Comic books are all about firsts. From first printed issues to first appearances, this medium that has spanned a century has made being first less and less easy. For comic book creator/writer Kayden Phoenix, the title of creating the first published all Latina Superhero Team has been claimed, and not only has she rightfully earned this title, but she has given opportunities to artists to be part of something new, all while publishing independently under her company Phoenix Studios.
A La Brava is Phoenix’s Latina Superhero Team and each member has their own origin, a social cause they fight for, and the characters Jalisco, Santa, Loquita, Ruca, and Bandita all have unique cultural backgrounds. For example, Phoenix’s first comic and character, Jalisco (a hero with folkloric dancing skills and a dress armed with blades), is a story dedicated to missing women
“Jalisco is an homage to my grandma who is from Jalisco and my mother who did [Mexican] folkloric dancing. But the other core of the story are the women who have tragically been part of the femicide that happens in Juarez, Mexico,” said Phoenix. “Storytelling reflects democracy, so when you think about who doesn’t have equality, who doesn’t have freedom, it’s females.”
Phoenix started out writing feature scripts when she landed on the topic of a Latina superhero because she thought about what she would like to see on the big screen. Upon pitching her story, she would often be asked “where’s the comic for this?” It’s a question that sparked an idea and has created an entire universe and despite having never written a comic before, her storyboarding and script writing background made translating a movie idea to panels in a comic rather seamless.
Since the creation of Jalisco back in 2019, Phoenix has created other heroes that form the A La Brava team as well as a kid-friendly princess universe for younger readers. The Majestics, is Phoenix’s all age princess title that consists of Latina and indigenous girls. The characters Alora, Swan, Novi, Macab, and Mexica have less cultural focus than the A La Brava team, but instead have adventures with space and magic elements in the mix. A commonality with these two different series is that they have all kept the representation of Latina characters in the forefront and respected how Latine people have a range of appearances. “We Latinos are not just one broad color, so our [Phoenix Studios] point is to get as much of our story out as we can,” said Phoenix.
For Phoenix, A La Brava isn’t just about creating a comic, but it has turned into a business that she manages while also writing and editing. Fortunately, her background isn’t just in screenwriting, but her degree in business and entrepreneurial spirit has helped with the grit that comes with self publishing. “I’m used to having to be on the ground for promotional marketing. I enjoy talking to people, and you have to work at it,” said Phoenix. “I’m an entrepreneur so if I do well, that is on me, but if I don’t, that is also on me.”
Phoenix writes all of the scripts for every comic under the Phoenix Studios company and brings in artists, colorists, pencilers, letterers, and graphic designers. During the pandemic in 2020 and fresh off of the success of Jalisco, Phoenix went to work on creating new characters for her superhero universe. “After Jalisco, the world going into lockdown gave me the opportunity to work on two books at a time, and now I am working on five books at a time because my team and I have developed a really good system.”
The art in Phoenix Studios comics are like a fusion of Disney and anime artistics styles, so when Phoenix was looking for artists, she went to Instagram to find female creators who could match the aesthetic she was going for. “It was important for me to hire Latina artists because of the respect to the different cultures as well as the care that needs to go into drawing women,” said Phoenix.
The success of A La Brava is a testament to hard work and a reminder to those wanting to get into comics that creating your own comic book universe is possible. “Yes, it’s a grind but that freedom to display any color or talk about what you want to say can’t be taken away,” said Phoenix.
Grit is a keyword in Phoenix’s comic book career and it’s a characteristic that has paid off. Initially, Phoenix pitched her idea to larger publishers only to be rejected, however, she has been approached by other publishers and recently locked a deal with McMeel Publishing, the same company that publishes Calvin and Hobbes.
When asked about advice to aspiring comic book creators, Phoenix had this to offer: “For any creative space, know the world you’re entering, why others succeeded, and know what you’re bringing into it and how you can change to make it better. You have to ask why people think something is great, what is great about it, then ask what can I bring to this space that makes it better. For me it was about seeing through women’s eyes in the comic book space.”
With two universes in her portfolio, Phoenix continues working on other stories and hopes to get her Latina Superhero Team on the big screen or on television. “These stories are meant to be seen so whether it is animation or live action, I’d be happy,” said Phoenix.
In addition to A La Brava and The Majestics, Phoenix has other projects in the pipeline that can be backed on Kickstarter. Titles include .357 Magnum Opus (an assassin story), Pimp Killer (a bloody popcorn title), and Pagan Valley, which is an action comedy about one bad night in Los Angeles when a heist goes wrong.
“In addition to A La Brava, the other projects I am working on include Latine culture, but also are meant to be entertaining. The media often portrays our stories as dark or full of tragedy, and so the comic books I write give an outlet for heroes and characters people can root for,” said Phoenix.
It’s obvious there is no stopping Phoenix in her creative and business journey, and the comic book community is certainly better for it. For those interested in picking up one—or all—of Phoenix’s works, they can be found at LatinaSuperheroes.com/shop or also at Barnes & Nobles, Target, and Walmart.
Phoenix also attends comic cons year round including bigger conventions such as San Diego Comic Con and C2E2. If you’re there, be sure to stop by and see why A La Brava and The Majestics are making their mark. Be sure to tell her Comic Watch sent you.
Changing the Narrative: Meet the Creator of the First Latina Superhero Team
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