Humberto Ramos Talks Inspiration for Fernanda Rodriguez, The Locust
Who is the teenage Champion that leaps into danger? Artist and co-creator Humberto Ramos shares what makes this Marvel Super Hero so special!
Who is Fernanda Rodriguez? First appearing in CHAMPIONS (2016) #9, Fernanda is a Mexican-American teenager who proudly takes up her family’s legacy to become The Locust, protector of nomadic tribes and vulnerable travelers.
When CHAMPIONS artist Humberto Ramos and writer Mark Waid came together to create Fernanda, Ramos requested that the character nod to El Chapulín Colorado—a character from the Mexican comedy series on TV (1973-1979) who inspired him to be a Super Hero as a kid. He reveals another inspiration for the most enthusiastic member of the Champions...we’ve got the inside scoop below!
How would you describe Fernanda? What makes this character special?
Humberto Ramos: When I was invited to collaborate on this book, we had an idea of what we wanted to share with the readers—Champions was not just a title of the book, it was an idea. In a troubled world, we really wanted to inspire people, kids mostly, to be their own champions in their own lives. Being raised in Mexico, I wanted to share that representation with people, and have them have their own Champions, which Fernanda and her background is all about.
I have the bad habit of putting people from my own life into the characters I create (laughs). When you bring a character to the world, you share a little of you. Fernanda is named after my wife, which Mark agreed to. She’s a woman that I admire, I respect, and look after because she is strong and determined, and has overcome her own personal battles. She is fundamental to our family. We all rely on her and we trust her. She leads us as a family to the right place—to me that’s the hero code, that’s the fiber of what heroes should be. That’s the spirit in this little girl that we put out in this book. It’s a lot of my personal input in that character.
The Locust is inspired by a real TV character! What does El Chapulín Colorado mean to you?
This is where the story goes all over the place. When I was a little kid in Mexico, we had this TV show called El Chapulín Colorado. It’s a comedy show about this Super Hero, an underdog kind of Super Hero, who never does anything the right way, but he always gets it right in the end. He always finds himself victorious, even though he doesn’t know how he won the battle. He’s committed to his moral stature, which is the people he stands up for.
As you might know, we don’t have our own Super Heroes in Mexico. Even when I was a kid, we all knew Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers. But we didn’t have any for us—and this character Fernanda, in some ways, represents us kids as a Super Hero.
El Chapulín Colorado had these weird powers—he could shrink like Ant-Man, he had super string at one point, and a rubber hammer that was his weapon, like Thor. He’s not muscular, neither handsome nor intelligent. He’s kinda funny and ridiculous actually.
When Marvel offered the team on CHAMPIONS to come up with a character with a Latin American background and heritage, I told them about this character, if we can honor a little bit of what inspired me to want to be a Super Hero myself.
To me, it was a way to say thank you for letting us be inspired to be heroes, even under our circumstances. I didn’t have money, my family was blue collar, working family, and we had no luxuries or anything like that. So we did Champions to be inspired by, and this character makes me feel like without being powerful or super strong or super smart, we could put ourselves into it and overcome our disadvantages, winning our battles.
This character honored that whole concept of being inspired to become a hero, and that seemed okay to me. The team believed it could be and that’s how we created the Red Locust.
How does Fernanda bring her own unique personality to The Locust alias?
I tried to give a glance, mostly hints and little details, that make people wonder, but kept it far enough so she was a new original character. I added little details, like the antennas are retractable, a Corazon sticker as a memorial to her granny and her granny's scarf. I did a second pass on the character and then she grew from the first to the second, in a little more of a personal approach of what the character should be, just by herself. Beyond where she comes from, where the inspiration came from...it was time to move on and let her be the character that she is.
When I left the book, I suggested to call her just “Locust” from then on, just to set the clear idea that she is a character of her own, with her own history and origins, and let her grow from there and write her own story. I hope we’ll see that happening.
The one thing that I love when a new team comes onto the book, they give their input on it. So whatever the new artist can bring to the character and make her more exciting to watch, I’m more than happy to see it coming. When Dan Slott and I came out with Silk, seeing her drawn by different artists and evolve into the character she is now, it’s a really cool thing. It’s like having a kid and then let them go into the world, and suddenly you realize the kind of person they grow up to be.
Was there a positive response to Fernanda in Mexico and around the world?
Oh yeah, the readers who get the innuendo of the character. People from Latin America, we all know this character and it’s a little wink for those who know. It’s like an Easter Egg, and those who got it, they all wrote mail and email, on Twitter, saying thank you. Because they felt like I felt when I was a kid.
All these kids, guys and gals, who had the chance to take a look at The Locust, let me put it this way—when you’re in the high school drama department and you’re the guy who fixes the lights for the stage, okay, and the play runs and everyone cheers. And after everybody gets their applause, the director comes out and thanks everyone, they suddenly call your name, like, "Humberto, the guy who did the lights!" And that little recognition makes you feel proud. You’re not just a general part of the team, but you are special that way.
These fans from Latin America and Mexico, and the Hispanic community in the states who grew up with this character, we’re all fans of the Super Heroes, but this one particularly talks to us, and that makes me feel that kind of special. This is a little thing for me, and I really appreciate that it happened and that I could give back to the fans something like that. I can happily tell you that I got a lot of that from the fans, and I can’t thank them enough for making me feel so happy and proud.
When people asked me about the work and working at Marvel and me being Mexican, and they ask me how I feel about it, I say that I’m the luckiest fan ever. When people feel happy for something that you did, and feel happy about the right things, that’s a great feeling. I owe that to Marvel.
The Locust debuted in CHAMPIONS and was recently in OUTLAWED. Where do you hope to see her character go in the future?
Honestly, I would like to see her leave the Champions and have her own story, but the first thought on my mind would be to have her become the leader of the Champions. I would love for her to grow to be one of the leaders of the new Marvel pantheon of heroes—The Locust being a central figure of that would be awesome. As a parent, you want your kids to grow into the greatest, so yeah, I would like her to be the leader of the new blood, and see her grow into something bigger, be a part of the Avengers. Why not?
Is there anything else that you’d like fans to know about Fernanda?
I would like them to know that Fernanda, and all the kids in the Champions, have the one and only mission to inspire and let readers know that we are all heroes. We might not believe it, but we can be, and that’s what inspired me in the first place to create the character of Fernanda, because I want to believe that I could be a hero.
And I believe that because I read about Super Heroes, and this character particularly is willing to tell people like me—who look like me, who talk like me, who have the same problems and dreams that I had once—that we can make a difference and be heroes. That’s what I would love for people to take from Fernanda.
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