By Brent E. Beltrán
Barrio Logan, located less than a mile from the convention center, has been mostly left out of Comic-Con over the years. Comic-Con International recently bought a building at 16th and National in Barrio Logan. Yet no official events are scheduled to take place here.
There’s not even a shuttle bus stop yet there will be Comic-Con buses running every twenty minutes down Cesar Chavez Parkway heading towards the freeway. And there will also be countless attendees using this community as a parking lot to escape the outrageous parking fees.
Yet no official activities take place here. No outreach has been done to incorporate a low income, mostly Latino community impacted every year by Comic-Con. And that is unfortunate.
We love comics and the popular arts as well. We’re even known for our art. Yet, Comic-Con ignores us.
Barrio Logan ain’t gonna cry about it though. We’re gonna make do like we always do and create our own comic related events. Which is exactly what Border X Brewing and La Bodega have done with their upcoming comic themed exhibits Chicano-Con: Latin American Inspired Super Heroes and MARVEL vs DC.
In addition to these two events the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park —which has historical ties to Barrio Logan’s famed Chicano Park— is organizing a comic book themed event and art exhibit called Comic Conga and the Logan Heights Library will be hosting a panel discussion called Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender & The Comic Book Medium.
In conjunction with these events an anonymous friend is donating over 1500 comic books that will be given away to kids and parents at Border X, La Bodega, the Centro and the Logan Library. Hopefully the free comics will encourage youth to read more, draw, write and possibly create their own comic books.
Chicano-Con: Latin American Inspired Super Heroes takes place July 3-4 and July 10-11 at Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan. Activities include an art exhibit, a comic themed movie each night, a 4th of July BBQ, a lucha libre meet and greet, kids activities, and more. Plus, beer! Though a brewery tasting room, Border X is a family friendly, community oriented space for all.
“Border X supports creativity, literacy and good role models, so celebrating these in our first Chicano-Con event and handing out free comic books to kids to read this summer is exactly the kind of thing we exist to support,” wrote co-owner David Favela. “I struggled in an all English school system and comic books were my entry into English language and reading, which lead to greater mastery, education and eventually a MBA. Giving kids comic books is full circle for me, they changed my life and can change theirs too!”
Border X encourages everyone to come in superhero attire or dressed as their favorite character.
Comic Conga takes place Friday, July 10 with an opening reception from 6pm until midnight at the Centro Cultural de la Raza. Entrance is free to anyone with Comic-Con passes, $8 limited pre-sale, or $13 at the door. The gallery exhibit, curated by artivist Mario Torero, will run until Sunday, August 2.
The Comic Conga reception will feature an installation by “Rizeohmatic” and an art exhibit featuring Lalo Alcaraz of the “La Cucaracha” comic strip and the upcoming Fox series “Bordertown,” San Diego Free Press editorial cartoonist Junco Canché, and Comic-Con founding member, featured panelist, and author of IS SHE AVAILABLE, Igor Goldkind. There will be live music and D.J.’s including A-Kellz, Los Cannarios, La Sucursal De La Cumbia, and Danx & Campz.
“When I hit the streets from a very young age I knew I loved comics and I collected them by the hundreds from Walt Disney to all the magnificent cartoonists from Argentina, Europe and the American heroes that now are the top movies in the medium. I have always been a cartoonist trying to pass for a fine artist,” wrote Chicano Park muralist and Centro curator Mario Torero.
MARVEL vs DC takes place Saturday, July 11 from 5pm until 10pm at La Bodega in Barrio Logan. This free, all ages, dog friendly exhibit features work by ninety different artists inspired by their favorite Marvel and DC characters. Some of the artists include Optimus Volts, Selina Calvo, ShoLove, Jorge Piña, GMONIK, Chuy Espinoza, Steve Caballero, Gabriela Cayetano, Pako Pablos, Camille Riley and many others.
“This is our first year doing an event during Comic-Con. I myself am a Marvel & DC fan and always wanted to do this show and figured why not during Comic-Con weekend,” wrote La Bodega owner Chris Zertuche. “So many people go to the San Diego Convention Center and surrounding Gaslamp District but never venture south to the neighboring and upcoming Barrio Arts District. We are expecting a really great turn out. We will have live professional body painting and encourage everyone to come dressed as their favorite character.”
Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender & The Comic Book Medium panel takes place on Sunday, July 11 at the Logan Heights Library. Join the panelists for a thoughtful conversation on diversity and how it impacts the multimedia industry. This event is free, open to the public, and there will be giveaways to audience members.
Panelists include artist/creator Delia Gable, webseries creator/writer Vanessa Verduga, literary educator Vanee Smith-Matsalia, Black Girl Nerds founder & blogger Jamie Broadnax, artist/webcomic creator Leen Isabel, and professional cosplayer Jay Justice. The discussion will be moderated by Lockett Down Productions Publications owner, Regine Sawyer.
Regine Sawyer wrote that “it is important for women of color to be involved in comics because there are already so many young women in our community that are fans, aspiring artists, and writers that are looking for representation in the medium as well as in the books they are fans of. The biggest challenge is not seeing accurate representation and diversity in the industry as a whole.”
The Logan Heights Library is located at 567 S. 28th St. in Logan Heights. Visit Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender & The Comic Book Medium for more information.
Comic-Con may ignore communities like Barrio Logan therefore communities like this, and individuals who appreciate the people within, must organize events on our own. Perhaps someday Comic-Con will see the value in reaching out to us. Until then we must continue to do things ourselves. Like we have always done.