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New Spanish-Language Comic Books Help Get Kids Into Reading

First Posted: May 02, 2014 03:10 PM EDT
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Ai Weiwei takes on immigration with 300 fences in New York
Fame: Demi Lovato

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Bluewater Productions, the full-service production and publishing company that houses a diverse collection of comic book titles -- including "Wrath of the Titans" and "10th Muse" -- has teamed up with Ave Fenix Comics, a Spanish-language digital publisher, to produce Spanish-language graphic novels, making Bluewater's enjoyable material available to Spanish-language audiences across America for the first time.

Bluewater's founder, publisher and writer Darren G. Davis spoke with Latin Post about the inception of the Vancouver-based production studio, technology and the importance of comic books in the lives of children. Whether in English or Spanish, comic books help to produce avid readers by offering children compelling material to engage with. Davis said his niece, a teacher, even uses the company's Spanish-language titles to persuade children in her Spanish-heavy school to read.

Davis first published at Image Comics, then Alias Enterprises (which shifted its brand to focus primarily on Christian comics), before he opted to self-publish. Strong and independent women are often the focus in many of Bluewater's publications, whether in original titles ("Legend of Isis," "The Wave" or "Judo-Girl") or one of its acclaimed biographical comic series ("Female Force"). Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton were natural choices for biography comic books, in light of the 2008 elections, and were among the first in the "Female Force" comic line. The female empowerment angle resonated well with audiences, and it managed to "bring new readership to comic books for those who never read a comic book before."

Of course, Bluewater has plenty of titles geared toward males -- and a biographical comic book line called "Orbit," which offers comic biographies on popular, charismatic men, including Stan Lee and Steve Jobs. Other comic lines are "Political Power," "Fame," "The Royals," "Comics," "Infamous," "15 Minutes," "American Defenders," and "Tribute."

When Davis was young, graphic novels helped pull him into the world of reading and encouraged him to be an avid reader as an adult. He believes that same progression will take place in the lives of young Latinos who would benefit from reading Bluewater's work translated by Ave Fenix.

"There's this process called sequential art, and it's storytelling through art. You're not just dependent on seeing the work on the paper. You're actually bringing your own imagination in by seeing the images and tying it all together," Davis said. "I'm a huge reader, but I've always been intimidated by books. There's no way that I would ever pick up "War and Peace" or anything like that. But, in recent years, ever since they got the Kindle, which is another amazing tool to get kids reading, I'm reading "Gone with the Wind" and all of these 700- or 800-page books and not even blinking. It's not as daunting looking at a 22-page comic book."

Technology has benefited readers and the comic book industry by offering a less costly method of distribution. But Davis acknowledged that e-readers take away the "collectability" of comic books. The writer remarked that "Fifty Shades" changed the publishing industry, keeping Barnes & Noble afloat because of  purchases made for the Nook e-reader. "Fifty Shades of Grey", the "Justin Bieber of novels," according to Davis, changed the industry's approach to that media.

E-readers also make comic books more accessible for those who don't have comic book stores or book stores in their communities. Bluewater offers comics on both fronts, making works available in print and digitally. Spanish-language publications of "Fame: Jennifer Lawrence," "Dorian Gray," "Oscar Wilde," and "Jailbait," which is a marketed as a cross between "'To Catch a Predator' and 'Witchblade,'" are available for Spanish-language readers, as a source of edutainment.

Many young Latinos will identify with the "Demi Lovato" comic, which is part of the Fame series. According to Davis, Lovato is "the most down to earth, says it like it is, and has done screwed up things, but she's a really good role model." Also, in the "Female Force" series, Latinos can identify with Sonia Sotomayor.

According to Davis, Bluewater is also planning to draft a tribute issue about music legend Selena, though he admitted that he has yet to begin artwork for the issue.

To learn more about Bluewater Productions, visit the site, follow on Twitter and like on Facebook.

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