The Asian American ComiCon Presents: A Summit on Art, Action & the Future

In 2009, the Asian American ComiCon was held in New York City, bringing together Asian indie and mainstream comics creators for a historic gathering to celebrate the unique and flourishing graphic storytelling of our community. Now, eight years later, AACC is hosting its second event: a Summit on Art, Action and the Future. In a time where diversity and creativity are both under attack, the Summit will feature diverse creators talking about where we’re going next.

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TIFF Review: The Birth of a Nation

by Joelle Monique

In watching The Birth of a Nation I was a little destroyed. There’s so much to unpack. Nat Turner is a legendary figure in the Black community — a former slave who removed his own shackles. It’s a story I’ve wanted to see on screen for a long time. The reviews out of Sundance were huge. Then, news of Nate Parker rape charges and acquittal broke. I debated a long time about whether or not to cover the story when I came to TIFF. Eventually, I decided that a film this prominent and this culturally invested couldn’t be ignored. I have mixed feelings about what I saw. I’m going to take it slow.

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The CW’s Riverdale Brings Some Diversity to Archie’s World

Before The CW was known as comic book superhero central, the network — when it was still The WB — had the reputation for the place to be for melodramatic teen soaps. Remember shows like One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek7th Heaven, and Gilmore Girls? In 2001, the debut of Smallville led to the network’s embrace of comic book-based properties that paved the way for more genre-focused shows like Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The 100, and the current slate of DC Comics heroes. Next fall, The CW is merging the best of both worlds with Riverdale. By adapting the classic comic book Archie, the network will return to its teen soapy roots, this time with a twist. Even better? They’re doing so with one of the most diverse casts on network TV.

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Black Masculinity as Performed in Japanese Visual Media

by Kendall Bazemore

Japan has long produced visual media that has captivated readers and viewers for decades. Manga and anime are two classic mediums through which fantastical worlds and profound characters come to life. Of all the hundreds of thousands of characters that exist in these worlds, there are a handful that share a close resemblance to African Americans. Though these characters are not always explicitly identified as black, they are heavily coded as black or Afro-descended. The aesthetic of black coded characters in anime and manga reflect the same ideologies of black males in U.S media and society. Popular series like Naruto and Samurai Champloo both use tropes of black males and demonstrate common ideas about their masculinity and how they are read by others. Hip hop is the vehicle through which Japan understands American blackness which manifests itself in various ways in Japanese media.

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Celebrate Black Comic Art From Coast to Coast

Get ready. This weekend is going to be a huge one as our very own John Jennings has organized two comic art festivals on either coast that will celebrate Black comic art and artists with day-long events featuring panel discussions, film screenings, and more.

Festivities kick off in New York City on Saturday, January 17 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for its third annual Black Comic Book Festival. The scene then shifts to San Francisco on Sunday and Monday for that city’s inaugural Black Comix Arts Festival — which John announced in October. Both events are free and open to the public.

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Announcing San Francisco’s Inaugural Black Comix Arts Festival

I’m extremely pleased and honored to be a co-organizer of the inaugural Black Comix Arts Festival with the NorcalMLK Foundation of San Francisco! Our committee has put in a lot of work over the last few months to make this happen. Starting in January 2015, in conjunction with the city’s Martin Luther King Day celebrations, the first ever Black Comix Arts Festival will become an annual event.

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Genius from Top Cow: An Endorsement

This image does not do the book justice.
This image does not do the book justice.

After reading this book, I was hesitant to review it. It is one of those rare books that transcended the four-color realm and hit me in my real life. I was also unsure if my endorsement of the book was an endorsement of some of the messages in the book. Artist Afua Richardson and co-writers Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman’s Genius is a book that I am still digesting. First introduced in 2008 by Top Cow via “Pilot Season,” Genius is a book that challenges me in a way that I haven’t felt in a while.

Comics are my escape from a stressful job. I want to read snikt and see folks teleport, and leap off buildings — it is a great way to decompress after days of seeing people in pain. Hell, even the more serious fare can act as 22-page escape pods — escaping into the fantastic from the sad and mundane. But this book read more like a possibility than a fantasy. In light of the killings of Eric Garner, Pearlie “Miss Sully” Golden, and Kathryn Johnston at the hands of the police, Genius is almost prescient. And it is a little foreboding.

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Sidekickism Part 2: What a Difference Race Makes

Originally posted at BadAzz MoFo

After the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I wrote a piece about the supporting character Falcon and something called “sidekickism.” Race and racial ideology was at the heart and soul of what I wrote about, which of course rubbed some people the wrong way. Fortunately, I’ve never cared about how my observations about race and racism may or may not upset people who wander through life with blinders on, convincing themselves that it’s all good when it comes to issues of race.

And though it was never my intention to revisit sidekickism, there is more to be said. Because some people still don’t fully comprehend the impact of racial ideology, and how it affects everything — including things as innocuous as pop culture — I wanted to take a look at sidekickism through a very narrow and specific lens. This leads us to today’s topic: Felix Leiter, sidekick to James Bond.

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Things I Learned While Making the Brave New Souls Documentary

Brave New Souls is a documentary I wrote, produced, and directed that explores the thoughts, goals, and inspirations of a new generation of Black creators in graphic novels, television, cinema, literature, and digital media. It was a very tough shoot as I did the camera work, sound recording, lighting, and directing ALL BY MYSELF! While the movie will be released on DVD in two weeks — on July 15 — for those that want to watch it via their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and home PCs, you can stream or download it as a high-quality, digital video right now at Gumroad for $7.99!

I wanted to take a moment to thank all the creators I worked with during the production of the documentary and share a few things I learned:

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