“We’re going to have local artists talking about graffiti, hip-hop, and the radical history of comics.”
On April 23, comic book artists and fans will gather in the Reggie Lewis Center for the second annual Comics in Color Festival, an event focused on showcasing talented regional artists and connecting members of the dedicated comic book community.
“Our mission is to uplift artists of color and to develop young artists to get them in the industry,” said Cagen Luse, the co-founder of Comics in Color (and a frequent Dig comic strip contributor).
Following a successful hybrid online and in-person event last year, Luse is looking forward to having people together for a larger gathering with less restrictions and a large number of panels, workshops, and regional artwork to experience.
“We’re going to have local artists talking about graffiti, hip-hop, and the radical history of comics,” Luse said. Other panels will focus on the technical side of comic production, like how to run a successful Kickstarter campaign.
“MassArt’s ‘sparc! the ArtMobile’ is going to be running a kids comic workshop about creating your own character,” he added. “Roxbury Film Festival is screening some animated films, and we have a lot of local and regional artists coming to sell their comics and share their work.”
Behind the venue, the Luse’s CIC co-founder Barrington Edward will work on “a live art demonstration with comic and graffiti artists to make a large comic-based mural.” The pair have assembled an impressive cast of artists for various panels and an “artist alley,” a group including Robb Armstrong, Benn Passmore, and Ronald Wimberly.
“Not only am I a comic creator, I’m a huge comic fan, so I booked my favorite artists for the event,” Luse said. “I’ve been reading Rob Armstrong’s comic, Jump Start, for years, he’s a legend in the game.”
Asked about the inspiration behind his work and how his personal experience comes through in his comics, Wimberly said, “I’d challenge readers to see how the work answers that question… the artist answers the question within the work.” He said he views “art as a verb,” rather than “as a noun… or a commodity.”
“Wimberly’s stuff is mindblowing,” Luse said. “Prince of Cats is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time.” Wimberly recently fully funded a print edition of GratNin, an acclaimed comic series that features “flying shuriken,” “ninja science,” and “Katana-wielding door-dashers” in “the ghost tunnels of forgotten subway lines.”
With a stacked lineup of more than 40 artists, Luse said they will build on the success of 2021’s event.
[Read our 2018 Comics in Color cover feature about the group’s origin story]
“What was great about the hybrid festival last year was that we had no limits on how many people we could bring in, and everyone that we asked to be on a panel said yes. We had incredible names there, we lucked out on a beautiful day, and people came out and had a great time,” Luse said. “All of the artists said they made good sales, which is one of the main points, [to] uplift artists of color.”
“The thing about the comics industry is that [the artists] are in it because they love it,” he added. “The chances are, you’re not gonna get rich or famous making indie comics, you just have to love telling stories and making art.”
Comics in Color Festival at Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont St, Roxbury Crossing. comicsincolor.org
Lucas Ruud is a sophomore journalism student at UMass Amherst with a focus in covering unique people, places, and projects.