Annual Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem Shows Youngsters They Too Can be Super
Comic books have long had black superheroes, but now their numbers are growing in an attempt to better reflect the world readers live in. An annual black comic book festival in Harlem has also expanded to two days. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio checked it out.
Creating comics was a childhood dream for Greg Anderson Elysee of Brooklyn.
"I used to draw in booklets, write stories in it, and write some dialogue," Elysee said.
It's finally come true. He just published his first comic book series: "Is'nana the Were-Spider."
"It's a mix of superhero comics, a lot of horror in it, and there's also feel-good family stuff," Elysee said.
Elysee's comic book is one of dozens being featured at the Schomburg Center's Fifth Annual Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem.
More than 40 comic creators are presenting their work at the festival, which connects them to potential readers and helps to bring their creations into the mainstream.
One example: "The Tuskegee Heirs," the story of five pilots who are heirs to the famed squadron of black World War II fighter pilots. The Tuskegee Heirs are saving the world 80 years into the future.
"We want kids to see themselves and see, you know, that there are so many possibilities than what we're typically shown," said Greg Burnham, the co-creator of "The Tuskegee Heirs."
The show comes at a time when more and more comic characters and heroes are people of color.
Organizers of the show say it's especially important for kids to see characters who look like them.
"When young people are able to see black and brown comic heroes, it means everything, because it validates their imagination and it validates their desire to be super," said Deirdre Hollman, the director of education and exhibitions at the Schomburg Center.
Black comic book characters are also making their mark on the screen. Luke Cage, a crime fighter in Harlem who first appeared in the 1970s, is now featured in his own Netflix series.
"It's going to open the gates for more superheroes," said comic book collector Mark Brantley. "It could do a lot of things."
That means Is'nana could one day be a TV comic book hero, too.