The Colorful World of Comic Books Discovers the Power of Black

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The Black Comix Arts Festival comes at a time of new visibility for African American characters like the Black Panther. (Photo: Courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Marvel’s Black Panther hits theaters Feb. 15, and the original comic book is experiencing a renaissance in popularity. But it's historically been slim pickings for African American comic book fans looking for representation in those colorful panels.

Which makes the 4th annual Black Comix Arts Festival, running Jan. 13-15, a much-needed intervention in the often racially homogeneous world of science fiction, comics and fantasy. The lineup looks dazzling, including science fiction author Nnedi Okorafor, tapped to write the new Black Panther series Long Live the King. Also speaking is John Jennings, one of the illustrators, and Tony Medina, the writer, for I Am Alfonso Jones, a terrific graphic novel from Lee and Low about the Black Lives Matter movement. And look for one of my favorite Bay Area illustrators, Ajuan Mance, a Mills professor who has posted a series of online portraits called One Thousand and One Black Men. If you like cosplay, this seems a good time to try out that Luke Cage, Falcon, or Black Panther costume. Details for the Black Comix Arts Festival are here.