A few weeks ago, I saw a post on a Disney fanpage on Facebook asking about the first time I felt represented in one of their movies. In the comment section, many replied that it was with Pocahontas, Jasmine, Tiana, and other of characters who are not caucasian. In my case, there wasn’t really a Latina female character I could remember at that time, so I browsed on the Internet for Disney representations of Latinos. They mentioned the lovely movie The Three Caballeros where Donald Duck befriends a Brazilian parrot and a Mexican rooster, but they were all male characters. Then I saw there’s a new TV show called Elena of Avalor, a princess story inspired by Latino cultures. However, if you really think about it, there really hasn’t been a major character representing the Latino community until, the soon to be premiered, Coco.
Representation has taken a lot of importance in recent times because people really want their cultures to be seen on screen as a matter of diversity and inclusiveness. However, in the media industry, there’s still a gap that has to be dealt with. This doesn’t happen only in movies and television. This is something that happens across the map of mainstream culture. But yes, we could say that it's in the first ones where this issue is more evident. When I came across the comic series we'll talk about, it made me think about representation in this discipline. I’m not an expert, but I was pretty sure that representation in other media wasn’t that different from the realities of television and movies. To my surprise, the first post on the search engine was obviously a Wikipedia post listing all the Latino characters in comic books, and they were quite a lot. But it wasn’t as cool as one would think. In fact, most of these characters were reinforcing stereotypes that honestly should end. But then again, do we really want to be represented in culture, regardless of how we’re depicted. Or is it better not to be portrayed?
That’s actually one question that can be answered with Los Bros Hernandez' famous comic series Love and Rockets. Since its publication in the early eighties, their comic books have given the representation many ask for. The two brothers created a series that has been so successful in the comic world that they haven’t stopped since then. But what kind of stories do they present? The answer is that they have quite diverse takes on the Latino experience. Each brother has always been in charge of a half of each volume, and so they decided to present a different story.
Jaime’s story, often known as the Locas series, is set in LA and follows the stories of Maggie and Hopey, two girls experiencing the LA punk scene of the city. Gilberto’s section is very different from the previous one. Set in El Palomar, a fictional Latino town, he mixes the magical realism of literature with the classic plots of soap operas. In their own way, both explore their livelihoods and experiences as Mexican-Americans living in South California.
Their main goal was to look for those unexplored subjects in comic books and graphic novels. Their impulse to represent themselves and tell their stories pushed them to create characters based on the Latino community where they grew up. Moreover, their leading characters are women. The portrayal of realities that weren’t widely explored or even mentioned is what makes their stories unique and iconic.
After more than 35 years, they have continued with their stories, and as Neil Gaiman, one of their greatest fans, has mentioned, they haven’t lost track nor quality of their plots and illustrations. Named the number one “Non-Superhero Graphic Novel” by the Rolling Stone magazine, Love and Rockets has become one of the most successful independent comic series in the world. The brothers have managed to show a story of a community in a very organic and subtle way that doesn’t need to follow negative stereotypes to sell. They wanted to show a part of a movement that very few people know, and they did it so masterfully that for all those years they have remained the number one.
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