Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez nonetheless feels the strain of being a one-man military on the subject of selling the crown jewel of Somos Arte, his impartial 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 collection of self-titled graphic novels which have immediately tackled cultural matters and present occasions on the forefront of the island, all by the lens of a superhero yarn. It is an effort that is earned him a humanitarian award at the 2019 Eisner Awards (the comics trade’s Academy Awards), collaborations with Hollywood stars comparable to Rosario Dawson, and crossovers with DC Comics’s greatest characters like Marvel 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 if you’re one thing as large because the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if you’re one thing as large as Star Wars,” Miranda-Rodriguez tells POPSUGAR. “However [how about] if you’re one thing as tiny as a freaking sorullito known as La Borinqueña? You could have 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 duty 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 numerous 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 enlargement of the Borinqueña model: motion figures, with a number of factors of articulation with a view to make them posable. Whereas nonetheless eminently in style with youngsters, motion figures — particularly these of popular culture characters — have grow to be a big marketplace for collectors and fanatics. Having launched a brand-new superhero workforce known as the Nitaínos within the newest installment of “La Borinqueña,” he now had a roster of characters to tug 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 Battle Studios, to launch a doll primarily based on La Borinqueña, available for preorder on their website.
“They’re doing one thing they’ve by no means finished earlier than. They’re truly making toys for kids, they usually created a line of dolls for women known 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 nicely, 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 an eye fixed 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 finished with intent.
“This has rather a lot to do with how younger women, particularly, are conditioned by 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 generally known as the Clark doll test, named after the psychologists who carried it out.
“The Clark experiment just about cemented the concept that many [African-American] youngsters 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 have been solely given an opportunity to play with the Black doll, they have been very upset.”
That is the extent of care and a focus to element Miranda-Rodriguez imbues his tales with as nicely, at all times in search of a method to intersect the escapism of comedian books with a acutely aware finger on the heartbeat of what real-world matters have to be highlighted.
“Introducing this character to a baby, significantly little women, to me is revolutionary as a result of I am giving [them] a selection between ‘Do you need to play with the newborn doll or the style doll?’ [or] ‘Do you need to truly play with the superhero?'” he says. “The superhero that appears such as you, the superhero that really 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 really 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” collection and arguably serves because the thematic throughline for it as an entire.
The aim, 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 nicely. The nation once banned its own 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 method to counteract that.
The hope for Miranda-Rodriguez and Boss Battle 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 accessible in sure shops throughout the East Coast.
“Our hope is that we’re coming into into an area that is dominated by multibillion-dollar firms 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 workforce at Somos Arte (which incorporates his spouse, Kyung Jeon-Miranda, as initiatives director) will proceed to push ahead with larger plans for his or her works and attempt to get them in entrance of recent audiences.
“There’s a necessity for us as Latin individuals to see the worth in our personal mental properties, and our personal artwork, and our personal tales,” he says. “In order that we will present the remainder of the world that our tales, our characters, and our toys have to be on the identical cabinets as different heroes as nicely.”