If you’re looking for a cool new comic to buy over at New York Comic Con, we’ve got one of the most representational titles of recent memory. A La Brava is the first-ever fully Latina women-created comic in the industry, having gained national attention on Eye Witness News and the L.A. times for its diversity. This superhero series is noted both in featuring, and being created, by an all Latina team.
“We’ve seen those stories. We’ve never seen the female story. We’ve never seen the Latina story. We haven’t seen our version of it.” – said creator Kayden Phoenix in an interview with the L.A. Times.
The comic is meant to stand as a modern voice to empower marginalized Latine individuals led by an entirely Latina artist team. They’ve got GLAAD and Eisner-nominated illustrator, Eva Cabrera (SANTA, LOQUITA) and along with newcomer Amanda Julina Gonzalez (JALISCO, RUCA).
We got to sit down with Phoenix at NYCC 2022 for a chat about the comic series, transcribed below and edited for clarity.
Thanks so much for doing this, Kayden! First, can you tell us what ‘A La Brava’ is for anyone unfamiliar with it?
Kayden: Sure! A La Brava is the first Latina superhero team in comic book history! It starts off with 5 different superhero origin stories, each featuring a different character arc, who then come together as a team called A La Brava.
It started out as a dream in 2019. I’m an independent screenwriter, and just, I wanted to see a Latina superhero team featured on the big screen. We really don’t have one still, at least not one that has an origin story by herself type of deal. So I wrote the original screenplay and shot a short film as a sizzle. But every single person asked me for a comic book, which I didn’t have.
Eventually, I finally got smart about it and did a graphic novel about my superhero and made it into all 5 of the superheroes. I did it because I wanted the representation, of course, and I still want to see a Latina superhero on the big screen. Whether it’s mine or not is irrelevant, I just wanted to see one.
A comic book historian even told me we just happened to be the first Latina team which we didn’t set out to do in the first place, but is really cool.
That’s really awesome. Can you tell us a bit about your development team and what it’s been like?
Kayden: I got really lucky. My artists are so amazing because the first thing that stands out when you look at A La Brava is either: ‘Oh, she’s really pretty’ or ‘You really like the colors’, but either way, that’s my pencilist. That’s my colorist. All Latina artists through and through with pencilings, colors, and letters.
It’s just fantastic how I got to work with really amazing talent that collaborates really well. We understand, obviously, what’s going on really well. Like if I say femicide, I don’t have to explain it, they know the importance behind it and the importance behind it and why it’s important for females in general.
What do you think was the most challenging thing about getting diverse comics’ voices out there?
Kayden: I guess the challenging thing was natural life. I started in September 2019 just before the pandemic and was taking network meetings and got invited to WonderCon and SDCC through Instagram, but then the pandemic happened.
It was a big pause and I had no influx of money at all but had to keep creating my books and paying my artists. That was a big challenge we had to go over.
I can imagine how hard it was for everyone but such a unique story came out of it! Speaking of which, can you tell us about the characters in ‘A La Brava’ and why people should check it out?
Kayden: So they’re all different heritages which is important because the Latina diaspora is different for each culture. The first is Jalisco, my dancer from Mexico, who dances in Mexican traditional dance, but also has blades that come out of her dress! She takes on femicide.
The rest of the characters are all American Latinas.
The next one is Santa, my border town girl of Texas. She lives in a made-up town called Wexo and takes on a corrupt politician called Ice who’s running for mayor. Her power is divine strength and deja vu.
Then, there’s Loquita, a Puerto Rican Cuban from Miami. She’s my supernatural teen detective who can see demons, ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. If she touches your shoulder, she can share her gift of supernatural sight as well.
Ruca, my east LA Chicana, which is where I’m from. She has instant karma meaning say you accidentally shoulder her, she’d accidentally shoulders back. Whether its good or bad she can throw back whatever you give her.
Bandita, a Dominican gunslinger from New York. She has a bullet bounce and can ricochet bullets off walls and she infiltrates a broadway theatre group and takes them down.
Finally, do you have any advice for someone starting their own comic?
Kayden: Two things. First, find your tribe. There’ll always be people around you that believe in and support you and believe in the overall mission of what’s behind it.
The second is to keep going. Always keep going no matter what. Pandemic and financial things are always a big part of the struggle for anybody but you will find a way to persevere and go through it.