What the Heck is Chicano-Con?

One man grew tired of not being able to go to Comic-Con, so he created an event for his own people.

Courtesy of Chicano Con Facebook
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J. Weston Phippen
July 10, 2015, 12:31 p.m.

Five years in a row Dav­id Favela had tried to buy tick­ets for Com­ic-Con, the com­ic book gath­er­ing in San Diego that at­tracts fans by the thou­sands. One pass for the en­tire event costs about $200, and so many people want them, fans must wait in an on­line queue. Ap­par­ently, there was some secret tech­nique Favela had nev­er mastered—something that in­volved sev­er­al com­puters at once. “It might be my own in­com­pet­ence,” he says, “It’s really dif­fi­cult.”

This year brought an­oth­er dis­ap­point­ment for the 48-year-old who learned to read Eng­lish through com­ic books. Tick­ets sold out in a couple of hours. Favela, who runs a craft brew­ery with fam­ily, would miss it for the sixth year in a row.

Though Com­ic-Con holds events around the area—a gra­cious token for those left out of the main event—it doesn’t come to Favela’s home in Bar­rio Lo­gan. This is the blue-col­lar Latino neigh­bor­hood squeezed between in­dus­tri­al areas, not even a mile south of the main event.  If only there was something for his people—Chi­canos, Favela thought. They could even call it Chi­cano-Con.

“There’s a long his­tory of be­ing pushed around,” Favela says of his neigh­bor­hood, “so we’re used to do­ing our own thing.”

Favelo grew up in a small home in Escon­dido, a small ag­ri­cul­tur­al town about 30 minutes north of Bar­rio Lo­gan. His par­ents came to Cali­for­nia from Dur­ango, Mex­ico with an ele­ment­ary edu­ca­tion. For a while, he and his five broth­ers and two sis­ters re­lied on pub­lic as­sist­ance, of­ten in the form of gov­ern­ment cheese. His par­ents car­ried home toys from The Sal­va­tion Army in plastic bags. Favela entered school speak­ing only Span­ish. Even ask­ing to use the re­stroom ter­ri­fied him. He failed second grade three times.

“It was Christ­mas, maybe,” Favela re­mem­bers. He was at The Sal­va­tion Army again as they passed out toys to kids. “Every­one else got cool gifts like bats and gloves, balls, things a kid would want. I got this com­ic book. So I was like, ‘Okay, what am I go­ing to do with this?”

On the first page, Favela saw a man with wings on his feet and a staff of snakes. He looked through it. And des­pite not know­ing much Eng­lish, the pic­tures helped fill in the gaps. He read more. And more. And by sixth grade, he was read­ing at a high school level. He gradu­ated col­lege; earned a mas­ter’s de­gree at the Uni­versity of San Diego, and was se­lec­ted for a fel­low­ship at Prin­ceton.

Favela dreamed up Chi­cano-Con just a couple months ago. It’s held in the 5,000-square-foot park­ing lot at Bor­der X Brew­ery, which Favela owns with his broth­er and two neph­ews. They’ve set up a cape-mak­ing booth for kids and will have live mu­sic, loc­al artists and artists from Tijuana, Mex­ico, and pho­tos with lucha libre wrest­lers. They’ve helped donate 1,500 com­ic books to kids.

“I wanted to bring that ex­per­i­ence to the bar­rio for free,” Favela says.

Last week­end, more than 350 people turned up. This week­end, he ex­pects around 1,000.

For times, dates, to con­nect, or to check out more pho­tos, vis­it the Chi­cano-Con Face­book page.

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