An Interview with Ricanstructer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez

Puerto Rico Comic Con 2018 has passed, but the memories that it left are forever. Some of the best memories our Her Campus team was able to make were those of being able to interview the wonderful Jim Starlin, Gail Simone, and Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Out of the three, we’d love to highlight the work of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez in this piece. If you haven’t heard of him, you definitely will be hearing more of him soon enough. He has been taking the indie scene by storm recently with his own creation of La Borinqueña, but he isn’t an indie writer. The man is a trailblazer with accomplishments such as being the Creative Director and owner of Somos Arte, he’s worked with the likes of Marvel and DC comics, and most importantly the creator and writer of La Borinqueña, a Puerto Rican woman that discovers she has superpowers. Can we get an amen for this representation?

Thanks to his recent project called “Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Building Puerto Rico,” La Borinqueña, or Marisol Rios De La Luz, is branching out and reaching the mainstream comic book scene. Within the anthology, Marisol is accompanied by familiar faces in the superhero scene such as The Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and more. More than that, the project combines Puerto Rico’s culture and its history. It is meant to help Puerto Rico in its efforts with all its earnings going towards Puerto Rico’s reconstruction. It also helps show how people are coming together for the island, be they fictional or not. Even Gail Simone got a chance to contribute to the work!

Following this, Miranda-Rodriguez was kind enough to take a bit of his time to answer a few of our questions. Have to admit I was a bit nervous (please forgive my Kylo Ren cosplay in the images), but we got through it, and it was honestly a tremendous opportunity! You can really tell he cares about what he talks about, and he takes his time to investigate and inform not only himself but others about the situation on the island.

Without further ado, here’s what he had to see about his recent project and what this possibly means on an emotional level for many eager readers out there.

 

HCUPR: Primero que nada, buenas tardes! I read the backstory about how you were approached because of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. How did that make you feel being recognized and chosen because of your work?

EM: I honestly thought it was a little premature. I had just written a story for Marvel Comics, but I wasn’t really a prolific writer with much of bibliography or body of work, so when I was approached with that invitation to be honored, I actually followed up with the idea of introducing a brand new project which they were completely open to. I actually developed the idea for La Borinqueña as a result of that and used the platform of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade to introduce this project, and they offered me a float, and we created tee shirts to raise money for student scholarships. As a result of introducing this project, I was able to use the character as I always intended to which was a platform to discuss the economic crisis affecting Puerto Rico, but more than that, the humanitarian crisis that was affecting Puerto Ricans as a result of this debt crisis and discussing how various schools were closing, hospitals were closing, how there was a massive brain drain of professionals leaving the island, and that was always my intention with La Borinqueña—to use it as a platform to really bring awareness to social issues affecting the three million Americans living on the island.

 

HCUPR: Wow! That was a really great answer. Also, because of that, how did La Borinqueña come to be? How did Marisol Rios De La Luz go from idea to concept to reality?

The design of the character from her costume to her backstory was all intentional. There was a lot of intelligent thought into the actual creation of this character. I wanted to create and introduce a young woman who was a millennial, someone who was a college student because one of the things that I’ve always respected about college students is that it’s an era in your life when you’re finally discovering yourself. You’re developing your own philosophies, developing your own worldviews separate from what your family had imparted on you throughout your life, but it’s also an opportunity where you’re discovering what the world is really like.

It’s almost like an unveiling of things in a way, so using her as an entry point, she comes to Puerto Rico because she’s from Brooklyn, and I also wanted to conscientiously connect the diaspora because, although there may be three million Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico, there’s six million across the United States, and it was an opportunity to connect that nine million diaspora. So, by bringing this character to the island, she actually serves as a conduit to not only continue to serve as a reminder to the various issues I addressed earlier but also to serve as a vehicle to kind of show how these issues become aware to her. As an undergraduate student, she simply thinks she is going to matriculate at the University of Puerto Rico, but when she actually arrives here, she realizes that those programs don’t exist anymore because of the budget cuts. She’s also realizing the effects of climate change when she sees a tropical storm hit the island so viciously that it leaves it in an actual blackout. Now mind you, I wrote this comic book nine months before Hurricane Maria affected the island because I was well-aware of what scientists under various climate change summits were discussing in Puerto Rico. One such scientist was Dr. Jose Molinero who literally discussed the fact that Puerto Rico was long overdue for a tropical storm of unprecedented effect that would affect Puerto Rico, and given the weakened infrastructure of the island considering the fact that the electrical grid had not been updated since the 1950’s, it was going to be a disaster that was going to be close to impossible to recover from.

So a lot of this inspired me to do the writing for the book, and that’s really why I wanted Marisol to be a science student, and through a lot of my research, I discovered that young women, especially Latinas across the United States, are embracing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) overwhelmingly more than any other group and that young people are actually more in tune with what’s affecting the world via climate change. This has organically played into the development of the character in addressing these issues that were affecting Puerto Rico beyond the debt crisis.

 

HCUPR: I love how it’s very clear the passion and the time you’ve put into this because you can tell that you’ve done your research, and you have really looked into the life of people on the island as much as out there. This is more of a comment than a question because I appreciate it not only as a Puerto Rican but as a woman. It’s very inspiring to see this [Marisol Rios De La Luz] face, this person, and thinking that a little girl can see it [the illustration] and think, “Hey, I can be like Marisol.”

Thank you. That’s exactly it, and that’s exactly overwhelmingly what I’m hearing not only from Puerto Rican women but from women in general because they see her as an icon just as over seventy years ago people saw Wonder Woman as a feminist icon. It’s an opportunity to create a character that not only serves as an icon towards the empowerment of women but also serves as an icon that serves to decolonize in a way because even though the character itself is an actual act of resistance. Within the industry, there are often times a creation of narratives around protagonists that are very much patriarchal. It’s important to actually create a character that actually embraces and recognizes the power of matriarchy and also embraces the power of the natural narrative that already exists in Puerto Rico. Looking at the mythology, oftentimes superhero books dip into the Greek, Roman, or even the Bible for inspiration, and I thought to myself if you look at Puerto Rican mythology, particularly of the Tainos with the goddess Atabex, it’s literally set up as a matriarchy, so it organically worked with the narrative of the character and the backstory as well.

 

HCUPR: And finally, if you could describe Marisol, your work, and the effort you’ve put into this entire project, if you could describe it in one word, what would it be?

Evolving.

 

The Ricanstruction anthology is out NOW! Get your copy here or at Metro Comics!