With the recent deaths of African Americans at the hands of Police, the country has been forced to face its issues with racism like never before. This was the case when comics writer Christian Cooper was harassed in New York’s Central Park by a woman who threatened to call the police claiming “there’s an African American man threatening my life.” All Cooper had done was ask her to leash her dog as was the rules of the park. Luckily no one was injured in the confrontation but the incident was captured on video and has since gone viral.
October marks the beginning of Civility Week for the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), part of the State University of New York system. Over several days, the college offers up programming that addresses the issues of diversity and inclusion. This year’s theme is “Social Justice” to shed more light on current events in our community. For the past two years, the week has been capped off by Diversity Comic-Con. A celebration of multiculturalism in the sequential arts.
This year’s Diversity Comic-Con is even more significant as it hosts a special Q & A session sponsored by DC Comics. Cooper along with artist Alitha Martinez, through DC, have produced a comic anthology called “Represent: It’s a Bird” partly inspired by his experience in Central Park but focusing more on the broader subject of racism. “I hope young people read it, and that they’re inspired to keep the focus where it needs to be, which is on those we have lost and how we keep from losing more.” Said Cooper in an interview. “This moment is about the ones we’ve lost, and how we’re going to keep from losing any more.” The live Diversity Comic-Con interview will be conducted by Alitha’s son on Saturday, at 2:30 pm.
Also appearing will be Shawn Martinbrough, renowned artist of such characters as Batman and Black Panther. “As a New York native and artist, I have always been inspired to create by diverse populations and their environments. Variety and different voices are the lifeblood of creativity.” Martinbrough will be delivering the keynote address and answering questions as well. Other diverse creators appearing include Kiku Hughes, Alex Sanchez, LL McKinney, Mika Song, Vivek Tiwary, Alex Segura, Amy Chu, Regine Sawyer, Jonah Newman, and Robert Scull.
Aspiring artists and writers are also encouraged to submit their own comic stories and art to the anthology “Black Stories Matter” which is the theme of the comic con itself. “The book will be released a few weeks after the event and creators can submit 1-5 pages of comic stories by October 30th,” says organizer Ramon Gil. “We wanted something tangible that remains after the event is over. All the details are on the website.”
Scholastic Graphix, Archie Comics, First Second, Random House Graphic, and Nickelodeon are also supporting the event by contributing prizes and having their creators at the various panels throughout the weekend. “I’m excited to return to Diversity Comic-Con this year – a year that has shown more than ever that discussion, education, and change in diversity is essential for everyone in the publishing industry.” offers Gina Gagliano, publishing director at Random House Graphic.
Diversity Comic Con 2020 is completely online and accessible by anyone anywhere with internet access. It happens Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17. The event is free and live online where people can also find all the details on how to participate as a creator.