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A La Brava Creator Kayden Phoenix on the Influence of Animation and Representation of the X-Men in the Superhero Genre: Exclusive

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The superhero genre became synonymous with pop culture dominating comic books long before it took over the big and small screen. Many fell in love with these powerful benefactors long before Marvel became the biggest box office blockbuster.

We at The Illuminerdi had the chance to speak to Kayden Phoenix, creator of the graphic novel series At La Brava about her love for the genre at WonderCon 2022. Kayden revealed that she herself has been a longtime fan of the genre seeing two of the best animated superhero anime series of the 90s as part of what piqued his interest.

A LA BRAVA CREATOR KAYDEN PHOENIX SHARES HOW THE X-MEN MADE IT A SUPERHERO

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“I’ve always been a fan of superheroes. I grew up as a millennial, so on TV we had x-men which is great and we got Batman: The Animated Series. So everything was just pretty and just fun and fighting and saving crime. To be a better person and simply save for the greater cause.

KAYDEN PHOENIX EXPLAINS THE IMPORTANCE OF REPRESENTATION IN THE SUPERHERO GENRE

As the superhero genre has become more popular, the need for representation has become even greater. Kayden Phoenix saw this need and decided to fill the void herself. Wanting to see more Latino superheroes, she created her own, but not just a heroine a whole team in her series, At La Brava. During our interview, she explained why it’s so important to specifically include representation in the superhero genre.

“Because why can’t we see ourselves as superheroes? I grew up with my mother as a superhero. She is still my superhero. My grandfather is my superhero. Literally all my family members are my superheroes and so I think I’m a superhero because my mom is my superhero. It really was that simple, but if you look at mainstream media and such, “I’m not a Chola.” I am not a mobster. I am none of those things the media tell me I am. So you have to see it in a way to also believe it.

In the At La Brava Kayden series also incorporates LGBTQ representation into Loquita, Rucaand Bandit. We asked her why she thinks it’s so important to incorporate this into her graphic novels, especially for young readers.

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“Because it’s important. Honestly it’s part of life honestly and in Ruca and in Bandit there are also other layers. That’s just why can’t you see it? As if we existed. Why can’t we see it and read it and say, “Oh, you’re a person.” Because obviously you are a person regardless of your sexuality, regardless of your identity, whatever. You’re still a person and that’s kind of the basis of it all.

Kayden Phoenix works with a team of Latin artists to bring At La Brava to life on the page. Each hero’s story is unique and while the graphic novels are all clearly set in the same universe, they each have their own aesthetic and color scheme. Kayden revealed that the design of his At La Brava The characters were inspired by his love of Disney and anime with a color scheme suited to the story and location.

KAYDEN PHOENIX DESCRIBES HOW SHE AND THE ARTISTS FOUND THE RIGHT TONE AND STYLE FOR EACH OF HER SUPERHEROES

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“So they have the same tone or style/tone because it’s kind of anime and Disney put together, if you notice. Because they have very soft chins and big eyes, which is very Disney, very anime and so they all come across that regardless. But the style is based on what they do and where they are. So, like my girlfriend from Miami, it’s more Miami colors. She actually has Dolphin colors if you think about it, okay, but she’s supernatural, that’s her tone. And so, here’s a bit more of a spooky side here, like some interesting greens and purples and just some weird red waves passing through.

My Dominican gunslinger is my cowgirl. So here’s the palace, no, what palace haven’t we made? We didn’t do the western palace which is very muted in color. Because you think of cowboy movies, it’s true, and what you like is very quiet, it’s calm. So those are Bandita’s colors. Ruca is my Chicana, my East LA girl, so we have rich colors. So we sort of brought it up. Santa everyone is fighting so want cool colors. What are cold colors for me are baby blues, baby pinks. And so the palate helps set the tone, that’s kind of how I understood it.

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Representation is hugely important, especially for young audiences, and with superheroes becoming the powerhouses of modern storytelling, children need to be able to see themselves as the heroes of their story. Kayden Phoenix saw the lack of Latino superheroes and decided to fill the void herself with not one, but five heroes who will work as a team in her next graphic novel, At La Brava.

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Kayden Phoenix’s Newest At La Brava graphic novel, Bandit East available now. Are you looking forward to reading the At La Brava Kayden Phoenix series? What made you fall in love with superheroes? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social networks and check back with The Illuminerdi for more At La Brava and WonderCon 2022 coverage.

KEEP READING: THE BRAVA CREATOR WANTS A NEW SUPERHERO TEAM TO TAKE ON THE JOKER AND A LOOK AT HER UPCOMING GRAPHIC NOVELS: EXCLUSIVE