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"The Latinx experience at SELA is more than just the gang members." Photo: Javier Solórzano.
"The Latinx experience at SELA is more than just the gang members." Photo: Javier Solórzano.

These mutant cats are called to end the stereotypes by beating them up. Get ready L.A.

Raised in Bell Garden in the so-called SELA, the angelino Javier Solórzano was fed up with the way everybody saw the Latinos in his neighborhood, until he…

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If you were a child in the 90s, you will remember the iconic Ninja Turtles coming out of the sewers to stand up to the evil in a lawless city. 

Inspired by a childhood glued to the TV, the artist and designer Angelino Javier Solórzano has published Super Lucha Cats, possibly the most crazy and inspiring Latinx mutant comic that a book lover can read, especially if you were born in SELA (South East Los Angeles).

Super Lucha Cats tells the story of a family of cats trained by their adopted mother, a retired wrestler, to protect Bell Gardens from the monstrous villains who sow the seeds of chaos. 

These Latinx cats, who feed on tacos, also share many of the values of their community, such as love of family and traditions, and a passion for these great wrestlers like the Santo. 

"I want to show that a family can be non-traditional and still be loved. That we can create a family through community, care, love, and hitting evil in the mouth together when necessary," Solórzano explained to LA Taco.

The fight against prejudice, not only against the Latinx, but also against the distorted image of SELA as a dangerous place full of gangs, is at the heart of the project. It's an attempt, the artist said, to print some justice after so many years of having to explain to people where Bell Gardens was and that it was not the stigmatized place many believed. 

"The Latinx experience at SELA is more than just the gang members," Javier added.

One of his main concerns was how to get rid of the image of the evil, drug-dealing cholo that is so deeply-rooted in the collective unconscious and has now been installed on the Internet on platforms like TikTok as something "cool," even referenced in music. It's the cultural re-appropriation of an aesthetic that was born rooted in certain social situations and precariousness that is snobbery today.

"I saw my friend's brother murdered in front of his house when I was a teenager," he recalled. 

Javier told his editor that his mutant cats were not going to fight against cholos and traffickers. The bad tale had to be stopped and many other things about Southeast Los Angeles needed to be highlighted, freeing it from its pattern of imposed dirt and violence.

The great thing about the story is that Solórzano manages to break the cycle and throw a flying kick at the clichés, showing through some tender and somewhat delirious characters how wonderful Bell Gardens can be and is, and life in community. 

You can get Super Lucha Cats HERE.

 

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