Sunday, October 22, 2006
Uptown Whittier Dia de Los Muertos Festival
Well, we've just had our first official Day of the Dead celebration in Whittier. Held in the historic Uptown section, the festival provided the community with vendors, artists, and musicians celebrating the uniquely Mexican fiesta of Dia de Los Muertos. While the actual holiday is November 2, because there are so many locations holding their own celebrations in the weekends leading up to the actual date, they decided to get a jump on it! Next week there are at least 3 festivals that I know of, including the gigantic bash at the Hollywood Forever bash cemetery.
But tonite was Whittier's night. Here's a shot of one of the altars on display.
They actually closed off the main street, Greenleaf, for the length of the whole block. At the center of the pic, you can see some of the Whittier hills. Behind the hills to the left would be the world famous Rose Hills Mortuary (where they filmed the big cemetery shoot-out for Terminator 3). Just beyond Rose Hills would be Rio Hondo College, where I attended a few years out of high school. Coincidentally, El Muerto star Tony Plana teaches a drama class there. In fact, when I called him about 2 weeks ago, he was actually driving to class from an El Muerto screening he was attending!
My friend Janelle asked me to sign at her store, LunaSol Books, for which I was more than happy to do. Her store is one block over from Greenleaf, where the festival was held. She's located between a corner restaraunt and an art gallery. So, we figured there would be a lot of foot traffic, which there was. Plus, her shop is kinda small, and the weather outside was beautiful. So I ended up setting up outside her shop! Turned out to be a good idea.
Besides the comics and buttons, I had a new item I was selling. The first edition of what I plan will be an annual tradition: An El Muerto Day of the Dead print! This year's batch is an 8.5" x 11" glossy print created on the computer in Illustrator. I really love the way clean, sharp vector art looks. It has an animation-cel look to it, and this image just came to me really quick. I only made 30 of these, signed and numbered.
As usual, LunaSol Books proved to be a great place to meet very interesting people. One such person was a friend of Janelle's, photographer George Rodriguez. This famed artist is known for his extensive coverage of Cesar Chavez and the Chicano movement of the late 60s. Perhaps I should approach Mr. Rodriguez about hiring him for some publicity shots of me?
A man walked by and told me that he had enjoyed my comics. I inquired where he got them and he told me that he bought them in Janelle's shop and uses them in his Chicano Literature class at the nearby Whittier College! That one floored me, seriously. I thanked him and gave him my contact info, offering to speak to speak to his class if he ever wanted me to. Later, a young woman came by and told me she teaches a high school Latin American Literature class. I suggested to her that if she'd like, I could speak at her class too! She took my info and was going to see if she could get the school to buy some Muerto comics!
Another woman, Tina, turned out to be a real delight to talk to. She told me that she was recently becoming very interested in Mexican art and culture. She spoke fondly of reading LOVE & ROCKETS back in the 80s, and I informed here that the Bros. Hernandez were indeed still creating their legendary comics. Then there was Dave, a guy bar-hopping with his friends who stopped by my table. They were looking for more Budweiser, and Dave, wearing a DAWN OF THE DEAD T-shirt and tattooed with Darth Vader, decided to pick up my comics. It wasn't long before we started talking about comics, old 1970s Marvel Comics. Dave is such an enthusiastic comics fan, and was soon going on about The Orb, Ghost Rider and Don Perlin!
A great evening was had by all! Well, it's now about 1:40 AM, sunday, and I've name-checked Cesar Chavez and Ghost Rider! Time for sleep....