Friday, June 3, 2016

ECBACC 2016: Part 1 of 3

The East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention is one of my favorite events. It’s an inclusive gathering centered around comic books and other creative works about, by and for people of color. Every May, ECBACC hosts the Glyph Awards at its Friday night reception. This is followed by an all-day artists and writers “market place” with panel discussions, workshops and the uniquely-themed AfriCoz super-hero, fantasy and science-fiction cosplay competition. This year and on several past occasions, ECBACC has done me the great honor of inviting me and allowing me to participate in its programs as a creator, panelist and presenter. I love the ECBACC community madly and that community has always loved me right back.

ECBACC 2016 took place on Friday, May 20, and Saturday May 21, in Philadelphia. Though it’s a grueling seven-to-eight-hour drive from my home in Medina, Ohio to Philadelphia, I always feel invigorated once I get to the opening reception. ECBACC lifts my spirits like no other comics convention. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself in this trip report.

This year, for the first time, I had a traveling companion. My son Eddie made the trip with me and, by “with me,” I mean he did all of the driving. I don’t much like driving through Pennsylvania. It’s got some of the most expensive toll roads anywhere, which explains why the state is always working on its turnpike. Sometimes I think they start at one end of their turnpike, start tearing it up, fix it and then go back and start the process over. On the plus side, there are long chunks of beautiful scenery and frequent rest areas. That’s important to senior citizens like me.

Driving across Pennsylvania is a carefree picnic compared to what you find when you get off the turnpike for Philadelphia. Traffic is back-to-back on account of another road feeding into whatever road you’re driving on roughly every tenth of a mile. Philadelphia is a beautiful city, but I think it was designed by Torquemada.

ECBACC put us up at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham near the Philly airport. Despite the proximity to the airport and highways, it was a comfortable and quiet place with a full kitchen in our room and a free hot breakfast every morning. It would easily serve the needs of people coming to the city for an extended stay. Judging from the PODS containers in the parking lot, I would guess it also serves as temporary lodgings for folks relocating to the city but who have not yet found more permanent accommodations. I was amazed to learn the facility hosts “socials” every night from Monday to Friday with a Wednesday movie night. Talk about your home away from home.

Eddie and I split up. After dropping me off at the ECBACC opening ceremony, he went to Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia for a Phillies baseball game. The ballpark, which Eddie said was first- rate, is part of the three-stadium Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles), Wells Fargo Center (home of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League) and Xfinity Live!, which is sort of like a mall for bars and restaurants. We would both go to Xfinity Live! on Saturday night.

The ECBACC opening ceremony and Glyph Awards presentations were at the African-American Museum on Arch Street. The convention had laid out a nice spread of beverages, sandwiches and snacks. The room was packed by the official start of the festivities at 7 pm, but there was time and space to shmooze with old and new friends before the ceremony and during an intermission.

The annual Glyph Awards honor comics about, by and for people of color. Pamela Thomas is the chairperson of the awards, though she will be passing that responsibility on to someone else next year. Award-winning cartoonist Jamar Nicholas was our host for the GCAs with an assist from my award-winning pal Alex Simmons.

I was asked to present the Fan Award for Best Comic. The nominees and winners of the Glyph awards are determined by a select panel of judges, but the fan award is voted on by the fans. I prefaced the reading of the nominees and naming of the winner with a few brief remarks. I said:

I must start by thanking ECBACC, Yumy [Odom, president of ECBACC], Pamela and the Glyph Comics Awards for their tireless efforts to celebrate and honor our creators and their work. I am blessed to have been so warmly accepted by this amazing community of creators and fans.

I learned to read from comic books at age four and have loved them every since. I started my comics career at Marvel Comics in 1972. For some 44 years, I’ve happily walked in two worlds: fan and pro. So I am particularly gratified to be presenting this year’s GCA Fan Award for Best Work. 
The nominees are:

ANDRE THE GIANT: CLOSER TO HEAVEN by Brandon Easton, writer and Denis Medri, artist

BOUNCE! by Chuck Collins, writer and artist

CONCRETE PARK VOL. 2: R-E-S-P-E-C-T by Erika Alexander and Tony Puryear, writers and Tony Puryear, artist

SHAFT VOLUME 1: A COMPLICATED MAN by David Walker, writer and Sanford Greene, artist

The winner was Chuck Collins, who would win two more awards during the ceremony. Here’s a list of the other categories and nominees. The winners are in bold.


Ajala: A Series of Adventures Book 2; Xmoor Studios
Concrete Park Vol.1: You Send Me; Dark Horse Comics
Concrete Park Vol.2: R-e-s-p-e-c-t; Dark Horse Comics


Blackwax Boulevard; Dmitri Jackson, Writer and Artist
Bounce!; Chuck Collins, Writer and Artist
Detective Boogaloo: Hip Hop Cop; Jamar Nicholas, Writer and Artist


Chuck Collins, Writer and Artist; Bounce!
Stephane Metayer, Writer; David Tako & Nicolas Safe, Artists; Tephlon Funk!
D.C. Walker, Writer; Bruno Oliveira, Artist; When the River Rises


Moon Girl; Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur; Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, Writers; Natacha Bustos and Amy Reeder, Artists
Lily; Malice in Ovenland; Micheline Hess, Writer and Artist Naima Pepper;
(H)afrocentric; Juliana “Jewels” Smith, Writer; Ronald R. Nelson, Artist


Arron Day (Blackjack); Blackjack: There Came a Dark Hunter; Alex Simmons, Writer; Tim Fielder, Artist
Antonio Valor (Brotherman); Revelation: Brotherman-dictator of Discipline; Guy A. Sims, Writer; Dawud Anyabwile, Artist


Dawud Anyabwile; Revelation: Brotherman-dictator of Discipline
Keef Cross; Dayblack #4 – Shot in the Ass
John Jennings; Blue Hand Mojo: Dust to Dust


Erika Alexander and Tony Puryear; Concrete Park Vol.2: R-e-s-p-e-c-t
Juliana “Jewels” Smith; (H)afrocentric
David F. Walker; Cyborg


Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven; Brandon Easton , Writer; Denis Medri , Artist
Blue Hand Mojo: Dust to Dust; John Jennings, Writer and Artist
Tephlon Funk!; Stephane Metayer, Writer; David Tako & Nicolas Safe, Artists


Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven; Brandon Easton , Writer; Denis Medri , Artist
Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker; Julian Voloj, Writer; Claudia Ahlering, Artist
Revelation: Brotherman-dictator of Discipline; Guy A. Sims, Writer; Dawud Anyabwile, Artist
In addition to the above, ECBACC also announced the six winners of this year’s Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Awards, which honor select pioneering work in the comic-book industry. I’ll likely have more to say about this in parts two and three of my ECBACC 2016 report, but, for now, here are some graphics...

The final award presentation of the night was the Heruica Character Creation Award. This was new to me and I’ll have more to say about it on Sunday. In the meantime, here’s another graphic...

Yumy Odom delivered the closing remarks. As always, my friend was downright inspirational. Listen to him and, if you didn’t already know how important ECBACC and the Glyph Comics Awards are to this community and comics art in general, you will be enlightened.

There was still time to greet old friends, meet new friends, offer congratulations to the winners and grab a piece of Pamela Thomas’ birthday cake. There are conventions and there are communities in the comics business. This is a community and then some. In so many ways, it’s a family. I’m happy and proud to be part of it, even if that part might be “weird old uncle.”

I got a ride back to the Hawthorn Suites with Professor William and Gretchen Foster and Alex Simmons, three of my most favorite people in the universe. Eddie got back to our room a little later and gave a glowing review to Citizens Bank Park. We’re wondering if we can arrive a day early next year so that I can go to a game with him. Time will tell.

Just like time will hopefully bring you back tomorrow for the next part of my ECBACC 2016 report. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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