Borderlands Reporting

The Birds and Dogs of Latinx Eco-Comix

Words by Marisol Cortez / Photos and Video by Greg Harman

Last weekend, Deceleration tripped down to the Rio Grande Valley for the Latino Comics Expo, held in Brownsville—the southernmost city in Texas, nestled on the northern bank of the Rio Grande that sutures Tejas and México before it spills into the Gulf.

We camped out, sorta, in a Cameron County-run, cement-block cabaña at the bottom tip of South Padre Island, where Xochitl, finally freed from the car, ran and ran like a dog down the length of the beach at dusk, through an otherworldly winter mist that smudged the sky into the grey surge of waves and made the whole scene feel like the end of the world—or the beginning.

As she faded into the fog I worried that somehow the water would take her, that we would all fall off the land into the vastness of the sea.

The following day we checked out the expo, held at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art. And there, amid cosplayers cosplaying and tablers tabling their zines and small press offerings—not to mention the very funny and personable Lalo Alcaraz!—we discovered two glittering jewels of eco-art and were lucky enough to interview their creators.

Meet Alejandro de la Cruz, writer of Superpatrullín, a superhero street dog and guardián de la ecología. Assisted by illustrator Rocío Denarmen, De la Cruz created the comic as the messenger of Patrulla Salvadora Rescate a la Ecología (Ecological Salvation Rescue Patrol), an environmental education initiative based in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, México.

What he says about the ecological symbolism of the street dog—simultaneously revered as a pet and discarded as a pest, but more fundamentally and simply a fellow living being which will be the helper and rescuer of self-destructive humans—is particularly profound:

I was also arrested by the work of visual artist Jose Cabrera, not least because I love birds:

Though the battery for our camera died, we were able to capture an audio interview with Cabrera about the significance of the animal imagery in his work:

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Marisol Cortez with Jose Cabrera.

Peace and love to the RGV in its generosity and creativity and beauty, from San Anto to Brownsville-Matamoros and back again, and to all the birds and dogs and kids in all borderlands everywhere.

And a parting #resistance shoutout to Lalo “Go Back to Africa” Alcaraz, who shared the remarkable body of his work since the rise of pinche 45. However low-quality our little phone video may be here, this man is still a pleasure and inspiration to hear (Part One, Part Two).

(And, please let us know if we’ve made any mistakes in our my translation in the video above! Spanish is not my first language.)


Marisol Cortez is a co-editor of Deceleration. Greg Harman is founder and co-editor.

Hit up Alejandro de la Cruz for (highly recommended) copies of Superpatrullín.

Check out Cabrera’s Facebook page to explore and/or purchase any of his prints, posters, or children’s books.