Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez nonetheless feels the stress of being a one-man military with regards to selling the crown jewel of Somos Arte, his unbiased inventive studio. Since 2016 he is been on the forefront of each marketing campaign surrounding his creation La Borinqueña. The Puerto Rican superheroine has been the star of a sequence of self-titled graphic novels which have instantly tackled cultural subjects and present occasions on the forefront of the island, all via the lens of a superhero yarn. It is an effort that is earned him a humanitarian award on the 2019 Eisner Awards (the comics business’s Academy Awards), collaborations with Hollywood stars resembling Rosario Dawson, and crossovers with DC Comics’s largest characters like Surprise Girl. However even with all of the accolades, he makes it clear, it is at all times been an uphill battle.
“There’s so many transferring items while you’re one thing as large because the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while you’re one thing as large as Star Wars,” Miranda-Rodriguez tells POPSUGAR. “However [how about] while you’re one thing as tiny as a freaking sorullito referred to as La Borinqueña? You’ve gotten me, and I actually really feel like your abuela within the kitchen doing a gazillion issues on the similar time. I am making the bacalaitos whereas I am tending to the rice, whereas I am checking on the habichuelas, whereas I am flipping over tostones, all whereas I am carving up the pernil.”
However even whereas acknowledging the workload, Miranda-Rodriguez sees it as a accountability he fortunately carries. Final yr, on the fifth anniversary of the devastating passage of Hurricane María over Puerto Rico, he launched a particular version of “La Borinqueña” with a commemorative cowl. The funds from these gross sales went to varied philanthropic organizations that Somos Arte helps, most of them grassroots organizations concerned in serving to causes related to Puerto Rico and its diaspora inhabitants.
Lately, he concocted and implement his latest growth of the Borinqueña model: motion figures, with a number of factors of articulation with a purpose to make them posable. Whereas nonetheless eminently well-liked with kids, motion figures — particularly these of popular culture characters — have change into a big marketplace for collectors and fans. Having launched a brand-new superhero crew referred to as the Nitaínos within the newest installment of “La Borinqueña,” he now had a roster of characters to drag from to fill out followers’ cabinets.
Ever cognizant of his neighborhood’s wants, Miranda-Rodriguez determined to go additional. He teamed up with the identical firm that manufactured the motion figures, Boss Combat Studios, to launch a doll primarily based on La Borinqueña, out there for preorder on their web site.
“They’re doing one thing they’ve by no means achieved earlier than. They’re really making toys for youngsters, and so they created a line of dolls for ladies referred to as I Am Brilliance,” he says. “The primary wave of those dolls even have two luchadoras from the Masked Republic, which is a wrestling franchise that exists. However La Borinqueña is definitely a part of that wave as effectively, which is separate from las luchadoras.”
Miranda-Rodriguez has studied the sociopolitical construction of race and ethnicity and its influence on Black and brown communities, and he has at all times had a watch for contemplating them with all his initiatives. On this case, the doll will mirror La Borinqueña’s id as a Black Latina, from the colour of her pores and skin to her curly hair. That is achieved with intent.
“This has quite a bit to do with how younger women, particularly, are conditioned via play,” he explains. “Conditioning when it comes to the roles they play, the gender roles they play, the category roles they play, and even the roles they play in figuring out themselves racially.”
A giant inspiration for his impetus to make the Borinqueña doll is a now-infamous experiment carried out in 1939 referred to as the Clark doll take a look at, named after the psychologists who carried it out.
“The Clark experiment just about cemented the concept many [African-American] kids had an internalized self-hatred of their very own complexion — of their very own id,” Miranda-Rodriguez says. “And after they got the selection to decide on between a white child doll and a Black child doll, they performed with the white doll. And after they weren’t allowed to play with the white doll and had been solely given an opportunity to play with the Black doll, they had been very upset.”
That is the extent of care and a spotlight to element Miranda-Rodriguez imbues his tales with as effectively, at all times searching for a option to intersect the escapism of comedian books with a aware finger on the heartbeat of what real-world subjects must be highlighted.
“Introducing this character to a baby, significantly little women, to me is revolutionary as a result of I am giving [them] a alternative between ‘Do you need to play with the newborn doll or the style doll?’ [or] ‘Do you need to really play with the superhero?'” he says. “The superhero that appears such as you, the superhero that truly speaks to your heritage, the superhero that has your hair colour, your mom’s hair texture, [and] your pores and skin colour. A superhero that truly comes from an actual place. A superhero that affirms their id, that affirms their place and affirms their visibility.”
Illustration and inclusiveness is a subject he is fastidiously touched on earlier than within the “La Borinqueña” sequence and arguably serves because the thematic throughline for it as a complete.
The purpose, he expresses, is to deal with not solely the internalized racism that the Clark take a look at demonstrated but additionally an “internalized colonialism” that he surmises exists inside some Puerto Ricans as effectively. The nation as soon as banned its personal flag and demonized its nationalist heroes, and that has led to what he says is the painful impact that some “do not see the worth in our heritage, we do not see the worth in our heroes.” Adorning La Borinqueña within the Puerto Rican colours is a option to counteract that.
The hope for Miranda-Rodriguez and Boss Combat Studios is to have the dolls prepared on the market by Día de los Reyes — January. It is an necessary vacation in Latin America, significantly in Puerto Rico, which is thought for its prolonged Christmas vacation season. The doll might be distributed on-line and out there in sure shops throughout the East Coast.
“Our hope is that we’re getting into into an area that is dominated by multibillion-dollar companies in order that large shops like Walmart or Goal see the worth of La Borinqueña motion figures [and] La Borinqueña dolls and put them on the cabinets,” Miranda-Rodriguez says.
The endeavor was preceded by a profitable marketing campaign with Puerto Rican cocoa processor Chocolate Cortés, which bought limited-edition chocolate bars with La Borinqueña comedian strips printed on the wrappers. The run exhausted the Puerto Rico stock and compelled Chocolate Cortés to faucet into its Florida-based distribution level. It validated Miranda-Rodriguez’s long-held aspiration to work with and help native companies,
As at all times, he and his crew at Somos Arte (which incorporates his spouse, Kyung Jeon-Miranda, as initiatives director) will proceed to push ahead with greater plans for his or her works and try to get them in entrance of latest audiences.
“There’s a necessity for us as Latin folks to see the worth in our personal mental properties, and our personal artwork, and our personal tales,” he says. “In order that we are able to present the remainder of the world that our tales, our characters, and our toys must be on the identical cabinets as different heroes as effectively.”