Today more than ever, we are urged to tell the stories of those unsung heroes who go unnoticed, even when a pandemic shows how essential they are to everyone’s livelihood.
That is why Mexican-American author Héctor Rodríguez has decided to set and represent them in the same picture.
“Comic books are a great way to help people connect,” Rodríguez told NBC News. “But very few stories focus on the people who are feeding us.”
That’s why the author created El Peso Hero, an immigrant advocate, “a hero to the disenfranchised,” whose super powers — super strength and unbreakable skin — make him a force for change for his community and family on the border.
Fighting cartels and organized crime, El Peso Hero “steps out to defend the powerless” in a comic book series “influenced by the modern-day realities of those living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border,” says its website.
Although his character became famous in 2015 on a cover that punched then-presidential candidate Donald Trump for his racist comments against the Latino community, Rodríguez has announced that his new issue, which will be available for free next Monday, “shows El Peso Hero taking a backseat to a nurse and other essential workers facing tough day-to-day challenges against COVID-19.”
“This is definitely a contrast from “El Peso Hero” fighting corruption, drug cartels, and racism on the [U.S.-Mexico] border,” Rodríguez said. “Fans will see him in a supporting role to real-life heroes, helping a nurse bring medical masks to agricultural workers, and deliver a much needed message of solidarity and positivity to a community that is often marginalized in the shadows.”
Rodríguez, who works as an elementary bilingual reading teacher in the McKinney Independent School District, has been working as a creative artist since 2005, when he created El Peso Hero as a web comic, and has collaborated with the creation of events by and for Latinos such as the Texas Latino Comic Con.
Coming from a family with more than 400 years on the border, his firsthand experience with racism, stereotyping, and violence laid the foundation to create a superhero that would break with everything, also offering an image that children could identify with within the world of comics.
“Seeing their struggles firsthand and being in the forefront, I just told myself El Peso Hero needs to happen. I need to do this. I need to do it now. Seeing what the students go through their own trials and tribulations and picking up books in the library and how they weren’t represented, that gave me the catalyst to get up and do it,” he told the Dallas Observer in an interview in 2017.
Two years later, his work is needed more than ever, with millions of immigrant and undocumented workers supporting the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many of these people are like the families of my students,” said the Texas-based comic book creator to NBC. “Historically they are marginalized as outsiders and live in constant fear of deportation. But now the pandemic is showing how vital they really are to society.”