Entertainment

The Guy Behind ‘La Borinqueña’ And John Leguizamo Are Hiring An All-Latino Staff To Launch An Indie Comic

John Leguizamo is busy as hell. The actor (and boycott-starter) has back-to-back film and TV projects, and he wrapped up his one-man show in New York City earlier this year. The Colombian thespian is also starting a whole new project and we’re totally psyched about it.

John Leguizamo announced on his Instagram that he will be debuting a new comic book at this year’s New York Comic Con.

My 1st comic will be released that week and I will b there in person to sign!

A post shared by John Leguizamo (@johnleguizamo) on

A whole comic book series devoted to Leguizamo? Insane, right?

Leguizamo is collaborating with “La Borinqueña” creator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez.

CREDIT: Courtesy Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

As we mentioned last year, “La Borinqueña” centers on an Afro-Latina superhero with a mission to serve, educate, and inspire. Just like “La Borinqueña, it features an all-Latino team. Leguizamo’s comic book will also highlight Latino talent exclusively.

mitú spoke with co-creator Edgar Miranda-Rodriguez about their upcoming project:

I know you can’t give too much of the story away, but will the protagonist be Leguizam? Will it embody him in some way? Or is he writing a whole new character altogether?

John’s work is always personal. All of his award-winning plays have always been told from his life experience. What’s beautiful about his storytelling is the universality of it. As Latinos, we’re immediately drawn to his voice, because he sounds like us. In my case, we literally sound alike because we both have lisps! 😉 Seriously though, the body of John’s work has always been about creating a narrative about the American Latino experience and he is introducing this to a mainstream audience. This is what he aims to do with this comic book and that is why we’re debuting it at the New York Comic Con. This comic book will be in the same tradition of his previous work, this time, however, you’ll be able to see the images he talks about in his plays.

What other comics have Latino protagonists? Is there an indie comic book scene created by Latino talent that could go mainstream?

There are a few comic books with Latino protagonists, particularly in the superhero genre. The first one was created by George Perez in 1975, Marvel’s White Tiger. However, this comic book is not within the superhero genre nor is it published by a corporate imprint. It’s self-published by John Leguizamo, produced by me. I edited his script and art directed a team of incredibly talented comic book pros that are all Latino and native New Yorkers, as are myself and John. The closest comparison is “Love and Rockets” by Jaime Hernandez, Gilbert Hernandez and Mario Hernandez, aka The Hernandez Brothers. They self-published their first issue in 1981 and then Fantagraphics republished it the following year with a color cover. The Hernandez Brothers told stories in what the comic book industry refer to as alternative comics because there were no capes or powers. All of their stories were told either from the Latin American and Los Angeles experience. John’s story, like all of his writings, is told from the perspective of New York City.

Do you know if Leguizamo was inspired by “La Borinqueña” to create his own comic book?

John loves La Borinqueña. He loves her as a character, but more so what she stands for. His daughter has a copy of the comic book and he respects that the comic book serves to raise awareness of the real world social issues affecting Puerto Rico. What truly inspired John about La Borinqueña is that I did it myself. Latinos have been waiting so long for our own hero in her own book. We’re tired of being the sidekicks, the victims, or worse, the villains. It takes us to do it ourselves to finally show the world and us that our stories matter. Our heroes matter, and, mostly importantly, we have the the talent to do it. La Borinqueña was produced by my studio with an all Latino roster of professional talent. John’s comic book was also produced with roster of Latino talent which includes Christopher Sotomayor, Chris Batista, Gustavo Vazquez and Sabrina Cintron who debuted as an artist in La Borinqueña. Latinos have been making comic books for decades, since the 1940s when Alex Schomburg came from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico to open a studio in New York City with his brothers and was offered his first comic book gig drawing covers for Captain America when Marvel was still called Timely Comics. It’s only now that we’re working together to produce and publish our own comic books with our own heroes. Ya era tiempo.

READ: ‘La Borinqueña’ Is The Afro-Latina Superhero The Comic Book World Has Been Missing

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Latin America Has Its Own Amazing Comic Book Tradition And These Iconic Titles Prove It

Entertainment

Latin America Has Its Own Amazing Comic Book Tradition And These Iconic Titles Prove It

mexicoretro / valenzrc / Instagram

Even though Marvel and DC Comics superhero comics are obviously very popular in Latin America (as they are in the rest of the world), the region has developed its own comic book industry. This industry has given birth to iconic characters. These characters and stories speak directly to Latin American reality and identity. They deal with challenges such as economic crisis, class division, racism, and State repression. Of course, they do this in an often funny way. Other comics have achieved cult status even if their quality is, well, not of the highest standards. These are ten titles that speak of the depth and breathe of Latin American creativity. 

Title: Condorito
Country of origin: Chile
So when was it first published? It has been published since 1949
Created by: René Ríos, known as Pepo

Credit: condoritooficial / Instagram

The adventures of a Chilean condor that lives among humans is told in short vignettes that always end with a character passing out and the iconic word PLOP. Simple stories deal, however, with issues such as unemployment, the military dictatorship in Chile and class division. Condorito is a working-class everyman who faces class discrimination. Before Pinochet took power the comic was a bit conservative, mocking hippies and left-wing politicians, but after the coup, it changed and silently denounced the dictatorship. A 3D animated movie was released in 2017, with iconic characters such as Cabeza de Huevo, Garganta de Lata and Pepe Cortisona. 

Title: La familia Burrón
Country of origin: Mexico
So when was it first published? 1948
Created by: Gabriel Vargas

Credit: peltre.cuina.mexicana / Instagram

It was published for 60 years and told half a million copies, a huge number by Mexican publishing standards. Cuevas got into the hearts and minds of a lower-class Mexico City family. It is a linguistic jewel: it used slang, Prehispanic words and invented words that appealed to the creativity of chilango vernacular. Vargas’s main influence was American comics, but he soon developed a style that was unique and influences generations of Latin American comic book artists. 

And this family is a true icon of Mexico City

Credit: yosoymims / Instagram

Up until today, this family is venerated by Mexicans. There are multiple murals, toys and museum exhibitions dedicated to the Burrones. A true representation of 20th century Mexican idiosyncrasy. 

Title: Las aventuras de Capulina
Country of origin: Mexico
So when was it first published? 1970s
Created by: Oscar González Guerrero on a character created by Gaspar Henaine Pérez

Comic books in the U.S. are an internationally known community of superheroes but Latin America boasts its own impressive rooster of comic superheroes.
Credit: mexicoretro / Instagram

Gaspar Henaine Pérez, better known as Capulina, was a comedian that became iconic on the 1970s and 1980s. He had a television show and a very successful duo with Marco Antonio Campos, better known as Viruta. The character of Capulina gained huge popularity in a comic book series with stories by comic artist Oscar González Guerrero and art by his son Oscar Gonzalez Loyo. 

Title: El libro vaquero
Country of origin: Mexico
So when was it first published? 1978
Created by: Mario de la Torre Barrón, c

Credit: 99.hawells / Instagram

A classic of Mexican kitsch! NSFW content that has plenty of blood and plenty of sex. It was considered mass entertainment for the lower classes but is now being reinterpreted as an important cultural icon that deals with gender, sex and national identity. As the title suggests, it all happens in a microcosm of cowboys and saloons. This comic book has enrolled some famous writers, such as Jordi Soler, to write stories, as it is now a cultural icon, popular among hipsters. 

Title: Memín Pinguín (yes, this one is quite problematic)
Country of origin: Mexico
So when was it first published? 1962-2010
Created by: Yolanda Vargas Dulché

Credit: miguelf039 / Instagram

First things first: this is a very controversial title because of how the Afro-Mexican main character is drawn, and because of the ways in which other characters refer to him. There are plenty of stereotypes here, but also a denouncement of racism. The class division in Mexico is also referred to when a rich student is enrolled in a public school and faces the wrath of the proletariat. An interesting object of study that makes us think of how representations of race that might have been seen as innocent at the time gain new dimensions as the effects of stereotypes are better understood. 

Title: Kaliman
Country of origin: Mexico
So when was it first published? 1965 (previously a radio show from 1963)
Created by: Modesto Vázquez González (radio show), Hector González Dueñas (Víctor Fox) y Clemente Uribe Ugarte (comic book)

Credit: valenzrc / Instagram

During the 1960s Mexico was a cultural powerhouse in the continent and Kaliman is good proof of this. The superhero was originally just a voice on the radio, but then became a comic book that was published for 26 uninterrupted years, which spanned 1351 issues. Kaliman is a superhero of unknown origin who was raised in India and fights alongside an Egyptian kid named Solin. Kaliman practices multiple martial arts and goes to mystical places like Tibet! A true transnational creation generated in Latin America

Title: Mafalda (but of course we couldn’t possibly forget her!)
Country of origin: Argentina
So when was it first published? 1964-1973
Created by: Quino

Credit: Giphy

More of a comic strip rather than a comic book, Mafalda is a young girl who hates soup, loves her family and despairs at the state of the world. Argentina’s answer to Charlie Brown and the Peanuts series is a funny, nostalgic and thought-provoking universe in which childhood’s point of view reveals the idiocy of the adult world. Mafalda is a symbol of pacifism and a true icon of Argentina. 

Title: Love and Rockets
Country of origin: United States
So when was it first published? 1981
Created by:the Hernandez brothers: Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario.

Credit: Love and Rockets / Fantagraphics Books

Perhaps the most daring and iconic comic book to come out of the Latino community in the United States. This universe of interrelated storylines have traits that make it uniquely Latino: some stories take place in the Central American fictional village of Palomar, while others have magical realism elements. The Locas series focuses on Maggie and Hopey, one of the first queer couples in the American comic book tradition. 

Title: Turey El Taíno
Country of origin: Puerto Rico
So when was it first published? 1989
Created by: Ricardo Álvarez-Rivón

Credit: n-14515802384n8gk. Digital image. Ilustra.org

A unique comic book in that it shows how an indigenous community, the Tainos of what is now Puerto Rico, lived before colonization by the Spanish. It shows the cultural richness of the island in pre-Columbus days and brings back indigenous words and tools. A real standout! 

Title: Elpidio Valdés
Country of origin: Cuba
So when was it first published? 1970
Created by: Juan Padrón

Credit: elpidio4(1). Digital image. Cuba Literaria

A true Cuban classic and perhaps the most famous comic book to come out of the island. In a truly nationalistic spirit (some might argue that these comic books are in fact propaganda), the story takes place in the nineteenth-century war of independence that Cubans waged against Spain. Elpidio Valdés is a multiplatform narrative, as there are movies and cartoons about this historical character.

READ: ‘La Borinqueña’ Is The Afro-Latina Superhero The Comic Book World Has Been Missing

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

Entertainment

You Can’t Argue That John Leguizamo Isn’t Doing The Work To Uplift The Latino Community Every Day

johnleguizamo / Instagram

Among the Latino celebrities that have made their political ideals crystal clear, we can certainly count actor John Leguizamo, who for more than two decades has been a force to be reckoned with both in Hollywood and independent cinema. John Alberto Leguizamo was born in Bogota, Colombia, on July 22, 1964. He is also a US citizen. Leguizamo has acted in small indie films such as Summer of Sam, but also in high profile franchises including John Wick and Ice Age. Leguizamo is as mainstream as it gets while retaining a humble personality. He has said: “I see the new Latin artist as a pioneer, opening up doors for others to follow.” He is proud of his language and his people. 

Leguizamo has worked with the likes of legendary filmmakers Spike Lee and George Romero while being unapologetic about his clear disdain for those in politics that incite division and perpetuate injustice. Here are some key moments of Leguizamo’s political activism and the never-ending fight for Latino rights. 

When he wrote an incendiary op-ed for The New York Times in 2016, right before the election.

Credit: Screenshot. The New York Times.

It was fantastic, and it was titled “Too Bad You’re Latin.” It was a real call to action. “We need a Latino Spring in this country,” he wrote. “We need to demand power and equal opportunity”. Of course, he aimed his guns at POTUS: “Donald J. Trump has done one good thing. He has galvanized a conflicted and diverse community. For years, activists and politicians have struggled to get Latinos to vote and show their power.”

When he narrated the HBO documentary The Latin Explosion: A New America.

Credit: The Latin Explosion: A New America / HBO

Latino culture in the United States has gone mainstream, and popular culture outside of Spanish-speaking circles is dictated by what celebrities such as Shakira, Sofía Vergara, and Ricky Martin do. Leguizamo celebrates the many accomplishments of Latinos in the entertainment industry by narrating this documentary feature. 

When he boycotted Saturday Night Live over a Donald Trump hosting gig.

Credit: john-leguizamo-donald-trump-yahoo. Digital image. Screener TV

In 2015, after Trump initially enraged the Latino community describing Mexican migrants as “rapists”, Leguizamo collected signatures opposing the then candidate’s appearance in the show. He said: “What he says doesn’t even fall into the category of (politically correct). It is hate mongering. I hope what I do in my work is not denigrating or belittling. I mean, I’m all for freedom of speech, don’t get me wrong. I believe in freedom of speech. This is different. If he had said those things about any other ethnic group, he would not be on SNL.” Preach, Johnny!

When he played Raymond Santana Sr., a proud father in When They See Us.

Credit: When They See Us / Netflix 

Leguizamo portrays the father of one of the Exonerated 5 with aplomb, and with Latino sass and pride. Leguizamo embodies any Latino father who believes in his kid while also acknowledging that racial politics are not always in favor of minorities. We love the rage, vulnerability, and love that Leguizamo is able to infuse his character with. 

When he decided to do his awesome Netflix special Latin History for Morons.

Credit: Latin History for Morons / Netflix

Leguizamo released an amazing Netflix special in which he basically unpacks the history of Latin America and Latinos in the United States in a brutal, yet humorous way. He talks about the savage Spanish rule in the continent, migration and the importance of preserving Spanish. The special is based, of course, on Leguizamo’s one-man Broadway show. Wanna see him? Visit  https://latinhistorybroadway.com/ for dates and tickets! Billboard raves about his show: “Latin History for Morons couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It feels like the perfect complement to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. And it provides a security blanket for people of color in knowing their place and value in a world that’s constantly telling them they don’t matter.” You had us at “morons”. 

He supports Latino politicians to bring our community to power.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

The 2020 election will be defined by the variety of voices among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, regardless of whether Donald Trump gets reelected or not. Leguizamo stands by his ideas and supports candidates like Julian Castro, a proud Latino!

He puts his money where his mouth is, supporting Latino talent.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo owns NGL Collective, a media company that produces content for the Latino market. Their philosophy: is based on being a “company forged from a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that today is a leading digital media and entertainment company super-serving the US Latinx marketplace”. Not many seasoned Hollywood actors would actually put manos a la obra, but Leguizamo is not just any celebrity. He says: “I like helping people achieve their dreams just like people helped me.”

He always speaks out against hate.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

On his Instagram account, where he is very active by the way, he often shares heartbreaking stories of racial abuse against Latinos. For example, this terrible act of violence against a mother who was physically abused while picking up her son from school. 

Leguizamo has said basta to the way that authorities are treating kids at the border.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Leguizamo has been one of the most fierce critics of the zero tolerance position of the Trump administration. As a true connoisseur of US history, Leguizamo often points to the fact that this country was built on the shoulders of immigrants who arrived from all over the world seeking to build a better life. Leguizamo is also often attending marches and raising funds for just causes. He once said: “When you feel the world is against you or you give up hope, you look at your heroes and say, they were able to do it. They had hard times and a lot of opposition but they got through it. Then you feel, I can do it too”. We wonder how many young Latinos look up to him; we are guessing un chingo

He spreads his gospel of truth.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

Amen to this great message on his Insta, where he encapsulates his believes. LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, women’s rights, Black lives mater, we should save the planet and treat each other kindly. If we all lived by these principles otro gallo nos cantaria and the world would be a much better place. Se vale soñar

We’ve all wished that some of his jokes were actually facts.

Credit: Instagram. @johnleguizamo

If 20 years ago someone had said that the host of a reality show in which the premise was to fire people and basically humiliate them for the sake of ratings would be sitting in the Oval Office, we would have laughed that suggestion off as pure silliness, right? And yet… So this suggestion by Leguizamo that he could run in 2020 is not totally nuts, is it?  By the way: did you see the awesome Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo liked this post? What about she runs for vice president?

READ: ‘To Wong Foo’ Is An Undeniable Gay Cult Classic And John Leguizamo’s Role As A Drag Queen Is Still One Of The Best Performances

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