Not all comic book characters are superheroes, secret agents or wizards.
For the past 17 years, Brigitte “Bibi” Andrade has documented her adventures around Miami Beach, and around the world, in a series of comic books called The Adventures of Bibi and Friends.
She began the series in 1998 by creating the character Bibi. Her niece, Miekel Andrade, who passed away at 18, was a big part of creating the comic-book character: An angel who talks to Bibi in the books is a tribute to her niece. Andrade published the first book in 1999.
Andrade grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology in 1979 and became an agent in New York City, working in the fashion and beauty industry.
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In 1993, Andrade, like many New Yorkers, moved to Miami Beach because she, “liked the lifestyle of Miami Beach at the time.” She quickly became involved with the city, meeting everyone she could.
At first, Andrade’s books were a way to showcase her adventures in Miami Beach. After partnering with the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, she realized that what she created was a cartoon history book.
“When I started, I had no idea that it would do what it did in terms of marketing and public relations. They turned into little tourism guides, which was really fabulous,” she said.
The city of Miami Beach appreciated the publicity her books gave the city and gave Andrade the key to the city in 2006. The city also declared Nov. 14, 2012, “The Adventures of Bibi & Friends Day.”
Whether you live here, or whether you’re a tourist, it provides a very good insight into Miami Beach.
“The Bibi comic book is a way to animate and illustrate South Beach in a very different format, so that people can actually follow the history and culture of the area in a fun way, as opposed to looking at your typical guide or history book,” South Beach photographer Henry Perez said.
In her comic books, Andrade tells stories about her friends and Miami celebrities, such as Gloria Estefan. Her first book featured Harrison Ford, who agreed to be a part of the story.
“They tell people what’s going on in Miami Beach. For example, if I put a nightclub in it, the nightclub is in, the people who work in the nightclub are in,” she said. “Whether you live here, or whether you’re a tourist, it provides a very good insight into Miami Beach.”
Next, she hopes to take Bibi around the country, featuring different cities. She also wants to create an animated series for Bibi and Friends.
Her books are currently sold at Books & Books, the Art Deco Welcome Center, and online. Her most recent release, The Illustrated History of Miami Beach, celebrates Bibi and Friends and the 100th anniversary of Miami Beach in 2015. The book will also be placed in public school libraries as a history teaching tool.