Latinx Graphic Novels to the Fore | Stellar Panels

Latinx creators have been receiving more recognition in recent years, and there is now a flourishing Latinx comics scene that includes a strong body of work for young people.

While Latinx creators have been involved in comics almost since the very beginning, their voices have received more recognition in recent years, and there is now a flourishing Latinx comics scene that includes a strong body of work for young people.

There is a long history of Latinx creators working on comics, starting as early as the 1940s with superhero comics. Much of that work didn’t necessarily center Latinx experience. George Pérez, born in New York to Puerto Rican parents, is best known for his work on Wonder Woman and The Avengers. He also created the first Latinx Marvel superhero, White Tiger, in 1975. Sergio Aragones, a longtime MAD Magazine artist and creator of the series “Groo,” was born in Spain but moved to Mexico when he was six years old. Like these creators, there are many Latinx artists and writers whose work does not have a primarily Latinx focus.

Similarly, there are graphic novels that put Latinx main characters front and center but don’t have a strong focus on their heritage. These characters include Astrid Vasquez, the protagonist of Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl (Dial, 2015); Jake Moreno of Soccer Superstar (Capstone, 2020); and the title character in Jonesy (BOOM! Studios, 2016). Miles Morales, the Afro-Puerto Rican teenager who became Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate continuity and has now become an important character in the larger Marvel universe, speaks Spanish and engages with Puerto Rican culture, but the fact that he is Latinx is not essential to most of his story lines.

At last, there are books that actively engage Latinx culture and experiences, a list that will be growing rapidly over the next two years as a number of works currently in progress are published.

What follows is a list of graphic novels by and about Latinx people that are currently available or will be available in the next few years, followed by some web resources for those who want to explore further and stay up to date with this rapidly expanding category. Starred titles are also available in Spanish.

Currently Available

book covers

*Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White, by Lila Quintero Weaver (University of Alabama Press, 2012)
Gr 7 Up—Weaver and her family immigrated from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to the small town of Marion, Alabama, in 1961, when she was five years old. Her memoir reflects her experiences growing up in the Jim Crow South as someone who didn’t fit neatly into the clearly defined categories of white and Black, and who was present as an outsider for the changes brought by the civil rights movement.

*The Dragon Slayer: Folk Tales from Latin America, by Jaime Hernandez (Toon Books, 2018)
Gr 4-6—Jaime Hernandez, of Love and Rockets fame, brings his bold, clear-lined style to three traditional folktales: A kindly farm girl outwits a seven-headed dragon so she can marry a prince; a woman marries a mouse who falls into a pot of soup, triggering a series of unlikely events, and a smart but lazy young man recruits the local ants to do his work for him. All have the exaggerated humor and fantastical situations that are found in folk tales from other traditions.

Hotel Dare, by Terry Blas, illus. by Claudia Aguirre (KaBOOM!, 2019)
Gr 3-7—Olive loves to organize things. Darwin doesn’t talk much but carries his pet rat Donut on his shoulder. Charlotte, recently adopted into the family from an orphanage, is scrappy, resourceful, and able to fix pretty much anything (as well as pick locks). When the three siblings are sent to Mexico to help their grandmother fix up her dilapidated hotel, they discover hidden worlds behind the locked doors. Soon the three are drawn into an adventure that mixes magic and danger and causes them to ask some hard questions about being a family.

*Red Panda and Moon Bear, by Jared Roselló (Top Shelf, 2019)
Gr 4-6—When Red Panda puts on her magical hoodie, she acquires the power of 12 red pandas; her younger brother, Moon Bear, is her sidekick. Together they battle the villains in their neighborhood. The stories are filled with goofy humor and have a Saturday Morning cartoon energy that will appeal to fans of Dog Man.

More book covers

Rise of the Halfling King: Tales of the Feathered Serpent, by David Bowles, illus. by Charlene Bowles (Cinco Puntos, Sept. 2020)
Gr 4-8—A story based on Mesoamerican legends about a half-human who is destined to be the king of a city that was devastated by a feathered serpent. This is the first in a series of 10 graphic novels that will tell the full saga.

Suncatcher, by Jose Pimenta (Random/Graphic, May 2020)
Gr 7 Up—Set in Mexicali in the 1990s and early 2000s, this graphic novel follows Beatriz, a young guitarist in a punk band who is struggling to lift an old curse: Her grandfather traded an original song for musical talent, but he never finished the song, and after he died, his soul was trapped in his old guitar. Beatriz wants to complete the song and set him free, but her obsession takes over and ultimately threatens her life. The story is a fable and a love letter to the musical scene of Baja California at the turn of the 21st century.

Under the Cottonwood Tree: El susto de la curandera, by Paul Meyer & Carlos Meyer, illus. by Margaret Hardy and Jasey Crowl (North Fourth, 2019)
Gr 4-8—A mischievous boy teases a curandera (a reclusive healer), and after taking a bite of one of her cookies, he turns into a calf. His family and their Native American friend try to persuade the curandera to undo the spell, but most of them end up as animals as well before a change of heart and a showdown with the children’s mother brings the story to a thundering close. Set in New Mexico in 1949, this story has magical and fairy-tale elements, plenty of humor, and glowing, graceful art with a bright palette and expressive linework. The characters mix local Spanish with English as they speak, and while many words are obvious from the context, there is also a glossary in the back.

Voces Sin Fronteras, by Various (Shout Mouse, 2019)
Gr 7 Up—This anthology collects short comics and essays by 16 teens who have immigrated from South and Central America, including Mexico, El Salvador, and Ecuador. Each comic explores an aspect of their lives, such as being separated from their parents or feeling alienated in their new home, and is followed by an essay that explores the topic in more depth. While the art is simple, the emotions and insights expressed by each teen are not. The book is bilingual, with English on one side of each spread and Spanish on the other.


Frizzy, by Claribel Ortega, illus. by Rose Bousamra (First Second, 2022)
A Latina girl learns to accept her frizzy hair in this middle grade graphic novel. Ortega is the author of the middle grade prose novel Ghost Squad.

Juliet Takes a Breath , by Gabby Rivera, illus. by Celia Moscote and James Fenner (BOOM! Box, December 2020)
This is an adaptation of Rivera’s prose novel of the same name, about a queer Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx who heads out to Seattle hoping to figure out her place in the world—only to find that her chosen mentor won’t be able to solve all her problems. The original version was reviewed for SLJ as an Adult Book for Teens.

Isla to Island, by Alexis Castellanos (S. & S., 2022)
This wordless middle grade graphic novel follows the journey of Marisol, a Cuban girl in the 1960s, who moves to New York to escape from the regime of Fidel Castro.

The Legend of Polloman, by Gonzalo Alvarez (HarperAlley, 2021)
A young boy accidentally travels to the Aztec underworld and must do battle with six legendary creatures in this middle grade graphic novel that is based on ancient Mexican traditions. The first volume will be published in 2021 and the second in 2022.

Miss Quinces, by Kat Fajardo (Scholastic/Graphix, 2022)
Sue’s friends are all going to summer camp, but she’s not going—instead, she has to go to Honduras to visit her family. When they throw her a surprise quinceañera (a coming-of-age party), she’s none too thrilled, but eventually she comes to appreciate her family and their traditions. This is Fajardo’s first full-length solo graphic novel; a number of her shorter comics are available on her website.

Web Resources

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Graphic Novels (Huntsville Madison County Public Library Blog) – Lists the graphic novels by Latinx creators, with brief biographies, available in that library, including via Hoopla.

Comics Latinx: The Pulse of Comics of Color in 2019 (Comicosity) – A roundup of creators who are doing interesting work in kids’ and adult comics, including zines and webcomics.

Hispanic Heritage Month (History Comics and Comics in Education) – Rounds up some graphic novels by and about Latinx people that are suitable for classrooms and school libraries.

Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 (ALSC blog) – Presents a wealth of resources for finding and presenting Latinx graphic novels.

An important year ahead for Latinxs in comics (The Beat) – Published in May 2019, this article takes a broad look at the current Latinx comics scene, mostly adult comics, and lists a number of titles and creators worth following.

Latino comic book conventions show ‘there’s no one defining story’ about Hispanic identity (NBC News) – A news story from September 2020 that includes links to three Latinx comics conventions (all virtual this year) and short interviews with several creators.

Latinx People Helped Build the World of Comic Books—While Often Being Left Out of the Pages (Teen Vogue) – Looks at the involvement of Latinx creators with superhero comics, from the Golden Age to modern times, and also discusses the growing visibility of Latinx characters.

Author Image
Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, editor of the “Good Comics for Kids” blog, writes “Stellar Panels” SLJ’s graphic novels column. 

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