A woman breaking into the man’s world of cartoons

Liz Mayorga has been drawing ever since she could remember. Her first clear memory was having to draw a dinosaur in kindergarten and it was posted in the principal’s office. Since then, she says she moved to Hello Kitty, Batman, and now to her very own characters in her unique compilation of comic strips in “A Caxcan Guerrilla Takes Over the Awkward Girl” and “Inked.”

Her superb creativity landed her in this month’s 2nd Annual Latino Comics Expo, in which she represented one of the few women in a man’s comic world.

Mayorga, 30, says creativity runs in her blood. Her Mexican grandmother would always be making something out of nothing.

“She was a DYI [do it yourself] person,” says Mayorga. “She’d start playing with a little napkin and embroider little designs on it, she made her own dresses, and made me a rag doll.”

A woman breaking into the man’s world of cartoons lizmayorga people NBC Latino News

Photos courtesy Liz Mayorga

Mayorga’s parents are from the Zacateca region of Mexico – her other source of inspiration. She’s so proud of her culture in fact that she has tattoos of a Day of the Dead design and a quetzal. She says archaeologists have recently been finding ancient ruins in their hometown El Teúl, about two hours north of Guadalajara.

“This past summer, I got to see a lot of these ruins,” she says. “It left a big impression on me… I always used to ask my mom if she knew anything about our ancestry, but she always said no. I was really happy to see that there was real history and actual monuments around my mom and dad’s hometown.”

During her time there, she would listen to stories about the people and also about the drug cartels.

In November of 2010, she started documenting all she saw and heard through a collection of short stories and comic strips, which she ended up self-publishing in October of 2011. She says overall, the theme of her project was persistence.

“I don’t talk about the drug cartels directly,” says Mayorga. “I talk about things that usually get people down, but I portray it in a positive way, or a way that makes it bearable…I tried approaching it as if it was a mixed tape.”

She says she’s had a lot of positive feedback for her work. The majority of people that gravitated towards her table at the Expo were older people buying for their granddaughters, younger women with a feminist edge, DIY people, young modern moms and teenagers who you can’t really fit into a category.

She’s honored to be one of the female cartoonists in a mostly male dominated sphere.

“It is mostly men, but it’s changing a lot,” she says. “Last year for example at the Expo there were probably two women, but this year they made more of an effort to bring more women, and it was probably half and half…A lot of women doing things like this…they are out there.”.

Currently, Mayorga is a graduate student working on an MFA in writing at the California College of the Arts, in San Francisco.

“I love writing about just about anything,” she says. “I like coming of age stories and horror stories – somehow those two seem to go well together.”

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