“I think by doing this kind of work I’m helping everyone a bit and helping make the world a better place,” says Laura Rivera, the creator of Ninja X, a self-published children’s graphic novel that teaches kids valuable life lessons with a bit of humour, fun and adventure.
Rivera will debut the second instalment of Ninja X during September and October at the Richmond Arts Village where she’ll also be showing kids how to make comics themselves. Her presentation will be accessible both in person, requiring everyone to wear a mask, and online.
“I wanted to make stories that included people from all over the world,” says Rivera.
When the creator left her home in Mexico to study digital animation in the United States and eventually to Canada in 2014 to study screenwriting, her entire world opened up; back home she was used to the same circle of friends, but here, she was surrounded by people from different countries and cultures.
“I saw a lot of stereotypes that I used to believe about other cultures being broken so I decided to make these comics and this character about breaking stereotypes,” says Rivera.
In Ninja X, the main character is a Mexican wrestler with blonde hair and blue eyes – this stemmed from Rivera’s own experiences being Mexican, but being told she didn’t look the part by her peers because of her lighter skin tone.
“Every single representation of Mexicans that I saw in the media was the same, so I tried to make something that commented on and mocked that in a way that was natural and not in the direct commentary,” she says.
Rivera wanted kids to understand where they come from and what they look like is second to who they are so she created characters that looked and acted differently from their stereotypes.
“We all come in different shades and colours. What is important is who we are inside, how we relate to others and how we are as people,” she says.
“I’m trying to do something that people can relate to, but they can have fun reading it,” says Rivera.
Ninja X is an action-comedy enveloped in magic; it has characters who go around the world doing good deeds, a mysterious magical phoenix that only a few can see and a ton of
In the first volume, readers are introduced to the characters and magical creatures; in volume two, they discover there are some bad guys coming for Ninja X and her friends.
Their adventures take them to Mexico, Brazil, Europe, China and many more places as they look for others who have special gifts and magic to join them.
For all of the fun the characters in Ninja X have, they also teach people they’re not alone.
“I make comics because I know that children, and some adults and teenagers as well, need some comfort and they need tools to learn certain values that are not trying to tell them what to do,” says Rivera.
Rivera’s artistic lifestyle and desire to teach children can be traced back to when she was young.
“I believe children don’t like people telling them what to do all the time. They need some space to learn on their own and I think by seeing these characters, who are also children and teenagers, they can learn by their own experiences,” she says.
Coming from a big family with tons of cousins, Rivera spent a lot of time babysitting and doodling in her notebook. Later on she learned she could make a career out of it, combining the two to become a teacher that teaches animation to children and creating her own graphic novel.
She says the kids she’s been surrounded by in her family and in her classroom inspired her to make this comic and to put messages of tolerance, understanding and friendship in them.
“I think children are the future and we have to be kind to them and help them learn,” says Rivera.
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