The 3rd Annual Black Comic Book Festival took place this past weekend in Harlem at the Schomburg Center. Jordan and I were in attendance reporting (read: live tweeting) from the field. This was both of our first times being at this festival but we still managed to run into some familiar faces like Jerry Craft (creator of Mama’s Boyz), who did a podcast with Jordan not too long ago. Jerry informed us of how packed it would get and bruh… he ain’t ever lied.

“And That Atmosphere Be So Black”

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It started to get filled very quickly. We knew it was real once we saw the cosplayers coming out. It ain’t a festival till the cosplayers christen the building. Jordan and I then started to make rounds at the festival, visiting different artist’s booths. The majority of the work was independent, yet I remember being familiar with certain art such as Shawn Alleyne’s (Street Team) Nubia Wonder Woman art, Alithia Martinez’s (DC Comics / Marvel) Yume and Ever as well as Watson and Holmes graphic novel due to them being circulating around on Tumblr. To go from reblogging to meeting these artists was incredible. I was having a conversation with the writer of Watson and Holmes Karl Bollers and listening to him talk about his work on his book as well as his other projects was invigorating. I remember reaching to my wallet and then looking at Jordan as he said, “Yeah… we’re bout to spend all the money.”

We took about two steps towards another table where I proceeded to see this art work titled Ajala and I had to learn more about it.

Ajala Poster By Walt Msonza Barna

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The creators, Robert Garret and N. Steven Harris were describing the background of the series to me. How it’s based in Harlem and the lead character Ajala is apart of a secret service. In the middle of their description of the series a man came up beside me and said (jokingly), “That art ain’t even theirs man, they took that off someone else outside.” The creators then proceeded to greet him and engage in joking on one other. I was watching this thinking… “This place is cool.” It felt like a close knit atmosphere since the creators were so familiar with one another as well as having collaborated together on projects.

One of the huge highlights was the Publisher’s Panel moderated by John Jennings.

John Jennings, Zetta Elliot, Tim Fielder, Alex Simmons (photo by Jonathan W. Gray)

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It was a parthenon of charismatic educators that took their publishing into their own hands and gave it to the masses. They out here supplying the demand for representation that pages been wanting. Each author offered a different perspective on what to focus on when publishing your own work, but the beautiful thing was that they all blended together into three portions of one message. Zetta Elliott focused on the need for your stories to be put out into the universe. That your story sitting on your hard drive can’t bring about change if it isn’t sent out to the world. Alex Simmons stressed the importance of making sure the work you put out was quality material. That no one can deny that what you put forth is material that can stand stand on its own. Tim Fielder emphasized that, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!” when you do it yourself and have the ability to do whatever you want. No one can tell you no.

There were so much knowledge being shared in their experiences as writers in the game that you couldn’t help but feel empowered just by listening to them. We had to let them live tweets fly as we were praising all “Yaassssssss” being said on stage.

Zetta Elliott then hit the three pointer in the Wonder Woman boots saying,

Afro Punk Black Girl Magic In The Building

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All in all, it was a great experience to be able to have attended this festival. The atmosphere was welcoming and being there makes you feel as if you’ve stumbled into this secret dimension where POC nerds flourished. You leave the festival wanting to tell others about it and spread the word. It truly is a type of environment where you had to be there to get it. The artists had work for all ages whether it was books or illustrations, no nerd range was left out. This is a festival I would encourage others to seek out and attend. I wanna put my Suge Knight voice on and say, “If you’re tired of all the mainstream… not representing you in the stories, white washing all ya characters…COME ON DOWN TO #BLACKCOMICBOOKFESTNYC!”

  • Omar Holmon is a content editor that is here to make .gifs, obscure references, and find the correlation between everything Black and Nerdy.

  • Show Comments

  • SimmonsHereAndNow

    Omar, Great article, and thanks for the praise to us all! One thing I have to clarify … If I actually said, “I wrote Archie for 20 years…” then I flubbed my words. I’ve read it for much of my youth, but I’ve only been writing it since 2007. Again, my apologies if I gave the wrong impression.


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