Hispanic Presence in Comic Book Culture
By Pablo Acosta
El arte es un reflejo de la realidad. As such, the increase in the Hispanic population has had an increasing influence on every aspect of pop culture throughout the U.S. One perfect example of this is the increasing Hispanic presence within the comic book culture. Upon attending the 2012 Chicago Wizard World Comic Con event, I decided to look at some of the Hispanos más importantes in the Comic Book World.
George Pérez (artist, Puertorriqueño) – He was considered one of the most influential American comic book artists in the 1980s. His most recognizable work was done for DC and Marvel Comics. Throughout his career, he worked with Wonder Woman, Superman, The Avengers and the Teen Titans, to name a few.
Axel Alonso (editor, Mexicano) – He was an editor for DC Comics from 1994-2000 before he made his move over to Marvel, where he is currently the Editor-in-Chief. In 2004, 2006 and 2010 he won the Eagle Award for Favorite Comics Editor.
Fabian Nicieza (writer/editor, Argentino) – He has worked in all areas of publishing. His career started at the Berkley Publishing Group, which he left in 1985 to work for Marvel Comics. Nicieza has also worked for DC Comics, Acclaim Comics and Dark Horse Comics.
Joe Quesada (writer/editor/artist, Cubano) – Early in his career, he worked for Valiant Comics and opened his own publishing company, Event Comics. In the late 1990s, Event Comics was contracted by Marvel Comics to work on their new line, Marvel Knights. He was the first artist to become Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics. Ten years after being named EIC, he became Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer.
Anya Corazon – She was the alter ego of Araña, who was later known as Spider-Girl. She first appeared in 2004 and is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. Her character is often seen as Marvel’s attempt at connecting with the Hispanic demographic.
Kyle Rayner – One of two Green Lanterns, he was the son of Mexican-American CIA agent Gabriel Vasquez. He took over the title from Hal Jordan. His experience as a graphic artist gave him the ability to use the ring in creative ways.
Jaime Reyes – When he was introduced as the Blue Beetle in 2006, he again was not the first one. He is DC’s Hispanic hero, with much of his series showing prominent cultural emphases.
White Tiger – This Marvel character has had roughly six alternate identities, all of which are minorities. Three of them were Hispanic, all of the same family. The original White Tiger was named Hector Ayala, created by George Pérez (listed above). He was known for teaming up with Spider-Man and Daredevil, but eventually was wrongfully convicted of murder and then killed himself. His niece, Angela Del Toro, and his sister, Ava Ayala, each hold the title as well.
Bane – Thrown back into the public consciousness due to Christopher Nolan’s recent Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is a DC super-villain. Though he is not always portrayed as Latino, his origin lists that he was born and raised in a prison located on a fictional island in the Caribbean. Incredibly intelligent and injected with Venom, Bane is one of Batman’s most ferocious foes.
As mainstream pop culture molds to fit the ever-evolving general market, other forms will see an influence similar to that of the comic book industry. Television already has begun to take part in the shift, as major networks begin to develop Hispanic-focused shows and stations. Popular music has also seen a change, with Latin beats and Spanglish lyrics becoming more prominent than ever before. Upon acceptance of the obvious general market demographic change, it won’t be long before literature and film follow suit. What they need to remember, though, is to not rely on stereotypes, but instead embrace the cultural nuances.
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