Fan conventions to some outsiders may seem like a strange group of obsessed individuals coming together to “geek out” about a common devotion. The Texas Latino Comic Con, held July 28 in Dallas Texas, was something unique though. It brought together a group of people that are not only passionate about comic books but about seeing themselves culturally represented as well.
The convention, now in its second year, gave con-goers a variety of events to take part in besides the attending the usual artist alley. Fans had the opportunity to participate in a cosplay contest, attend a variety of panels, witness the premiere of the comic book movie El Gato Negro, and maybe more importantly discovering that their lives can be accurately represented in the pages of comic books. “Seeing the con attendees surprised laugh or smile when I would mention El Cucuy or other folktales showed me that this is something they’ve wanted but didn’t know existed,” says artist and TXLCC guest Gonzalo Alvarez. “There was an instant connection that felt personal because they didn’t feel like the outcast anymore, now, they were looking at artwork that represented a part of who they are.” Alvarez is part of a new generation of Latinx creators that are bringing our rich culture to the forefront of entertainment media. He has created a video game Borders, which focuses on immigrants border-crossing experience, and Polloman, a comic book series focusing on the monsters of Mexican folklore.
“There is a lack of exposure to Latino artist such as myself and others and the Texas Latino Comic Con provides a place for us to be under one roof as a family and really make it a place where we feel our projects have an audience,” says Alvaro. Besides bringing fans together the convention provides a sorely need outlet for Latinx creators to showcase their hard work.
“I think the show was an overall success both representing my studio as well as everyone coming together,” says TXLCC co-founder Eliamaria M. Crawford. “I was able to meet many new people as well as see many from last year’s show and other conventions and just have a day to share my culture, my art, all while having a fun time.” Crawford, creator of the Latinx slice-of-life webcomic Elia in a Box, also took part in some of the panels the convention offered. “I had the honor to host a comic creation workshop and it just brightened my day to create comics with everyone there,” she says. “People of all ages came, drew, and then shared ideas with one another and seeing everyone be so supportive about creating something just made my heart warm.”
Another panel that Crawford took part in was Cultura en Comix. “Hearing everyone discuss their background and our appreciation for representation was amazing and I hope others enjoyed and learned from the discussion.” Also participating was seasoned Latinx comic creator Javier Hernandez. “Hector and his team put on a very smart show spotlighting independent creators,” says Hernandez. “Their panels were also keyed into highlighting Latino creativity in comics and related media.” This year Hernandez is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his comic book El Muerto and is no stranger to the Latinx comic book convention scene. “I came to the TXLCC as a vendor in my role of a cartoonist & publisher, but also as an observer as one of the co-founders of the Latino Comics Expo.”
Although, only in its second year the convention is already growing fast. ” We doubled our attendance this year,” exclaimed convention co-founder Hector Rodriguez. “Our community was very excited seeing their stories being represented in comic book form! The responses have been overwhelmingly positive and inspiring.” Rodriguez could be seen everywhere during the convention making sure things ran smoothly, hosting panels, as well as manning his own artist table. Rodriguez, a local Dallas school teacher is also the creator of the comic book El Peso Hero.
Besides the aforementioned guests Hernandez and Alvarez the event also featured DC, Marvel, Image and Dark Horse artist Sam de la Rosa, creator of the nationally published comic strip Baldo Hector Cantu, special guest Lalo Alcaraz and fantasy themed artist Dianita Ceron. Ceron, a recipient of the Mexicanx Initiative, is a Mexican artist whose award-winning artwork contains references to Latinx culture without hitting you over the head with it. “It was incredible to receive so many families with little girls that got excited with my art and my stories. Part of my art is strongly aimed to women of all ages so getting to talk to young ladies in particular and possibly inspire them to be strong and kind has been the sprinkles on top of this beautiful experience!”
Overall the convention appears to have been a great success both for attendees and artists alike. It provided the much need outlet for the creators to reach out and find new fans as well as introducing fans to the possibility of a world where their love of comics can be combined with the world they are familiar with. “Having an event like the TXLCC is an excellent opportunity for people from the Latino Community and outside of it to discover how talented our artists are,” says Ceron. “Our styles, perspectives and stories are as diverse as our culture, I hope we inspired many people to tell their stories!”
Photos taken by Chris C. Hernandez.