The world is full of entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves by sticking with an idea and running with it; which is what owner of Nostalgic Books and Comics Peter Mellini, 35, accomplished by hosting the first ever East Los Angeles Comic Con in his hometown of East Los Angeles.
The line to get inside the venue stretched to around the corner. It seemed like the line to a movie release, in this case, the line was far bigger than the line to watch Fantastic Four.
Pixelated art, custom comics, satirical paintings, authentic complex drawings, and action figures were a number of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious artist galleries the convention had to offer.
Independent artist of Street Rebirth Neil, also known as Smurf, was eager to be at East Los Angeles’ first ever comic con, as it was also his first ever exhibit. He highlighted how ecstatic he was to see the convention full and wished he too was walking around.
“For one, this is my first ever comic con, so I’m super excited. And for two, it’s in my hometown – right around the corner of where I grew up – where I stay,” Smurf said. “So, it was a no brainer, I had to do it.”
One of the founding organizers of this event and close friend of Mellini, Jonathan Diaz, highlighted that part of the focus of this event was to give opportunity to Independent artists of Los Angeles, like Street Rebirth. He also gave insight how they ended up having the event in El Gallo Plaza.
“[Mellini] was the one that shopped around venues. He wanted to try and keep it in East L.A., you know, ‘cause he wanted something for the community. He found this place, it’s funny because they mainly use it for quinceaneras… they had no idea what we were trying to do at first…,” Diaz said. “Pete made sure that they were independent: independent people, independent vendors, independent artists.”
The event came into fruition as it was spread through social media and word of mouth. However, its buzz grew in and out of Los Angeles after it was announced in a L.A. Weekly article. Diaz went on to say, “Ever since then, we’ve had a tremendous amount of build up — tremendous amount of support.”
With the amount of independent artists, hid an artista satirista that has been roaming in and out of the mainstream: East Los Angeles very own Lalo Alcaraz.
Underrated, Alcaraz has been drawing comics for 25 years, specializing in satirical cartoon drawing, comic strip art and writing. He does editorials for daily comic strip La Cucaracha that runs in L.A. Times and worked on the show Bordertown as an editor and producer.
Alcaraz was amped and ready when he heard the chisme that East LA was going to have its own comic con.
“We consume mainstream stuff like more than anybody else. We’re more loyal fans than anybody else. We over-represent in movie audiences. We are now starting to demand to see ourselves portrayed in these works, in movies, in comics, in films,” Alcaraz said. “So I’m glad Hollywood is starting to recognize it, but I didn’t think it was gonna happen in my lifetime… it’s amazing it’s finally happening.”
Further along, Mellini stated he didn’t expect much from this event nor the turnout the event received and was in disbelief when he found out the line was constantly growing.
As of result of that, Mellini was catching a breather here and there, exhausted from being pulled by every direction in a venue that also kept increasing as time passed.
“The thing is — to be honest, we didn’t know what we were doing. We were just like, ‘It’d be cool to do a comic show, I’ve been to a lot of comic shows — it should be easy,’” Mellini said. “We announced it on a Friday and by Saturday we had like 1, 000 people saying they wanted to come… And a lot of people that we talked about in our meetings we talked about like ‘oh it’d be cool if we get these people’ and then those people reached out to us.”
Mellini plans on having a second comic con for next year. However, they will surely have a bigger venue that is not used for quinceaneras.
The event brought family, friends, and fans of pop culture together on a perfect hot sunny day.