A festival in the Main Branch of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library on Saturday drew together artists and writers to celebrate and reflect on diversity in the colorful pages of comic books.
The creators of comic books, graphic novels, and other media focusing on African-Americans as superheroes and characters were featured at the Glass City Black Comix Arts Fest.
Festival-goers could watch a documentary by Jonathan Gayles that traces the early history of black male comic book heroes, attend panel discussions, participate in workshops to learn about creating and drawing comics, or meet and talk to eight African-American comic book writers and purchase their books.
PHOTO GALLERY: Glass City Black Comix Arts Fest
The festival's founder, Imani Lateef, said events like this are important because of the growing demand for comic books with black superheroes.
"This event will help build an audience for black-themed comic books and black comic book characters. What gets lost in the debate about diversity, especially when it comes to African-American comic books, is that no one realizes how large the audience is," he said.
Mr. Lateef, who is the creater of Peep Game Comix, a digital comics platform dedicated to black comic book creators, said he wants to inspire young artists.
"I want to encourage young people who have creative ideas that they can build and work with other artists to realize their dreams," he said.
Jamar Nicholas, an award-winning Philadelphia-based artist and teacher, shared his insights into his craft during a panel dicussion about creating characters and comic book heroes.
Drawn to newspaper comic strips as a child, he bought Spider-Man comic books, which offered inspiration to draw cartoon superheroes himself. Drawing cartoons was looked down on in his west Philadelphia neighborhood, however his mother, an artist, encouraged him to draw.
He brushed off the critisms about the black characters in his art and stood firm to his artistic style.
"I really had to hold on to what I believe. If I had listened to people who said 'that is black don't do that,’ I wouldn't be here right now,” he said. “If you have opposition, resistance, or hating on you, try to keep them out of your head and do what you need to do."
Ayeesha Abdullah, 24, of Toledo, who recently graduated from Owens College with a degree in graphic design, attended the day-long event to talk to the artist for advice on starting her own comic strip series.
“This event is a really great event. There are other artists like me who really want this representation,” she said.
Contact Mark Reiter at: email@example.com or 419-724-6199
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