“I believe it’s necessary to honor one of the pillars of Brazil, which unfortunately still suffers with prejudice and discrimination. I believe the public understood this idea, as we have heard from many professors who have spoken about this topic, taking our art to their students, or Brazilians living abroad who wish to show this aspect of our culture to others. Being practitioners of African religions or not, there is a huge interest.”
The African religions sure provide lots of material for a superhero story. Like Santeria and Voudou elsewhere, Candomblé recognizes a host of deities. They’re known as Orishas, who rule over the forces of nature and humanity. All of the Orishas — which number more than a thousand, considering practices in both the Americas and in Africa — have human-like qualities, engage in struggle with each other for power, make mistakes and fall in love.
For the first comic, Hugo says the central character will be Xangô, the god of justice. According to the mythology, Xangô punishes liars, thieves and evildoers. He also had, at different points in time, three wives, who are also Orishas: Iansã, Oxum and Obá.
Canuto, who was living in São Paulo at the time he was inspired to make the comic, moved back to Bahia to research the project. “I dove into studies of the Orishas, not only reading books by renowned authors such as Pierre Verger, Edson Carneiro, José Beniste and Reginaldo Prandi, but also visiting terreiros [Candomblé prayer houses] and talking to religious leaders. All because I want to carry this out with the utmost respect and care.”