FanGirl Consulting & Brand Management is newly representing the superhero franchise La Borinqueña. Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez created this Afro-Puerto Rican superhero in 2016 as a way to raise money for Puerto Rico amid an economic crisis. Now, as the brand has expanded, philanthropy is still at La Borinqueña’s core. The Toy Book spoke to Miranda-Rodriquez about La Borinqueña, licensing prospects, and what the brand has planned for the new year.
The Toy Book: Could you give an overview of the La Borinqueña brand and its recent projects?
Edgardo Miranda- Rodriquez: La Borinqueña is the first independently published, mainstream, AfroLatina character to have their own titular graphic novel series. In the first five years since its debut, we have published two graphic novels; a crossover anthology with DC Comics; and the first-ever combo package of a comic book, a vinyl music single, and a music video, ¡Que Bonita Bandera! Our debut graphic novel is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. We were awarded Eisner’s Humanitarian Award in 2018 for our philanthropic work which, in three years, has already awarded $165,000 in grants to nonprofits in Puerto Rico. We also produced a series of animated PSAs to encourage U.S. citizens to register and vote in the general election of November 2020 and the Georgia runoff elections, voiced by Rosario Dawson and Zoe Saldana.
TB: What has the La Borinqueña Grants Program already accomplished, and what plans do you have for the program in the future? How will licensing partnerships benefit this program?
EM: We are the only superhero graphic novel series that is directly connected to philanthropic work. Our graphic novels directly address social issues impacted by climate change. Since the inception of our La Borinqueña Grants program in 2018, we have dedicated a portion of our proceeds [to it]. Our grants support nonprofits in Puerto Rico dedicated to environmental justice, women’s health/reproductive rights, literacy, arts, sustainable farming, and the preservation of Afro Puerto Rican culture. These areas that we support reflect the values found in our superhero La Borinqueña. In a new approach to corporate responsibility, we are looking for licensing partners that will want to invest in long-term, sustainable work. Licensing partnerships will also offer the option of offering tax-deductible donations to our philanthropic work that is dedicated to directly address racial equity. We are always exploring new opportunities that can give visibility to our character and our commitment to social justice.
TB: What kind of licensing partnerships is the brand open to or specifically seeking? What would be your dream licensing partnership for La Borinqueña?
EM: We would love to partner La Borinqueña with brands dedicated to fair trade, racial equity, and sustainable partnerships that can make significant impacts for change. Action figures made from and packaged with recycled materials that in turn are recyclable or compostable. We’d also love to work with legacy brands committed to making a change through products that elevate and educate their consumers.
TB: Can you speak more about La Borinqueña (the hero), specifically her conception and her arc within the brand?
EM: La Borinqueña is Marisol Rios de la Luz, an undergraduate student majoring in environmental studies. She lives in New York City but moves to Puerto Rico after studying abroad at the University of Puerto Rico. Her powers are drawn from the indigenous mysticism and mythology of the Taínos, original people from the Caribbean islands. Her superhuman abilities are gifted to her by the mother spirit Atabex and her twin sons — Yucahú, the spirit of the seas and mountains, and Huracán, the spirit of the storms. La Borinqueña’s powers are connected to nature via these spirits: superhuman strength; manipulation of the elements: earth, water, and air; and a mystical star that opens portals for teleportation and for viewing historical moments. When I created the character, I wanted her costume and powers to bring to light the history and heritage of Puerto Rico which has never been used in a mainstream superhero story or character. Connecting La Borinqueña to Puerto Rico, gives readers and fans a real place to connect to, a real place to visit, to experience.
TB: How can La Borinqueña impact the Latinx community?
EM: The largest U.S. ethnic group is Latinx with a growing population of more than 59 million. It’s projected that Latinx will have a $1.7 trillion dollar buying power. Latinx voters were decisive in the general election of 2020 and the Georgia runoff elections in 2021. Latinx consume and support mainstream products and content overwhelmingly that do not represent, nor speak directly to them or their experience. According to Pew Research Center, Latinx youth are the U.S.’s fastest-growing youth population and with a median age of 28, Latinx is the U.S.’s youngest major racial or ethnic group.
TB: What is next for La Borinqueña in the new year?
EM: We’re in production of our third graphic novel, which will be released early this year. We also have other special La Borinqueña books we’ve been working on that we’ll be so excited to reveal this year, including a special team-up book!