As I recently walked in to Long Beach Comic Con, I contemplated my tradition of identifying and searching for one specific thing. When I saw my first SpiderMan, I knew that I wanted to look for super heroes. Not the super heroes of our collective imaginations, but the real ones here, the writers and artists who create stories and books about real life, and culture- the things that can make society a better place for everyone. These are stories about a broad definition of social justice- personal memoirs about big issues such as war, hate, racism, sexism, the environment, health, usually told in first person, as a memoir or personal narrative. Or genres such as graphic journalism, or medicine, or teaching language to improve multi-cultural communication. And even though the majority of the conference was about heroes of out imagination, I found some real-life heroes who write, draw, publish, distribute about real issues, making them real-life super heroes. Below are just a few of the people that I met. I tried to get everyone’s name, but sadly, my main notes were blown away by the wind (long story), so I did the best that I could. Below are several of the people and organization that I discovered. Also, please contact me if you see your image without identification so that I can fix it.
The Exceptional Children’s Foundation provides art classes for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities so that they can explore and develop their creativity and self expression, which helps these individuals gain self-confidence to communicate, work and interact with life and society. The art classes are taught by professional artists in several centers around Los Angeles, with a gallery Downtown. And, they are starting to teach the students how to make their own comics!
End Malaria Now is doing critical work in Africa to eliminate this terrible disease. The director is producer Richard Harding (Hotel Rwanda) is a native of Sierra Leone and has personally seen the devastation of this disease, and their mission statement states “End Malaria Now’s mission is to raise consciousness and funding to fight and eradicate malaria, the largest known killer of children under the age of 5 in Africa. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say – it is by far easier to stop something from happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it happens. Malaria IS a preventable disease. By providing the tools and information necessary to ensure that they are used properly, we CAN and we WILL save lives, one bed net at a time.”
An important element of EMN’s work is in education for children in African countries that are hard hit by malaria, and part of the way that they do this by distributing backpacks with school supplies, as well as posters about children (and their families) need to do to protect themselves, as well as their local environments, and they too are starting to use comic books to accomplish this.
Prism Comics is a “non-profit, all-volunteer organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual and LGBTQIA-friendly comic books, comics professionals, readers and educators. In 2003 a small group of comics fans and professionals gathered together to form Prism Comics – an organization and website where LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly comics creators could network and share their comics and readers could find works that spoke directly to their experiences and lives.
There was a whole section dedicated to students from the Da Vinci Design High school and their amazing teacher, Ralph Villalobos.
Da Vinci is brilliant group of schools and programs that reaches out to the natural ways that students learn. I’ve visited the schools and have not seen anything less than
100% commitment to learning and the palpable sense of excitement that goes with it. Mr. Villalobos taps into this, teaching his students about graphic narrative, and the formal elements of a comic book, and guides the students through the process of them making their own books. It is very cool!
East LA C.A.P.E (Comic Book Art & Pop Culture Expo) is ” …the premier comic book show in East LA. Formerly The East LA Comic Con, The East LA CAPE is a community based show that features local and independent artist and creators as well as a love of mainstream pop culture.” C.A.P.E 2019 promises to be fun, entertaining and educational, especially for exploring the work of and about Chicano graphic artists and story tellers!
I could not resist this- Dan Taylor, author of Donald of the Dead is one of the first (if not only) comics that tackles the issue of trump head on, with his book Donald of the Dead, which poses the question, “What would happen if donald and his followers were all actually zombies?”. It is irreverent, graphicly gory, and very funny, in a sick and twisted kind of way. Dan is a nice guy, and signed my book (which came with a bumper sticker and selection of donald of the dead trading cards!
Alex Dandino is author and his wife Andrea is the muse for the book Stalkings, a story about the women who acted as spies and secret agents for the Allies during World War II. This is as important story as those of the WACS. WAVES, and Rosies (as in Rosie the Riveter), women who had critical roles in the American war machine, replacing men who were fighting on the land, air and sea. The jobs that these women did were dangerous, and important and their stories need to be told.
In Out of Order, artist Seol Lee, and her husband Mike Ahn tell a very intense and personal story about a couple dealing with the serious mental condition of the husband, which is based on their own lives. Comics and graphic novels are an excellent way to educate the public about the pain, challenges and successes of people living with a variety of conditions, that surly will help people to not be afraid, as well as learn to be more empathic and supportive of the for members of that community.
Que Lico is a friendly and delightful artist and writer who works in two genres- A PG one, with smiling faeries, and other characters, and an X rated genre with the same characters, but in more adult-themed escapades. Her work is generally happy, and the x-rated is sex-positive, celebrating sexuality with joy, rather than shame.
This is a cool poster of the new catch phrase of Supergirl, that really highlights the new and needed sensibility of contemporary comics.
As we say a fond farewell to the 2018 Long Beach Comic Con, we come across these 4 bad-ass fairy tale heroines, as they continue their exploration of all publications graphic and fun!