Annual comic expo returns in-person to showcase Latino artists, creatives

As a young Chicana growing up in Boyle Heights, artist and creator Kayden Phoenix always wanted to see someone that looked like her on the big screen.

But rather than wait for her dream to come true, she took matters into her own hands and created “A LA BRAVA,” a comic book series based in a superhero universe where Latinas of different upbringings fight against injustice.

Now two years since publishing the first book in the series, “Jalisco,” Phoenix is one of dozens of Latino artists, creators and vendors invited to showcase their work inside Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art for the annual Latino Comics Expo, a two-day convention highlighting the Chicano experience through comics and art.

“I’m very fortunate,” Phoenix said. “It means a lot to have so much support behind you.”

Artist and creator Kayden Phoenix, 36, signs a comic book for a young fan at the 2022 Latino Comic Expo Saturday, April 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

After the event was held online last year, Saturday’s celebration of Latino culture featured music from Los Mixos, a psychedelic cumbia rock band from Oxnard, chalk painting workshops by artist collective Chalk Mafia, a presentation by “The Book of Life” director Jorge Guiterrez and the opportunity to buy hundreds of unique art prints, comic books, clothes and stickers.

Chalk Mafia artists Grasiela Rodriguez, Monica Thaller, Gloria Ing and Krista Ann were asked to paint a large ground mural of the conventions poster created by Los Angeles artist Rhode Montijo who is known for his Halloween-inspired art. They also held a workshop to teach families the process of using chalk to create large vivid paintings.

“It’s kind of amazing because we are doing what we love to do,” said Rodriguez, her hands stained red from using chalk. “To be asked to do it, you don’t have to ask us twice.”

The Latino Comics Expo was started by Ricardo Padilla and Javier Hernandez, who wanted a way to gather a variety of cartoonists, writers, illustrators and other creative individuals of Latino descent, or works exploring various aspects of Latino culture. It was hosted in Long Beach for the first time in 2013 after two years in San Francisco.

The event will be free Sunday, May 1 and will begin at 11 a.m. with performances and presentations from more Latino artists and creatives, including a panel by Kayden Phoenix.

MOLAA is at 628 Alamitos Ave. Parking is available on-site for $15. 

Oxnard-based psychedelic cumbia rock band Los Mixos gets ready to perform at the 2022 Latino Comic Expo Saturday, April 30. Photo by Fernando Haro.

A Chalk Mafia artist creates a chalk mural depicting the 10th anniversary poster of the 2022 Latino Comic Expo Saturday April 30. Photo by Fernando Haro

Things to do in Long Beach this weekend including…. Latino Comics Expo and a Mother’s Day shopping pop-up

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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