Arts + Culture

Here's What You Can't Miss at the 5th Annual Black Comic Book Festival

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture presents the 5th Annual Black Comic Book Festival from January 13 and 14 in Harlem.

This weekend, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture presents their 5th Annual Black Comic Book Festival, which will be a two day event for the first time, in Harlem.

As they state in their press release:

The Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival celebrates the rich tradition of black comix featuring panel discussions, film screenings, cosplay, and exhibit tables with premiere black comic creators from across the country. The annual extravaganza, which drew more than 7000 attendees in 2016, connects comic readers, creators, bloggers, nerds, independent publishers, and collectors of all ages.

“We decided to build the Black Comic Book Festival focusing on amplifying the voices of independent creators to convene the community around their art and efforts, and to feed an alternative market for culture and literacy,” Deirdre Hollman, director of education and exhibitions at the Schomburg Center, says. “I believe the biggest influence has been fostering a space for creative community exchange by connecting a plethora of creators, storytellers, artists, and bookmakers with an intergenerational audience of readers. Creating this space at the Schomburg, in the heart of Harlem, where the community trusts the mission of promoting black history and culture, adds to the uniqueness of this event - it is by, of and for the people.”

The festival is presented by festival co-founders Hollman, Jerry Craft, cartoonist, children's book illustrator and creator of Mama's Boyz; and John Jennings, nationally recognized cartoonist, designer and graphic novelist.

While admission to the Black Comic Book Festival is free, be sure to RSVP here.

Check out what's in store this year (in-brief) below:


10:00AM - 6:00PM

Comic Creators Exhibition Tables

10:15AM - 12:00PM

Youth Program: My Creative Life in Comics and Kid Lit

Panelists: Jerry Craft (Mama’s Boyz and The Offenders), David Miller (Khalil’s Way), Zetta Elliot (A Wish After Midnight, Ship of Souls), Alex Simmons (Blackjack, Archie, Kids Comic Con), and Jamar Nicholas (Leon: Protector of the Playground). Moderated by Deirdre Hollman.

1:30PM - 2:30PM

How to Draw Afrakan Superheroes (Lecture/Demonstration)

Presented by Akinseye Brown, Sokoya Productions

2:30PM - 3:00PM

Tribute to Jackie Ormes, 1st Black Syndicated Comic “Torchy Brown”

3:30PM - 4:30PM

Curating Comics: Creating Exhibitions in Galleries and in Digital Spaces

Panelists: William Villalongo (Black Pulp!), Tim Fielder (Black Metropolis), John Jennings and Stacey Robinson (Black Kirby). Moderated by Jonathan Gray


Comics are Lit: Graphic Novel Adaptations of Literature

Panelists: John Jennings and Damian Duffy (Kindred), Dawud Anyabwile (Monster), Kyle Baker (Nat Turner), and Andrew Aydin (March Books 1-3). Moderated by Jonathan Gayles.


10:00AM - 7:00PM

Comic Creators Exhibition Tables

10:15AM - 11:30AM

Black Heroes Matter

Panelists: Mshindo (BlackOps, Indigo, and Anikulapo), Trevor Von Eeden (Black Lightning, Thriller, and Jack Johnson), Marcus Williams (Tuskegee Heirs), and Dewunmi Roye Okupe (E.X.O.-The Legend of Wale Williams). Moderated by David Walker (Powerman & Iron Fist, Occupy Avengers, Shaft).

12:30PM - 1:45PM


1:45PM - 2:15PM


2:30PM - 3:15PM

Tribute to Dawud Anyabwile, Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline

Moderated by Jonathan Gayles

3:45PM - 5:00PM

Fierce Femininity & Fandom

Panelists: Maia Crown Williams (MeccaCon and BSAM), Ariell Johnson (Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Philadelphia), Regine Sawyer (Ice Witch, Eating Vampires, Women in Comics), and Micheline Hess (Malice in Ovenland). Moderated by Ja’nell Ajani.

5:30PM - 6:45 PM

Comics and Hip-Hop

Panelists: Eric Orr (Rappin Max Robot) and Andre LeRoy Davis (The Last Word). Moderated by Jonathan Gray.

Exhibitors List (Alphabetical by Last Name)

Dawud Anyabwile (Brotherman: Revelation, Monster)

Eric Battle (freelance illustrator)

Andre Batts (Urban Style Comics)

Karl Bollers (Watson and Holmes)

Kurt Bollers

Antuan Broussard (Battlemasterz)

Akinseye Brown (Sokoya Productions)

William Campbell (Rosarium Publishing)

Chuck Collins (Bounce, DSX)

Jerry Craft (Mama’s Boyz)

Andre LeRoy Davis (artist)

Ray Felix (The Greatest Hero Black Power, Bronx Heroes)

Tim Fielder (Matty’s Rocket, Black Metropolis)

Prof. William Foster (comic historian)

Robert Garrett (Xmoor Studios)

Naseed Gifted (P. B. Soldier)

Maya Grant-Richardson (Sheeba Maya artist)

Norwood S. Harris (illustrator)

Micheline Hess (Malice in Ovenland)

John Jennings (Kindred, Black Kirby, Black Comix)

Mshindo Kuumba (BlackOps, Indigo, and Anikulapo)

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels (DMC, Darryl Makes Comics)

Keith Miller (RatRonin Studios)

Jamar Nicholas (Leon Protector of the Playground)

Yumy Odom (ECBACC)

Dewunmi Roye Okupe (E.X.O.-The Legend of Wale Williams)

Tony Puryear (Concrete Park)

Regine Sawyer (Lockett Down Productions)

Alex Simmons (Blackjack)

Juliana Smith ( (H)afrocentric: The Comic)

Jerome Walford (Nowhere Man, Gwan, Forward Comix)

David Walker (Powerman &amp

Iron Fist, Occupy Avengers, Shaft)

Eric Wilkerson (illustrator)

Maia Crown Williams (MECCA Con, BSAM)

Marcus Williams (Tuskegee Heirs)

Ron Wimberly (Prince of Cats, Black History in its Own Words)

Abrams Comic Arts.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


How Nigerian Streetwear Brand, Daltimore, is Rising To Celebrity Status

We spoke with founder and creative director David Omigie about expression through clothing and that #BBNaija pic.