The inaugural LATINO COMICS EXPO is now in the history books, and was I ever glad to have been a part of it! Held at The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco the weekend of May 7 & 8, the event was a comic convention centered around Latino themed comics and their creators.
I have to give a very special thanks to my fellow co-founder, Ricardo Padilla, for all the work he put into this event. As a San Francisco resident, Ricardo took the lead with all the physical footwork coordinating the event with the staff of the Cartoon Art Museum (Andrew Farago, Summerlea Kashar & Ron Evans, to name a few!). Ricardo also set up our 'official' Expo hotel for visiting artists, and in fact had his mother, father, son, daughter and lovely wife all help out with the planning and execution of the event! Latinos are known for close families, and this Expo really reflected that.
I arrived in San Francisco late Friday evening at the Padilla residence, and was greeted by this wonderful bit of business: a Certificate of Honor commemorating Latino Comics Expo Day! This was not only deeply appreciated by Ricardo and I, but every single one of our attending artists was blown away by this great achievement.
The first day of the Expo was off to a good start, which coincided with FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. My spread for that day featured a stack of EL MUERTO MISH MASH comics available for free to anyone who'd like one.
I shared a table with good friend Rhode Montijo, who had a great display featuring his new SKELETOWN book and hand-crafted merchandise.
I've done a scores of conventions and festivals, signing in libraries, wharehouses, bookstores, parks and even a cemetery or two! But being set up inside an actual museum devoted to comic books and comic strips? That was a unique experience. Behind and in front of me were pages from classic Marvel and DC comics, comic strips like Peanuts, even political cartoons (there was Richard Nixon right behind me!).
I think a very popular component of the Expo turned out to be the panels. Working with all our artists/attendees, I think we came up with a really good variety of panels for the weekend. Saturday's started off with a kid's comics panel featuring (Left to Right): Carlos Saldaña (BURRITO), Rhode Montijo (PABLO'S INFERNO, CLOUD BOY), Moderator Hector Cantu (BALDO), Anthony Oropeza (AMIGOMAN) and Expo Co-Founder Ricardo Padilla.
Professor Frederick Aldama, who wrote a book entitled YOUR BRAIN ON LATINO COMICS, gave a lecture on the history of Latino comics. Many of the Expo exhibitors were both in the book and the lecture.
Comments from the fans were positive and supportive, with many asking if we'd be back next year. My personal dream for this Expo is to take it on the road, giving more people across the land the chance to attend the show. That would also allow for more artists to be able to make the trek to the show as well.
Me and the Professor!
Jeff's a great fan, and it's always a joy to meet up with him when I do shows in the Bay Area. He's a huge fan of outre cinema & pop culture and always brings great conversation to my table. He bought one of the miniature EL MUERTO sketch dolls and decided to carry him around like Freddy the Flute from H.R. Puffinstuff!
The Museum is divided up into 4 rooms, and we were stationed in two of them. Plus we had the use of the back room, where we held the panels. We even had access to their offices upstairs, where we set up a 'Green Room' for the artists to catch a breather. Ricardo's mother was kind enough to make two huge batches of burritos for us as well!
The Museum's staff was top notch, and there weren't really any problems all weekend. It really was a pitch perfect first-time outing. With me down in LA and Ricardo living in San Francisco, I think we were able to coordinate all the pre-planning and launch a successful show. No doubt our artists and guests really were the highlights of the show.