Here’s Why Chicano-Con Is Attracting Big Names Like Guillermo Del Toro

credit: GMONIK / David Favela

Comic-Con is known to bring in more than 150,000 superfans to San Diego every year for five days of geeking out. However, when a group of Chicanos saw a lack of representation at Comic-Con, they decided to start their own con.

While you’ll likely see a Chewbacca or Sansa Stark waiting in line for the bathroom at Comic-Con, one thing you will have a hard time finding are Latinos.

CREDIT: Brothers Bear Podcast

Comic-Con, which began back in 1970 as a small meet up between fans and artists, now features hundreds of panels with major stars, industry insiders, artists and writers.

Over the years, people have called out Comic-Con and its organizers for the lack of Latino representation on panels. For example, this year, there are only a small handful of panels that feature or focus on Latinos in the industry, such as panels on Chicano Comics and a Univision panel which focuses on creating animated series. And it’s not like Latinos aren’t attending Comic-Con or in the industry. They come in droves, rocking their Han Cholo, Princess Loca and Artudito costumes as seen above.

That’s why Chicano-Con, a three-day convention that focuses on bringing Latino comic fans and artists together, was created.

CREDIT: CREDIT: GMONIK

At Chicano-Con you’ll find comic books, art, costumes and – because this is a gathering made by and for Latinos – tacos, live music, superhero piñata breaking, and of course, Latino artists. The event, which started in 2015, takes place July 21-23 at Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan, a historically Chicano community in San Diego that’s just two miles east of where the madness of Comic-Con takes place.

“Comics and the popular arts are important to the Latino community and can play a role in children’s lives, just like they changed mine,” says event co-creator David Favela, who learned to speak English by reading comic books. “While Comic-Con is an incredible event, there really isn’t one place for all the Latino/Chicano artists to connect and inspire each other. We try to do that, and we try to support these artists in their journey into the popular arts.”

Chicano-Con isn’t a dingy event. Big players come out to play, like legendary director, Guillermo del Toro.

CREDIT: CREDIT: David Favela

Cartoonist and writer Lalo Alcaraz, who wrote for the Fox animated series “Bordertown,” helps organize, does a meet-and-greet and participates in Chicano-Con’s panel every year.

“I’ve been going to Comic-Con for 10-15 years and started noticing there was more and more Latino comic fans and people from across the border,” says Alcaraz, who is on the Chicano Comics panel at Comic-Con as well. “Now we need the comics industry, Comic-Con and the ensuing exhibits and panels to reflect that. We need more diversity. It’s inching along, but we need more.”

Chicano-Con isn’t the only comic book convention Latinos are creating for themselves.

The first ever Texas Latino Comic Con is coming to Dallas on July 29 and the East L.A. Comic Con just happened in Los Angeles in May.

Latino-centric comic conventions are important because it gives Latino artists a space to be supported, especially because, as Favela puts it, “Latino parents influence their kids to work at real jobs, to do something respectable.”

“My respects to any Latino who has flourished in a community that did not support their art or work,” he adds. “It’s not easy trying to be an artist in most barrios.”

Plus, Latino comic fans have a place to celebrate their geekiness and their culture. Even as Comic-Con does better to represent Latinos, Chicano-Con will continue to bring the Latino perspective.

READ: Comic Con Comes to East L.A.

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