Last weekend, I hopped on a plan and headed down to Los Angeles for the Wondercon Comic Convention. This year it was in the Los Angeles Convention Center. I have only been to 2 conventions prior to this one, and this is my first year as an exhibitor. When they said it was going to be sold out, I expected it to be packed, but I didn’t realize how many people would actually be there until I witnessed it firsthand. The goal for the whole trip was to collaborate with my friend Anthony Piper (Creator of Trill League: http://www.trillleague.com ), and have a table that promotes Black creativity. I expected that there wouldn’t be a table like ours, and I figured it would be a good opportunity to diversify the creative arena with our Afro-centric work. His work is considered a mashup of the Justice League meets Boondocks, and mine is redefining pop culture through the eyes of children of color. With our work, I wanted us to establish a strong African American presence in the creative realm. Essentially, I just wanted to change the convention game.
The first day (Thursday) was setup day. My friend Darryl Jackson (who was a student-athlete with me at Oregon State University and my wingman for the trip), went with me to Michael Blackson’s house to talk about my Kickstarter Project and the purpose behind the work I am doing. He was a great person to talk to because he has had success in the comedy industry, and has built an amazing international fan base the most organic way possible. I wanted to expose him the whole comic scene, and try to get him to write a few comics with me. Being able to combine Black Comedy with sequential art would open his career to new possibilities. Plus, when I told him how many people would be at Wondercon, his eyes lit up as if he wanted to go so bad. I knew that black people rarely ever go to comic conventions, but they would love them because every black person I know has seen multiple comic book movies and love Dragonball Z. I think this speaks to the whole diversity issue in pop culture. Content is not being created for minorities, so there is no reason for us to go to conventions to support characters that speak to us personally. There are none. I didn’t realize that until my family told me they were driving down from the Bay Area just to see my booth. I was giving them a reason to go to a convention for the first time. They probably wanted to go to one before, but there was no personal connection to the industry to go out of their way to support it.
The second day (Friday) was the first day of the convention. From the last convention I did last month, I expected it to be a slow day. I was definitely wrong. Once the afternoon hit, people started coming by the booth and either recognizing that all my superheroes were diverse, or noticed Trill League (because Anthony has like 18k followers on social media). Darryl was exposed to the comic scene that day as well. I knew he would love it, but he didn’t really understand what I meant until he saw all the costumes and stuff all over the place. Darryl works for a creative agency so he is familiar with how to sell and promote work. He noticed how almost every booth just had artists sitting behind it and their work propped up on the table. Not much engagement was happening because artists don’t really make the best salesmen. Darryl is a salesman, and he can’t stay in one spot if his life depended on it. Talk about the ultimate extrovert. He would see people walking past the booth and stop them to check out me and Anthony’s work. This usually resulted in us getting at least an email address. He came in clutch big time, but I told him that we were going to change the game with this. Out of all the booths around us, we had the most engagement. It was funny because I talked so much the first day that I started to lose my voice. On top of everything that happened that day, I met one of my favorite artists (Chase Conely).
Day two and three were even busier. We continued to meet people, spread the concept of diversity with our work, and tell our story to thousands of people. I was just so surprised how much people liked my stuff. I knew people liked Anthony’s stuff because he is THAT GUY, but me, I was super surprised. One of the big highlights aside from meeting Chase Conely, the original Black Power Ranger, and Markus Prime was the faces Black and Latino kids and their parents had when they saw all my little characters. That sight was utterly priceless. One thing I noticed that I wasn’t too proud of was that you run into black people that won’t give you the time of day. It was interesting because the only people that would try to avoid our booth were black people. Everybody else would come and at least hear our story. It’s just crazy to see them blatantly ignore and snub you right to your face. Oh well, we made progress this weekend. Made a lot of connections, and solidified a presence at a big Comic Convention. This trip literally exceeded my expectations on all facets. The next Convention that is planned is Rose City in Portland. David Walker (Writer of Cyborg, Shaft, and Powerman and Ironfist), Anthony Piper (Trill League), and Markus Prime (https://www.instagram.com/markusprimelives) will be joining me to promote creativity and diversity through our work.
There are only 6 copies left of my new art book Black Heroes Matter. Once they are all gone, that will be it! Make sure you get your copy before it is too late. Also the Kickstarter for Adventures in Iltopia is still going on until April 30th. Make sure you check it out and help make this project a reality. The Documentary that I animated and illustrated is also coming to theaters too. It is about the effects of the NCAA on student-athletes from a student-athletes point of view. The link to those are below:
Black Heroes Matter:
Business of Amateurs Documentary:
Create and Conquer!
Steven Christian (Stuck E.)