisco.
The origins of Jalisco derives from Phoenix’s life and history. Her mom was her inspiration, as was the birthplace of her grandmother.
“I grew up watching my mom dance folkorico,” Phoenix said. “They had a really cool troop, and they would dance at the county fair. They were doing everything. I learned all of that because I kind of had to, but now I really appreciate it.” She adds, “I thought to myself, ‘well, who is my superhero?’ It’s my mom.”
What advice does Phoenix have for people who want to start their own creative endeavor?
“Just go do it,” Phoenix said nonchalantly. “My mom never told me no. She would say ‘do you want to play the piano? go do it. Do you want to do this, then do it.’ She never said no to me. So if you have a passion for something go do it.”
Click here for more information on Jalisco and the team behind it.