Robert Garcia is a lot of things. Educator, husband, recently re-elected Mayor of Long Beach, CA, and nerd. Anyone who follows the mayor on social media instantly gets the full picture of his love for comic books, the related movies and everything in between.
Garcia came to the United States from Peru when he was 5 and was immediately drawn to fellow immigrant Superman.
“I got influenced by Superman a lot as a kid,” he said. “I’m an immigrant, Superman’s an immigrant. He was a reporter, I kind of had this early childhood dream of being a reporter. He influenced me that way, and the whole truth, justice, American dream thing.”
Once he was hooked by Superman, Garcia was drawn into the entire DC world.
“Naturally of course, you just begin to love that whole universe, whether it was Wonder Woman or The Flash, I was a huge DC fan,” he said. “I love all the iterations of all the movies.”
He credits comic books with helping him adjust to life in a new country.
“I had some challenges getting accustomed to the language early on, but I read so many comics and consumed so much fiction, it made me a really good writer and I learned to read really well,” said Garcia. “I think that really helped me be a good student.”
His love of superheroes then led him to public service and politics.
“I really think Superman’s love of country and doing good inspired me to do good,” he said. “I got into education, always believed in public service and ran for office. I think there was always that influence of superheroes and Superman, and that truth and justice thing.”
The mayor also believes that superheroes and comic books can teach us something about how to handle today’s contentious political climate.
“You can’t deny the history of the characters are progressive and the stories have always really revolved around social justice issues of right and wrong, good vs. evil that teaches you a lot of lessons,” said Garcia.
“For me, I think there’s a lot of lessons to be taken from really good art,” he continued. “Comic art, whether it’s the writing or the art itself can teach us a lot about what’s good, what is right, why you should stand up for the little guy, why being honest is important, why not using your power in irresponsible ways is important. There’s always a lot of good lessons in comic books for kids and adults. Especially now, in the environment we’re currently in, we could certainly use a good Justice League in real life, at this point.”
Garcia also took a few moments to praise some real life, modern day heroes.
“Those Parkland kids have inspired other high school and college kids from across the country, who are inspiring all of us adults and everybody else,” he said. “I think young people have a strong voice and they understand the communication medium that exists currently, like Twitter and others and they’re able to get information out. I’m very excited about this movement. They’re already changing politics and they’re going to continue to do it.”
Like anyone in politics, Garcia spends a good amount of his TV time on the news. However, when it’s time to relax and decompress, he has some familiar favorites.
“I watch all the DC CW shows. I’m also quite the fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race,” he said. ”And of course, when it’s on, Game of Thrones is probably my favorite show.”