In December 2017, 43-year-old Anthony Otero, was tapped by comic book publisher, Lion Forge, to contribute to a collection of comics that would fill the anthology ‘Puerto Rico Strong.’
Otero recalled being shocked when approached with the opportunity.
Officially released on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the books in the collection differed in styles, colors, authors and storylines, but were intended to highlight the Puerto Rican diaspora and help raise money for relief efforts after Hurricane Maria.
Otero’s story in the anthology, called ‘La Casita of American Heroes,’ reflects on the long intertwining history of Puerto Ricans who fought in the U.S. armed forces.
The nine-page comic was the first Otero had ever written. He mentioned the style of not writing a regular script, though unfamiliar, was a good kind of challenge.
He also noted even though he had already published two traditional books prior to this comic, one of his childhood dreams was to write a comic book.
Growing up in Clason Point, Otero said he never thought he would get to achieve the feat, but after finding comic book artist, Charles ‘Ooge’ Ugas, his dream soon became a reality.
The main characters in the story, a U.S. Army soldier and her daughter, travel back to Puerto Rico to find their family after the hurricane.
When they arrive, they see the house almost completely destroyed and are worried their family did not survive.
In the wake of all the destruction, they find photos of their family some who served in combat, still hanging on the wall.
The story, though short, was both tear jerking and educational in the discussion of Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens.
The story line of ‘La Casita of American Heroes’ touches on Otero’s own experiences as an Afro-Puerto Rican growing up in the Bronx with family members who also served with the U.S. Armed Forces, though many to this day have contested their value as U.S. citizens.
One of the stories he specifically remembered was of a great uncle who served in World War II, stationed at a prison that held captured Nazis .
His uncle was required to leave the room during interogations because military personnel would not speak to him since he was Afro-Puerto Rican, even though he was an American citizen, he related.
That misconception of identity is what has in fact fueled much of his life’s work.
Whether through his books, podcasts or blogs, he has tried to discuss topics spanning his own intersectionality as a way to give representation to the broader Latino community not just right in the borough, but around the world.
His messge to young and aspiring writers in the Bronx, however, is simple: Never give up, you are never too young or too old to follow your passions.
The ‘Puerto Rico Strong’ anthology can be purchased on Amazon or at book stores nationwide.
For more information on Anthony Otero and his other works, visit antho
Proceeds for ‘Puerto Rico Strong’ go to the United Way hurricane relief efforts for Puerto Rico.