By Samantha Newman-
On March 19th I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend Silicon Valley Comic Con. This was the first year there was a Comic Con in the Silicon Valley and the idea was conceived by Apple’s co-founder, Steve Wozniak. I have been going to Anime Expo (AX) since I was 11, so I knew what to expect from Comic Con: long lines, a lot of shopping, and a few interesting panels. However, I knew the most important part of my day was interviewing Menlo College alumnus, Lenny Romero. This turned out to be quite the mission.
The registration line was not too bad, nothing could beat AX’s notoriously long lines (now greatly reduced thanks to EventBrite handling their ticketing). Nonetheless, there were a lot of people in a small area which made for a long wait. After getting my bracelet, I headed upstairs to the exhibit halls where Lenny was showcasing his artwork. I was confused as I came to the entrance of the hall only to find several crowded lines where people had to tap their bracelet to enter. This was new to me. At AX we would just hold our badges up and be let in, but that was not the case here. After navigating the crowd I finally got to Lenny and had a chance to interview him
Lenny Romero graduated last year (2015), and has been doing freelance artwork since. Almost all his prints were sold out by the time I arrived at his table in the artist’s alley, which meant a successful convention for any artist. After some introductions I interviewed Lenny about his time at Menlo, and his career as an artist:
“So what was your major at Menlo?” I began with.
“My major was Business Management with a focus in Sports Management,” Lenny responded, while letting a potential customer know he could look through his portfolio.
“Do you feel like your major has helped you at all with your art career?”
“I won’t say a ton, I feel like my major gets a little background into it, but my artwork drives itself. I’m really into what I do. It really is my driving force and what I love, so [my major] helps, but I’d say it’s all me.”
“Is this what you want to do as a career?”
“Yes. Absolutely. I want to do this for the rest of my life, if I can. Especially if it’s as amazing as today.”
“What’s the most gratifying part of your artwork?”
“People coming by and telling me how amazing my work is. How incredible it is. How unique my art is. I know people have similar work to mine, but it still feels good to hear that.”
“Is there anything you miss about Menlo College?”
“I miss my friends. Haha. I mean I miss college, because it’s college. You know living in the real life right now, got responsibilities. I miss my friends, I miss wrestling. The professors too…you know, Kovas, Alamar, and Caroll. I hope Caroll knows that! Also Francis Turner! Wow I guess all of them.”
“What have you been doing since graduating?”
“Mostly since graduating I’ve been doing this. You know, selling my art. My first convention was in September. My first table was two cubes at the side and my portfolios. As I’ve grown, I’ve gotten more cubes to put my art because I’ve built up a lot more art. I started out with two prints and now have 12 prints. And I sold out today!”
“What was the first convention you did?”
“Wizard World, which was at the same place as here, San Jose Convention Center.”
“Where are you from Originally?”
“Oh nice, I’m from L.A. too, you ever been to Anime Expo?”
“Yeah of course! I hear that they’re not that good to the artists though, so I don’t know if I’ll sell there.”
“Is there anything else you’re going to be doing at the convention?”
“Nah, not really. Maybe walk around and check out the other artists, buy some of their art, support them since they supported me.”
“Awesome, well thank you so much for the interview.”
I left Lenny to try and make a late afternoon Q&A panel with Adam Savage, who was the co-host of MythBusters. I battled my way through tight crowds again where I discovered that not only did one need to scan the bracelet to get into the exhibit hall, but to get outside as well. I made my way downstairs and quickly realized that the number of people lined up for the panel wouldn’t fit the seats allotted in the panel room. In the confusion of the crowd, I slipped in as the doors opened, took a seat mid-center, and breathed a sigh of relief when I realized no one seemed to notice or care.
After the panel was over, I left feeling excited about science. Listening to Adam will do that to you. His own interest in science shows when he speaks, and makes you feel inspired and excited with him. I went back into the exhibit hall to try and find something to take home as memorabilia. There were so many people that it was difficult to look at the merchandise and I didn’t find anything that really called out to me, or that I didn’t already have (I’m always on the lookout for Predator or Alien things). I eventually gave up and went back to the artist alley, but found that the art was somewhat lacking in quality or their subjects didn’t interest me. I typically avoid prints and seek out buttons, stickers, and bookmarks because I hate buying a print and it becoming bent on the way home. It was no wonder Lenny’s art had sold out so quickly; he was the best artist there. I checked out some of the Star Wars booths and the cartoon history museum, but eventually decided I was content with my experiences and left.
Overall, the convention had a good fun spirit, but they should consider finding a bigger venue, especially if they plan to grow in attendance.
I wish Lenny the best in his artistic endeavors and was happy to see he was doing well with selling his artwork and following his dream.
Check out some of his artwork on his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lenzations/