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Inaugural Black Comix Day Celebrates Independent Black Artists And Creators

Malcolm X Library hosts event on Saturday

Photo caption: A sample of "The Power Knights" created by Keithan Jones who is organizing th...

Photo credit: Kid Comics

A sample of "The Power Knights" created by Keithan Jones who is organizing the first Black Comix Day in San Diego.

Inaugural Black Comix Day Celebrates Independent Black Artists And Creators

GUESTS:

Kethan Jones, Black Comix Day organizer and KID Comics founder

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts and culture reporter

Transcript

With Marvel’s "Black Panther" poised to take over the box office this weekend, it’s the perfect time to shine the spotlight on independent black artists and creators.

"Black Panther" is noteworthy for having African-American director Ryan Coogler at the helm and for having an almost entirely black cast filling out the roles. The film is setting pre-sale records for Marvel and is being talked about as a cultural event with black communities galvanizing around screenings. This is all great news for improved diversity behind and in front of the camera for not just comic book movies but for the Hollywood industry as well.

But two things to note about "Black Panther:" one, the character was created in 1966 by two white guys (Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), and two, it is about an African king not an African-American character. Neither one of those points detracts from the film, but it points to reasons why Keithan Jones of Kid Comics is excited about San Diego's first ever Black Comix Day. He wants to shine a spotlight on black artists and creators, many of whom are creating contemporary African-American characters and superheroes.

"I wanted to create a venue that isolated them, focused on them, so people don’t have to go searching high and low to find these black creators," Jones said. "Here’s the day that they will all be at in one spot (with) easy access. It’s free of charge, so go in there, meet them, see their work, buy their work, develop a relationship with them, and help get them on the map."

Jones loves Comic-Con and attends regularly but he said, "It’s so big now that it’s basically a Hollywood event and whether you are black, white, Chinese, or whatever, if you are an independent artist it’s very hard to be noticed there because there is so much going on. It’s information overload."

Photo caption: Make sure to pick up one of the souvenir programs from the first Black Comix ...

Make sure to pick up one of the souvenir programs from the first Black Comix Day, it provides great information about the black artists and creators and their works. Feb. 14, 2018

But Black Comix Day will be an intimate event at the Malcolm X Library with close to two dozen comic book professionals on hand to meet with attendees, sell their wares, and sign autographs. Jones, who created the comic "The Power Knights," pointed out that the event will allow young artists and students from the black community see comics creators who look like them and that "can be inspiring," he said.

He encouraged teachers to "get your students there, get the parents to bring them there because this is an opportunity, especially for young artists, here’s your opportunity to meet professionals. Here’s your opportunity to network with professionals and even to bring your own work and show your work and get critiqued."

But he is quick to point out that the event is meant for everyone. It's definitely kid-friendly but there is plenty for adults to enjoy, and it's not just geared to the black community.

There will be a panel called Heroes Rise: The Importance of Black Artists in Popular Media focused on black creators at 2 p.m. in the library's conference room. It will be hosted by Hannibal Tabu and featuring David Walker (writer for "Shaft," "Luke Cage," and "Super Justice Force") and educator John Jennings.

Jones said, "Black people need to get a financial foothold in this country so that we can implement the changes we want versus asking for it, or waiting for it, or waiting for someone to be sympathetic. I don't have time for that. I have enough power and freedom to do this myself. What I need and what these guys at the show need is the support from our own community and outside our community so that we can get to the point where we are not waiting for Marvel to do a 'Black Panther' film, we have our own ideas, our own characters. We are not waiting for Jack Kirby and Stan Lee to have the consciousness of mind to create a Black Panther. We have those types of characters ourselves. We only need the distribution, the exposure to get that machine going."

That's why he created Kid Comics so that he could publish his own black superhero comic, "The Power Knights."

There will also be a food truck and a children's art contest with a $50 prize at Black Comix Day. Jones also designed a great souvenir book for the event that lists all the black artists and creators appearing at the show, and it serves as a handy reference guide for some comics you might want to check out.

Malcolm X Library is located at 5148 Market Street.

If you would like to hear David Walker talk about Blaxploitation Cinema with me, check out Cinema Junkie Podcast 60.

With Marvel’s "Black Panther" poised to take over the box office this weekend, it’s the perfect time to shine the spotlight on independent black artists and creators.

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