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The Hero Maker: Catching up with comic creator, educator and TWU alum, Hector Rodriguez

Hector Rodriguez created Ignacio Rivera, a.k.a El Peso Hero, for one reason. “We needed a hero,” the Texas Woman’s University alum says. “We still need a hero. Where immigration is concerned, we have needed reform for many, many years.” 

El Peso Hero has spent over 10 years on comic book panels in his pursuit to combat corrupt officials, the cartel, human traffickers, and advocate for migrant rights on the border. Inspired by a trip to the border almost twenty years ago, (“I remember thinking this place needs a hero”) the El Peso Hero comic officially launched in 2011 and is an ongoing series that spans a dozen books and has potential plans for a Hollywood adaptation

Ignacio Rivera, a.k.a, El Peso Hero/ Courtesy Hector Rodriguez 

“The story is deep rooted, and surrounded with history, a very reflective history,” says Rodriguez. Hispanic fans of the series, he says, see themselves in El Peso Hero, connecting to the stories about the border and feeling pride in the representation, which is rare, especially in comic book characters. “The El Peso Hero series has meant a lot to our Latino youth.”

Self-published by his Rio Bravo Comics publishing company, El Peso Hero and Rodriguez has been highlighted by multiple national news outlets including an episode on the popular Latino USA podcast, a profile in Texas Monthly, multiple write ups on NBC, NPR, and appearances on Telemundo and WFAA, to name a few. 

Growing up in Eagle Pass and College Station as a Mexican American and 10th generation Texan, Rodriguez is proud of his Hispanic heritage and has worked to make spaces where Latinos are represented. Aside from creating El Peso Hero and owning his publishing company, Rodriguez co-created the Texas Latino Comic Con in 2016 where fans and creators alike can meet each other and celebrate Latino stories in comics. A new venture, as an editor at the newly formed Chispa Comics, will almost certainly expand Rodriguez’s national reach as a comics creator. 

Hector in figure drawing class at TWU in 2005.

Even though his family had a legacy of attending Texas A&M, Rodriguez says he chose to attend TWU “because of the diversity of both staff and students and their down to earth approach to academic achievement.” It was at TWU, too, where he studied art and figure drawing, which helped him cement his skills as an artist and laid the ground work for his future career as a comic book artist. “The art program really helped me,” he says. Still involved at TWU, Rodriguez also recently wrapped up his term as a board member for the Pioneer Alumni Association. 

Hector Rodriguez

Rodriguez earned his degree in sociology and graduated in 2006 with every intention of going to law school, but instead landed in a 5th grade bilingual classroom at McKinney ISD, where he gets to be a real life superhero. “It’s more fulfilling for sure,” he says. “I’ll never forget when they did a big round up and deported immigrants in the area. A lot of the parents of my students were included in that, and a specific student lost his dad, and I just told him, ‘Listen, within these walls, I am your dad.’ Just like Ignacio Rivera, a hero was needed.”