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04 Nov 2016

Nerds of Coachella Valley, Unite! Palm Springs Comic Con Returns With Its Biggest Event Yet

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Alex Callego celebrates during Free Comic Book Day. Alex Callego celebrates during Free Comic Book Day.

A large and, by all accounts, successful comic con came to Palm Springs over the summer.

One problem: That comic con was improperly billed as the first and only Coachella Valley comic con.

Turns out a group called the Palm Springs Comic Con has been around since 2014—and this scrappy group of locals is putting on the Palm Springs Comic Con on Saturday, Nov. 19, and Sunday, Nov. 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs. (Full disclosure: The Independent is a sponsor of the event.)

Locally, there is no one more passionate about comic and nerd-culture than Alex Callego.

“My love for it started 20 years ago,” Callego said during a recent interview. “My love for conventions began before that. I’d always heard about San Diego Comic-Con, even before it was this huge and gigantic thing. I always wanted to go to it because I had friends who were artists in high school, and I wanted to be a comic book writer. I joined forces with them and tried to be a comic writer, but it was never a serious thing; it was just out of love for my comic-book fandom.”

Callego said he went to his first San Diego Comic-Con by accident, more or less.

“I was on vacation with some family members. We stayed in San Diego at the same time as San Diego Comic-Con,” he said. “We walked over there, and this was back before you had to buy tickets. We just went in, and from that moment forward, it changed my life: I had to go every single year.”

Callego said he always thought it would be amazing to have a comic con in his hometown, but he was hesitant to produce one of his own.

“I was into music … and I wanted to be in a band and tour. After a while, the whole music thing went away for me for a few years,” he said. “But I was still going to San Diego Comic-Con … 10 years in a row, and then 15 years in a row. That idea of putting on my own convention was something I decided I wanted to do: It sunk in that I needed to create something of my own. Music wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

“The first event we did was in May 2014, and that’s when we launched our (Kickstarter) initiative.”

That initiative raised more than $14,000. Callego said he was bothered at first when the other group came in and started billing the summer comic con as the valley’s first and only.

“Very quickly, I let it go,” he said. “The way I saw it, and the more geek stuff out here in the desert, the better. It strengthens the culture that much more as long as it’s done right. The thing is, being first doesn’t mean anything. Being the best at something is a matter of opinion. What matters the most is being good and connecting with people. As long as I’m connecting to people, that’s what matters. I’m sure it matters to businesses that are involved and things like that.

“Our convention started off with a Kickstarter; the fans wanted it. They saw the desire to have a comic-book convention in their town and wanted it so badly that they put their own money behind it. It’s my duty as a person in the community to create something as best as possible with the resources that I have.”

What can attendees expect from the Palm Springs Comic Con? Callego said the weekend is all about offering a unique experience, as well as some really fun exhibits.

“We want the experience to be more interactive; we bring in the younger talents who are trying to do their artwork and art form,” Callego said. “This is a platform for us to be able to help them. What I want to give is an experience that is unique. … We have Titmouse Studios coming in, and they’re going to be doing a panel. They’re going to be talking about their latest show and their newest movie. We also have this thing called the Memory Box; it’s sort of like playing telephone, only through video.”

The Palm Springs Comic Con takes place Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 19 and 20, at the Hard Rock Hotel, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $15 to $50. For tickets and more information, visit www.pscomiccon.com. For VIP passes ($50 value for $35), go to the Independent Market at CVIndependent.com.

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