I had the opportunity to participate in the 6th annual Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg in NYC. I attended the first Black Comic Book Festival in 2013 and since that time this event has only grown. You can watch a live stream of the event here.
It was great to be invited back and I'm thankful to the staff of the Schomburg library for doing the hard work of making such an event happen. This is a unique opportunity for me to reconnect with scholars and colleagues that share my interest in comics and culture. My interest in real and imagined urban landscapes means that comics, which I see grounded in the evolution of the urban experience, are a useful media to explore the aspirations and anxieties that shape perceptions and influence action in the city. This logic is behind my forthcoming reader that I'm co-editing with Walter Greason called Cities Imagined.
In this reader, we bring together primary and secondary sources that explore the intersection of the urban and black imaginary. From historic black towns in the nineteenth century to creation the proto-Afrofuturist vision in Jack Kirby's creation of Wakanda in 1966, there is much we can tease from examining the imaginary.
The documentary White Scripts and Black Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comic Books, produced, directed, and edited by Dr. Jonathan Gayles applies this same framework. As one of the scholars he interviewed for his documentary, I've had the pleasure of seeing how his work has engaged the public and scholars alike. For this year's festival, I joined Dr. Gayles for a panel entitled "Differential Powers in the African Diaspora" along with William Jones (Afrofuturism Network) and Grace Gipson (University of California Berkeley). As you will see in the video, I think we had a great conversation on how representation in comic aligns with bigger cultural narratives in the United States. Indeed, I think all the panels at this year's event were stellar and I urge you to take the opportunity to participate in this festival next year if you are in the New York region.