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

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

Entertainment

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

There’s a new live-action stage version of Disney’s 1997 animated film “Hercules” at the Public Theater in New York City — and Hercules is Black as hell

In 1997, San Francisco Gate’s Peter Sack described the film as, “The great old Greek is turned into a ’90s-style athlete who gets endorsements, sandals named after him and a chance to stand tall among nymphs and muses.”

Sound familiar to you? Lest we not forget this was the same era that Michael Jordan did Space Jam and Shaquille O’Neal did Kazaam. The original animated film took inspiration from major athletes of the time and thus, it inevitably heavily references Black and hood ’90s culture. If you watch it now the sneakers, the gospel music, the humor, it probably seems so obvious. 

One might wonder with all these references to the Black popular culture of the ’90s, why didn’t the creators just make Hercules Black? Well, they finally have.

The story of Hercules.  

While most of us were forced to read and re-read Hercules in secondary school, not everyone may know the story. Hercules is the son of the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera. When a prophecy foretells that he will eventually defeat the god of the underworld, Hades, Hercules is kidnapped as an infant. Unable to kill him, Hades is able to take his immortality away but not his strength. The baby Hercules is raised by a mortal couple. At 18 he figures out his real origins and is determined to become a hero so that he can return to Mount Olympus with the gods.

Meet your new Hercules.

Hercules at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, through The Public Theater’s Public Works Program is based on the 1997 animated film, and has kept Alan Menken’s musical score. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also created the music for Disney’s Aladdin. Jelani Alladin stars as the demi-god Hercules. Krysta Rodriguez plays his love interest Megara.

The difference between the stage musical and the film is that Disney has finally chosen to embrace their story’s Blackness. Rather than simply coding their narrative as one with allusions to Black culture, they’ve put that Blackness at the forefront and center. That’s what we call growth! Everybody loves Black culture, it’s time we start loving the people who make it. 

Danielle C. Belton of The Root describes the original as having flirted with African-American culture, while this new version embraces a multicultural cast. 

“While the film Hercules only flirted with African-American music and culture—the muses who were the “Greek chorus” throughout the film were patterned after classic, Motown-style Black ‘50s girl groups,” she writes. “This version of ancient Greece and the Greco-Roman gods features quite a few Black, Asian and Latinx people, including Jelani Alladin as the titular teenaged Hercules, and, of course—all five of the doo-wopping muses are…sistas with voices.”

How Hercules gave nods to Black culture. 

Hercules is something of a hood icon. It was the first time many kids probably saw Black women portrayed as the muses and Greek chorus. This gaggle of doo-wopping muses sang the funky, soulful Hercules theme. There were also pivotal aspects of hood culture, some of it is even social commentary. Hercules’s character is parallel to the superstar basketball players of the ’90s, their rabid fans, and endorsement deals. The creators, Ron Clements and John Musker, even referred to Hercules as the Michael Jordan of his time. 

In the movie, we see a young Hercules’ as he rises to fame for being a demi-God with some serious strength. When the hero-worship begins, he snags a sweet endorsement deal — but these aren’t Nike Jordans — they’re fresh to death Hercules sandals called Air-Hercs. When the villain Hades sees that one of his minions is rocking the Hercules sandals his response is simple and iconic: what are those?The phrase has now become a popular meme on Black Twitter going so far as being referenced in the “Black Panther” movieThe hero even has his own version of a Gatorade sponsorship, the drink is called “Herculade.”

A Latinx Megara embraces feminism.

Unlike other Disney women of the era, Megara was never waiting to be saved. She was sarcastic, witty, and pretty unimpressed with Hercules’ attempts to holler at her. Krysa Rodriguez’ Megara puts feminism at the forefront — again we see subtle codes made explicit. 

“In a new song, a pants-clad Meg imagines a world without men, envisioning it as a utopia where she could do as she pleases. A dopey, lovestruck Hercules, seeking to demonstrate his feminist credentials, replies clumsily, ‘My mom’s a woman,’” writes Adrienne Westenfeld for Esquire.

Diversity is always an improvement. We live in a multicultural world, there is never anything wrong with reflecting that in the stories we tell. After all, it’s the stories we tell that teach us who we are and who we will become. For Hercules that is learning the truth about his traumatic past to create a better future — for America, well, it’s no different.

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

Entertainment

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

When it comes to grooming a daughter’s hair, Black fathers haven’t been shy about expressing the difficulties that come along with the morning ritual. And Afro-Latino fathers are no exception. In Latinx communities with large Afro-Latino populations, having “good hair” is a label we all have to contend with. Young girls have a lot of pressure put on them to look put-together so, by extension, our families look put together. 

We all have memories of our mothers making sure our baby-bangs were smoothed down and our outfits were washed and pressed to perfection. 

Being well-groomed is so important to Afro-Latinos who face societal pressure to look perfect in order to combat bias.

Kickstarter

So, when fathers occasionally have to groom their children when their mother is unavailable, the pressure, needless to say, is on. We’ve all seen the genre of viral videos where fathers struggle to part, brush, braid and secure their daughters’ hair–obviously not previously aware of all the labor that goes into daily hair upkeep. Even celebrities have gotten in on the trend with men like Alexis Ohanian, husband to Serena Williams, joining “Natural Hair” groups on Facebook to learn more about their children’s rizos

Writer/director Matthew Cherry wanted to explore the topic of Black fathers doing their daughters hair, so he decided to make an animated short about it.

Kickstarter

According to Cherry, the short, titled “Hair Love” is about a Black father (who has locs himself) who does his daughter’s hair for the first time. “You know how guys are, a lot of times we’re hard-headed and we think we can figure everything out by ourselves without asking for help,” said Cherry during an interview. “[The father in the short] thinks it’s going to be an easy task but he soon finds out her hair has a mind of its own”. 

The father isn’t the only one who learns a lesson in self-confidence in the course of the film, though. In the end, the young girl also “comes into a level of self-confidence in the process” of her father learning how to do her hair. So, in other words, the entire film is an ode to self-love, family, and the priceless experience of bonding.

To finance “Hair Love”, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $75,000. The campaign quickly caught the internet’s attention and became a viral phenomenon thanks to celebrity champions like Issa Rae and Jordan Peele. The $75,000 goal was quickly surpassed. All in all, the campaign raked in a total of $280,000–smashing Kickstarter’s short-film financing records. 

Cherry recruited Black animators like “Proud Family”‘s Bruce W. Smith and “WALL-E”‘s Everett Downing Jr. to help him make his dreams a reality.

As for Cherry, he’s candid about the reason he decided to explore the topic of Black hair and Black fathers: because mainstream media’s representation has left much to be desired. According to Cherry, not only did he want to shine a light on the labor of love that doing Black hair requires, but he wanted to highlight the relationships between Black fathers and their daughters. 

“For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on Black fathers doing domestic things with their kids because mainstream media would lead you to believe that Black fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives”, Cherry said. “And there have been a lot of recent surveys that actually show otherwise–that show that Black fathers are just as involved in their kids’ lives as any other racial group”.

Now, “Hair Love” will be played ahead of “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters nationwide

Kickstarter

The nationwide release will provide a massive platform for an under-told story. Not to mention, it will provide Black children with their own images reflected back to them–something many of them haven’t seen before. Not to mention, the security of a theatrical release has made “Hair Love” officially eligible for an Academy Award nomination. 

As for Cherry, he’s over-the-moon about the opportunity for his project to be seen by millions of people. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” he said in a press statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for “Hair Love” to be playing with “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

We’ll admit: we didn’t have plans to see “Angry Birds 2” in theaters before we knew about this. But now, you might just see us on opening night, standing in line for the movie right next to our fathers! Catch “Hair Love” before  “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters on August 14th.