Student ‘sees’ self in heroic comic book

comic book cover

“La Borinquena” (Puerto Rican woman) is a superhero with a costume in the red, white and blue colors of the Puerto Rico flag. And a cape, because superheroes have capes.

New York comic book artist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez told a University of Washington Bothell audience how he created "La Borinquena" on Tuesday at the Activities and Recreation Center.

Tai YangBut one member of the audience wanted to know more about the main character’s sidekick, La La Liu, a Chinese Dominican who wears a black jacket, red pants and has a star tattoo on her neck. What about La La? asked Tai Yang, cosplaying the character with an identical look.

You’ll have to read the next comic book, laughed Miranda-Rodriguez. Yang, the director of governmental relations for the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell, contacted Miranda-Rodriguez after seeing herself in the La La character. 

“I thought it was really fun. I myself happen to be Chinese Dominican. I was really excited because she looked like me, she felt like me,” Yang said. “I’m excited to bring in an artist that embodies a lot of ideals of UW Bothell – intersectionality and interdisciplinarity – and being able to showcase visually what it means to be a person of complicated identity and all of the struggles that come with that.”

The ASUWB and Campus Events Board sponsored the lecture and book-signing.

Edgardo Miranda-RodriguezMiranda-Rodriguez created the comic in his own studio last year after the positive reaction to a Puerto Rican character he added to a Marvel comic he co-wrote. He hoped “La Borinquena” would cast a positive light on the Caribbean island and U.S. territory as it dealt with a debt crisis. His story about the 21-year-old woman of color who draws her super power from Puerto Rico sold out. 

Inspired by women in his own family, Miranda-Rodriguez, says he’s using the comic book to raise awareness of diversity, feminism and LGBTQ. He’s found an audience outside traditional comic book marketing.

“I feel I’m making more impact at an event like this than sitting at a comicon with 200 other comic book creators,” he said.