Hector Rodriguez III wears many hats—and all of them are a little heroic. A McKinney ISD fifth-grade bilingual teacher by day, he’s a comic book creator once the final bell rings—known for his 10-year series of El Peso Hero adventures.
The co-founder and CEO of Rio Bravo Comics didn’t stop there. In 2016 Rodriguez co-founded Texas Latino Comic Con, the first premier event highlighting Latino comic book creators in Texas. Held at Dallas’ Latino Cultural Center, the inaugural annual event introduced new writers and artists, helping to spread light on the underrepresentation of Latinos in comics and the entertainment industry.
Now, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of El Peso Hero, Rodriguez just surpassed his Kickstarter goal—promoting a 400-plus-page trade paperback collector’s edition of the first 12 volumes of El Peso Hero. The Kickstarter had 42 hours to go at press time.
The El Peso Hero series is a neo-Western influenced by modern-day challenges faced by people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. In the series, Ignacio Rivera is a rogue hero who helps immigrants and stands up against Mexico’s cartels, corrupt officials, and human traffickers. The comics are written in both English and Spanish.
“The El Peso Hero series has meant a lot to our Latino community especially our youth,” Rodriguez told Dallas Innovates. “They see themselves in the hero, Ignacio Rivera, El Peso Hero. They have connected to the border stories and felt pride in the representation.”
There hasn’t been a superhero like El Peso Hero, the creator says: “A hero that transcends cultures and borders for Texas and Mexico.”
Rio Bravo Comics says CBS, NBC, CNN, Univision, and Telemundo have all reported on El Peso Hero. The series also garnered a glowing profile of Rodriguez in Texas Monthly last fall, including news of an El Peso Hero movie in the works. The project is being spearheaded by Javier Chapa of Mucho Mas Media and written by Sean Tretta, a writer for FX’s “Mayans M.C.” Eli Roth, director of “Hostel,” has been lined up as a producer, with Jay Hernandez (“Magnum P.I.”) slated to star.
“We look forward to sharing major news very soon,” Rodriguez told Dallas Innovates today, updating us on the movie project. “We’re going for a grounded, character-driven approach to the story—very universal and true to Ignacio Rivera, El Peso Hero.”
Rodriguez said the movie project’s producer, El Paso native Chapa, is “making waves in Hollywood.” Chapa’s movie “Blue Miracle,” starring Dennis Quaid and Jimmy Gonzales and directed by Julio Quintana, is now streaming on Netflix.
“It’s been an amazing experience to have the opportunity to share the stories of El Peso Hero” with the filmmaking creatives, Rodriguez told us.
Eagle Pass and early inspiration
As a boy growing up in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, Rodriguez developed a passion for reading comics. But after moving farther north into Texas, he had a hard time finding stories about people he could relate to. So he created a comic book series that did just that.
Rodriguez drew inspiration from listening to his grandfather tell stories of a special ops team in Mexico. But what really motivated him was hearing the stories and struggles of Latino students in his own classroom.
“The El Peso Hero series has meant a lot to our Latino community, especially our youth,” Rodriguez said. “They see themselves in the hero, Ignacio Rivera, El Peso Hero. They’ve connected to the border stories and felt pride in the representation. There hasn’t been a superhero like El Peso Hero—a hero that transcends cultures and borders for Texas and Mexico.”
Texas Latino Comic Con returns this year
Texas Latino Comic Con was presented virtually last fall because of the pandemic. Rodriguez says its fifth event will be held later this year, with a date to be announced soon.
“It has been a great success with our partnership with the Dallas Latino Cultural Center,” Rodriguez said, noting that the online event will be free to the public.
Linking up with lucha libre
Since last September, Rodriguez has worn yet another hat, as director of development for Masked Republic, a San Diego-based company that calls itself “the first integrated live event, merchandising, and media organization centered on the emerging market of lucha libre—Mexican wrestling—in the U.S.”
From inspiring young minds in McKinney, to creating heroes that cross borders and change perceptions, to wrestling with the growth of lucha libre culture, you never know where Rodriguez will turn up next. But to his students, fans, and supporters, he’ll always be a bit of a hero himself.
Quincy Preston contributed to this report.
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