Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

A Latino POTUS on NBC’s The Event? Science Fiction Rocks

The Event First Family Of all the new shows this season on American television, the one I looked forward to the most was NBC’s The Event. Not only is it science fiction and potentially conspiracy related, but it has a solid cast and a Latino First Family (!!!).  So did I like it? Why yes I did! After watching the first two episodes, I found it has the mystery of The 4400 (which has some similarities) and LOST before we started to wonder if the writers knew what they were doing. Unfortunately The Event is flashback heavy- it makes the storytelling unnecessarily convoluted.  I’m hoping that this frenetic jumping around will simmer down soon because it will get old fast. The story doesn’t need more help in being complicated.

[Skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers] So what’s it about? Well so far, a group of individuals with advanced physiology and technology are kept prisoner in an Alaskan facility at Mount Inostranka (meaning foreigner/alien in Russian). After 60 years, the U.S. President learns of these people (let’s call them the Inostranka Group). He tries to get them out but events in the first two episodes change his mind. The Inostranka Group has people outside, and, tired of waiting, are poised to react, possibly violently. Usually these stories have an average character who gets thrust into the middle of things- someone to root for. In this case it’s Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), a guy who just wants to propose to his girlfriend but all this conspiracy stuff gets in the way.

The Event features a U.S. President of Cuban descent, President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood), the First Lady Christina Martinez also of Cuban heritage (Lisa Vidal, Puerto Rican) and their son, David (Sayeed Shahidi). There is  another Latino actor in the series besides Vidal- Gonzalo Menendez (of Cuban heritage). He plays an Air Marshal called Gonzalo MenendezDan Taylor- a minor character listed in 4 episodes on IMDB. Not sure what is up with his accent but I wanted to mention him since he’s had small parts in at least three other genre works- 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Island, and Sliders. All we know about this character is his job, his weird accent, and that he wears a wedding ring. At least he has a name, so who knows? We may see more of him in the series.

Apparently there’s been some controversy about Blair Underwood playing a Latino character of such stature (major character, primetime network TV). I admit I would have preferred a Latino actor because of the shortage of good roles that are custom-made for a Latino. But Underwood is doing a good job so far, and he definitely looks the part. Sure when he speaks Spanish he’s probably going to have a terrible accent that will make me cringe, but so do many second generation Latinos raised in the United States. Plus, the character is a bona fide Afro-Latino which is super rare on TV. Most Latinos on television or in movies are white or light skinned, and that goes for Latin American productions too.

Out of curiosity, I looked up other fictional Latino U.S. presidents. Here they are:

  • Jimmy Smits (Puerto Rican) as President Matthew Santos (Mexican American) in The West Wing
  • John D’Aquino (Italian American) as President Richard Martinez in Cory in the House

In written works (now added to my reading list!):

  • President Juanita Alvarez in Sunstorm by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (President in 2037)
  • President Joseph Armando in Mars by Ben Bova (first Hispanic president, elected sometime in the early 21st century)
  • President Maria Juarez in: The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter (First female President of the United States, for at least one term (2037-2041))

So according to this brief research, President Elias Martinez is the first U.S. President of Latino heritage on a science fiction TV show. But if you’re thinking sci-fi movies, then look no further than President Camacho of Idiocracy:

President Camacho Idiocracy

Yeah, that's right

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Karibukai Animation Festival

North entrance to Ballajá

This weekend I made it to the Karibukai Animation Festival. I say “made it” because it was raining constantly this past week and I waited until the very last day of the festival for drier weather.

I got the chance to meet Carlos Goméz Nicolás (Nikodemo), creator of the funny animated series from Spain Cálico Electrónico. Niko was freshly arrived from a (wet) tour of El Yunque rainforest. Poor guy came to Carlos Gómez Nicolás and Menormally sunny Puerto Rico and barely saw the sun.  He was nice enough to autograph stickers of his Cálico series for free. Cálico Electrónico is about a short chubby janitor/superhero that fights (or tries to fight) bad guys in Electronic City. Some videos the Cálico website are dubbed into English so if you can’t understand Spanish you’re in luck.

I saw Dig Comics, a pro comic book reading documentary with writer/director/host Miguel Cima (of Argentinean heritage).  From what I saw, Cima is very much a comic book fanboy and this documentary is a labor of love.  Made me smile.  There was a second documentary about comic books called Comic Book Literacy. It was a longish but very educational. I learned something of the history of comics in the United States.

Of the Japanese anime I saw, I found Gundam Unicorn to be the most interesting and will be looking for the DVD. I hadn’t seen any robot anime since Voltron.  I thought it had ruined me for anything else.

The shorts contest was disappointing not because of the quality but because of the quantity. There were only three contenders, and three prizes, so it wasn’t exactly a fierce competition. Hopefully next year we’ll get more entries. Here were the winners:Elena Montijo, Wewex Collazo, José (Pepe) Vázquez

1st place ($250) and Viewer’s Choice award ($150). Fried, Elena Montijo Capetillo. This was a cute dark humor story about a little girl who loves her chickens but each bird is a bit crazy (and the girl too). I voted for this entry because it was the one I liked best. Having it created by a woman was a nice bonus. Check out her promo video at the link. It shows a bit of the winning short starting at 0:37.

2nd place ($200). Boricuas Beyond: Happy Hour, José Luis Collazo. This animated short from the Puerto Ricans in the future series Boricuas Beyond was the one I least enjoyed. Although the animation is excellent, I didn’t like the crude humor.  It uses local pop culture and slang heavily so it would be hard to get if you’re not a Puerto Rican living on the island.

3rd place ($150). Ventana, José Vázquez. I’m not sure Ventana was a story, it was more like a look at past and future Puerto Rican cartoon characters, some corporate logos and others from comics and webseries. Vázquez also presented a short called Mad Taíno about a native couple who fight Spanish conquistadors.

I really hope more animators and  film producers participate in future Karibukai events. It’s great exposure and the money isn’t bad either. Here’s to next year not having such foul weather that keeps people home. I really enjoyed the event and hope the Karibukai Festival will become a yearly tradition.

Carlos Torres and Emilio Torres of Paquines.com, event organizers

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First Karibukai Animation Festival in Puerto Rico (Event)

Recently I received a press release with interesting news about an animation festival that will take place for the first time in Puerto Rico next weekend. Here are the details: The Karibukai Animation Festival will take place from May 27th to the 30th at the Puerto Rico National Filmotheque in the north wing of the Cuartel Ballajá, near the San Felipe del Morro Castle in Old San Juan. Karibukai will feature full-length animated films along with a contest for local animated shorts. According to their website, Karibukai is the Japanese word for Caribbean.

Some guests attending:

  • Carlos Goméz Nicolás (Nikodemo)- creator of the animated series from Spain Cálico Electrónico
  • Panel discussing the challenges of local animators with:
    • José Luis Collazo (Wewex)- Boricuas Beyond series
    • Reynaldo LeónGuabamán series
    • Tommy GonzálezManny el Manatí series

International productions that will be shown include:

  • Japan: Vexille, Evangelion 1.01, Robotech: Shadow Chronicles
  • United States: Halo: Legends; Justice League: Crisis on 2 Earths; Tales from the Black Freighter; documentaries Comic Book Literacy and Dig Comics
  • Israel: Waltz with Bashir

Karibukai is organized by Paquines, a nonprofit organization bringing animation, comics, and film fans together in Puerto Rico. Check out the Karibukai official website for more details, film listings, and contest info. I’m looking forward to checking the festival out so if you can’t be in beautiful Old San Juan next weekend, I’ll let you know what went down.

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Puerto Rican Comics Series: ‘Deepest Fears Project’ Manga (Interview)

During my visit to the last Puerto Rico Comic Con (PRCC) and this year’s Free Comic Book Day I met several up-and-coming comic book writers and artists. This article is the first of many about comic book creators on the island.

Title: Deepest Fears Project
Publisher: Self-published
Creator and Artwork: Keishla M. Rodríguez
Inking: Keishla M. Rodríguez, David E. Morales
Story: Keishla M. Rodríguez, Alexis I. Ríos, Xaymara Rodríguez, David E. Morales
Text Editing: Keishla M. Rodríguez, Alexis I. Ríos
Website: myspace.com/DeepestFearsManga

Shiro Raikkonen of 'Deepest Fears Project'

The Deepest Fears Project Vol. 1 introduces a story about three friends who are like siblings that move to Puerto Rico in search of a safer life. It is set in a future where genetic manipulation has crossed animal and human DNA, and some people are part beast. The three main characters, besides being a mix of nationalities (German, Puerto Rican, Finnish, Chinese), are part wolf and panda. You can see it at first glance- they have animal ears and tails. Although this new breed of humans is openly part of society, some pure humans consider them abnormal and abuse them. Deepest Fears Project is written in English, but it may be translated to Spanish soon.

I spoke to the creator and self-taught artist Keishla Rodríguez about how Deepest Fears was developed, and future plans for the series. She and her team are all from Puerto Rico. Ms. Rodríguez definitely embodies promising young talent creatively, artistically, and entrepreneurially. Here’s the interview:

How was the PRCC for Deepest Fears?
It was my first time going to a convention and people really supported us, and we were able to recoup most of what we invested. I didn’t realize there was so much interest in manga in Puerto Rico, even though some people, particularly adults, weren’t familiar with it and we had to explain.  It was super! Our writing team was there, all of us helping out with the setup.

The artwork is great! How did you learn to draw? Before Deepest Fears, had you worked on any other art projects?
I mostly learned to draw on my own, taking web tutorials and experimenting instead of formal training. I have two other mangas, but didn’t publish them.

How did the Deepest Fears Project originate?
It began as an RPG I was in with a friend. We developed our characters and thought of creating a comic strip. But when I took a course in Media Administration as part of my Communications degree I talked to my group and we decided to develop a manga as our final project. The title ‘Deepest Fears’ refers to the central character Shiro, who has made a deal with Hades and is trying to run from what he is, his fears, and inner darkness. Certain songs I listened to helped me come up with the title.

Tell us more about Shiro.
Shiro is the eldest sibling so he’s been taking care of the other two. Shiro and brother Paku were abandoned and grew up in an orphanage, and sister Kirsi had parents but they died. They were friends before the death of Kirsi’s parents, and were bonded even tighter when they did die. Shiro as the oldest feels he needs to be the strong one, yet inside he is afraid of failure and what he’s become.

Who are the ‘Disfigured Saints’ mentioned in the book? Are they the bad guys?
They are like army sergeants commanded by Hades. Each one has their own contingent watching over people according to their sin. They rid the Earth of evil yet ironically are evil themselves. Hades is a dictator type and dominates the planet, although there is someone above him.

How many volumes will the story end up having?
It’ll be eight volumes, possibly with other stories outside of the main story arc but in the same world. We’re working on the second volume now and it should be out around September, depending on how well the first volume sells.

What other products do you have in the line?
We make our own shirts, key chains, stickers, and posters. We plan on making figurines and stuffed toys- whatever we can think of! It’s a job I’m passionate about and once I graduate I’d like to continue making books and publishing them. I plan on finishing the series in Puerto Rico. I don’t know if in the future I’ll go on to formally study about making comics.

Thanks to Ms. Rodríguez for the interview! You can read more about Deepest Fears Project at their MySpace page here. Soon they’ll be up on Facebook. Order requests for Deepest Fears Project merchandise can be sent to DeepestFearsManga AT gmail.

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Puerto Rico Comic Con 2010

This weekend the Puerto Rico Comic Con (PRCC) held its annual two-day event at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan. I visited on the first day. The PRCC is a small convention that is almost entirely a huge dealer’s room with comic book and toy vendors.  Their best feature is that the local comic book and manga artists come in person with their new material (which they all signed for the price of the book). It was great meeting them; you could tell they love what they do. Most attendees were teens and young adults interested in anime and manga, a growing trend on the island. There were plenty of cosplayers at the event along with game tournaments and a few out-of-town guests. These included Twilight actor Chaske Spencer, anime voice actor Spike Spencer, and comic book artist Michael Golden.

Hopefully next year the convention will add more panels and have an event schedule and booth map available on site. There was only one panel with Chaske Spencer limited to 300 people a day, and it cost an additional $40 to get in (daily tix were $16). So most attendees never saw the arguably biggest star of the event, and that’s a shame. While not being a Twilight fan, I would have gone out of curiosity and who knows? Maybe I would watch the movies if I was charmed by one of the actors. Spike Spencer did have a Q&A session but it wasn’t moderated; it took place in the main dealer’s room so it didn’t have the greatest sound quality. However, the actor did his best to answer questions and entertain everyone so- disaster averted.

I got the latest local comic books and talked to many artists, so in future posts I will share my thoughts about the books and whenever possible, interview the artists and writers. I’ve posted pictures of the event on the SciFi Latino Facebook page.

UPDATE 4/26/2010: More event photos by attendees at the Paquines.com and Cinemateria forum. You must register to see them, but it’s free. Click here!

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