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Superheroes, Sidekicks and Villains! The 5th Annual Black Comic Book Festival at The Schomburg Center!

Posted January 12, 2017 by The Harlem Eye

Hallelujah! 2017 has now sprung among us and what better way to start the New Year than to immerse into the whimsical world of comics. The Schomburg Center kicks off the New Year with its 5th Annual Black Comic Book Festival this weekend.

Co-Founder, Jerry Craft (Cartoonist and Illustrator for syndicated comic strip Mama’s Boyz) describes how 2016 was a game changer for the festival, “Last year we had fans come in from Canada, which put us in a new stratosphere as far as our fan base.”  This year’s festival features over fifty exhibitions and panels over two days beginning on Friday, January 13th.

For the past five years, Craft along with John Jennings (Comic Artist of Black Kirby and Black Comix), Jonathan Gayles (Associate Professor of African-American Studies at Georgia State University), and Deirdre Hollman (Schomburg’s Director of Education and Exhibitions) have joined forces to demonstrate the real power of comics through artistry, academic dissection and galleries.

Craft describes comics as not just illustrations of stereotypical superheroes, sidekicks, and villains surrounded by text blurbs but also an essential tool for education. “I have always loved to draw, and I always loved reading comics. For most of my friends, comic books were their introduction to reading and to enjoy reading, even though teachers at this time did not respect comics, we knew the impact it had firsthand.”

The festival also opens doors for aspiring creators by creating a haven for artists to unfold. “It shows that you can actually make a living by following your dreams and passion whether you want to be a writer or illustrator. It shines light on people just like us who have published their own work for one or two decades, and it gets these artists in front of a crowd or audience and helps everyone economically,” said Craft.

The exhibition list features the amazing works of artists from around the country like comic creator, M’Shindo (Jaycen Wise) from North Carolina, award-winning cartoonist Keith Knight (The K Chronicles) from California, and award-winning comic book writer David Walker (Shaft) from Portland, Oregon.

What makes this Comic Con so different from the others is that its primary focus is to support independent artists and writers. Craft’s goal is to expose independent artists and let fans have one on one experiences with the creators of their favorite black comic characters. “These are stories created by people of color that I think do a better job of reflecting our lives and lifestyle and I think that if we were to have a larger company like Marvel, customers will immediately gravitate toward them without giving our independents a shot,” said Craft.

Comic Cons are usually geared towards older crowds of comic junkies infatuated with large companies like Marvel or DC Comics, charging super fans as much as $20 for just an autograph. But this Comic Con welcomes everyone from adults to children. Craft describes audience members as families conversing with their favorite artists. “We have grandmothers bringing their grandchildren and hanging out for the day, so I think it’s a lot more personable where you can go up to anyone and ask for an autograph, tips, shake a hand or take some selfies, I feel like it’s a very personal convention, “exclaims Craft.

The Schomburg Center’s 5th Annual Black Comic Book Festival is scheduled on Friday, January 13, and Saturday, January 14.

Book your reservation here!

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

515 Malcolm X Boulevard

New York, NY 10037


Submitted by: Stephanie Collado, Harlem One Stop


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