For the first time in comic con history, Dallas will be home to a convention with a mission to represent its large Latino population.
The free July 29 event at the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas will include local comic writers and artists, short film screenings, and of course, a Latino cosplay contest.
Spearheading Texas Latino Comic Con is co-founder Hector Rodriguez.
Rodriguez wears many hats as a fifth grade McKinney ISD teacher and author of a Latino comic book series.
He hopes the comic con will shed light on the issue of the underrepresentation of Latinos in comic culture and the entertainment industry.
Growing up in Eagle Pass, Texas, Rodriguez cultivated a passion for reading comics. Though after moving away from the border town, he had a hard time finding stories starring people that illustrated his way of life.
“It was a culture shock,” Rodriguez said.
That lack of Latino representation led him to write his own comic book, “El Peso Hero.”
His comic series explores the tale of a cartel-fighting humanitarian who combats corrupt border patrol agents and helps immigrants safely across the U.S.- Mexico border.
Rodriguez initially drew inspiration for his book after listening to his grandfather tell stories of a special operation team in Mexico.Though what motivated him to pick up his pen was watching his Latino students face adversity outside the classroom.
“Hearing their stories, the students’ struggles, I started to actually draw ‘El Peso Hero,'” Rodriguez said.
INCREASING VISIBILITY FOR LATINO CREATORS
“It’s very grassroots, it stretches from California to Texas to some folks on the East Coast.”
Rodriguez hopes the upcoming comic con will increase Latino visibility and help reduce stereotypes.
“It’s very grassroots, it stretches from California to Texas to some folks on the East Coast,” Rodriguez said.
Locally, seasoned comic book writer Richard Dominguez will be making an appearance at the convention and screen a debut of a short film teaser based on and named after his comic series “El Gato Negro.”
Dominguez believes Latino representation within comic culture is long overdue.
“I think that Latino comics need to hit main street,” Dominguez said.
While there are a number of comic cons around the country that focus primarily on consumers and artists of color, solely Latino comic events are hard to come by. After reaching out to the co-founder of California’s Latino Comics Expo, Javier Hernandez, Rodriguez got the push he was looking for to start planning the Dallas event.
“[Latinos] crave entertainment. Specifically their stories, that representation up there. That’s something that we hope to share about the community,” Rodriguez said.
Local illustrator Eliamaria Crawford will be sharing her illustration line, “Nuestras Artes, Nuestra Cultura” or “Our Arts, Our Culture,” at the event. Crawford is eager to hear stories from artists at the con.
“This convention is not only a celebration for comics, but those from my culture and the Hispanic community to come together and show that our stories matter as well.”
“This convention is not only a celebration for comics, but those from my culture and the Hispanic community to come together and show that our stories matter as well,” Crawford wrote to Dallas Innovates.
Dominguez and Crawford are among many local Latino artists to be featured at the event. Others on the list include Sam de la Rosa of Marvel and DC Comics and actor Edgar Arreola.
“We’re making a statement,” Rodriguez said.
“The statement is to the community. That our stories matter, representation matters.”