There’s lots of material to explore in the complex, fraught and difficult relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States of America. Perhaps one of the saddest things about the US is the way it treats its territories, and Puerto Rico in particular. Puerto Ricans are not officially represented American citizens, they have no representation in Congress and appear to be treated as second-class citizens at any opportunity. Whether it was during the fiscal collapse or during the cleanup of Hurricane Maria, there was a disconnect between America’s ruling class and those living on the island. When I received a note from cartoonist Vicko Alvarez about a new comic called Hush Papi about a dystopian sci-fi adventure comic taking place in the year 3000, as the last Puerto Rican alive goes to the US Mainland to get revenge after rampant experimentation and decimation left the island utterly devastated, I was sold on the concept. It’s an interesting way to look at the tension between Puerto Rico and America. The comic is also dedicated to those affected by Hurricane Maria, a vicarious way to think of the aftermath of the devastation. The comic is also accompanied by a music video that can be seen below.
Here’s the official PR for the comic:
In “Hush Papi”, a Puerto Rican teen raised by mutated coquis, as he wages war against the colonizer in the year 3000. “Hush Papi” is a short comic zine about a young Puerto Rican boy who is said to be the last living Puerto Rican after rampant experimentation by the U.S. decimated his island. In the year 3000, it is only him and human-size coquis who defend the island against further destruction. Hush Papi does not believe that he is the only living Puerto Rican, so he ventures to the U.S. mainland in search of the diaspora in hopes of reminding them of their roots and uniting them against their current oppressor, General Bequi.
“Hush Papi” is the brainchild of singer/songwriter, Lester Rey, a boricua born in the diaspora who grew up loving comic and adventure stories. “The arts has always played a major role in my life. As a kid I wanted to sing, I wanted to dance, I wanted to write and draw. I decided to turn my song, “Coqui”, into multiple visuals so the audience could see what I see when I sing it.” The song “Coqui” together with the animated video serve as a prequel to the “Hush Papi” comic where you witness the emergence of the giant coquis who later watch over Hush Papi as a kid.
“Hush Papi” was created in collaboration with visual artist Jose Rosa and comic artist/storyteller Vicko Alvarez. Jose Rosa is a graduate of Columbia School of the Arts in Chicago and Vicko is the creator and illustrator of the popular webcomic, ScholaR Comics. They hope their involvement breaks ground in how we perceive collaboration across art mediums as being more cohesive and beautiful than we would imagine.
The comic is created by Lester Rey, a singer/songwriter in collaboration with visual artist Jose Rosa, David Escobedo and cartoonist Vicko Alvarez. I interviewed Vicko Alvarez last year and was struck with how interesting her vision of comics as a tool for activism and education was. Hush Papi. Her role in editing and supervising the creation of this comic allows her to foster the development of new creators and allow others to properly express their vision. You can go see the comic and listen to the music video on Lester Rey’s website.
Philippe Leblanc is a Canadian comics journalist. In his regular life, he improves Canadian medical education, and is the co-host of the Ottawa Comic Book Club. He reads alternative, indie and art comics at night and write about them for the Comics Beat.