Omar Rios: Making Mexican American Heroes
Omar Rios was born in Jose Isabel Robles, Durango, Mexico on May 5th 1991. He is the son of Lorenzo and Olivia Rios. He has three brothers and two sisters. He came to the United States in
1998 and like many Immigrants new to the U.S., Omar struggled with learning English. He managed to find his comfort zone in comic books and anime. Reading manga and comics helped him to quickly pick up the language.
Rios’ passion for drawing began when he was only four years old. He began honing his artistic skills by drawing characters from one of his favorite shows, Dragon Ball Z. He used to sell his drawings on the school playground and his love for art only continued to grow from there. Omar wasn’t like the other kids his age; when Christmas or birthdays came around, art supplies were always at the top of the list. Although many don’t see art as a “real career,” especially coming from an Immigrant background, Omar found a great support system of talented mentors who believed otherwise.
Linus Ogalsbee, one of Omars former high school art teachers, believed in him more than anyone ever had. With his expert advice and guidance, Mr. Ogalsbee helped Omar see his true potential and never stopped encouraging him to chase after his artistic dreams. While in high school, Omar was awarded with the Best in Mixed Media Award as well as the Best in Ink Award at Oklahoma Panhandle State University where over 300 art students competed. After graduating high school in 2009, his great mentor, Mr. Ogalsbee, continued to be Rios’ biggest support system and helped him transition into the next chapter of his life: college. He helped Rios enroll at Seward County Community College and even helped him build his portfolio. At Seward, Rios was able to further study his artistic passion and along the way, ended up finding his artistic community of friends and new mentors who helped guide him during his time in college. His college art professors, Dustin Farmer and Susan Copas, held him to even higher standards and pushed him to be the artist they believed he could be. He was awarded the People’s Choice Award during his Freshman and Sophomore years of college, winning People's Choice both semesters, both years. He also helped in designing the cover for the Telolith Magazine for SCCC and even got to work as an illustrator for the college newspaper. He also has a few Scholastic awards for his illustrations under his belt.
In November 2015, Omar and his good friends, Jeff Goodrum and Farris Saindon, established a small indie comic book publishing company, 540 Comics. 540 Comics centers around minority superheroes. Omar says their goal is to “create characters that look like us.” Rios drew his first comic book in middle school. Goodrum saw it, liked it and saw the potential. Although they stayed good friends throughout the years, they didn’t take this on as a serious venture until after college. Goodrum and Rios are both Martial Artists (Goodrum being a Black Belt) and Ferris Saindon comes from an extensive background in the comic industry. Their martial arts background in conjunction with their love for anime and comics, brought on the idea of 540 Comics. After launching, they continued writing and drawing for the next few years while still working their day jobs. The first launch was not the success they envisioned. They continued to attend Comicbook Conventions to network with comic professionals (from DC to Marvel) and help further make a name for themselves in the industry. Rios works as a co-publisher/ art director, Goodrum works as a co-publisher/editor and Saindown works as an editor. The three are avid comic book fans who share the same dream of bringing underrepresented minorities into the spotlight, something that is rarely seen in the comic book industry. Rios says that working with two of his best friends while doing what he loves has been a dream come true. “They both have been amazing. They’ve been in my life through the ups and the downs and no matter what, I know I can rely on them whether it’s business or personal. They’re always there for me. I get to do what I love and even better, I get to share it with two of my best friends. This all started as a hobby that’s grown into an amazing business.”
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After years of hitting roadblocks in their business, they persevered and continue to work towards their unique version of the “American Dream.” For Rios, it's something he dreamed of doing since he was a little boy.
In the years to follow, Rios created the Nocturnal Knight, a Mexican-American superhero who many argue is one of the best superheroes of our time. “I’ve never seen a character that looks like me. Sure, in Mexican culture we have Luchadores. The first Mexican superhero I ever knew of was El Chapulin Colorado. But I never saw or read about any actual Mexican superheroes growing up. I never saw myself portrayed in the same comic books I love so much. I got tired of seeing the same Latino/ Mexican stereotypes being portrayed,” Rios said. “I want to show that we can be detectives like Batman. So this character is a mix of Daredevil and Batman. He is a young Mexican-American man who lives on the border with his Uncle in a ‘llantera’ (a tire shop). He fights crime and helps stop drugs from coming into the U.S. He helps those in need.”
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He also Created Black Feather: Introducing Xochitl By 540 Comics , the first Hispanic female superhero. She goes by “La Pluma Negra” or Black Feather. “She is about 200 years old. She is inspired by Wonderwoman and Captain Marvel (giving credit for inspiration). I’ve noticed in the Hispanic culture, women are always portrayed as damsels in distress. I wanted to change that. She is powerful, smart, independent and a Goddess. She is a descendant of the Aztecs. I’m still working on her origin story. But a Warrior at heart. Learn more about her soon! We will be releasing her comic book later this year.” Among his other accomplishments, Rios also fulfilled a dream of his by having his work shown by Marvel for the TV show, Cloak Dagger
Thanks to the success of their comics, Omar Rios and the 540 team are now doing monthly releases through Comixology. Hoping to continue to fulfill the “American Dream.” “Seeing life from the perspective of a minority is an amazing spin on the things in life. Everyone else can see how we live and understand our perspective.” Omar Currently lives in Denver where his good friend, Ron Dupuis, has also been helping him with writing and keeping him motivated. Rios says “The key to being successful is being surrounded by family and friends who genuinely want to see you happy. That will always help you measure your own success.” Rios Final Wish is to Pitch a Mexican Superman To DC Comics He has the design finalized and ready to go. The Story is being written.
Omar Rios Social Media Link Tree