By: Meghan Hudson, Staff Writer
Photo by Owen DiDonna/ The Towerlight.
Towson University and the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) partnered to host TU’s third annual Black Comic Book Festival on Feb. 24.
Attendees heading through the doors of Towson’s College of Liberal Arts Building were immediately greeted by an array of artwork, workshops, vintage comics and original comics from the showcased professionals. Community members of all ages gathered to flip through books of artwork, find some new comics, and participate in age-specific workshops free of charge.
Shawn Alleyne, one of the featured artists, was born and raised in Barbados, and moved to America to ultimately pursue a career in the arts in 1993. He currently owns his own business, Pyroglyphics, where he sells his hand-drawn and digitally enhanced original comic books, as well as comics from other artists in Barbados.
“From young, I always loved art, I always loved drawing, I was always a big comic book head,” Alleyne said. “I love everybody. I love all conventions, but there’s something about it saying the ‘black comic book festival.’ What tends to happen in this industry is that minorities get overlooked. Conventions like this give us an outlet, give us a chance to showcase our work. It gives someone like me a chance to shine.”
Alleyne said the smaller size of this festival, compared to New York Comic Con, becomes a much bigger world for black artists as they have more people to interact with and a larger spotlight, as opposed to getting lost in a sea of artists at larger conventions.
Alleyne’s art pieces included various elements of Barbadian culture, from folklore to representations of the national flag.
Many other artists at the festival incorporated their own cultures into their artwork as well. One artist drew realistic portraits of women in Aso Oke, traditional Nigerian clothing. Others placed their original comics in the setting of where they were born or where their culture stems from.
Students and community members of all cultural backgrounds gathered together in appreciation of these elaborate works of art.
Freshman Samantha Hernandez said the festival showcased the diversity and inclusivity in the Towson community.
“It’s refreshing to see such a diverse crowd here, it makes me feel comfortable that I am in an inclusive community,” Hernandez said. “I’m also happy that these artists are getting celebrated as well, and not only that, but as minorities they are the spotlight of this whole festival.”
ECBACC 2018, the full ECBACC festival, will be celebrating its 17th anniversary on May 19. Organizers encourage attendees to bring their own costumes, artwork and ideas to the convention at the TECH Freire Charter School in Philadelphia. The festival is still accepting artist registrations, as well as volunteer registrations.
“I just hope that people recognize the plethora of art we have here,” Alleyne said. “There is so much good talent here, so I hope this gives people a greater understanding of all of the amazing art that is out there.”