Latinx graphic artist helps La Borinqueña, Puerto Rico
What if the Avengers could bring electricity back to Puerto Rico? What if the Justice League could provide shelter and rebuild homes on the island?
With DC’s most iconic characters teamed with La Borinqueña, the comic anthology “Ricanstruction” soars to provide aid for the island of Puerto Rico.
Today, Puerto Rico remains in ruins after devastating hurricanes destroyed homes and infrastructure, leaving three million Americans on the island unsure where an estimated $95 billion will come from to rebuild the damage.
Several nonprofits and volunteers have stepped up as the heroes that the island needs. Among these heroes, comic book writers and artists suit up to do the very work their characters do in their novels.
“Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico” features stories written by graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and other iconic writers and artists from the comic book industry.
Somos Arte, a Brooklyn-based production studio, generously got permission from DC comics to use most of its characters for the comic book anthology. The artists are not only “using these iconographic characters to draw people in, but to talk about a real-world human rights issue affecting real people,” said Miranda-Rodriguez. “This humanitarian crisis is affecting three million Americans right now on the island of Puerto Rico.”
Living legends contributed to this reminiscent anthology, like DC comic book writer and artist Tony Daniel, with the book’s symbolic cover.
“What is beautiful about the cover, he created for this anthology, he has them [Wonder Woman and La Borinqueña] dancing in the air above El Yunque Rainforest holding the Puerto Rican flag, dancing to the traditional dance of Puerto Rico, ‘Bomba y Plena,’” Miranda-Rodriguez said.
Above the heroines, the word ‘Ricanstruction’ stands out in red white and blue.
“As a young Puerto Rican growing up in New York City, I was always a fan of salsa music,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “There were such great artists like the late percussionist Ray Barreto and one of his albums was called Ricanstruction and I thought this was the most appropriate title for this anthology because it is actually reminding people about Puerto Rico since it is literally in the name.”
According to Miranda-Rodriguez, the anthology brings the reader to learn about Puerto Rico’s current issues and its history with personal narratives, sharing the history of Puerto Rico and tales of its people.
“There’s no super villains, there is no effort to bring together all these super heroes to overcome an intergalactic threat that’s facing the island,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “It’s about using these characters to create these short stories that can show people what needs to be addressed.”
This isn’t the first time comic books make a statement about modern society’s issues. Captain America’s first issue in March of 1941 showed the star-spangled hero punching Hitler in the face.
“I jumped into comics because I saw there was an opportunity to tell stories with characters that are such a part of American culture now. This vehicle allows me to advocate for Puerto Rico, and this continues to be a platform to raise awareness,” Miranda-Rodriguez said.
Superman was created in 1938. Since his debut, even though the “Man of Steel” comes from a different planet, he wears the colors of the U.S. flag, defends others and preserves the American way. As Miranda-Rodriguez puts it, “Superman is the ultimate immigrant.”
“Superman is recently celebrating his 80th birthday, he has been around for some of our grandparents and even great-grandparents lives and he’s considered as American as can be,” Miranda-Rodriguez said.
Puerto Rico has been part of the U.S. for 120 years as not a state, but a self-governed commonwealth in association with the U.S.
“We are American citizens even though we’ve always been received as second-class citizens because we are not allowed to vote in elections for our president or aren’t allowed to have voting representative in the House or in Congress. Although when we move to the U.S. immediately [inherit] those rights,” Miranda-Rodriguez said.
The U.S. invaded the island in 1898 and the people of Puerto Rico have been U.S. citizens under the Jones-Shafroth Act since 1917.
“It is necessary in 2018 and beyond to remind Americans in the U.S. that Puerto Ricans are and have been American citizens for a century now, with that comes the responsibility of providing resources,” Miranda-Rodriguez said.
Among those resources comes funding for the U.S.’ territory. Last year, Puerto Rico was already facing a debt crisis of over $70 billion before the hurricanes struck.
“We’ve seen the numbers — unfortunately we have seen many people in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey; approximately 250,000 were affected, a cause FEMA distributed $143 million to ....” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “Yet Puerto Rico has only received about $6 million in support from FEMA, which distributed between 3 million Puerto Ricans which comes out to less than $2 per person.”
All the proceeds of the graphic novel will go toward providing aid for the struggling people of Puerto Rico. The comic book currently is on Amazon’s #1 best seller list and will publish May 28, 2018.