Comíx Latinx: The Pulse of Comics of Color in 2019

“Why Professor Latinx?”, a kid asked the other day.

The moniker blazed across the front of my T-shirt. “You know how ProfessorX uses his high-tech Cerebro device to locate the planet’s supercool peeps — you know, us mutants — well, I keep my low-tech brain devices (eyes and ears) plugged into the pulse of what’s happening with the planet’s Latinx comic book creators — and our fellow comics creators of color.  Here’s what my low-tech got for 2019.

Commissioned art by J Gonzo

It’s been a hustle — as always. To give an idea, off the cuff I think of:

  • Nicky Rodriguez (The Second Sun!) did 14 shows across 6 states;
  • Henry Barajas (La Voz de M.A.Y.O: Tata Rambo Vol.1) threw down at 17 shows across 9 states.
  • J Gonzo (La Mano del Destino) penciled and inked over 215 pages of comics—not including the ProfessorLatinx/Cerebro frontispiece image here.
  • Nostalgic Books and Comics hosted Javier Hernandez’s single creator “Muertoverse” show.
  • And, capping off the year: John Jennings’s (Kindred) blow-out appearance at the MET.

This is to mention but a few of our X-Folx doing the superheroic hustle.  Others have been grabbing film deals, hosting national expos, exhibiting in that hallowed halls of museums. . .you name it.

This collective creative energy is packing some serious punch. It’s game-changing the narrative — and with it, our collective cultural imaginary. And, thank our Xōchipilli god for this.

When folx of color are represented in corporate generated comics, film, kids lit, TV shows, and the like, it’s all sorts of “bad hombre” out there. I say when because, well, if we consider just the Latinx demographic we’re barely a blip on the mainstream cultural imaginary.

USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative recently confirmed what we all know too well: Latinxs are less than 3% represented, yet we’re 18% of the population. It doesn’t help, too, that when Latinxs like Ben Hernandez Bray do get the limelight with a film like El Chicano, it’s more of the same regressive, destructive, nationalist machista pendejadas. (For a more nuanced break-down of just how wrong Hernandez Bray gets it, take a listen here.)

Our creators of color are creating up a maelstrom of mind-blowing visually dominant stories — and across all the genres, media, and for all audiences.

SÕLCON veterano, Corey “Roc Bottom” Davis grabbed a deal with JAM Network to create an animation series based on his comic, Jet Boy: Dawn of K.R.O.N.O.S.

Another SÕLCON veterano, Rafael Rosado, continued to storyboard for Warner Brothers Animation, and Universal Cartoon Studios — as well as work on his co-created (Jorge Aguirre) Giants Beware series.

Robert Gonazles cranked out his mixed-media socio-politically biting, LMAO animation shorts at his YouTube channel “boojalé.”

Alvaro Rodriguez knocked it into the stratosphere with his animation, Seis Manos.

Kayden Phoenix (Jalisco) and Héctor Rodriguez (El Peso Hero) created live-action mini features based on their respective comics.

We all felt un pequiñito temblor over from Richard Dominguez’s part of the world when it was announced that Apple TV+ would bankroll an adaptation his El Gato Negro — with Robert Rodriguez at the helm.

Our comics and zines are pushing hard — and on all envelopes.

Lawrence Lindell’s “Up Meet-Ups Be Like” turned upside down and inside out The New Yorker’s high-brow readers; it had us folx smiling ear to ear.

Freshly minted CCA MFA, Breena Nuñez had her own show, “We Are More”, and continued to publish her zines that take readers into new spaces of wellness for mixed-race, queer folx.

Ditto for Maxi Rodriguez who also graduated this spring from CCA and has been radicalizing comics spaces with her Latinx body positive narratives: Plus Size Me and Chronicles of a Chubby Bunny.

2019 witnessed a bundle of new comics that featured Latinas.

I think readily of Kayden Phoenix and her all-Latina creative crew’s Jalisco — a graphic novel that clears a space for Latina empowerment (some dance-martial arts badassery) within a Mexico/US borderlands horrifically scorched by pandemics of violence, rape, and murder of women.

Jules Rivera published her wild rollercoaster ride, autobiographically informed, Love, Joolz: Manic Pixie Nightmare Girl — a narrative that includes calling out “some fucking shit” of “emotional abusers.”

The different narratives that make up Jean Marie Munson’s Queens Conquering Sexism with Feminist Comedy also call out the bull of a heterosexist world.

Peyton del Toro debuted her queer coming-out comic, Winging It.

Alberto Rayo and Katherine Lobo short story “Unbow Your Head” immerses readers in a day-in-the-life story of a Latina, Camila, who punches back against a city filled with machistas.

The violent separation of families and stockyard treatment of asylum seekers along the US/Mexico border has been on the minds of many creators.

Oscar Garza, Rolando Esquivel, and I published “Dora” in Chiricú Journal — a teaser of sorts to our larger braided graphic narrative, Through Fences.

Héctor Rodriguez published his trade paperback El Peso Hero: Borderland that that visually and viscerally brings to light the horrific conditions of children held in corporate owned detention centers.

2019 saw a wellspring of creativity grow within the luchador-themed comics.

With the publication of issue #6, J Gonzo concluded his La Mano del Destino.

Ivan Plaza and Marco Lopez published The Masked Republic Luchaverse — a series of one shots that feature a panoply of lucha libre superheroes such as Rey Mysterio, the Lucha Brothers Penta Zero M, Super Astro, among others.

Javier Solorzano published the second issue in his Luchisimo comics series, following more adventures of La Loba Dorada, Jaguar, Dragon Lopez, El Gaucho, and the pet jaguar Bobo.

Jandro Gamboa published issue #4 of his The Luchador series that adds critical backstory dimensions to the protagonist, Monty Gomez’s story.

Jay Sandlin, and Antonello Cosentino put out the first Over the Ropes, establishing the character Jason “Phoenix” Lynn and his exploits in and out of the ring.

Danny J. Quick added issues 3 and 4 to his digital comic, Aceblade.

And, with the publication of Alberto Rayo’s (with Alex Lopez) Thumbelina Wrestling Champ, middle grade readers will now encounter a luchador make-over of the Thumbelina story as they follow the quests of Tania “Thumbelina” Pulgar and her sidekick, Jorge “The Mouse” Mendoza.

This year saw other incredible comics created with kids of color readers front and center.

The dynamic duo, Ananya Vahal and Loso Perez published the third issue of Lung Girl, continuing the adventures of the eponymous hero as she vanquishes villains — and rids the world of lung disease.

Terry Blas, with Claudia Aguirre, published the sci-fi action adventure, Hotel Dare, introducing us to three siblings and their magical adventures at their abuelita’s in Mexico.

Others chose to publish fantastical stories such as the bros Meyer (Paul and Carlos) with Margaret Hardy with their New Mexico set Under the Cottonwood Tree that’s filled to the brim with talking animals, shape-shifting humans, and psychically injured curanderas.

Amy Chu, with Janet K. Lee, published Sea Sirens — a graphic novel that creatively rethreads and reweaves Vietnamese mythology with the Wizard of Oz.

Hernan John Guarderas gave his fantastic storyworld a bit of a horror twist in his comic short, “Shadows in the Smoke.”

J.N. Monk, with Harry Bogosian, chose sci-fi conventions to shape Topside, a narrative that follows the subterranean living protagonist, Jo, and her adventures on the planet’s lawless and unruly topside.

Speaking of subterranean, Jay B. Kalagayan and Dylan Speeg dropped their trade paperback, MeSseD Vol 1: Follow the Flush and the adventures of Lilliput in the Metropolitan Sewer District.

In addition to publishing more of their R-rated, funny as hell, bitingly satirical MASHBONE & GRIFTY!

Oscar Garza and Rolando Esquivel add to their comics repertoire the equally sassy but G-rated kid-friendly, Lemon Pepper Huggz!

And, Raúl the Third headlined the LA Times Festival of Book with his debut, ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market — a first in his franchise series with Kwame Alexander’s Versify book series.

In rapid fire, I’m going to mention a few of the many other titles — mostly mature rated and across all the genres — that came out in 2019.

Henry Barajas with J Gonzo published the historical-based La Voz de M.A.Y.O: Tata Rambo Vol.1.

Jorge Garza, known for his Aztec Pop Culture art and decals, debuted his bilingual horror comic, Wrath of the Giver.

Glenn Brewer also debuted his comic series, Lorreign.

Jaime Crespo published issue 5 of his autobiographically informed Tortilla comics series.

Jiba Molei Anderson published volume 5 of his 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape comics anthology series.

Greg Anderson-Elysée, known for Is’nana, added two issues to his Marassa series.

David Walker, with Sanford Greene, published  Bitter Root Vol. 1.

Lee Francis 4, with Will Fenton and Weshoyot Alvitre, published Ghost River: The Fall and Rise of the Conestoga.

And, Ezra Clayton Daniels and Ben Passmore published their graphic novel, BTTM FDRS, that powerfully takes into the heart of darkness of urban gentrification and dislocation of folx of color.   

And if I might, I’d like to give a special shout out to Latinographix, my trade press series that publishes Laitnx creators. Latinoghraphix got its own wikipage and published its 5th book: Wilfred Santiago’s jaw-droppingly awesome Thunderbolt — especially noteworthy given that we have a superlative Latinx creator recreating a period in the life of one of our history’s greats: the African American revolutionary, John Brown.

Comics scholars invested in enriching and complicating understanding of race in comics knocked it into galaxies far, far and away.

Hamilton and Allan W. Austin’s published their coauthored All New, All Different? A History of Race and The American Superhero.

Qiana Whitted also cracked open comics histories with her EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest.

And Duke University Press brought to Anglophone readers a translation of Isabella Cosse’s Mafalda: A Social and Political History of Latin America’s Global Comic.

Latinx creators continued to push open doors and pound concrete to great result, moving comics of color from institutional margins to creative centers.

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s La Borinqueña appeared in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

José Alaniz curated the Latino Comics Exhibit at South Texas College. Theresa Rojas, Ricardo Padilla and Javier Hernandez brought the Latino Comics Expo to Modesto College.

Héctor Rodriguez’s Texas Latino Comics Con for the third year in a row transformed downtown Dallas cultural spaces.

We officially relaunched BCAF as the Black and Brown Comics Art Festival in San Francisco. Thomas Delfino hosted the third annual Nerdtino Festival in Philadelphia.

Austin’s Mexamericon grew large in its second year.

Lee Francis IV’s Albuquerque-based Indigenous Comic Con went global,  traveling to Australia.

For our fifth SÕLCON: Brown and Black Comix Expo at The Ohio State University, we added to our K-12 workshops, a college student symposium.

And, of course, many creators of color here in Columbus (Victor Dandridge, J.M. Hunter, Brian Christopher Moss) and beyond continued to bring comics into K-12 and college classrooms throughout the country.

My low-tech Cerebro’s a tingling.

It’s pulsing a plentitude of creators of color creating, affirming, and celebrating newly expansive, expressive, and transformative modes of existing.