FabAfriq Magazine

The good guys are Black at the Black Comic Book Festival

On January 17th and 18th , comic book artists, and fans came together in Harlem for the second Black Comic Book Festival. The  two day conference featured special events, panel discussions, film screenings, workshops and comic merchandise. The event was held at the historic Schomburg Center for Black Research and Culture, in New York City.

The festival was organized by graphic artists Jerry Craft, Jonathan Gayles, and John Jennings. The organizers and the artists involved in the event feel it is important that their voice be heard.  Many of the top talent in comic art were on hand to show, their work, sign books, and give advice to up and coming young comic artists. Many of the artists at the festival such as Grey Williamson, Paris Cullins , and Mshindo Kuumba I. have more than 30 years of experience in the comic book industry. The festival also featured several female comic book artists like Jennifer Crute, Jewels Smith, and Regine Sawyer.

Black comic characters have historically been under represented in the mainstream comic industry. One of the goals of the festival is to raise awareness in the black community about the Black Comic industry. With the increased popularity of superhero films coming out of Hollywood, it is important that all children be able to see themselves as the hero. Some of the story line for the comics were inspired by a mix of sci-fi, and mythologies from a variety of cultures including Africa. The panel discussions dealt covered subjects like; women in comics, comic book collecting, and creating your won comics.  Especially moving was the panel discussion where a mother thanked the panelists for giving her a better understanding of comic art. She talked about how she had done little to encourage her young sons interest in drawing because she didn't see it as something serious. After attending the festival she said she would be committed to nurturing her son's interest and talent in drawing and comic art.

The Festival was previously hosted by Human bookstore, the shop closed it's doors in 2012, the festival then moved to the Schomburg. Last year the festival had over a 1,000 visitors, this year's attendance was estimated to be near 1,300, I'm sure they reached that. the festival also coincided with other Black Comic Book Festivals happening in other states. the organizers would like to see this event build nationally. It seems by the interest and turnout at the Schomburg that they are well on their way.

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