Entertainment

John Leguizamo Is Creating A New Latino Comic Book Superhero

Colombian actor John Leguizamo is raising money to crowdsource an all-Latino produced comic book series featuring all Latino and Latina superheroes. Leguizamo says he “grew up loving comic books,” but he “knew that there was no white guy in tights like Superman coming to save my ass in my neighborhood,” so he’s creating a Latino superhero of his own. Leguizamo is partnering with Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the artist who brought us bestselling superhero series “La Borinqueña” and is looking for more Latino artists, illustrators, producers and editors to join the team.

So far, the crowdsourcing project has raised $2k of the necessary $75k to get the project off the ground. 

Meet PhenomX.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

According to the crowdsourcing website, Seed and Spark, the premise of PhenomX’s story is that “Sometimes, when the powers that be knock you down, you have to transform and bring the system down with you.” Set in present-day New York City, PhenomX’s story begins with an illegal government project to “rehabilitate criminals” in an experimental drug trial that turns them into superpowers. Then, we meet Max Gomez who “is finally about to be released from prison with a second chance at life and fatherhood. But with growing concerns about re-entering the outside world as an ex-con, Max doesn’t know where to turn.”  An FBI agent offers Max an opportunity to capture the “failed experiments,” by giving him superpowers. 

Still, Max “feels like a prisoner. Secrets are still being kept from him, and his target grows stronger every moment. Watch Max as he learns that he’s more than just a statistic… he’s more than just an ex-convict… he’s more than a phenomenon… he’s PhenomX.”

Leguizamo doesn’t want to wait for Hollywood. “Holly-wouldn’t,” he says.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

I want to share with you this new proposal. We’re going to be entrepreneurs together,” Leguizamo tells a camera stationed outside a Chicago theater just before Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” performance. He’s incognito, “hence the glasses and the hoodie.” Leguizamo is asking us to invite our tías and tíos to contribute to the worthy cause. “I grew up loving comic books, Spiderman, Superman, The X-Men, Sub-Mariner, Thor, but there were no Latin people. What happened? We existed! Being Latin IS a superpower, y’all!” Leguizamo says. The entire project is going to be Latin-fueled. “It’s going to be written by me, a Latin guy, and colored and drawn and penciled by all Latin folks,” Leguizamo continued. “We’re going to have Latinas with superpowers. We’re not gonna wait for Hollywood. Holly wouldn’t. Hollywhite. Forget that. We’re doing it ourselves.”

Leguizamo hopes that PhenomX inspires young Latinos to see themselves as superheroes, too.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

“In today’s world, it’s incredibly important to support Latin artists,” Leguizamo writes on Seed and Spark. “I hope to use this project to not only inspire the Latin youth community but also celebrate the contributions of Latin artists to the comic book world. There is a lack of Latin representation in Hollywood, and it’s important to showcase Latin superheroes. Now, you can help me by supporting this comic book series to inspire Latinx teens.” 

Every single person who makes a contribution will score swag ranging from stickers to becoming a character in the story.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

For $25, you automatically receive a digital copy of the first PhenomX comic book. A $75 donation earns you an autographed copy of one of the first PhenomX comic books. Donations of $1,000 or more earn you a slice of John’s favorite New York-style pizza with John Leguizamo himself (travel not included). “If you give super money, then, I’m going to draw a character that looks like you and name a character after you,” Leguizamo says of the highest $10k donation tier listed. 

Leguizamo is the Renaissance Man we need right now.

Credit: John Leguizamo / Seed and Spark

Leguizamo was born July 22, 1964, in Bogotá, Colombia. He moved to Queens, New York when he was just four years old. He is known for his roles in Hangin’ with the Homeboys (1991), Romeo + Juliet (1996) and the voice of Sid in Ice Age (2002). Most recently, Leguizamo has introduced a Broadway play, “Latin History for Morons,” and now he’s dabbling in comic books. We don’t know what you can’t do, Leguizamo. His campaign has drawn in 37 donations totaling $2,033, averaging $55 per donation. Join in on the cause by donating here.

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

Kayden Phoenix Is Changing The Face Of Graphic Novels With Her Female Superhero Named Jalisco

Culture

Kayden Phoenix Is Changing The Face Of Graphic Novels With Her Female Superhero Named Jalisco

jaliscosuperhero / Instagram

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.

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

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. 

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

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.”

Credit: santasuperhero / Instagram

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.

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

“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?

Credit: kaydenphoenix / Instagram

“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. 

READ: Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie Becomes Marvel’s First Bisexual Superhero And It’s About Damn Time

Here Are Some Of Latin America’s Most Popular Comic Books That All Comic Book Fans Should Know

Entertainment

Here Are Some Of Latin America’s Most Popular Comic Books That All Comic Book Fans Should Know

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