July 25, 2013

Latino comic books with Native roots

Latino Comic Book Artists Explore Roots, Culture

By Monica CampbellGrowing up in Los Angeles, Javier Hernandez worshiped superheroes like any other kid. But he went a bit further.

“When I was a kid my brother gave me his collection of comics, and I started just drawing,” he says. “And then at one point, after college, I go you know I’ve got to make my own comic. You know, I want to see stuff that maybe you don’t see a lot.”

Like characters called Weapon Tex-Mex, El Muerto or Sonámbulo, a Mexican wrestler turned private eye. One of Hernandez’s latest comics teams up a young Aztec boy and a dinosaur.

“It’s basically about a boy who during the Spanish conquest of Mexico realizes there’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex embedded in a block of amber in a cave,” Hernandez says. So, the T-Rex gets released and the boy rides him to battle the conquistadors.
And:[S]ome artists here go beyond superheroes. Illustrator and writer Liz Mayorga, 31, drew as a kid growing up in Los Angeles and then saw art as a way to connect to her Mexican roots. One of her newest stories is called “A Caxcan Guerrilla Takes Over the Awkward Girl.”

“Caxcan is a tribe of indigenous people that were in my mom and dad’s hometown of El Teúl, Zacatecas,” Mayorga says. “I always asked my parents about our indigenous background and they could never give me any answers. And it made me really angry to know that my parents had no concept of that.”

One of her favorite cartoonists, Mario Hernandez, is also here and he stops by Mayorga’s table. Hernandez and his brothers pioneered the comic “Love and Rockets.” The cult favorite broke ground in the early 80s with its smart Latino characters, steeped in California’s punk rock scene.

“The stories would just tell stories about everyday people who happened to be gay, or happened to be Hispanic or they happened black,” says Hernandez. “At the time there was no other Hispanic names that were putting out original things like that.”
Comment:  For more on Native-themed comic books, see Superheroes in Native American Encyclopedia and Manifest Destiny Comic Book.

Below:  "A print titled Preying Aztec Mantis by cartoonist and illustrator José Cabrera, who grew up in a Dominican family in New York City." (Courtesy of José Cabrera)

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