DC Heroes Help Reconstruct Puerto Rico

 

by Vince Brusio

In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, we talk with Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez (the owner of Somos Arte LLC) to discuss the new book Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico (JAN189143) which features stories of DC characters from writers and artists in the American comic book industry, and Puerto Rican and Latinx celebrities. It is a project that once again illustrates how humanity is not defined by language, but by the power of our convictions and compassion in the face of despair.

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Vince Brusio: Who was on point to make Ricanstruction: Reminiscing and Rebuilding Puerto Rico (JAN189143) come to fruition? How did it go from concept to production?

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez: Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. Two weeks later I made my debut at New York Comic Con with my creator owned series La Borinqueña. Prior to NYCC I had been very busy on the road speaking at universities, museums, and other cultural centers across the U.S. about my comic book and the debt crisis affecting Puerto Rico. However, given that the hurricane had just hit Puerto Rico, I was personally very concerned about my family and the 3.5 million other Americans living there. When I arrived at NYCC, my table had a line already waiting for me and this would be the same for all four days of this event. When people saw my La Borinqueña banner they immediately connected it with Puerto Rico and the hurricane. Many people came to my table not only for my comic book, but to ask me about my family. We cried, hugged, and shared stories. Most of the people who I met like myself had not heard from their family on the island. Then I saw Dan Didio, co-publisher of DC Comics also on line. He was wearing his Puerto Rico baseball league hat and stood on line for about 20 minutes until it was his turn to talk to me. I had his attention and I asked him what could we both do for Puerto Rico? He responded by asking me to put together a proposal for him, which I did. Once DC Comics approved the idea, they officially gave my studio permission to use their characters for this anthology.

Vince Brusio: Will this book explore diversity in Puerto Rican culture? What are some of the cultural themes that might appear from selected creators?

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez: Ricanstruction is bringing together an incredible roster of talent from the comic book industry like Gail Simone, Greg Pak, Reginald Hudlin, Denys Cowan, Tony Daniel, Ken Lashley, Bill Sienkiewicz, Yanick Paquette, Gabby Rivera, Will Rosado, Jorge Jimenez, Mike Allred, Chris Sotomayor, to Puerto Rican and Latinx celebrities like Rosario Dawson, Rubén Blades, Javier Muñoz, Sonia Manzano and over 100 more. What I love about comic book creators is that they fundamentally believe in social justice. They live and work in this space, creating classic stories that inspire us to be better to each other and the world. The stories they created for Ricanstruction tested the true strength of these iconic characters. They’re weren’t supervillains attacking Puerto Rico, it was a natural disaster, a real world cataclysmic event. My character La Borinqueña was the bridge that brought Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, The Flash and so many other characters to Puerto Rico. These stories tap into our real power as a people to roll up our sleeves and help out those in need. Many other stories reflected on the past. One such story is by celebrated novelist and first-time comic book writer Esmeralda Santiago. She wrote about Hurricane San Felipe of 1928, a historical event that was closest to Hurricane Maria in its disastrous effect on the island. Other stories tap into the island’s history, heritage, and also gives storytellers an opportunity to share their tales about what a rebuilt Puerto Rico can and will look like.

Vince Brusio: If you offered your own perspective of this book, what would you say about it? What makes it a page-turner?

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez: This book is a reader. The artwork is captivating, combining both mainstream and independent artists into one collection. You can jump into this book at any page because the stories are short, but impactful. I also intentionally produced a book that is accessible for all ages. Adults and children alike will enjoy learning about Puerto Rico from authentic voices of Puerto Rican heritage. They will also enjoy being introduced to La Borinqueña, a new hero for a world that is very much in need of a hero that is rooted in real world issues. A hero that can stand by the side of these legendary icons. The people of Puerto Rico have also been truly inspiring to me and to all the contributors of this project. Their resilience and ability to help each other in these darkest night over these past six months is truly super heroic.

Vince Brusio: What made you want to get involved with this book? Why did you feel that it was important to lend your voice?

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez: I wanted to produce this book because we all love reading stories about our favorite heroes. We idolize these icons and see ourselves in them as well. When faced with a real catastrophic event like Hurricane Maria, many of us did not know what we could do to help. The same is true for superheroes. Sometimes, just like these characters, we need to be reminded that we have the power within ourselves to make a difference. This can come from the donation made by purchasing this book which goes towards the work that is still needed on the island. Proceeds will go to organizations doing work on the ground In Puerto Rico like El Puente, a grassroots organization in the town of Santurce who continues to distribute food, clothing, and over 10,000 solar powered lamps throughout the entire island.

Vince Brusio: How do you think DC’s use of its iconic characters in the original stories for this anthology will add to the impact of what you're trying to accomplish?

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez: DC Comics have created the definitive archetype of the superhero. The cape. The tights. The moral values and code. When I created my character La Borinqueña I was inspired by Superman’s costume when I designed her costume. Although most heroes in comic books do not have capes, DC proudly still adorns their heroes with capes. They’ve even brought back Superman’s classic red trunks! These characters resonate and are recognized internationally by everyone. That is no exaggeration. No matter what language you speak, you know who Wonder Woman, Batman or so many other heroes are from DC Comics. Having the opportunity to team up ­La Borinqueña with these characters brings attention immediately to those in need in Puerto Rico. You see the heroes on the cover and inside this book that you know and love because they inspire hope. That’s what I truly wish will come from the release of this book. I truly want people to want to learn more about Puerto Rico and explore what they can do to help others. That’s what makes us all super.

Here's a cool thing to note. In Puerto Rico when something is cool, we say it’s ¡súper!

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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