El Peso Hero is a superhero not unlike those you’ll find flipping through the pages of a Marvel or DC comic. A guardian of the Borderland, he gains superpowers after encountering a mysterious crystal in the deserts of Chihuahua, Mexico. But his creator, Hector Rodriguez, says the Mexican superhero also serves a greater purpose: representation.
“It’s been long overdue for us to have representation within the comics scene and in Texas,” the local artist says.
That was the impetus behind Rodriguez’s efforts to organize the first-ever Texas Latino Comic Con. On Saturday, the free event drew a crowd around 100 comic book fans to the Latino Cultural Center in Deep Ellum, where 19 artists set up booths showcasing their work.
Notable guests included Hector Cantú, the award-winning co-creator of the Baldo comic strip and illustrator Sam de la Rosa, who has inked a number of pieces for Marvel and DC.
Comics “speak to all of us,” Rodriguez says. “It’s an amazing medium to tell stories, and a great way to connect to characters, as well as a great way to put yourself in another character’s shoes. It’s always spoken to me that way.”
Featured artist Eliamaria Crawford helped sponsor the convention after Rodriguez and Doub reached out for help. Head of her own studio, Elia in a Box Studios, she creates stick figure comics and illustrations with a tinge of dry humor.
“I knew I needed to hop on this and do what I can do get it out there because this is a whole different world,” Crawford said. “Not just the comic world but Latinos in comics. We’re here. We’re working in this industry. It’s a very Caucasian-driven industry, but there are so many of us working professionally in the field that we need to be known and celebrated in a way.
Crawford also participated in one of two panels at the event, where artists discussed Latinos in pop culture and the state of Latino comics.
For Gonzalo Alvarez, a young illustrator and game designer from Port Arthur, Texas, the convention was a chance to share his work with new audiences.
At his booth, Alvarez had stickers and high-quality prints for sale, as well as a teaser booklet for his passion project, “The Legend of Polloman.”
“It’s essentially a Mexican fantasy universe of this character in a chicken suit who has to fight Mexican folktale creatures like La Llorona, El Cucuy, and El Diablo,” he said. “I really just want to bring all these stories that I grew up with to the limelight because I don’t really feel like there’s enough Mexican culture shown in animation or video games. That’s kind of my mission is to bring this into the mainstream world, so people can see it.”
Inspired equally by Aztec culture and the popular Mexican sitcom El Chavo del Ocho, the first chapter of “The Legend of Polloman” will serve as Alvarez’s thesis project at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
Alvarez also showcased “Borders,” an indie 8-bit game where players must navigate harsh terrain as an immigrant attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Inspired by his own parent’s journey crossing the border, Alvarez’s game has received national media coverage, and he’s been invited to the Sheffield International Documentary Festival in England and the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles to present the game.
“I’m really glad that Hector and all the people involved were able to make this possible,” he said. “This is my first comic con, and so being able to be here, show my work and be around others who enjoy the culture I enjoy…I see good things coming for the years to come.”