The day started stressful and early. I woke up at 4 am and tired and worried about the ever present concern of weight loss, never content despite the fact that I had contained my weight for 2 months.
And yet I knew something was ahead of me. Saturday usually is one of my busiest days, my mornings occupied my daily walk and cup of coffee. By 9:45 I hit the streets to downtown Toledo where I get free bread from a local food pantry and grab a warm meal, this time consisting of some delicious and hot vegetable soup with a side of kibasa and saur kraut.
But this is window dressing. The real highlight of the day was the chance to attend the Toledo Library’s first annual Glass City Black Comix Art Fest, a free event open to the public.
The event was held in a small pocket of Toledo’s fine main library, held in the Huntington Center Room which is hid underneath a stair case and out of the public’s eye. It’s a good room for events and yet can be too obscure for most people to find, perhaps a fault of the architect. Perhaps a fault of the event planner.
Another problem with the promotion of the event was that there was no display in the front of the library. There’s literally no advertising in the main library. Unless you’re in the know, you just don’t know.
I bring this up not to bitch but to make a point. The first presentation was given by Imani Lateef, a fellow Toledo magazine owner, who gave a presentation on what it means to be a black nerd in America, AKA a “blerd”.
Imani commented on how blerds can be underrepresented in this country, one populated by an ever increasing diverse population. And here I was, wondering why the event wasn’t being advertised properly.
And yet I’m in the wrong. Perhaps this just the nature of comic festivals. To be honest, this was my first one, and maybe that’s just how the museum runs things. But to me the event could be better promoted and advertised. And I would start with a sign out in the front of the library and more signs inside pointing to where the event was being held at.
But I digress.
The festival was a success, with the room filled with children who were the main target for the festival. The aim of the event was education, something close to my heart. Part of the draw for it was lessons on drawing and developing characters, something more could kids could use. I’d argue it’s an important skill to know as well in a economy that will one day be marked by automation and outsourcing, not to mention insourcing of cheap labor. We need more artists, and that includes comic book drawers and writers, as well as inkers and publishers. Just sitting in this room I envisioned the future of America, one that includes male and female black voices, and perhaps a few gender fluid individuals.
While I was in the room taking in that joy of discovery I took the time to snap some pictures of kids drawing, a joy that few adults will know.
Most of the boys and girls I asked to take pictures of were timid and shy, but none were afraid to have their artwork displayed.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay for the whole event but was able to sit in on another presentation. It was presented by Vicotor Dandrige, owner of an Vantage In House Poductions, an independent press company based in Columbus, that covered the process of story telling in comics, covering such topics as the difference between protagonists and antagonists, as well voices in comics. The presenter was lively and engaging, and judging by the children’s reception, a rousing success.
After leaving the event I thought to myself how I would write this article, and it struck me I might have been too harsh about the library’s advertising of the event. The room was full and lively, and there was a good mix of black and white people, something that might rouse feathers of some sensitive Americans and yet something completely necessary in America at a time of a divisive Trump presidency.
Perhaps my own negativity at the beginning of this article was just as indicative of a problem with this country, perhaps a flip side to my own complaints on under representation in diversity in comics. Maybe too many people complain about problems that just aren’t there, perhaps moreso because they want to create a narrative to fit an agenda and sell an article. I now realize that was the trap I fell into. Perhaps I am part of the problem.
Links to Comapanies