Comics are something that most of us would draw and doodle when we were younger. Putting crayon or pencil to paper and developing a visual story might of even been an activity for classwork or a school project. For some like Rolando Esquivel however, it was how they coped with everyday issues, escaped reality, and develop life-long friendships. Neta met Esquivel, writer and editor for 5 Meats Comics at the Carlotta K. Petrina Center in Brownsville for the CreARTE Comic and Cultural Expo. We talked about his experience being a comic book publisher from Brownsville, Texas and about the work he has developed in collaboration with illustrator Oscar Garza.
Neta: Can you introduce yourself?
Esquivel: My name is Rolando Esquivel, I am the writer and Editor for 5 Meat Comic, which is primarily a comic book publisher but we do posters and tee shirts too.
Neta: So how did 5 Meats Comics start?
Esquivel: Oscar and I are both from Brownsville, we actually grew up together. We met in 8thgrade in middle school and since then we started doing dumb stuff together. He started drawing fake band logos on his folder and we just kept doing things like that ever since. We got into wrestling together, we were both luchadores. He is still wrestling in Austin for an outfit called Party World Rasslin which is the best damn wrestling promotion you will ever see but yeah we just started when we were kids and it grew when we were in college.
That’s’ where the idea for Mashbone and Grifty came from, a doodle of a caveman character with a bone through his head. We originally wanted to make an animated series but that was taking too long and decided to put it out in comic books. Currently we have our fourth issue of Mashbone and Grifty, it’s a comedy action comic book. It’s about two loser friends who want to start their own private detective agency to pay bills. They have no idea what they’re doing, they start their business out of a bar. It is just everything that comes with it, they meet different characters and get into a lot of trouble.
Neta: What is the book about?
Esquivel: The book that we have is called, Tristen’s small problem, which deals with bullying and is actually by Jennie Garza, Oscar’s sister-in-law. It’s about a turtle named Tristen who has claustrophobia and doesn’t like to go back into his shell. He gets made fun of by the other turtles in the zoo where he lives and he decides to run away. As he is running away he meets other animals in the zoo that also have differences from their animal counterparts. He learns how they accept their differences and learns not think of themselves as weird but rather as unique and special.
Neta: Anything else you have in the works?
Esquivel: Coming soon we are going to have an all ages comic that is more of a personal story for me. It’s also kind of a comedy but has to do more about relationships and families, especially families that may come from broken homes. It has to do with a group of three kids, it’s called Lemon, Pepper, Hugs. Lemon is a tough as nails kid and basically she is a latchkey kid, and I grew up a latchkey kid myself so I wanted to write that for kids who might feel the way I did when I was little. Then she has two friends, Pepper and Hugs, they are a brother and sister tandem and they just get into adventures together. It’s either random stuff like starting a lemonade stand and trying to deal with the cookie scouts that are pushing everyone off of their turf to more Calvin and Hobbes-ish fantasy kind of ideas.
Neta: What’s the inspiration?
Esquivel: The concepts for the stories come from our upbringing in Brownsville. We decided to represent our culture down here, a lot of the humor as well. Things that we grew up with that we still remember and that we love. Primarily it is about the humor and the comedy but it’s also about the representation for us.
Neta: Tell us about ya’lls pop art style.
Esquivel: The idea behind it is pop culture with Mexican spice. A lot of the Mexican culture is appropriated into American culture, you see it time and time again, most recently with the Sugar Skulls. We took that and turned it on its head and did it in reverse. We take things like Rick and Morty and did a poster called, “Elote Rick,” so an elote instead of a pickle, like Pickle Rick. We also did Lucha Libre meets the Infinity War, it’s the cover of the Infinity Gauntlet comic book but instead of Thanos and superheroes it is luchadores with a championship belt instead of a Gauntlet. We just do a lot of mash ups like that. We have a Cantinflas meets Super Mario mashup available on tee shirts on our Teespring Store, just search 5 Meats.
We have a Latinx shirt which we did in the vein of the X-Men logo in the comics. The reason we did that is because Latinx has become this term basically to identify anyone that is Latino whether male, female, or nonbinary or whether your Mexican, Hondureño, Puerto Rican. It’s just an overarching term. The reason for the mash-up is because a lot of Latinx folks have been vilified recently, just like the mutants in X-Men. It made sense for us to mash both together as a statement of how we feel we’ve been seen as. Making the shirt and wearing it is a statement of saying you are proud of who you are and that it doesn’t matter what anybody says.
Neta: Do you have anything else to add?
Esquivel: Just follow us online for updates on our work, we are on social media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @5meats. We have a Tee Spring store where you can buy our work on t-shirts and you can find us on Big Cartel and Comic Central. Mostly we are having a lot of fun doing this stuff, we are doing it for ourselves but also for our culture and for the people who do not see themselves in a lot artwork or movies. We just want to represent where we are from because we love the hell out of it growing up.