The first Boston CIC Festival brings an open-air marketplace to Roxbury plus virtual panels.
After having their much-anticipated debut spectacular postponed due to the pandemic last year, local and national cartoonists will come together for the first Boston Comics in Color Festival with a series of panels and an open-air marketplace from April 22 to 24.
Barrington Edwards and Cagen Luse, the creators of the festival, came up with the idea in 2015 when they traveled to Schomburg Center’s Black Comic Book Festival.
“We walked into this room, and there were hundreds of people of color enjoying comics and science fiction,” said Luse, whose LunchTime ComiX often runs in DigBoston. “It was a great feeling to feel someplace you belong. I grew up loving sci-fi but never had many people to talk about it. Boston needs this kind of community.”
In 2018, they started holding monthly meetups, inviting artists and enthusiasts of color to talk about comics and connect with readers. As Edwards told the Dig in an interview at the time, “Besides our love of comics, we have been not only making comics, but also trying to sell comics. For myself, I’ve really been trying to find an audience. I wanted to see where that audience was, and what we could do to pull that audience of comic book lovers together. I could feel they were out there, so we decided to make the group.”
Edwards and Luse planned for their first big fest last April. This year’s event will look different than originally imagined, with part of that including a new online dynamic, with eight virtual sessions featuring two to four artists in each section. The topics range from meeting the comic makers to artist instructionals.
LJ-Baptiste, a Dorchester-based cartoonist, will moderate the “movie comics” panel. He invited four anime producers to share tips about creating moving comics. “I want to hear about what their influences are and what was their process in making those films,” he said.
Baptiste further explained that animations were a source of inspiration of his characters. For example, Tyler, the main protagonist of his COMIXSCAPE series, has the same red sneakers as the main character in the PBS animation Arthur.
“I subconsciously got influenced by Arthur and all these cartoons and shows, the stuff I was watching and reading. They end up infecting the characters I create,” he said.
Baptiste hopes that audiences can be inspired to create their own comics or animates after the panel. “You can achieve whatever type of creative pursuit you want [in comics]. You are free to do them independently. You don’t need any permissions. You don’t need any gatekeepers.”
Though complications and precautions due to COVID have driven some of the debut Comics in Color Festival online, there will be a chance to connect with and support artists of color in person. Luse and Edwards have invited artists to the Roxbury Community College parking lot, perfectly underneath a canopy of solar shields, on Saturday, April 24, for an open-air art marketplace. DJ Nomadik will spin at the event, which will run from 12 to 5 pm.
“This is the event in my dream,” Luse said.