Continuing my East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention trip report from last Friday...
For those readers just joining us, ECBACC is a comics convention created to promote comics and other works by, about, and for people of color. It's very different from most of the comics conventions I attend.
The event's "comic book marketplace" is filled with creators and craftsmen selling comic books, novels, and other items of their own making; and with tables promoting businesses, such as a martial arts dojo. There was nary a comics retailer at the event, though I think any retailer who brought stock matching the interests of the attendees could do very well at the show.
The show opens at 10 am and runs until 7 pm. Its program is packed with panel discussions, screenings, and workshops for kids, teens, and any one else who wants to learn comics-creating skills from the most basic to the more advanced. There were four tiers of programming running most of the day.
I arrived at my guest table a little before ten. Even before I could set up, my presence was requested for the first of several media interviews I would give before the close of the day. Indeed, I did so many interviews - for documentaries, for podcasts, and for projects of one kind or another - that I literally can't remember how many I did. It was more than six and less than a dozen...and my best guess would be eight. If and when any of these interviews show up online, I'll let you know where you can view them.
I was also on a writing panel hosted by Rich Watson, founder of the Glyph Awards and a fine cartoonist. The other panelists were L.A. Banks, the writer of thee Vampire Huntress novels, and local cartoonist Jamar Nicholas. It was an exceptionally excellent panel and I hope someone taped it because we all said some pretty smart stuff about writing.
When I was behind my table, I did what I usually do when I'm behind my table at a convention. I answered a bunch of questions from my readers. I had terrific conversations with old pals like Alex Simmons, Jamal Igle, and Professor William Foster. I sold a couple pages of Black Lightning original art. And, I won't lie, I got much needed egoboo from folks who really appreciate the comics and columns I've written over the years.
What makes ECBACC such a special event is that it's far more than a comics convention. It's a community of artists and people supporting each other in the work we do. Sure, its focus might be on characters and creators of color, but it's a community that has graciously included me among its numbers.
ECBACC is an important event for much the same reason that I have done as much as possible to include more characters of color in the comics and other things I write. Because there are so many comics readers who do not see themselves reflected in comic books in proportion to the dollars they spend on comics. Decades ago, I was led by my innate sense of fairness to try to include characters reflective of that readership in my comics and that's the kind of work ECBACC does and encourages today.
By the end of the show, I was exhausted. But I was delighted to have been a part of ECBACC and hope to continue being a part of it for many more years to come...and I hope to see even more of my readers there next year.
This trip report isn't quite over yet, but I'll probably wait a few TOTs before I pick it up again with the tale of my long drive back to Medina and the many contemplations that passed through my churning brain on the journey home.
Watch for it.
Tuesday kicked off the final round of our special "They're Not Dead Yet!" Comics Idol competition wherein we've voted on the 1970s comics writers who we would most like to see again write their signature features on a regular basis. The original field of 20 writers had been narrowed down to a handful of finalist and this is the week during which we'll chose the winner!
As promised - since I intentionally excluded myself from this competition - I also have a two "Tony" questions for your balloting entertainment and mine.
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: