Growing up in the eighties, it was common to read comic strips in the newspaper such as Family Circle, Peanuts and Cathy. It was rare to have an actual comic book, but if we did, it was something like Archie or Richie Rich. After school, there were many superheroes that were on screen such as Superman, Batman, The Thundercats, He Man and She Ra as well as Jem and the Holograms. These superhero characters were male, female, even partially an animal, but rarely were these characters black. Every once in a while, there was a person of color like Shana, one of Jem’s band mates. Only those deep into comics would have known of other black characters outside of mainstream television or comic books in those days. Over time, the comics game has changed. With great anticipation, fans are awaiting the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, who was once known as Coal Tiger, starring Chadwick Boseman. Still a character like Black Panther has been around for decades, but is only now seeing the spotlight.
It took fifty one years to create the first feature film for a black comic book character, when others like the Hulk and Spiderman have more than one film or have been included in a series of superhero films. All along, black comic book fans have held onto the few characters that represented them, and now several fans have become comic book creators of their own. From Dawud Anya Bwile and Guy Simms’ Brotherman to the newest bestseller, Is Nana, black comics have grown from a few characters to a full roster of villains, heroes and other supporting roles.
What’s also new to black comic lovers is the culture of the comic con. Comic book conventions have been going on since 1970 in San Diego, California. Today, thousands of comic fans assemble in various cities around the world celebrating the fascinating world of comics. Some attendees even dress up for these conventions in costumes, also called cosplay. Black comic cons have been on the rise in recent years, having been held in Atlanta, Harlem and Detroit and it is now happening in Toledo, Ohio. Imani Lateef, founder of the GCBC event is also the creator of Peep Game Comix, the world’s first and largest distributor of digital black comics featuring authors, publishers, artists and distributors from the U.S. and Africa.
In a press release published by The Toledo Lucas County Public Library, it described the Glass City Black Comix Arts Festival as a celebration that supports black comic book creators from around the world in their effort to tell compelling, uplifting, and fantastic stories. The Festival aims to educate all comic book fans about the amazing work available by Black Comic Artists and spread the word that all audiences deserve representation and to be present as subjects in the comic arts and popular culture.
The event will take place this Saturday, February 25th at the main library from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the Huntington Room. Guests will learn to draw, create cool characters and how to tell a visual story. There will be presentations throughout the day and activities for children. Guests are encouraged to dress up in their favorite characters or cosplay. The Glass City Black Comix Arts Festival is FREE and open to the public. For more information about the more than 200 titles available for digital download, visit peepgamecomix.com. To learn more about the GCBC, please visit toledolibrary.org