I have spoken previously on this blog about the superhero genre of films and the big impact they have on shaping our society. These films have a big responsibility when it comes to providing diverse representation because heroes act as role models to many, young and old, within our society. Only recently have females started to receive better representation in these movies but most are all still based in white culture.
This weeks featured female director has something a little different to share. Jalisco, a latina superhero that dances folklorico, is an original character created by Kayden Pheonix inspired by her mother. “I just thought of my past. Who was my hero growing up? My mom. What did my mom do? She danced folklorico.” Kayden said, “My mom has always been my inspiration, whether she’s sprinkled in some of my characters or something more direct, like Jalisco, she’s always been a big part of my life that I can easily infuse to my stories.”
Jalisco lives on the outskirts of Guadalajara. When her mom takes her to the park to cheer her up with folklorico dance she disappears out of nowhere. After receiving no help from those she reaches out to, a band of Adelitas offers to train Jalisco to defend herself against the femicides.
The story began as a feature film script but with help from a successful crowdfunding campaign Kayden’s proof of concept transformed into a graphic novel. “I took my feature script and broke it down to storyboard. As in, if I had to chose only 1 angle for this line (or these lines), which would it be? It was fun and a great experience,” she explained.
To help illustrate the graphic novel Kayden used #VisibleWomen on Instagram to find a range of independent Latina artists. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with amazing artists that understand the overall goal. Every idea or contribution aligns with the purpose and so creativity flows harmonious between all of us.” Kayden said, “I’ve always appreciated that about female visual artists- there’s no ego or competition- so we always have amazing results that everyone is happy with.”
Jalisco is a much needed diverse take on the superhero genre for many reasons. The character is Latina, female, a superhero, and wears clothes that do not objectify her. It’s also written from the perspective of the female gaze and has a team of all female artists. “This is a grounded story about a girl that wants to find her stolen mom. She inadvertently becomes Mexico’s superhero for stopping the femicide but she never set off in the quest for glory,” Kayden explained. “Also, this story is cemented in reality. There’s a lot of history and facts in Jalisco’s world. The story of Jalisco is absolutely important to me- it’s my culture and my raza’s history. “
The graphic novel is currently being reviewed for publication but Jalisco is only the first step in what seems to be a new universe of Kayden’s Latina superheroes. “I just finished contracting my artists for my second Latina superhero, Santa. She’s the social justice warrior that learns patriotism as she delves into her mom’s military past. So I’m excited about that- it’s a whole different world, set in a made-up American border town.” she said. “Thereafter, the next superhero feature script to write is Loquita. Someone also suggested an animated series of A La Brava (the team of superheroes) so- I got work to do.”