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Courtesy of Edgar Miranda-Rodriguez

As Puerto Rican Superhero Makes Debut, her writer brings ‘the power of our people’ to comics

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez is introducing heroic La Borinqueña to reflect Puerto Rican self-empowerment — especially as the island faces financial crisis.

Source: As Puerto Rican superhero makes debut, her writer brings ‘the power of our people’ to comics – The Washington Post

The Art of collaboration was instilled in Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez at an early age, when making the classic Latin American dish pasteles with his grandmother.

The preparation of pasteles — time-consuming and, if you’re lucky, involving more than one person — is the ultimate team effort, says Miranda-Rodriguez, noting that the lessons learned from cooking with his abuela have stuck with him while working in the comic-book industry.

“I’d be in the kitchen, grinding up the platanos [plantains], even if my knuckles got scraped up on the grinder,” Miranda-Rodriguez tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “That’s sort of been the blueprint of my life. Coming together to create something, but at the same time, recognizing that the very DNA of my existence comes from my Puerto Rican identity.”

As Miranda-Rodriguez continues to make his mark as a comics editor and writer, he says he never forgets who he is, or so crucially, where he comes from. Those elements, he says, are always at the core of what he produces.

His love of the art form started during his ’80s youth, when he would collect recycled bottles for change and use the earnings to purchase comic books — which, he says, were thankfully only 50 cents back then.

He even tried to be a young entrepreneur when it came to superheroes. When he was in school in the South Bronx, his friends would see him doodling superheroes in his notebook and began asking whether he could draw unique storylines for them.

Miranda-Rodriguez would go home and, after finishing his homework, spend the rest of the night drawing those comic-book tales requested by his friends. He was even drawing superhero civil wars decades before Hollywood would tell such stories.

comicfan

Courtesy of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez always had a comic-book nearby as a child, while growing up in New York in the 1980s.

Selling homemade comics was a business plan that would have had growth potential if not for one fact: Once he sold his first issue to a classmate, they’d just share the comic with each other, preventing the sale of copies of that issue. Regardless, Edgardo’s passion was established.

His love of comic-book culture would lead Miranda-Rodriguez, who lives in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, to being introduced to legendary hip-hop artist Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-DMC fame. He would also meet Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Axel Alonso.

Miranda-Rodriguez is now the editor-in-chief of McDaniels’s DMC comic-book imprint. He has also helped curate art shows featuring top Marvel Comics talent. Eventually, he and McDaniels began coming up with ideas that they could pitch to Marvel.

The result was a short, one-shot story that appeared in a Marvel comic, Guardians of Infinity No. 3, which featured treelike creature Groot of the Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as the Thing, formerly of Fantastic Four fame.

Miranda-Rodriguez anticipated that the Thing, which was stylized like DMC, might be what readers of his Marvel project might most talk about. Or perhaps the fact that his Spanish-speaking Groot says, “Yo soy Groot.” Instead, he was surprised to learn that what fans most mentioned was Grandma Estela, a character he created who is convinced that Groot is connected to the Ceiba trees linked to Puerto Rico’s past Taino inhabitants.

abuela

Courtesy of Marvel Comics 2016

Abuela (grandma) Estela explains to her grandson the strong connection between Puerto Ricans and nature on their island in an issue of Guardians of Infinity from Marvel Comics.

Miranda-Rodriguez connected with the Latino comics-reading community by doing what he always does: Acknowledging his roots and applying it to his work, no matter the medium. As a result, many Puerto Rican institutions began contacting him, including the organizers of National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York; they told Miranda-Rodriguez they’d be excited to collaborate with him.

“All these cultural, educational, political organizations [that represent Puerto Rico] are reaching out to me? This is insane,” Miranda-Rodriguez recounted thinking — as Grandma Estela connected with readers.

So Miranda-Rodriguez gave the Puerto Rican Day Parade organizers an idea: Build a presentation during the parade based on a new Puerto Rican superhero.

“I pitched it to the parade and said: ‘What if we did an original comic book, and it was a collaboration between my studio [Somos Arte] and the parade?’ And they loved it,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “It was something that had never been done before.”

So he set out to create a hero who would represent Puerto Rican culture and bring light to issues that weigh heavy on the minds of many in the Puerto Rican community.

“No Puerto Rican can think of their heritage and the island from which it comes from and not start thinking about the current financial crisis plaguing Puerto Rico,” Miranda-Rodriguez said.

The comics creator decided that his hero wasn’t going to be a crimefighter per se, but instead a symbol of Puerto Rico who could shine a light on issues that Miranda-Rodriguez felt should be on the minds of all Puerto Ricans.

Thus, La Borinqueña was born.

Inspired by the Puerto Rican national anthem of the same name, the superhero La Borinqueña — a woman named Marisol Rios De La Luz, wearing a costume inspired by the Puerto Rican flag — will make her debut this summer at the Puerto Rican Day Parade. She also will be featured in a comic book to be printed in the fall during an event organized by Miranda-Rodriguez called Café Con Comics (“Coffee With Comics”); it will be held at the CUNY East Harlem campus building in a historically Puerto Rican neighborhood.

La Borinqueña, a Puerto Rican superhero created by Puerto Rican collaborators alongside the National Puert

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

o Rican Day Parade was announced yesterday in New York.

The event will celebrate Puerto Rican contributions to the comic-book industry, as well as the arrival of Miranda-Rodriguez’s newest heroine.

Miranda-Rodriguez announced his superhero’s forthcoming debut during a news conference Tuesday for the 59th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan.
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