2019 Nerdtino Expo: Promoting Latinx presence in comics, art and creation
The first and only Latino Comic Book Convention in the east coast is in its third year, and guested more than 100 attendees.
Comic, art and superhero fans alike were treated as they entered into Taller Puertorriqueño during the third annual NerdTino Expo in Philadelphia on Saturday, Nov. 4.
The NerdTino Expo is the first and only Latino Comic Book Convention on the east coast. For Latinos, the contributions made within this space is not often highlighted.
“The importance of this event is bringing to the light and out to the community that Latinos are here, and we’re part of the geek culture,” said Adriana Caplan, a co-director for the NerdTino Expo.
More than 100 people were in attendance, including exhibitors, vendors, featured guests, panelists, artists, and fans from all across the east coast.
For Daniel D. Calvo, one of the exhibitors at the expo, comics have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.
Growing up in Havana, Cuba, since a child he was exposed to American comics and pop culture.
Now, he is living his dream of creating his own comic in the United States, as part of Konkret Comics, an independent publishing company comprised of a collective of artists, creators, and writers.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to create, to explore the medium that we all love, and to bring new stories that excite the audience,” said Calvo.
“The fact that we have a place to express our very unique culture is beautiful,” he added.
His new comic book character, Andy Starboy, is set to be released in 2020 or 2021. The character, a mutant raised by Mexican immigrants, will represent an influential side of the Latino culture, one that reflects both American and Latino lifestyles.
Konkret Comics promotes the brand through the storylines and characters that are present throughout each comic.
“It really stems from the story,” said Derek Allen, founder & CEO of Konkret Comics. “We promote it as stories that people can dive into.”
Expressive art was also present throughout the convention.
Lily Vega, an artist from North Philly, started painting along with her sister several years ago, and decided to start a business.
“We’ve been growing our business over the last year or two, really trying to focus in on the Hispanic culture, the Taino culture, representing as much as the Latino community as we can,” said Vega.
Many of their paintings feature prominent members of the Latinx community, including Marc Anthony, Frida Kahlo and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The event overall expressed the presence of Latino culture in the world of comic books, art and geek culture.
For Animated Lola, an Afro-Latinx cosplayer and one of the expo’s featured guests, the “grassroots feel” of the expo really served to develop an impact and a sense of togetherness.
“I love that it’s really the community coming together to put on this presentation and remind us as a whole of where we’ve come thus far when it comes to diversity and inclusion and representation, and also how much more work needs to be done,” she said.
Next year, the goal is to further highlight the Latinx community within the world of comics.
“We’re here to take the field by force,” said Caplan. “Even though we’ve already been in the background, [we want] to bring us more to the foreground to let everyone know we’re here, too.”
The sponsors and supporters of the 2019 NerdTino Expo included AL DÍA News, Esperanza College of Eastern University, Hassman Research Institute, Latino Film Festival, Jarritos, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha... for everyone, Congreso, T-Mobile, and Andalé Latino Grill.