Diverse creators to be celebrated at Crown Heights comic book fair promoting new guide

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Excerpts from “The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community,” a new directory of Black comic book creators and their stories that will be promoted during a release party at Anyone Comics July 31.
Anyone Comics

Calling all comic book fans! On July 31, comic book readers can attend the Access Guide Black Comic Book Fair in Crown Heights for a celebration of Black comic book creators.

The event, held outside of Anyone Comics, will commemorate the worldwide release of “The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community” and celebrate local artists and writers, many of whom are featured in the book.

“The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community,” by Dimitrios Fragiskatos, George Carmona and Joseph Illidge, is “a new sourcebook to provide answers for comic book fans, old and new.”

The guide, a directory of Black comic book creators and their stories, helps new and veteran comic book fans find publishers, stores and conventions, welcoming all into the comic book community.

Fragiskatos, owner of Anyone Comics and co-editor of the access guide, wanted the event to be an opportunity for the comic book community to come together and put a face to the people who have drawn comics that have been around for a long time.

“The whole point of Anyone Comics, the Access Guide Black Comic Book Fair and the access guide is to get people comfortable with reading comics,” he said. “For a lot of people that comfort might come from seeing someone that closely resembles them or their experiences, which is something people may not have had in comic books prior to recently or at all, so I want to make sure the focus is on the creators and their content.”

While Fragiskatos hopes the fair will gain more comic book readership, he also wants people to see that “there are books out there that are more original and more representative of their experiences.”

All these ideas in movies and TV shows — they have been in comic books for a long time,” Fragiskatos said. “Two years ago we had Miles Morales enter the Spider-Verse but that’s a story that has been around for 20 years. People were also excited for Black Panther and that story has been around for even longer, so imagine what stories people will be excited for 30 years from now.”

“This is all about representation in a print medium,” added Jamal Igle, award-winning artist and creator of Molly Danger, and one of the featured artists in the guide. “People don’t always know who the creators are behind [these works] and it’s good for the community to see there are people of color working on these projects.”

Igle, who’s penned comic books for close to 30 years, is grateful to be part of this event and to see the increase in visibility for diverse creators — something he says he didn’t see while growing up.

At the time, I wasn’t sure there was a place for me in the industry,” he said. “I felt like I was forcing my way into something I shouldn’t have been.”

With the release of this access guide and the comic book fair, Igle hopes to continue the progress in increasing diversity in the industry.

“This increase in visibility not just for BIPOC creators but for LGBTQ and women creators has been monumental,” Igle said. “There is still a ton of work that has to be done but we’re getting there slowly. People are making strides and more people are seeing that there is an opportunity for them.”

Many of the creators to be featured in the fair are creating their own independent comics and Fragiskatos is looking forward to “putting a lens on the diversity in the types of stories out there” and bringing the comic book community together once again.

“I’m looking forward to meeting people,” Igle said. “This is the first industry related event I am attending in over two years so it’ll be nice to get out and see people.”

In keeping with the purpose of the book, proceeds will go toward the Dwayne McDuffie fund, awarding scholarships to diverse students among other things to keep comic book and animation writer Dwayne McDuffie’s vision alive. The fund will help establish the Dwayne McDuffie Foundation, a non-profit organization meant to maintain his legacy of diversifying the comic book universe.

“Access Guide Black Comic Book Fair” at Anyone Comics [1216 Union St. between Rogers and New York avenues in Crown Heights, (347) 350-8422, www.anyonecomics.com]. July 31 from 12-5pm. Free.