It's been two years since mega comic-book convention WonderCon packed up and headed south to Anaheim. And this year, the Alternative Press Expo (APE) returns to San Jose, leaving local comic book lovers without a simple BART ride over to their favorite annual gathering. What's a comic lover to do, you ask?
To start, one can spend two days celebrating the brilliant creativity of comic book artists at the first annual Black Comix Art Festival (BCAF). The festival, a program sponsored by the Northern California Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation, runs Jan. 18-19.
“Our overarching goal, our mission, is to celebrate African Americans in the comic arts and popular visual culture,” says Aaron Grizzell, event co-founder and executive director of the Northern California MLK Community Foundation. “Every community who lives in this area, who lives in this state, should be able to see themselves within the culture in which they participate. You ought to be able to see a superhero or see someone you can dream about, that you want to be.”
Grizzell and co-founder and comic book artist John Jennings—who also co-founded the annual Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem—hope to provide just that. In the spirit of accessibility, the event is free; what's more, both BART and MUNI will provide free transportation to attendees around the bay.
“We want people of all ages, particularly the young people, when they're just sort of formulating what their community looks like, to see within this space positive visions of themselves so they can create and be inspired,” says Grizzell.
The theme for the inaugural BCAF is “March to Freedom,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic civil-rights march from Selma to Montgomery and the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.