Silly rabbit, comics aren’t just for kids !
I could never really figure out the appeal of a comic con, even being a comic reader. I mean I’m not into getting things signed, I’m not really a people watcher or someone interested in standing in line to say I met someone, and you can generally buy books anyplace, so the real need of a con was lost on me, until I started up this blog and got serious about writing again.
The New York Comic Con… Two months ago, my first con ever… showed me the beauty of a con.
I’m not a big people person, but there’s something great about being around like-minded men and women. I heard other people on various podcasts say that, but it’s true; it’s a great thing to be in a venue, to be among people who you don’t have to educate or justify or explain that comics can be for adults as well as kids.
Great to be around people, writers, artists, fans, that GET it’s a valid medium, like any other medium… as juvenile, as adult, as horrific, as funny, as romantic, as historic, as insignificant, as important as any other medium. So it’s beautiful to be in that environment with creator and fan, networking, sharing a common language and discovering new voices and new visions.
And as great as the NEW YORK COMIC CON was for all that, the EAST COAST BLACK AGE OF COMICS CONVENTION, sans the three days, and sans the Star Wars stuff, and the Video Game stuff, was just as great (and without the horrendous waiting in line, that was part of the NY con).
Hosted at the stunning Temple University in Philadelphia, I had a blast. The show stayed crowded and packed the whole day, with creators an attendees all sharing that common language and common love of a medium. The sixth year for the event the place was jammed, it is DEFINITELY going to need a bigger space next year, and they really need to consider making it two days for the con. Saturday and Sunday. And moving the award ceremony from Friday (when most people are working and can’t get there) to Saturday night.
That and the space issue aside (the aisles were too small, the space was too small, it often became bumper to bumper traffic. **Note to con, bigger space, much more room between tables**) the con was a hit. Many creators I’m happy to say sold out of books, and I think for everyone it was a great experience.
Everyone was in a good mood, fun approachable, nice, self effacing. That’s generally the thing about comic book people, creators and readers, specifically Indie Creators and Readers, they tend to be people I want to be in room with. Comes back to that common language.
A lot of California and New York Creators were represented, but also Baltimore, Detroit and everywhere in between.
And it was a great con for fans to meet creators, as well as for creators to network with each other.
The con offered me the chance as fan and blogger and always mild manned freelancer , to speak to well known greats such as:
Kyle Baker (NAT TURNER, THE BAKERS, KING DAVID fame) and Dwayne McDuffie (MILESTONE, STATIC, JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED fame),
As well as brilliantly talented under the radar creators such as:
Masheka Wood (DEEP DOODLE), Ayo (80 GUN), the lovely Mikhaela Reid (ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT MIKHAELA), Robert Garrett (GALTOW), Akinseye Brown and his beautiful wife whose name races away from me (SANNKOFAMAAN:PET THE BEAST), KENJJI and his beautiful Fiancee (sorry, me and names, if it’s not written down it goes in one ear and out the other) creators of WITCHDOCTOR, Tdreerah who introduced me to the work of Turtel Onli.
As well as other Amazing creators who cover all points and mediums in between, including art, toys, children’s books, games, and of course comics:
Keith Knight. His K CHRONICLES series continues to justly win awards and acclaim. I own DANCES WITH SHEEP and FEAR OF A BLACK MARKER and recommend them. Keith’s work manages to be funny, irreverent, smart, and somehow universal. As he with deft crosshatching, makes the moments of his life into a rich, funny, and often courageous mirror… of all our lives. This is a great age we live in when you have artists like Aaron McGruder, Masheka Wood, and Keith Knight all producing brilliant comic strips. And all available in collected versions direct from the creators, or from better bookstores everywhere.
Larry Fuller (aka A Christian White): Award winning, acclaimed and influential underground comic writer/artist, from the swinging early days of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It was my definite pleasure and honor to stumble upon him, He’s a walking trove of information about the history of this medium.
And more than that he remains a vital proponent and active participant in the medium, and embraces the new technology of Wacom tablets, and various 3D programs. Check out some samples on his site: http://webs.lanset.com/lfuller
A site which I highly recommend. But make sure you’re a mature viewer, it does contain some sex and nudity, but it’s an invaluable look at the heyday of underground comix. Look at EBON 1, a very early effort, but there’s some strong storytelling chops there that holdup. And his adult comics, not typically my cup of tea, from the samples on his site are funny, and brilliant, and amazing.
And he has an art style, that particularly in his later adult work you see a nice, Toth like sensibility. Unfortunately the work is out of print, but it’s work I’m on a mission to collect. Like similar underground artists Crumb and Robt. Williams, Fantagraphics should collect Fuller’s work in one over-sized tome. His work is an important and influential part of the medium, that helped birth the current Indie scene.
As a struggling creator I’m definitely learning from his site, an definitely look forward to seeing more work from him. MARVEL/DC if you’re out there listening, you should be knocking on his door to write for you.
Also I was able to record, with Mr. Fuller’s permission, much of our conversation. It’s a very informative, and interesting audio interview. I’m in the process of cleaning up the audio now, but will be posting soon!
Eugene Randolph Young Has a great kids book and puzzle, which you can find at http://www.leslurn.com. A great resource for parents and teachers seeking positive, entertaining, and educational materials for all children, but specifically for children of color. But what floored me about ERY was the AMAZING!!! sketch books of art he brought out! Phenomenal artwork, and a wonderful vision that you can see samples of at http://www.eurayo.com and http://www.artwanted.com/artist.cfm?artid=7930.
Think Wayne Barlow meets Alex Schomburg (not his comic work, but his painted work, and book covers) meets Luis Royo meets Giger, but all filled, fueled with an aesthetic, a meaning, a story, a richness that is uniquely his.
If you need a GREAT comic or book cover, you would do well to snatch this guy up. highly recommended.
So lots of detailed reviews and audio interviews to bring you, but for right now, some quick recommendations:
Masheka Wood’s DEEP DOODLE is a book collecting his extremely well illustrated, and extremely insane cartoons! I loved it. I was trying to think who to compare it to, and I really couldn’t. While the art has a little Jim Woodring in it, it definitely has its own voice, and the humor and sensibility is uniquely Masheka. Strong recommendation!
I also wanted to give attention to Masheka’s fiance the talented Mikhaela B. Reid who I mercilessly teased, and she has now put out a hit on me. The hit aside, pick up her book ATTACK OF THE 50FT MIKHAELA. Buy enough copies and she may drop the hit on me. Thanks!
For me, the find of the con is a tie between two books. The first is:
WITCHDOCTOR PROTECTOR OF THE PEOPLE is a 3 part 2002 Xeric Award Winning series that I somehow missed when it initially came out, but thankfully Kenjji the writer/artist was at the con with the whole series for sale.
About a Haitian Doctor coming to terms with ghosts of his past that still haunt him into his present, it is absolutely phenomenal story and art. This is the kind of fresh energy the medium needs, and the mainstream is lacking.
And I really look forward to more from Kenjji and GRIOT Publishing. He has an anthology in the works to address Japanese/Black relations and the stereotypes that are perpetuated in their media. Negative images of people of color, that are primarily there because those demeaning images have been, and continue to be… the number one export of corporate America. Images of Division, Derision, and hate. So I think Kenjji’s project is an incredibly important one, and will definitely do all I can to support it.
That said, I really want to see more WITCHDOCTOR from this creator. So people, publishers, everyone… please support this guy.
It’s a crime for an amazing talent like this to be unknown. It’s analogous to a world where Jack Kirby had never been given work at Marvel or DC, the loss would have been everyones.
Kenjji’s website is appropriately enough entitled http://www.kenjji.com and if Marvel and DC don’t run over there and hire this guy, they’re even more out of touch than I thought.
That said Kenjji, don’t take too many jobs, cause I have work for you. See it’s this comic with a lady in black, and… okay we’ll talk. But seriously, a Highly recommended book by a highly recommended writer/artist.
The other best of the con comic book, just may be the most important comic currently being published… by anyone!
The significance of this comic is pretty akin to someone in 1939 America (a period when much of America’s wealthy were in favor of Hitler), doing a comic addressing Nazi atrocities and concentration camps.
This comic I’m discussing deals with an issue as current as that would have been, and as horrific.
It deals with the continuing genocide in Nigeria of an entire people, to steal their oil. The hiring of paramilitary neo-nazi and south african death squads by oil companies, to enforce their theft of natural resources, enslavement of workers, and destruction of the environment.
The book is called AKINSEYE’S SANNKOFAMAAN: PET THE BEAST by Akinseye Brown, and it uses the familiar tropes of the costumed hero to address real world issues, and does it brilliantly, being didactic (which is a great thing, following in the footsteps of the Pan-African movement which did the same thing for film, using films such as HOUR OF THE FURNACES, BATTLE OF ALGIERS, GOD AND THE DEVIL IN THE LAND OF THE SUN, and even relatively recent films such as HYENAS and DARESALAM… to bring the continuing horrors of colonialism out of the shadows), while still managing to be entertaining and rousing and uplifting. Our fictions perhaps being the ultimate place to change our facts.
Akinseye writes and stunningly illustrates this series, and it boggles my mind that I had never heard of this comic or this writer. I’m going to do my best to change that.
But that caveat aside, the book is Highly, Highly Recommended!
Stumbling across the work of Mr. Brown and Kenjji and Eugene Randolph Young and so many others, is one reason that this is a convention I will be attending every single year.
Talent like this should be sought out, and books like this should be supported.
Come back next installment for yet more reviews and interviews from the great ECBACC con!
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