Comic books have been around in the US since 1933. Superhero comic books as we currently know them came into popularity in this country in 1938 with the introduction of Action Comics and the creation of the Superman character. The so called golden age of comic books from 1930’s to around 1950 did not include people of color as subjects or heroes. During this era Blacks rarely appeared in mainstream comic books except as insignificant marginal images not fully developed characters. Black comic book super heroes first appeared in mainstream comic publications in 1966 with the creation by two white men: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby of the Black Panther.
It’s a little know fact that Black superhero comics created, drawn by Black artists, illustrators and published by Blacks began in 1947 with the founding of All Negro Comics a short lived endeavor started by Orrin Cromwell Evans which produced only one issue. It was an anthology with characters that included: Lion Man and Bubba, Ace Harlem, and characters for children called the Little Dew Dillies.
Black comics featuring Black superheroes remerged in the 1990’s with a boom of independently produced Black comic book characters. Today Black Comic books and graphic novels abound. Many Black comic book characters fall into the category of Afro-futurism a blend of Black Consciousness, Black history traditions, distinctly African phenotypes, present and future timed/themed story lines based on science fiction.
Black Comics offer their own unique world of art, creativity, sci-fi, entrepreneurship and marketing. For the past seventeen years Yumy Odom has produced and sponsored the East Coast Age of Black Comics Convention which brings together fans, creative professionals, artists, illustrators, writers, publishers and enactors with a mission of promoting literacy, story telling, creativity, art, media development, self awareness and confidence using the genre of comic books and graphic novels.
This year’s one day convention was held on Saturday May 19th at the Tech-Freire Charter High School 2221 N. Broad Street in North Philadelphia. In addition to promoting comic book creators, artists and graphic novels the convention also featured excellent workshops and demonstrations on: drawing, digital artistry and illustration, writing, enacting, Black Science Fiction, screenings and tributes to actors, artists, Cosplayers (costumed enactors/actors), writers and publishers.
ECBACC is a serious convention that covers the whole gamut and spectrum of comic books and graphic novels creation: imagination, conception, starting a publishing company and the business of comics. It is one of the original and premier urban comic book exposition and conventions. It provides hands on instruction, workshops and panel discussions about the $1.085 billion dollar comic book and graphic novel industry (2016 North American figures). Black comic books are experiencing an even greater upsurge this year due to the mainstream superhero films like Avengers and Justice League.
Touring the convention exhibits, workshops and panel discussions you saw youngsters drawing, Cosplayers in costumes, artists talking, giving advice sharing their genius with an appreciative group of Black folks. It was refreshing to see people enthusiastic about their talents, interests and dreams come together with like minded folks to enjoy the camaraderie, fellowship and positive energy.
People attended this year’s convention in waves; folks came in attended the workshops then left as more folks came in. There was a large crowd despite inclement weather. ECBACC operates year round with a mission that extends beyond the one day convention. For additional information about ECBACC go to www.ecbacc.com.