A little over two weeks ago, I had the honor of leading a comics workshop with my SIUniverse partner Jerry Ma at the world renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Part of their annual Lunar New Year festival, Jerry and I helped small children and their families use inspiration from the museum’s rooms of Asian art to create their own superhero characters.
I received a few emails and messages from people who wanted to support the AfroGeeks Unite! summer camp, but didn’t want to wear a shirt with a raygun on it. I completely understand. We’re living in interesting times and the raygun (with the RBG colors) design could be interpreted in a variety of ways… ways some folks may not be comfortable with.
With this in mind, I’ve added two new designs:
When my oldest daughter was 3, we would sit together in her bean bag chair, turn off the lights, and watch the Justice League animated series. Here she learned about superheros and when she started becoming interested in comics, I wanted to make sure she read something that represented and looked like her so I handed her a copy of Araña. That was five years ago, and now she is 12 and is immersed in finding representation in what she reads.
It’s small stories like this that amplify the importance of diversity in literature and, in this case, comics. It is for that reason that the launching of Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez’s La Borinqueña comes at a much needed time.
by Timothy Yu
Mike Pence went to see Hamilton. He got booed. The actors read a statement from the stage. And our president-elect tweeted a demand that the cast apologize for their “harassment.” Just another day in the dawning Trump Era.
There was plenty to say. Some pointed out the irony of Donald Trump, scourge of political correctness, complaining that the theater should be a “safe place.” Others pointed to the chilling precedent of our incoming president demanding that artists apologize to an elected official. But what most surprised me was seeing some of my friends — many of whom are themselves artists, writers, literary scholars — repeating the argument that the Hamilton controversy was “just a distraction” from Trump’s other problems.
Since Donald Trump’s presidential election victory last week, there’s been much discussion and preparation in regards to the fates of minorities given the Presidential Elect[?]’s controversial and bigoted platform.
Whether it’s the election, Ferguson, Flint, Orlando, or DAPL, one of the most infuriating things I hear from people, and by people I mean white people, is that there needs to be more dialogue, more education, more love.
If only there were more people out there teaching and educating then tragedies like #Orlando or #Ferguson or #Baltimore wouldn’t be a reality.
Why is that infuriating? Because there are people who have dedicated their lives, doing that very work. In fact you’re reading one of their pieces right now.
Like the rest of the nation, I woke up this morning to an unfathomable reality. Despite our best efforts, the country has chosen hate and division. Those dystopian science-fiction novels don’t feel so far off anymore. Still, we at The Nerds of Color must soldier on. I’m doing that by participating in CTRL+ALT, the Smithsonian’s pop-up Culture Lab on imagined futures this weekend in New York City. Though, to be honest, I’m having a difficult time imagining the present, much the less the future.
If you’re in the Bay Area this week, you should attend this conversation. It is one of our events leading up to 2017’s Black Comix Arts Festival, a Co-Presentation of MoAD, Cartoon Art Museum, and Black Comix Art Festival.
Join the Cartoon Art Museum and Black Comix Art Festival at the Museum of the African Diaspora for, “Ajuan Mance in Conversation with Shawn Taylor,” an evening celebration of current Bay Area cartooning sensation Ajuan Mance as part of the SF Comics Fest. Writer Shawn Taylor from The Nerds of Color will chat with Ajuan about her latest projects in illustration, cartooning and writing, her creative process, her recent rise in popularity, and what she plans to achieve next.
There isn’t a week that goes by that I’m not asked some version of the following questions: “How do you know about all this comic book stuff?” It is usually followed up by: “There is so much out there. How do you know if it is any good?”
Instead of rehashing here my plea for people to take risks on art and culture, I’ve decided to be more proactive.
For parents who know a little about me but don’t really know who I am, the conversation starts something like this: “My [son/daughter] tells me that your daughter is one of the best readers in class. She’s always reading… I also heard that you were really into… comic books, superheroes, and things like that. Is this true?” I proudly proclaim that comic books were instrumental in my becoming a voracious reader, and that I used comics and graphic novels to instill in my daughter and intense love of reading, creativity, and fantasy world-building. I explain that since reading comics and YA fantasy/adventure books, my daughter’s imagination is incredibly expansive and that her being able to make-believe is a value that I and her mother share.
They are usually intrigued by now.
This weekend, the historic Arts & Industries Building at the Smithsonian will be the place to be when over 40 artists and scholars participate in a pop-up culture lab on intersectionality called CrossLines. And The Nerds of Color will be there all weekend conducting podcast interviews (Hard NOC LIVE, if you will) with artists and writers like Shawn Martinbrough, Ellen Oh, and more. And on Sunday evening, bring a sci-fi/fantasy book or graphic novel and join in on the NOC Book Swap.