Tuesday, April 08, 2008

San Gabriel Valley Comic Book Festival WRAP UP!

This past weekend’s first-ever SAN GABRIEL VALLEY COMIC BOOK FESTIVAL is now history. And what a historic event that was!

San Gabriel Valley is one of the principal valleys in Southern California, (according to the Wikipedia link!) , consisting of such cities as El Monte, Whittier, Covina, Pasadena and several other cities. The Nuvein Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing literary and artistic interaction with the community, put on the event. Nuvein provides support to my radio show, and one day I, Enrique Diaz (Nuvein founder) and Renato Aguirre (Board member) tossed around the idea of putting on a comic book festival. So, next thing I new, I was rounding up artists and writers and exhibitors for the event!

Really, what a great opportunity it was to present comics as a legitimate form of art. With that in mind we had scheduled two workshops, free to the public. One was storytelling/cartooning with Rafael Navarro and the other one was Writing For Comics with Mike Wellman. I also hosted a one-hour block of live PLANET COMIC BOOK RADIO interviews with several of the exhibiting artists!

The event was held at the Cuban Club of San Gabriel Valley and ran on Sunday from 11am – 5pm. As it was our first time organizing this event, and because of the size of the venue, we were limited to about a dozen exhibitors, but the energy level in the room at times could have rivaled some of the bigger shows. I took so few pictures, sadly, but I can point you to several other blogs that covered the event:
and Crying Macho Man

The staff and Board Members of Nuvein did a really good job of running the event, and I want to personally thank Ericka and Jason for their interview segments, Richard, Michael, and Miguel for their valuable assistance, and a shout-out to Ryan Storms for the great job M.C.ing the event. At times the pace of the show allowed the artists to really be able to get to know one another at length. And I have to say, seeing the artists interacting with the other artists really gave me a sense of the camaraderie you feel for your fellow creator. No sense of competition, just a strong feeling of mutual respect and admiration.
My friend Alan Rutledge, who was set up with three tables of back issue comics, told me
“You got the Nuvein Foundation to pay for a big party for you and your cartoonist friends!”. Well, it sure seemed like it!

But of course, the real reason behind the event was to provide the community a venue to meet comic book creators and learn more about one of the great American art forms: comic books. So while I was there to sell my comics , and promote my new Demoltion Dove creation, I was really glad to be able to help bring this event about.

Rafael Navarro in the distant backround, conducting his popular storytelling/cartooning workshop.

Near the end of the show, I called my two good friends, and fellow comic creators Michael and Will, up to the stage. Michael Aushenker had a birthday a few days prior, and Will Caulfield’s birthday was later in the week. So I decided to ask some of our mutual friends to toss in a couple of bucks so we could get them a birthday cake. Mike and Will were actually very puzzled when I called them up to the stage and sprung the cake on them! We had the whole room singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to them, and everyone had a great time. Will reminded the audience that my own birthday was coming up (April 23, if you’re curious!), and I’m glad he did! Here’s the three of us with the cake.

Mike on the far left, Will in the middle and little ol’ me on the right.

Our hope is to grow the show and in fact have another one in the future. As one of the organizers, I’ll be working with the Nuvein Foundation on the best way to proceed with that. As an exhibitor myself, I’m all for continuing this festival, especially because it is a local community event.

One thing some of us noticed was that there were several people there who wanted to share their portfolios with some of us, and ask for advice on self-publishing. That’s another reason I love this festival. Not only can people come as fans of comics, but even those with their own aspirations can meet folks who’ve published their own books and are willing to share advice. I wasn’t actually expecting this scenario, to be honest. But I’m so glad that we can be a resource for artists wishing to create their own books.

Most of the artists have said they hope we hold another festival next year. And to be honest, talking to some of the Nuvein Board, they feel the same way. So, with that in mind, our goal is to provide a bigger, more popular festival, with more comic creators and events. Stay tuned to this blob, and my radio show, for updates!

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