'6th Annual Motor City Black Age of Comics Con'
Ladies and Gentlemen, new Exclusive Magazine writer/photographer, Lauren Galasso, together with yet another aspiring journalist-in-the-making, Cally Laesser covered this years '6th Annual Motor City Black Age of Comics Convention' for Exclusive Magazine.
The YouthVille center in Detroit held a newer type of comic convention this past weekend. I had the pleasure of attending the Sixth Annual Motor City Black Age of Comics Convention. Now I wasnít sure what to expect since Iíve only been to one other comic-con before, but I wasnít disappointed! I walked in to find it was free to the community, which I feel is a great way to reach out to many in the Detroit area. I mean, whatís better then a free comic convention?!
There were about two dozen different vendors set up throughout the center, a great DJ playing music all day and the event was even catered by a local Detroit based company, Nate's Catering. Nate's Catering has catered to all the past Annual Motor City Black Age of Comics Conventions and they had plenty of awesome baked goods for sale and a list of the many others they make.
As I walked through the convention, my friend Cally and I stopped to talk to many of the artists. We got to meet Andre Batts, the creator and founder of The Motor City Black Age of Comics Convention and the company Urban Style Comics. While interviewing Andre, I asked him what inspired him to create this event. He revealed to me how he had always been an avid comic book reader. He was inspired to bring an African American presence into the comic book world in hopes that the younger African-American community would be encouraged to read more comic books by seeing a super hero who looks like them.
Andreís comic is titled Dreadlocks, and itís based off of things heís encountered and experienced in life. The comic has many different Gods and Goddesses but the main character of his comic is Dreadlocks. This superhero is created with an afro-centric presence that has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Dreadlock strives to be the one who keeps the universe balanced. Andre expressed to me how his family pushed him, for years, to get his work out there. Iím glad he did! The illustrations he creates are very detailed and vibrant. Andre is very talented artistically and creatively, he does many oil paintings and watercolor paintings that he sells at other events as well.
Andre has high hopes for the future of The Motor City Black Age of Comics Convention; he would like to see it grow to be a three day event- that way more readers and vendors from all over can make it to Detroit to experience this awesome inspiring event. He has faith that his characters and comics will reach a worldwide status. Andre is a very inspirational man and I really believe heís going to make a difference to the younger African-American community by having this event become bigger and better each year.
After our interview with Andre we walked around looking for other artists to talk to. I was attracted to a table with a big selection of comics including some unicorn themed illustrations. This is where I met Kam Reynolds from Kam Komics. Kam has been composing, illustrating and writing his own comics for about eight years and I couldnít be more excited to tell you about them! He had a little bit of everything for different types of readers. Some of his comics include a crime fighting unicorn, a thriller about government conspiracy and even a series about an average college kid who begins experiencing supernatural events occurring around him, and thatís not it!
Michigan Muthafukas is another series Kam created about a kid named Frank who gets home from college only to have super natural things (like running into a gang of werewolves) happen to him with no explanation(not yet at least!). Kam bases a lot of his characters off of his friends and their experiences together; He uses his girl friend in one of his series. In addition to his other comics, he writes a very cool comic called Twenty Foí. I think this is a really cool idea. He created these issues by drawing 24 pages in 24 hours and he calls them ďquick comicsĒ.
I was most fascinated with the comic titled Unikorn, based on fact that the main character was a very buff, cigar smoking unicorn from The Planet Fluff. I had to know more! Luckily Kam explained that in this comic Unikorn comes to Michigan in search of an evil space outlaw by the name of Surge and searches for the help of three local kids to help him in the fight! How awesome is that?
While I was talking to Kam a young aspiring artist came over to show him his own comics. I watched as Kam took great interest in him and pointed out to him positive points in his drawing and comics. Kam even went as far as to give him some support about what to start working on next to improve. Kam is very involved. He holds free workshops for the youth in Detroit to inspire them to start drawing and teaches them how to write their very own comics.
After talking to Kam for a bit I knew I had to tell his story! When he was younger he always wanted to create a comic with his friends but it just didnít work out. Now he is doing really well with his own comic books. That goes to show you to not get discouraged and go do what you love even if others donít agree. Kam is a great asset to this event and Iím glad I got to tell his story for everyone to read. I really believe he will go far with his edgy and super cool comic books.
There were a couple of vendors set up and selling creative works of art such as jewelry, bags, purses, clothes, candy, and even skateboards involving comics. While walking through, the skateboards really caught my attention! A company called J.U.I.C.E (Just Us Inspiring Change Everywhere) was selling decks with real comic strips covering the top and bottom of the board. They work out of their home creating these amazing boards that they call Juice Classics. Some of their boards included hand paintings of classic characters on them along with the classic comic strips to match.
While talking to the guys behind this great idea, they told me it was their first comic convention they had ever attended as a vendor and they were getting a lot of attention. They explained to me how they have their own secret recipe for a clear grip tape, which is what enables them to use the comic strips on the top of the board, to make it a functional skate board! They currently sell their boards on the website etsy.com and at a few comic book stores around Michigan. These guys love what they do and they are determined to get their ideas out there. If you love to skate board or you just love cool comic book memorabilia you have to check them out!
After experiencing the culture at this awesome modest convention, I have high hopes for the movement they are trying to create. Everyone there seemed extremely inspired and the vendors were in love with what they create. I can only hope that next year they will be able to extend the length of the convention for multiple days so that more talented vendors can attend. Andre is continuing to work hard at developing and expanding this awesome event.
Overall, my friend Cally and I were very impressed with The Sixth Annual Motor City Black Age of Comics Convention and cannot wait to see what the future holds for years to come. If you are a comic book fan, you need to stop by and check out the event next time around and help out these wonderful artists by spreading the word in the Detroit community.
I know I will!
Review & Photos by: Lauren Galasso and Cally Laesser