Masa Revolution crew Martin Espino and Victor “victor-e” Mendoza rehearse the traditional Mexican Aztec Dance with Liliana Curioca at an art studio in Long Beach. Martin performed at the Tulipanes Festival in Holland, Michigan for the last six years. This time, he invited along these two special guests to take the sounds of Ancient Mexico to this annual Latin Art and Film Festival.
A man dressed as a chicken was among the artists showing off their latest creations during the first Latino Comic Expo. The daylong event drew several hundred kids– of all ages– to the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach.
More than 50 artists and vendors set up their books, DVDs, and posters on rows of tables inside a sun-drenched space at the rear of the museum. Hundreds of fans turned out to buy comic books, get autographs, and attend workshops. Sharon Nicholls drove 35 miles from Pasadena to the coast with her eight-year-old son, Elias.
“He loves reading La Cucaracha in the L.A. Times on Sunday mornings, so I guess the hook for him was the chance to meet Lalo Alcaraz.”
Alcaraz created La Cucaracha, which has gone on to become the first nationally-syndicated, politically-themed Latino daily comic strip. Fellow cartoonists Richard Padilla and Javier Hernandez teamed up, brainstormed the idea of showcasing Latino creators, and did the legwork to make it happen. That includes lining up personal appearance from established artists: Lalo Alcaraz, Jim Lujan, and Roman Montes de Oca— and dozens more.
“The first Latino Comics Expo is a one-stop shop of movies, comics, and books based on Latino themes,” says Hernandez. “There are pop-culture references as well, like Lucha Libre, Aztec Mythology, and Mayan history.”
L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe recognized the expo’s cultural value. Just days before the event, Knabe presented co-founders Ricard Padilla and Javier Hernandez with a certificate of recognition.
Hernandez is also the Main Title Animator for Masa Revolution: The Backstreet to The American Dream. The independent documentary for theatrical release establishes that street food in L.A. derives from street food in Mexican and captures the strife as this once marginalized industry, which was born in LA.. and built on the backs of immigrants, becomes a global phenomenon.
Latino Comic Expo co-creators Hernandez and Padilla hope to take the show on the road: Chicago, Miami, Texas. They say even Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Brazil would likely draw enthusiastic crowds. Spanish sir names or not, the co-founders say their event is for anyone with an eye for Latino art and themes.