Yesterday was an awesome event at the Schomberg Library in Harlem; The 3rd Annual Black Comic Book Festival. An awesome gathering of some of the most prestigious and talented Black Comic Artists in the industry. The talent that can be found at this even covers all aspects of Indie and Commercial comics alike with both fully established and up and coming artists.
Photos can be found at the bottom of the article.
If I even attempted to cover the multitude of artists that were in attendance and their varied skillset, we would be here all day writing up a doctorial thesis, but some of the listed artists were:
SHAWN ALLEYNE (Aizan / Street Team / Pyroglyphics Studios) • SHAWN ATKINSON (Bombshells comics/Bombshells inc.) • ANDRE BATTS (Urban Style Comics) • KURT BOLLERS • MICHAE BRANTLEY • BROUSSARD BROS. (Battlemasterz) • BILL CAMPBELL (BattleMasterz, DW Comics, Battlemation) • NIGEL CARRINGTON (G.U.N, Ant Hill Comics, Ananci) • CHUCK COLLINS (BOUNCE!) • JERRY CRAFT (Mama’s Boyz | The Offenders) • JAYLEN & AREN CRAFT (The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!) • JENNIFER CRUTE (Jennifer’s Journal) • ANDRE DAVIS • RAY FELIX (Bronx Heroes Comic Con) • TIM FIELDER (Matty’s Rocket) • GREGORY GARAY (Jack B) • Garrett Robert (Xmoor Studios, Galtow) • MARK HAIR • N STEVEN HARRIS (Ajala | Voltron | Watson and Holmes) • FLOYD HUGHES (Pratt Institute) • ODERA IGBOKWE • JOHN JENNINGS (Black Comix | The Hole) • MSHINDO KUUMBA (Jaycen Wise, The Horesman) • JEFFREY LEE • PAUL LOWTHER • KEITH MILLER (Tri-Boro Tales) • Jamar Nicholas (Detective Boogaloo: Hip Hop Cop) • REGINE SAWYER (The Rippers) • ALEX SIMMONS (BlackJack | Archie Comics) • JEWELS SMITH ((H)Afrocentric) • WHITNEY TAYLOR • Onli Turtel • URAEUS (Jaycen Wise) • JEROME WALFOR (Nowhere Man | Curse of the Griffin | Freeing Violet), and more.
Upon entering I was completely thrown off because normally I get a chance to look around and then basically decide on which artists I’m going to support. I always support different artists at each event that I attend (because we all should ;)) – Anyway, that plan failed this time because within the first 60 seconds of being there I ran across artist Sheeba Maya’s table and let’s just say, I immediately paid for two of her larger poster prints. Her work is very powerful and is very reminiscent of Tribal/Ornate Portraiture. You have to see it for yourself to get the full experience so be sure to check the previous link.
My next stop was to the immediate right of Sheeba, and that was Andre Leroy Davis whose art is immediately recognizable due to the focus on hip hop caricatures, even more specifically, his “Hip-Hop Superheroes” where he swaps various Iconic Super Heroes with Iconic Hip-Hop stars. Nothing short of awesome.
I moved a bit down the line and came across the Lockett Down Productions area, but Regine Sawyer was moderating a panel in the Auditorium on “Controlling Our Images”. Nevertheless, it’s always a pleasure to view her work and if you aren’t familiar with what she is doing with her own content and with empowering women in comics altogether, then you may want to take some time and research her; I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I was also able to get another glimpse at N.Steven Harris and his work that he has completed on “Ajala” and other content such as “Brotherhood of the Fringe”, which was selling well as usual, bump into Chuck Collins, creator of the awesome Bounce Comic, and rounded out with work by Shawn Alleyne, a very talented artist who is very skilled at his unique style of art and dynamic illustrations.
I took the time to cycle through more individuals and their art quickly, but wanted to be sure to catch the panel that was taking place in the Auditorium. I was able to get in on the tail end of the panel where a very interesting, productive, and intense conversation regarding the control of black images, content, and creation was taking place with a group of awesome individuals: Mshindo Kuumba (Art Director, 2D Lead Artist, Visual Artist), Grey Williamson (Artist, Author), Alithia Martinez (Artist, Author), Robert Garrett (Xmoor Studios), all moderated by Regine Sawyer (Lockett Down Productions). As I sat and listened to the various opinions of the panel, I noticed that one of the most prevalent themes was, “How can we grow our black art?”. The reason I summed it up as this is due to the overall umbrella that each question seemed to fall under. With that one question, a multitude of derivatives came about. Becoming aware of your art, improving the quality of your art, becoming aware of self, and overcoming self are some of the main topics that were discussed as well as the overall perceived and intentionally misleading marketability of Black people in the comic world. The answers given were great and it was an awesome experience listening to the varied opinions of the panel. When questions and answers opened up, I did have one question, but unfortunately I missed the last person cutoff and never was able to express my question; however, I will post it here:
“There are programs at work currently, and we as a community have the ability to reach many young, upcoming, and established artists who may be looking for an edge to push their art to the next level; could you foresee yourselves (those on the panel) working with one another to create something of similar or greater value than that of Gnomon Workshop and various other workshops out there, which utilize the networking of talented artists and teachers to create online workshops that allow students to take very intensive art coursework with final deliverables from the artists they choose for a fixed fee?”
I wanted to pose the previous question because the panel individuals have an immense artistic skill-set as well as swaying power in the black comic art community and, in line with the suggested marketing successfully to your own people, the target market at their finger tips. This will prove to finance the teachings they provide, as well as automatically providing a stronger foundation for artists in the black community to stand and grown on. Just some food for thought, but just being in the presence of each individual is inspiration enough to stir your creative juices.
I suggest that if you have never been to the Annual Black Comic Book Festival, that you take the time and set it aside as a must-do the next time it rolls around. You will not be disappointed. You may just walk away feeling creatively rejuvenated.
What would you love to see from these artists or the black art community as a whole? Feel free to leave your thoughts below!