From traditional comic book sellers and trends in popular culture, to some of Hollywood’s biggest film production and gaming companies, Comic-Con San Diego is the convention to see and be seen. Celebs are as ubiquitous as the comic book geeks, steam punk and animae fans who roam through the Convention Center in droves.
The Latino creators – cartoon artists, editors, actors, directors, and comic and graphic writers – are fewer in number. But behind the scenes, these creators are actively inventing future worlds and characters more brown than their predecessors.
Thursday July 12, Comic Con kicks off with a panel from Marvel Comics talking to fans about how to break into the business. Artist David Marquez of the new Ultimate Comics Spider-Man series, is one of the hottest names in comics today.
A month ago, Marquez, co-artist Sara Pichelli, and writer Brian Bendis launched the alternate universe comic book with a new Spider-man. Unlike the original, Peter Parker created in the 1960s, the new Spidy is Miles Morales. He’s bi-racial African-American and Puerto Rican.
Marquez says it was a natural move for writer Bendis to create a new face of Spiderman. He has two adopted children of color, and felt it was the right time.
“It's nice to be a part of a book like Ultimate Comics Spider-Man because it bucks the trend of traditionally all-white adult male lead roles, and at least starts to drag comics into being slightly more representative of both those who make and read them,” Marquez says.
For many, the fact that some of the biggest and most well known Latino names in comics are speaking on panels throughout the convention is an encouraging sign of progress.
Carlos Guzman, a Hasbro editor will reveal secrets and upcoming plans for Transformers, G.I. Joe, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering. And Mattel's director of marketing Enrique Ruvalcaba will be giving a question and answer session.
The New Crusaders artist Alitha Martinez and her team will discuss the formation of the digital-first New Crusaders series, upcoming print initiatives, and new storylines.
Celebrated cartoonist Sergio Aragones of Groo the Wanderer will tell what's up with Groo and other projects—promising to entertain folks with anecdotes and silly stories.
Artist Angelo Torres of MAD and Creepy will discuss Creepy and Eerie, a recently re-launched book at Dark Horse in hardcover.
And if you’re still a kid at heart, Mattel toy designer Ruben Martinez will talk new toy product development.
Founded in 1970 and originally called the Golden State Comic Book Convention, Comic Con San Diego (as it’s known today) has grown from 300 attendees to 130,000. It earns the city of San Diego a revenue of over $162 million each convention year.
Artist and writer Serg Hernández first started his Arnie and Porfi” cartoon in the 1970s in the LA magazine Con Safos. He recently launched his cartoon again on the website Latinopia.com, a site dedicated to discussions about Latino art, music, literature, food, and history.
“We started in the 70s because we felt powerless and were frustrated we couldn’t get our voice into the mainstream. It’s more difficult when you’ve got a political viewpoint. Some of the guys today, who are lucky enough to get their work syndicated, succeed because they’re like green chiles with no heat—no edge. But I have hope for the future."
He said there are a young producers who are aggressive and involved in the mainstream.
"We’re making forward movement. We need another Stan Lee [who co-created Spider man], a brown one," Hernández said. "Comics are small way of getting out a big message.”
San Diego muralist, tattoo artist, musician, and cartoonist Sergio Hernández (not related to Serg) says he feels Comic Con is somewhat exclusionary of young artists.
“It’s not like an unknown artist can set up a booth at SDCC. It’s more of a Hollywood thing. We get our work out in a more do-it-yourself way," he said. "With the help of self-publishing “Zines” (magazines) small art galleries and shows, that’s our outlet.”
Rebekah Sager is a nationally published lifestyle and culture writer. She's a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow Rebekah on Twitter @Rebekah_Sager.