*This comic book artist is trying to raise money to take the characters he created in 1993 to the next level and a larger audience. VL
NewsTaco CULTURE THURSDAY
By Yara Simón, Remezcla (3 minute read)
Back in 1993, Fernando Balderas Rodríguez created the kind of comic book character he could have used in his youth: a Mexican-American superhero. And he didn’t just stop at one, he actually created a pair of crime-fighting cousins – Tony Torres and Tony Avalos – who for the past 24 years have come alive inside the pages of Aztec of the City. The black-and-white comic book fuses bits of history with fictional events, with the purpose of representing Latino readers in a positive light and teaching them about their own background. Balderas Rodríguez has maintained these lofty goals for the last two decades by self-publishing three volumes of the comic book, and now he’s turned to Indiegogo to make Vol. 4 a reality.
Aztec of the City exists because of Balderas’ sheer determination. As a lifelong comic book reader, he understood the makeup of a comic book, but nothing beyond that. “Publishing the first Aztec of the City was very raw in that I didn’t really know what we were doing technically,” he told me in a message. “We didn’t use the proper professional art pages as I just went full steam ahead with putting together a Mexican-American hero in an industry where they were lacking – a genre and medium I know so much about and have always been passionate about.”
The comic book follows cousins Torres (Super Chicano) and Avalos (Aztec of the City). Though the two have a deep bond, neither knows that the other is a superhero. Using his extensive knowledge of comics, Balderas Rodríguez – who describes Aztec of the City as the first Mexican-American superhero –includes reverent references to the Avengers and X-Men. But the comics have changed throughout the years. For example, Avalos goes from being a construction worker in the first two volumes to being a college freshman in the third volume. Avalos also no longer flies, because as Balderas Rodríguez’s college professor told him, “if he were a true Aztec, he wouldn’t fly around like Superman.”
Art by Alan López for Remezcla