By: Alex Toribio, Staff Writer
For two years now, the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention has been hosted at Towson in the College of Liberal Arts Building.
President of the convention Yumy Odom created ECBCC 15 years ago to help with the discovery of black artists in the comic book world.
In a lecture, Odom said that the first black comic book faced publication issues “due to race.”
Odom went on to explain that if comic books had black lead characters on the cover, the books would not be released to the public. This was a common disadvantage for many black comic book artists for an extended period of time.
The director of the African and African-American studies program at TU, Donn Worgs, was captivated by ECBCC when he took his children to the Philadelphia convention a few years ago.
“The thing that struck me the most was the workshops,” Worgs said. “Observing the children, focusing on trying to learn how to draw a character or how to tell a story was fascinating to me. I always thought this was a great way to promote not just reading, but creativity.”
The ECBCC had three different workshops during the event at Towson, one for younger participants, another for middle school students and one for adults.
In the youth S.T.A.R.S. workshop, there were children ages 3-12 crafting their own comic book characters. The children were able to pick the name, alter ego, abilities, origin and whether or not the character was good or evil. At the end of the workshop, the children were introduced to real-life, costume-playing, comic book characters.
The character Luke Cage was played by Towson graduate, Bill Johnson. This was Johnson’s second appearance at Towson as Luke Cage, the black superhero with indestructible skin and super strength.
“To me, it is important for kids to see superheroes, and to see a positive image of black males,” Johnson said.
The convention also held two panel discussions amongst artists Andre Campbell, Sheeba Maya, David Miller and Britany Marriott.
The discussion heated when the topic of discrimination amongst blacks in the media was brought up. The two female artists, Maya and Marriott, had strong opinions on the acceptance of back female artists in the media.
“I paint the godliness I see in my sisters and in myself into my art,” Maya said.
Both artists talked about the importance of setting a positive image for little girls who inspire to be artists one day.
“We are so much more than what we represent [in the media],” Marriott said.
With about ten different tables of black artists promoting their diverse creations, the convention maintained a lively atmosphere.
Although sociology professor Michael Elliott personally hadn’t read any black comic books, he thought it was still a good history lesson.
“This is a great convention to bring to Towson and the Baltimore area as a whole,” Elliott said.