Lately, I’ve been noticing that the older I get; the more I embrace my nerdy side – and I love it.
In an effort to get me to read more, my mom put me onto comics at a young age. I read everything from Captain Underpants books to Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks strip in the Daily News. In middle school, my friends and I would collect Pokemon cards and wake up early to catch Sailor Moon repeats. But as I hit my teens, I pushed my love for comics to the side to do what all of homegirls at the time were doing- chasing boys.
Around my sophomore year of college, I started hanging out with someone who influenced my love for anime. I wasn’t completely new to anime. I had caught a few episodes of a poorly dubbed show on Adult Swim in my “after the club” drunk stupor before, but I would always wonder “What the fuck am I watching?”. One night after realizing my love for hip-hop and drama, my friend put me onto one of the best anime of all time, Samurai Champloo. ( Yes, I said the best anime of all time!) It didn’t hurt that in between classes, my girlfriends and I would binge watch episodes of Hunter x Hunter and have in-depth convos about wanting to do cosplay. Ever since then, I’ve fully embracing my love for dramatic anime and comic books.
After years of missing out on Comic Con, when I heard the Black Comic Book Festival was happening in my neighborhood, I knew I had to go. When I arrived at the Schomburg Center last Saturday, I was a bit overwhelmed at first. I don’t know too many people who enjoy comics and those who did were busy, so I ended up hitting the festival alone. But when I entered the building, I instantly relaxed. It was refreshing to be around people of color, who shared the same interests I used to get made fun of for enjoying. There were tons of kids who were gawking over classic comic books and men in cosplay.
Tables were filled with vintage merchandise and copies of Marvel and DC comic books. There were many independent writers, who I noticed from social media, that also showcased their work, such as Stephane Metayer, creator of Tephlon Funk, and Chuck Collins, creator of Bounce!
The Schomberg also held informational panel discussions on every topic from the pros and cons of self-publishing to the lack of representation of POC in the comic and sci-fi realm. I got to checkout the Blerds and Bleeks Speak panel which featured Desmond Burton, Ashlee Blackwell, Joseph P. Illidge, Karama Horne, and Maurice Waters. I was inspired by the way Ashlee Blackwell and Karama Horne spoke about the lack of representation of black women in sci-fi/horror films and comic books. It was as if everything I had been thinking and holding back for years was coming out through them.
Growing up in Harlem, I rarely saw people, who looked like me, reading comic books, especially not women. So to be surrounded by almost 5,000 people of color, who shared a passion in all things comic book related (from reading to illustrating), was refreshing. The Schomburg’s Black Comic Book Festival was a safe and fun space for bleeds, bleeks, and everyone in between to come together and embrace themselves. I’ll definitely be back next year!
What are some of your favorite comic books or anime? Let me know in the comment section: