“An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, a Bronx legend, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence.
After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.”
As Puerto Rican superhero makes debut, her writer brings ‘the power of our people’ to comics
connected with the Latino comics-reading community by doing what he always does: Acknowledging his roots and applying it to his work, no matter the medium. As a result, many Puerto Rican institutions began contacting him, including the organizers of National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York; they told Miranda-Rodriguez they’d be excited to collaborate with him.
“All these cultural, educational, political organizations [that represent Puerto Rico] are reaching out to me? This is insane,” Miranda-Rodriguez recounted thinking — as Grandma Estela connected with readers.
So Miranda-Rodriguez gave the Puerto Rican Day Parade organizers an idea: Build a presentation during the parade based on a new Puerto Rican superhero.
“I pitched it to the parade and said: ‘What if we did an original comic book, and it was a collaboration between my studio [Somos Arte] and the parade?’ And they loved it,” Miranda-Rodriguez said. “It was something that had never been done before.”
So he set out to create a hero who would represent Puerto Rican culture and bring light to issues that weigh heavy on the minds of many in the Puerto Rican community…”
reclaimthebindi with my gorgeous niece, who’s biracial - half Dominican and Puerto Rican, half Bangladeshi. Her ma and she were disowned by our family because my sister fell in love with an Afro-Latino. If that doesn’t prove the anti-Blackness prevalent in so many desi communities, I don’t know what else could.
So here’s to the desis that are told they can’t belong and to my Banu, dark, beautiful, and worthy ✊🏾
“In Ghetto Klown, celebrated performer John Leguizamo lays bare his early years in blue-collar Queens, his salvation through acting and writing, and his colorful career trajectory. He brings us onto the sets of his films opposite stars such as Al Pacino and Patrick Swayze and with directors such as Baz Luhrmann and Brian De Palma, while also opening up about his offstage life in love and marriage. In this candid graphic novel memoir, Leguizamo offers a strong message of moving beyond self-doubt—and beyond the doubters—to claim some happiness.
Originally staged on Broadway in 2011, Ghetto Klown won Leguizamo Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards before being adapted into an HBO special. Now, teaming up with artists Christa Cassano and Shamus Beyale, Leguizamo shares his life story in this vibrant, funny, and moving adaptation.”
By John Leguizamo, art: Christa Cassano, Shamus Beyale