Sunday, June 5, 2016

ECBACC 2016: Part 3 of 3

Concluding my report on the 2016 East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philadelphia...

All day long, the AfriCoz super-hero, fantasy and science-fiction cosplay competition was in wondrous evidence. The marketplace room got a little tight now and then, but neither fans or vendors were put out by this. Everyone was having big fun with the costumes and the performances that sometimes accompanied them.
At Friday’s opening night reception, I was thrilled to finally meet cosplayer extraordinaire Bill Johnson. I knew Bill was one of the most outstanding cosplayers and costume designers. I didn’t know he was an accomplished actor and committed activist. He doesn’t just portray heroes. He is one.
On Saturday, Bill portrayed Luke Cage as the hero was depicted in his 1970s debut. It was a great costume.

The winners of the 5th Annual AFRICOZ Cosplay Contest were:

First place: BLACKMAN (Chris Fraley)
Second place: SKYFALL (Andre Campbell)
Third place: NUBIA (Lynne Marie)

I’ve already written about how I need to up my game when it comes to taking notes for reports like this. I should also start taking photos at them. So many amazing costumes!
My son Eddie and I would alternate taking breaks from my own table to do some shopping. On one of his breaks, he was surprised to see a familiar icon from the Columbus College of Art and Design on the cover of Hotshot #4. Eddie and his sister Kelly are proud graduates of The Ohio State University, so he recognized that CCAD icon as soon as he saw it.

Hotshot is the creation of CCAD graduate Michael J. Watson. He and Eddie got to talking. While at CCAD, Watson worked for its dean of student affairs. That dean was also the advisor to the Ohio State chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, Eddie’s fraternity.

Eddie bought the entire run of Hotshot. If I stop interrupting his binge-watching of Young Justice, he’ll let me borrow them (and the other comics he bought) so I can read and review them in upcoming bloggy things.
Maybe the greatest joy of this year’s ECBACC was seeing and talking with Elder Samuel Joyner, a 92-year-old cartoonist who lives in and still draws in Philadelphia. Here’s a too-brief biography:

Artist Samuel Joyner was born on February 7, 1924. One of the few African-American cartoonists in the country, he was still in elementary school when he published his first cartoon in The Philadelphia Tribune. He was an illustrator for the Navy and his artwork was published – often without his name – by corporations such as Sears and General Electric. He began using his artistic skills for commentary about racial justice when he worked for Philadelphia’s now-defunct Color Magazine. He ran a print and graphic shop with Grace, his wife of more than 40 years, who died in 1994. A retired art teacher, he has two sons and two daughters, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A featured cartoonist for The Philadelphia Tribune, his work earned the paper a National Newspaper Publishers Association award for best editorial cartoon in 1996. A collection of his artwork spanning more than five decades is housed at Temple University in Philadelphia. He continues to fight for social and economic justice with pen and ink.

I first met Joyner at an ECBACC several years ago. We bonded right then and there. Maybe because I sometimes think the two of us are the only people in the room who know some of the other cartoonists we talk about. Though he didn’t really work in comic books per se, he did know many comics artists and even did lettering for them on occasion. I’ve given him copies of my books and he always has a few examples of work for me.
Joyner doesn’t work as much as he’d like to, but he’s still got it. The first of the two pieces I’m sharing was one he did working with just one good eye. He’s got two good eyes again and, at 92, he has as sharp a wit and as sure a line as ever. We both wish newspapers in this country, especially the small independents he’s worked for, were on the rise and not the reverse.

I am honored to call Samuel my friend. I hope to keep seeing him at ECBACC for many years to come.

It started raining around the time ECBACC was closing. Eddie and I said our goodbyes and loaded our stuff into our car. There were a few last hugs, a few last photos and the lingering great feelings of being invited to this event and always being made to feel most welcome. I treasure my ECBACC memories.

That evening, Eddie and I drove to Xfinity Live to watch the third game of the Cleveland Cavaliers/Toronto Raptors playoff series. We ate at Broad St. Bullies. The service was excellent. The food was good and reasonable priced. The Cavs sucked. We headed back to the Hawthorn Suites at halftime. Eddie watched the game on our room’s TV. I dozed off and had dreams about the cats who apparently lived at the Suites seeking into our room and jumping up on my bed. Maybe I was missing my own cat Simba.

We had breakfast with Bill and Gretchen Foster before checking out and hitting the road for home. But our first stop was Pat’s King of Steaks to buy several Philly cheesesteak sandwiches for the drive back to Medina and to share with Barb and Kelly. Pat’s is located  at 9th & Wharton Streets where Passyunk and Wharton meet.

It was difficult to find a parking spot, but the neighborhood was very interesting. There was a large baseball field in the center of the neighborhood. There were cool looking brownstones. There were a variety of stories with foreign language signs. We saw a Chinese woman delivering Chinese-language newspapers. We eventually found a parking spot in front of a Chinese Catholic Church, but, because of church services, we had about thirteen minutes to walk a couple of blocks to Pat’s, get our sandwiches and walk back. We made it with maybe a minute to spare.

The next time I’m in Philadelphia, I hope to have an extra day or two to see more of the city. Let’s see if I can make that happen.

For the ride home, Eddie and I decided the last thing we wanted to listen to was sports radio. Fortunately, we had Sirius XD with its several comedy channels. That lightened our spirits on the several-hours drive back to our Medina home.

My thanks to Yumy Odom and the ECBACC staff and volunteers. It was another sensational event and, as always, I urge my bloggy readers to come to next year’s festivities. I hope to see you there.

Come back tomorrow for another installment of my 136-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in July, 1963. This entry will star Aquaman. See you soon.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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