2015 : THE YEAR IN REVIEW
The Brief History book on Black Characters and Black Creators in Comics.
When I was doing work in the small and independent press I would often do fanzines for whichever group I was in at that time. For one Black History month in one of the groups, I decided to do a narrative on the contributions Black creators made to the comics industry. When I began I though there would be a lot of information on our contributions in the field of comics but was amazed at the lack of our presence there outside of being buffoons, comic relief, sidekicks or support for the white 'stars' of the strips and comic books. Getting past the negative stereotypes of the American past and digging deeper, I began to find that there were traces, however small, of things we had done and creators who, while doing stellar work, were doing it without fanfare and acknowledgement of their even being Black. This intrigued me and thus began the digital inquiry into those who blazed the trail and set the standards even while often being black-listed and having their books returned without even being put on the shelves of the very news stands that would carry them. Not that they were bad, many were actually good, but most were not given the chance to grow their audience or to gain in popularity.
I'd done eight pages which appeared in a fanzine and I also did the cover for it. Woefully short, I began more research and decided to frame it as a lecture that could be given at comic book conventions and galleries around the country. First stop: The Newark Public Library...
Panel Discussion at The Newark, New Jersey Public Library on
Uncommon Genres in Black Literature for Black History Month 2015
First time out and in this venue, which was more book talk than lecture I didn't get to present the lecture in its original form. An abbreviated form of it was done at the end of the book talk but that helped me see a much better way to do it. The talk itself lent itself to more of a forum for educating the audience on the importance of the graphic novel format as I shared the stage with two luminaries who themselves blazed the trail of Black creators in prose literature. Paranormal novelist, Valerie Wilson Wesley, and romance novelist, Donna Hill, shared the stage and their experiences of finding their audience, voice and the challenges of getting their products in the hands of readers. I brought the knowledge that graphic novels could be the next generation of content delivery for the youths of today and that as an emerging literary form, it shouldn't be overlooked or dismissed.
KhemFest - Newark, NJ
Newark, New Jerseys first dedicated convention to Black comic content creation had arrived! Just one day after my talk at the Newark Public Library, it was a more fitting venue for the beginning of the actual historical lecture on Black Comic Characters and Creators.
NYCC - The New York ComicCon
This was now the big time. NYCC puts on the biggest show for comic content producers and media providers ever. I'd attended as a professional guess creator in the past but never as a lecturer or panel speaker. The PBS Media Group asked me to join them for the panel discussion on Diversity in Comic books and as that was why I was doing the history of Blacks in Comics (which could also be called the lack of same) it made perfect sense for me to be a part of that conversation. To say we rocked the room would be an understatement. People of color found my History of Black Comics and Creators lead in to be informative and when the PBS Media Group, Grub Machine and my own Goza Creative/ScriptGraphics pushed into what true diversity in comics should look like, the audience was not only intrigued but engaged. There's obviously a national, if not global, consciousness for the exploration of Black history as it impacted comics and the need for diversity in comic books is a concept and idea whose time has come. People have been producing Black content comic books since the mid to late 70's but few are known or acknowledged and those that came before that have been lost to time and forgotten. Not on our watch. Now the true narrative has begun -
New Jersey Comic Expo
Our last convention of the 2015 year, we're defining the narrative and making the case for understanding what true diversity in comics actually looks like. This was perhaps the most challenging panel discussion thus far. Done without the in-depth history component as the precursor, we plunged
A full scale convention in the traditional sense of the word. The event planners couldn't imagine the scale of what it turned out to be and my lecture on Black Comic Creators and Characters with the new format featuring full video screen support and modified content to accompany it; it was a hit.
Superheroes for Hospice
Sometimes I just like attending a show as a creator and when I get to do it for as worthy a cause and Spiro's raising money for hospitalized children, well... how could I resist?
Underground ComicCon - Delaware
I met the event organizers of this show a couple of years back and couldn't make their inaugural show but got lucky and again teamed with PBS Media to do my Blacks in Comics history lecture as a lead in to our panel on Diversity in comics. Again, very well received!
right into why Blacks have to control and create the images of people of color in comics; why women have to create and control the images of women in comics and why there needs to be far more diversity in terms of the kinds of heroes and stories being told in comics for there to be true diversity.