On Thursday, I participated in the press conference for the upcoming 13th Annual Latino Book & Family Festival.The press conference was held at the Pan American Bank in East Los Angeles. (About 2 months ago, I attended the fundraiser held there).
There were about a dozen authors there, and they asked us to bring copies of our books to have on display for the press. Reyna Grande, a local author, had invited the authors, as she's also on the organizing committee for the Festival. Obviously, as readers of this blog know, I spend a lot of time with other comic creators at our various conventions and events. But I always like meeting other creatives from different fields. So many of the things that we all do to get our work in the public's eye really overlaps with how each of one approaches the day-to-day networking/marketing part of our chosen crafts.
Among those participating in the news conference was Edward James Olmos, whose been a key driving force of the Festival since it's founding. His talk during the press conference was very inspiring to me personally. Knowing that he's got his acting career, but still takes time to work with the Festival every year, in service to the community, that really makes me realize that the efforts I put into my own 'community service' are worthwhile uses of my time and talents.
Edward talked about growing up right outside the bank in those very neighborhoods, and how much it meant to him to be able to bring this literary festival back to the surrounding communities, making sure that books and reading become an important part of a child's life (not just their education).
Jesse Torres, the bank CEO, also spoke, and talked about using his bank as an anchor for the community:
Not just as a place to do banking, but one where he could provide various events to promote literacy and reading to parents and their kids. The bank has a slate of author readings every Saturday for the next several months). There's a YouTube video with footage of the press conference here.
I carpooled with a friend of mine to the event, author & illustrator Joe Cepeda. Joe will be in conducting a workshop at the Festival, and also an author reading at the bank in October. (I'm scheduled for December 4th). Joe and I always have great discussions on being working artists, and actually learn quite a bit from one another precisely because we come from different mediums.
Me, Joe Cepeda and Edward James Olmos.
Edward talked about East LA being the 'Ellis Island of the West Coast', and gave examples of how many Mexican-American and Latino creators have come from this area. I was actually born several blocks West of the bank, along an intersecting street to First Street, at a Japanese hospital. I grew up in Whittier but my dad had plenty of family in East LA that we would visit on the weekends. I'm proud to be who I am, and acknowledge the influence of my Mexican-American upbringing on how it affected my art and identity. I'm a result of how I grew up, being raised by Mexican parents in an American household. EL MUERTO is certainly proof of that. Being part of the Latino Book & Family Festival allows me to connect personally with many others who grew up in similar experiences.
Please come out to the Latino Book & Family Festival this October 9 & 10 at the Cal State LA campus. The event is free, and there will be plenty of workshops, panels, and even a smattering of comic book creators!