Fanbase Press is releasing Quince: The Definitive Bilingual Edition, an oversized hardcover collecting the full English and Spanish editions of the Eisner-nominated bilingual comic book series, Quince. From the moment I saw this book come across my Twitter feed, I knew it was for me. Quince follows a year in the life of Lupe, a 15-year-old girl who discovers that her quinceañera, known as a quince, isn’t just a day filled with festivities, cake, and chambelanes, but superpowers as well. But, there’s a catch: Lupe’s powers only last as long as she’s fifteen. What follows is a year filled with ups and downs while we follow the adventures of Lupe as she figures out what it really means to be a hero.
Created by Sebastian Kadlecik, written by Kit Steinkellner, with art from Emma Steinkellner, with the Spanish version translated by Valeria Tranier, Quince is a book that everyone should read. Whether you’re a young adult or an adult still looking for stories to connect with, Quince is there for you. The positivity that radiates from this story is unmatched, Lupe’s journey of finding her path and her strength hit me to my core. But, more importantly, there are no trappings of the tropes that have defined us in comics. Instead, there is love, there is reality, and there is a superhero.
While Quince excels at showing both the completely normal teenage experience for someone who is on the outside of popularity, it also shows the journey to defining your identity and to choose goodness outside of what people think of you. Lupe’s journey isn’t easy, but it’s one filled with love from her family that helps her triumph over the hardships she faces. Additionally, when her powers leave her, she doesn’t lose herself and she doesn’t stop doing good. Instead, she not only confronts her high school supervillain but she learns to love herself. But above all else, it’s Lupe’s relationship with her grandmother that shook me to my core.
My grandma passed away when I was in high school. Since my mom started off as a single parent working multiple jobs, it was my abuela who was there for me. Even after my mom got married and stopped working so much, I still found my strength in my grandma. I leaned on her and she taught me about life. She taught me how to be strong and when she died, I didn’t know how to live up to her expectations and the strength she had shown throughout her life. Seeing Lupe’s abuela coach her through her power, guide her, and push her to be great even when she wanted quit reminded me so deeply about my abuela. And with every page and every turn in their journey, I saw myself.
Quince is not only beautifully written by Kit Steinkellner, but it also features amazing art from Emma Steinkellner. The deliberate choices to give Lupe thick curly hair, a body that is beautiful, yet not thought to be in traditional superhero settings, and the vibrant use of pink and small hints of calaveras on her costume, all sing. Quince is an unparalleled story that uses a traditional superhero narrative, subverts its tragedy, and offers hope. The strongest message in the comic is that Lupe’s powers don’t come from the quince itself since an expensive party isn’t doable for everyone – the very reason I didn’t have one – but instead comes from inside her, from her family, from her identity. Lupe is a brown teenager who is just herself, and that is enough.
I remember being told in elementary school when I brought home my first “B” that being brown and being a woman meant that many would never see me as enough. I was a kid, and I didn’t fully comprehend why mom pushed me so hard and readied me to have to work three times as hard as those around me. But, Lupe is always enough, powers or not, and I cannot thank the creative team enough for that. I cried in Spanglish, I laughed in Chicana, and truthfully, I’ve never seen a story so hopeful and touching with a Latina protagonist.
In addition to Quince in Spanish, the hardcover also includes forwards from One Day at a Time showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett and the showrunner of Mr. Igleasias, Peter Murrieta. But that’s not all. There is also an academic essay by Distinguished University Professor and Eisner Award-winning author of Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics, Fredrick Luis Aldama, a study guide by Dr. Theresa Rojas, and an art gallery by artists and cartoonists Javier Hernandez, Sabrina Cintron, Malena Bonilla, and Jose Cabrera. Finally, Quince: The Definitive Bilingual Edition also has a heartfelt letter to the reader by Kadlecik which brought me to tears.
Every single one of the additions to this volume carries a weight, importance that hits at the core of a Latinx audience reading the work. We matter. Our faces, our stories, our histories, our futures all matter and with very little representation on screen and on the page, Quince and the contributors to The Definitive Bilingual Edition hold up a mirror to us so that we can see ourselves reflected, and for many readers, it may be the first time.
Quince: The Definitive Bilingual Edition
We matter. Our faces, our stories, our histories, our futures all matter and with very little representation on screen and on the page, Quince and the contributors to The Definitive Bilingual Edition hold up a mirror to us so that we can see ourselves reflected, and for many readers, it may be the first time.