May 11, 2015

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You Should Go To the East Coast Black Age of Comics Festival in Philadelphia on May 16th


Though I won't personally be able to make the show because it's on the other side of the country, those of you in the Philadelphia area should make plans to attend the East Coast Black Age of Comics Festival, which is being held this coming Saturday, May 16th, at the Enterprise Center in Philadelphia, PA.

If you've never heard of this show, it wouldn't surprise me. It's probably better known for being the show that's associated with the Glyph Awards, which are designed to recognize comics that are "made either by, for, or about Black people." While I frequently followed the awards, I didn't understand there was more than just the awards until last year, when I was already too far away to go to the show. That's why I wanted to make sure I gave it some promotion here on Panel Patter, especially in this era of "all movies, all the time"--even for indie comics, it seems.

The show describes itself as follows:
The East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, originally slated to be called the Pan-African Comic Convention (PAC-Con) or First World Komix Con (1st World Con), is an annual gathering of comic book artists, writers, their fans, and retailers who are interested in discussing, buying, and selling comic books, sci-fi, action figures and related material by and / or about Black superheroes / super-powered characters / adventures. In addition, the Convention also features panel discussions, self-publishing and graphic arts workshops for aspiring creators, and film screenings of works of veterans and amateurs alike. The Convention is held in Philadelphia each May preceded by a reception / awards ceremony. The ECBACC is the first bona fide “Black Comic Book Convention” in Philadelphia, PA, and serves as a replicable model for community-based comic book conventions. The ECBACC has successfully cultivated images of Black super-powered characters and has effectively served as a nexus, conduit and catalyst for Black comic book creators, their colleagues and fans since 2002!

On Friday, the Glyph Awards are handed out. The list of nominees is here, I'm not familiar with all of the creators or works, but Joel Christian Gill's work on Strange Fruit, something I've been reading from back in its mini-comic days, is top-notch, with all respect to the other nominees. I hope he wins at least one of the many categories he's nominated in.

The main show is on Saturday. It costs $10 to get in. The show has exhibitors, is supporting cosplaying by holding a contest for those who best represent a black comics character, and would be a great opportunity for those looking to diversify their comics reading to find a new creator or two to follow. I think there are also some workshops, but honestly, it wasn't quite clear from the website, which despite the show existing since 2002 is still a bit on the primitive side.

Normally in this space, I'd tell you who you should be looking for at the show, but this is where I admit that I am woefully unfamiliar with the people tabling at the show. Naturally, you should always go see our Whit Taylor, who is continuing to build her comics career and will be happy to sell you one of her autobiographical comics and talk about upcoming projects. But--and this is very much on me, and I need to do better--other than Whit, no other names on the list immediately popped out to me. So when you go, if you find someone cool, please tell me about them! I'd love to hear who I need to be investigating to expand my comics experience.

The East Coast Black Age of Comics Festival is May 16th, from 11am to 7pm. I hope you'll go, and if you do, please tell Whit I said hello, and make sure you discover some new comics as well!