Black Comic Book Festival – Bright Star Rising

Black Comic Book Fair 2017

Black Comic Book Fair 2017

It’s the Little Con That Could – from its very first year in 2012 with a modest attendance, The Black Comic Book Festival has reached its 5th year and it’s grown remarkably. This year, the event expanded to two days, Friday and Saturday with full programming till 6-7 PM.

It was very gratifying to see so many parents and children scoping out the works of independent artists and writers. Even when it got to critical mass on Saturday afternoon and the Schomburg Center (for Research in Black Culture) couldn’t contain more, there was that spirit I’ve encountered at comic cons – keep it moving. Shuffle, side step, angle the body and shoulder through or just stop till a space opens. No biggie. For sure no one was leaving without seeing it all.

So I got my belated copy of WATSON AND HOLMES Vol. 2. Can hardly believe I missed it when it came out in May! I’ll never underestimate the value of social media links again. Also excited by BLACK, a new series under an independent publisher, Black Mask. I bought issue 1 and after reading it during a lull in panels, went back for the next two – it’s serious and fun. Another fan is born.

Cosplay Live at BCBF 2017

Cosplay Live at BCBF 2017

And the Cosplay was real! I can say these enthusiastic costumers could grace the best of comic cons anywhere! Storm was strongly represented by at least 3 wonderful variations, right down to the whites of her eyes. Luke Cage could not look better in crayola yellow heels and tied yellow blouse. I loved them, and the audience roared their appreciation as well. Well done, all!

A tribute panel to artist, comic book creator, publisher and entrepreneur David Anyabwile for his beloved comic book series, BROTHERMAN, was very inspiring. He spoke earnestly of his childhood, how a caring family life nurtured his love of drawing and telling stories about being black and proud.

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The festival was developed by Deirdre Hollman, Director of Education and Exhibitions at the Schomburg Center, who was seeking new ways to enhance educational projects for the Junior Scholars Program. After connecting with John Jennings and Jerry Craft, visionary artists, the idea of a comic festival utilizing black talent became their mission. They have been united in continuing to improve the festival, with great success, indicated by the increasing attendees and artists each year.

The Schomburg Center has been a benevolent host to this event, as they also maintain library research hours while keeping it all orderly upstairs. Big hugs and thanks for sharing.

It may seem small, but the Black Comic Book Festival is big where it counts – talented artists, attention worthy panels and unlimited creative energy that’s infectious. I hope this con keeps going and going till some child (or children) in the audience is one day a published comic artist or writer, sharing what they learned right where they learned it.

Missed it? It’s back next year – make it a date!

All photos by GF Hazard

Wake Up, NYCC


Is this any way to run a world class comic con?

Is this any way to run a world class comic con?

So, got my New York ComicCon 2015 tickets. Hooray, not.

I don’t like to quibble much if in a random drawing I don’t get picked, but today I must quibb. My fave hobby is going to NYCC, and has been for the past decade. The ups and downs of securing a ticket were minor, and I always got tickets. This year, it was a major mess. The queue system, which in 2014 utterly, totally whacked out the fair chances for tickets for hundreds, was used again this year. And produced exactly the same results.

Hit the NYCC order ticket button and nothing happens. You must go on Twitter or Facebook to find out there’s a different link, which the NYCC site should have taken you to. That ate up a good 5 seconds which was enough to send your aspirations into the black queue hole.

After getting in BQH at 12:02, I watched this overly congratulatory digital queue message as the show clix tab spinned eternally for the next 30 minutes. All the while I itched to refresh despite the queue page assuring me I didn’t need to, that my place in the line would forever be marked and I only needed to wait my turn but if I did refresh I would return to launch point. It was torturous to just sit and watch as tickets ticked away.

At about 12:22 or so, NYCC posts a message on Facebook that although demand has slowed the process, all is well with show clix although the NYCC site has frozen. Then they direct folks to show clix directly. Deja vu hit me hard. At 12:40 I knew I’d lost hope for VIP tickets and dropped to hopes for 4 day at least. And the show clix tab keeps on spinning, minutes just keep on ticking.

By 12:55 my hopes were on fumes. Can ANY mass ticket handlers have servers this slow? I was at a commercial computer and it was quickly getting expensive to watch a static screen. NYCC flashed another message to NOT use their site, and again provided a link to show clix. At this point I wondered if show clix even knew we were coming.

My spirits vacillated with the posts to NYCC Facebook page. Very few posts were about success. Most were screaming at error after error message in the queue; some people even got timed out! A repeated refrain: “This is f***g ridiculous”. I liked one response: “how can a site run by and for nerds not work?”

Like I said, I at least got tickets, after I finally got to the order page and plugged in for 4 day and got dropped into BQH and then back twice until the 4 day were sold out and managed to get Sat & Sun only to get a white screen of death for 25 more minutes, and then “can’t display page” twice. Then and only then did the page allow me to finally give them my money. So kind of them.

All told, I was online attempting to order NYCC tickets for 2 HOURS. And scrounged out only single day tickets. Really, I love you guys at ReedPop, and Fensterman the Man. But after being propelled from deja vu to groundhog day this is straining my affections for NYCC.  The first convention had its crisis but NYCC learned quickly how to manage ticket holders and wannabe ticket holders. Yet last year’s gum-up is repeated with fanfare.

Let’s add hot sauce to this cooked goose: eBay and StubHub had tickets on sale while many of us were still in BQH. Scalpers pose as fans faster than fans, I guess. Let’s not forget that on a timed application you are required to complete a survey. No pressure, though.

Yes, some people were going to get tickets and some won’t, that’s a given. But listen to the howling of your fans on Facebook and Twitter and know that ya gotta do better. Going with show clix again seemed a tactical faux pas; they still couldn’t handle the traffic which we were assured they could. The energy and disappointment and bad feelings around this consecutive ticket buying mess will be a blot on an enterprise that used to bring such anticipation. Now it brings the dreads, jitters, and worse – second thoughts.

Bring back the fun before the fun, NYCC. Help us look forward to going again in 2016.