Sponsored by Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in the Heart of Harlem
515 Malcolm X Boulevard New York, NY 10037, this event celebrates the rich tradition of Black comix featuring panel discussions, film screenings, a cosplay show, and exhibit tables with premiere independent Black comic creators from across the United States!
The annual extravaganza, which drew close to 12,000 attendees in 2017, connects diverse comic readers, creators, bloggers, blerds, independent publishers, and collectors of all ages.
This year’s highlights will include panels and discussion on topics including diversity and social justice in comics, black comics in digital spaces, black masculinity in comic books, and much, much more.
New offers are also available for comic fans of all ages such as a limited edition 6th anniversary program book, festival t-shirts, and the opportunity to donate samples of your comics to the Schomburg Library’s Comic Book Archive!
All the information you need to get registered is here
Follow Online: @SchomburgCenter
I just recently wrote about how big pop culture media companies like Disney are courting a more diverse fanbase I’m pleased to hear Black Panther Breaks Record For Most Pre-Sale Tickets Of Any Marvel Movie. Black Stories Matter. If our stories matter more then perhaps our lives matter more as well. “If we don’t “die first”, maybe we don’t die first.” Micah Blumenthal said in this excellent TMI video:
Mr. Blumenthal is also promoting a Black Panther Opening Night POC Takeover on generosity.com to create space for POC moviegoers in Kingston, NY. Representation matters, and these are affirmative examples of us controlling our Pop Culture narratives. “We” can be heroes too.
But, smaller, independent comic book publishers are where the rubber hits the road for black and brown comic book talent to thrive. They are the estuaries where new and experienced comic book writers and illustrators colaberate, hone their craft and gain a following.
Mega-Cons can be fun, but it’s easy to get drowned out by the din. They are expensive, overwhelming for kids and Marvel vs. DC Titan clashes leave little oxygen for smaller publishers. Venues more intimate, less corporate and more community driven like The Annual Black Comic Book Festival are vital for black voices in particular to be heard. In many cases, the most exciting and innovative comics are coming from the small houses. And you can actually have a conversation with creatives in a kid friendly, environment.
A few stand outs in Black Comic Books for me were BLACK, Co-created by Kwanza Osajyefo and Tim Smith III, illustrated by Inkpot-Award winning artist Jamal Igle, and featuring a cover by illustrator Khary Randolph.
Timed to Black History Month, the highly anticipated ‘BLACK‘ published by Black Mask Studios graphic novel shattered it’s $30,000 Kickstarter goal in four days. The project was lead by a creative dream team. Written by Kwanza Osajyefo former DC Comics Digital Editor who launched DC’s ZUDA imprint and Tim Smith III (Iron Man, The Amazing Spiderman) Illustrated by Inkpot-Award winning artist Jamal Igle (Molly Danger, Supergirl) and Cover Artist Khary Randolph (TMNT, The Boondocks, Robin Wars) ‘BLACK’ is fueled by this ingenious premise—“In a world that already fears and hates them—what if only Black people had superpowers?”
It is current, powerful, expertly illustrated and refreshingly as the action unfoled, the narrative didn’t hide behind Mutant or Alien allegorical smoke screens about injustice. There are plenty of real world examples pulled from today’s headlines. BLACK told it like it is.
BLACK follows the story of a young man, who, having miraculously survived being shot by police, learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. In an exclusive interview I had with BLACK creators, they spoke frankly about why they thought the book resonated with so many readers:
The context and content of BLACK are intertwined without relying on allegories – it reflects actual issues, starting with the lead character being killed by cops due to racial profiling. Somehow he survives and we’re along for the ride: how he learns about his own powers and the global suppression of this phenomenon. I think that presents a story that doesn’t serve readers through tokenism or ethnicity swaps — the characters have their own agency. BLACK is a reflection of systemic exclusion and oppression that exists in real life presented through the lens of sci-fi. It explores a largely untapped space in storytelling that, because of the very issues it highlights, most media outlets have not been able to consider. Consumers are hungry for new stories with different perspectives because what’s existed before has only served them the same content for decades from one group’s perspective. -“BLACK’ graphic novel writer Kwanza Osajyefo
Another outstanding effort was La Borinqueña an original character and patriotic symbol presented in a classic superhero story created and written by graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Her powers are drawn from history and and mysticism found on the island of Puerto Rico. The fictional character, Marisol Rios De La Luz, is a Columbia University Earth and Environmental Sciences Undergraduate student living with her parents in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She takes a semester of study abroad in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico
There she explores the caves of Puerto Rico and finds five similar sized crystals. Atabex, the Taino mother goddess, appears before Marisol once the crystals are united and summons her sons Yúcahu, spirt of the seas and mountains and Juracan, spirit of the hurricanes. They give Marisol superhuman strength, the power of flight, and control of the storms.
Miranda-Rodriguez kicked off New York Comic Con 2017 with an art exhibition featuring more than 30 La Borinqueña fine art prints for sale, and gave 100% of the proceeds to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.
Creators of both Comics will be presenting at this years Black Comic Book Festival! Come uptown and bring the kids. It’s FREE! There is a full festival program below. Note: Times and panelists are subject to change.
The Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival (BCBF) Jan 12-13, 2018 Program
FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 2018
10:00AM | All Locations
Exhibitor Tables Open to the Public
10:00AM – 10:15AM | Langston Hughes Auditorium
Welcome to Day 1
10:15AM – 12:30PM | Langston Hughes Auditorium
Youth Program: Heroes of Color & Super Kids!
*Free books for kids!
* Part 1: 10:15AM-10:45AM
* Screening of Heroes of Color Animated Shorts
* Presented by David Heredia
* Part 2: 10:45AM-12:30PM Super Kids! Panel Presentation
1:30PM – 2:45PM Black Characters Matter: Social Justice and Representation in Comics
Moderated by Deirdre Hollman (Black Comics Collective)
Panelists: Dawud Anyabwile (Brotherman Comics), Tony Medina & Stacey Robinson (I Am Alfonso Jones), and Eric Velasquez (Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library)
3:30PM-5:00PM Digging Through the Crates: Chronicling Black Comics Culture
Moderated by Professor William Foster
Panelists: Sheena Howard (The Encyclopedia of Black Comics), and Joe Illidge (Black Comix Returns), Brother Kendu Cheek (Konscious Comics)
6:0p0PM-6:30PM Screening: Exclusive Clip from Black Panther presented by Florence Kasumba
Black Panther: A Hero and A Movement Moderated by Kevin Young
A conversation with Schomburg Director Kevin Young, Florence Kasumba (Black Panther movie, Ayo), Professor Jonathan Gayles (“White Scripts and Black Supermen”), Professor Kinitra Brooks (“Searching for Sycorax: Black Women in Contemporary Horror”), Illustrator Alitha Martinez (“World of Wakanda”) exploring the context, impact, and legacy of Black Panther as a ground-breaking character and a social-political movement.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2018
10:00AM | All Locations
Exhibitor Tables Open to the Public
10:00AM – 10:15AM | Langston Hughes Auditorium Welcome to Day 2
10:15AM – 11:15AM Film Screening: White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comic Books by Jonathan Gayles
11:30AM – 12:45PM Differential Powers in the African Diaspora
Moderated by Jonathan Gayles (White Scripts and Black Supermen, Georgia State University) Panelists: William Jones (Afrofuturism Network), Grace Gipson (University of California Berkeley), Julian Chambliss (Rollins College)
1:45PM – 2:45PM Reimagining the Past: Historical Fiction and Alternative Histories
Moderated by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (University of Pennsylvania)
Panelists: Greg Burnham (Tuskegee Heirs), Ray Felix (Bronx Heroes), Kamau Ware (Black Gotham)
3:00PM – 3:30PM Cosplay Showcase
3:45PM – 4:45 PM The Brown Universe: Diversity in Comics
Moderated by M’Shindo Kuumba Panelists: Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez (Boriquena), [Laserman by Rajive Anand?] and Marcus Williams (Tuskegee Heirs).
5:00PM – 5:45 PM
Presented by Greg Elysee (Is’Nana the Were-Spider)
5:45PM – 6:45 PM Black Comics and the Digital Community: How Black Geekdom has taken over the Worlds of Social Media Moderated by Karama Horne (The Blerdgurl)
Panelists: Kwanzaa Osajeyfo (Black), and Regine Sawyer (Locketdown Productions and Women in Comics Collective)
Donations to Schomburg Library’s Comic Book Archive The Schomburg Library is seeking to expand its collection of black independent comic books!
Please consider donating single copies of old or new titles from your home collection to the Schomburg Library at the Festival. All donations will become part of the Schomburg’s permanent collection and contribute to a unique and growing archive documenting comics and the black speculative arts movement.
#blackstoriesmatter #blackheroesmatter #FUBU
Art Credit – The New York Public Library / Black Mask Comics / Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez / Marvel Entertainment