A Little Bit Me and a Little Bit...Everybody Else
Just for the record: I first approached this blog for Graphic Novel Reporter with the philosophical stance that I would not use it as my private billboard. In fact, a few weeks back, I even passed up trumpeting my appearance at the Brooklyn Book Fair.
This of course means I didn’t mention the cadre of talented comic book and graphic novelists (e.g., Fred VanLente, Chris Giarrusso, Kevin C. Pyle, and Matthew Loux) who were the main attraction on the panel I moderated. The panel was called “Fact Versus Fiction in Adventure Comics,” a brainchild of Diamond Kids Group representative Janna Morishima, and sponsored by the folks at New York Comic-Con.
My coblogger, John Hogan, was nice enough to send up the flares on the book fair, so some of you may have been there. If so, late in the afternoon you might have spotted me leading a creating comics workshop with an energized group of middle-schoolers. Again, I had a blast. Just watching them discover and explore their creativity annihilated the I’m-too-jaded-to-smile bug. Parents and passersby were all watching and grinning and remembering a time when comics were their friends, or their windows to the world.
Yep, it was a grand old time for yours truly, but did I write anything about it the following week? Nope. In fact, I went MIA for two weeks—leaving the impression that I flaked, rather than the truth that… Man, I’ve been really busy, blessed with a few projects that help prove the true value and versatility of this medium of ours.
So, for now, I’m going to approach this blogging gig a little differently. I’ll talk a bit more about what I’m up to, so you can see what some other people are doing for comics and kids.
Of course, there are some smaller independent programs popping up all over the country. From elementary schools to upscale universities, literacy and comics are occupying the same playground. This is very different from the era I entered the arts and education arena (over eight years ago) with my own comic book workshops and curriculum. The doors are much more open, though as I’ve said in the past, I think there are still some strategies and taboos to be worked out.
Perhaps at this point you might be saying, “What do comics in the classroom have to do with a comic art exhibition?”
If you are, than I’d reply, “A hundred and one things.”
One of the projects commanding so much of my time is called The Color of Comics Exhibition. And no, it’s not about coloring comics, though there are some beautiful color pieces to behold.
Simply put, the COC exhibition is an effort to illuminate the diversity of characters of color in comic art. I’ve often heard it stated that images of people of color are not reflected in most comic books and graphic novels. In some cases, that’s true. But more accurately, our world community needs to be more honestly represented in comics. The diversity of personalities, cultures, and achievements should be seen as a source of knowledge and inspiration to all people. In order to achieve that goal, we cannot ignore the variety of material that is being produced by creators who are and are not of color.
I mounted this exhibition (with the help of Eugene Adams and Bronx Community College) last year. It went up in February, with more than 65 pieces of art (digital prints) from artists all over the world. Not only was I proud of the event, but I was also thrilled by the effect it had on the kids and teens who came to see it.
Parents, teachers, and young people were able to engage in dialogs about history, diversity, racism, myths and legends, men and women, and more. All of this made possible by the wide diasporas of works artists have produced in comic book and graphic novels—and in just the past three years.
As I said at the beginning, I’ve been blessed to be part of some fun and exciting projects and talking about them seems to serve a good purpose. At least it will explain where I may disappear to if I go MIA again.
So, from time to time, I’ll babble about my works, so that you can learn more about the works of others.