Like so many Puerto Ricans all over the world, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez couldn’t escape the emotional heartbreak of Hurricane Maria’s devastating aftermath.
Miranda-Rodriguez’s comic book creation — an Afro-Latina, environmentally powered superhero, La Borinqueña — is a superpowered love letter that basks in the spiritually connective pride that all Puerto Ricans feel toward La Isla del Encanto. He created the heroine, who shares a name with the Puerto Rican national anthem, not just to continue the growing diversity that has reached superhero comics, but to serve as a reminder that Puerto Rico can weather its storms, be they financial or natural disasters.
Days went by post-Maria and Miranda-Rodriguez still couldn’t get a hold of family, friends and artistic collaborators in Puerto Rico. National news began painting a picture of an island that would need months, if not years, to recover from the destruction that had taken place. Inspired by the fundraising of Puerto Rican celebrities from professional sports and entertainment, and other Puerto Ricans all over the country who were doing whatever they could to get needed supplies to the island, Miranda-Rodriguez decided to use the symbol of Puerto Rican hope he had created with La Borinqueña to join them.
Tonight, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Casita Maria for Arts and Education in the Bronx, Miranda-Rodriguez will lead a fundraiser selling original La Borinqueña artwork, with all proceeds going to La Corporación Piñones Se Integra. The event, “Arte de La Borinqueña/Fundraiser for Puerto Rico,” is a collaboration with the London-based gallery, Art You Grew Up With, which donated all the printings of the 35 La Borinqueña images being sold. Various artists in the comic book industry also donated art. Many are Puerto Rican, including comic book legend George Perez.
“I was concerned about my family in Luquillo, Fajardo and Ceiba, Puerto Rico,” Miranda-Rodriguez told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I didn’t just want to worry nor post on social media that they were missing. I felt compelled to do something.”
In his first La Borinqueña issue, Miranda-Rodriguez has his hero go up against a hurricane that lands in Puerto Rico. He was inspired after attending discussions led by El Puente, a grass-roots organization based in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico, highlighting that a natural disaster such as Hurricane Maria was imminent.
Miranda-Rodrigeuz said that after the hurricane occurred, “looking at these pages alongside real disastrous images on the island left me stunned for the moment, but not paralyzed.”
Miranda-Rodriguez still plans to attend this week’s New York Comic-Con, where he is a featured guest. But he has decided to delay the production of La Borinqueña’s second issue, since he still has not been able to reach his colorist, Juan Fernandez in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
“I’m also revisiting the script for the second book, as I am greatly influenced by what is happening in the real world on the island,” he said.
For now, Miranda-Rodriguez will focus on his fundraising efforts.
“Puerto Ricans on the island are working day and night, helping one another, feeding one another, saving one another,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “In my comic book, La Borinqueña says in Spanish ‘Yo solo hago mi parte, ustedes son los verdadero héroes’ (I’m only doing my part. You all are the true heroes), which translates into what I truly feel.”