"Well, Ed, the way I see it...they're all sitting in those cheap seats just watching the game. We're playing it."
- Jefferson Jacks, "Crankshaft"
Many of my industry pals already have a 2009 convention or two under their belts, but I don't get out much. My first event of the year is the 8th annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, Saturday, May 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Philadelphia. This will be my second appearance at the event.
ECBACC is an annual gathering of comics creators and retailers who create and sell material that caters to black readers of all ages. Its schedule includes panel discussions and comics workshops, some specially tailored to young attendees. My previous appearance at the show was one of the most uplifting experiences of my career and I'm excited about this return visit.
The guest list is very spiffy: Kevin Grevioux of Underworld and New Warriors fame; LA Banks, the writer of the Vampire Huntress series; DC Comics artist Jamal Igle; comics historian Professor William Foster; Alex Simmons, the founder of KidsComicCon and the writer of several terrific stories for Archie & Friends; Percy "MF Grimm" Carey, writer of the great Sentences graphic novel of a few years back, and others. I look forward to renewing old friendships and starting new ones.
The night before ECBACC, the 2009 Glyph Comics Awards ceremony takes place in the Skyline Room of the Free Library of Philadelphia at the library's Park Central branch. The awards honor the best in black comics and creators. The awards are now in their fourth year. I served as a judge two years ago and the experience was terrific from start to finish.
The 2009 GCA nominees were announced earlier this year and, as it happens, two of them hold special interest for me.
In the category of Best Male Character:
Black Lightning, Final Crisis: Submit; Grant Morrison, writer, Matthew Clark, Norm Rapmund, Rob Hunter & Don Ho, artists; created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden.
In the category of Best Comic Strip:
"Jefferson Jacks" from "Crankshaft"; Tom Batiuk and Tony Isabella, writers, Chuck Ayers, artist.
Though I wish DC wasn't so determined to keep me from ever writing Lightning again, I'm delighted to see my creation nominated in this category. Despite my feelings about DC "events" in general ranging from ambivalence to disgust I was quite pleased with this Final Crisis appearance. Morrison did an excellent job with Jeff Pierce. Yes, I thought the somewhat heavyhanded "I'm teaching you lessons about life" speech pattern was off, but it was still well within what I consider an acceptable range. If my writing of Black Lightning is a "10," then Morrison gets a solid "8" here. Good on him.
Tom Batiuk has mentioned it publically on several occasions, so I don't think it's a huge secret that, in the past, I have done some writing for "Funky Winkerbean" and "Crankshaft." That writing came as an extension of my doing what I've been doing for years as a friend and a fan of Tom's strips, suggesting ideas to him. A few years back, when his schedule got tight, he asked me to assist on some storylines. It's been another one of those "best experiences of my career" things. Anyway...
Knowing Ed Crankshaft had been a minor-league ballplayer for the Toledo Mudhens and having read several books on the integration of baseball, I suggested Tom write a flashback sequence about Ed's friendship with one of those first black ballplayers. Tom thought about it and called me the next day to suggest I write the story. We ended up writing it together.
I'm proud of this one. I think it's as good as anything I've written in a career of doing my best to include positive characters of color in comic books. I'm delighted the judges thought enough of it to nominate it in this category.
You can view the entire list of Glyph Comics Awards categories and nominees by going to:
If you have an interest in black comic books and creators, or if you're going to be in the Philadelphia area that weekend, I urge you to attend ECBACC and the Glyph Comics Awards ceremony. It would be great to see some of my CBG readers there.
It's reminder time. This week, the Tony Polls ask which IDW, Dark Horse, and Image characters/titles you'd recommend to someone who has fallen months and years behind his comics reading. You can vote on thee questions here:
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
Please send material you would like me to review to: