October marks the beginning of Civility Week for the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), part of the State University of New York system. Over several days, the college offers up programming that addresses the issues of diversity and inclusion. This year's theme is "Social Justice" to shed more light on current events in our community. For the past two years, the week has been capped off by Diversity Comic-Con, a celebration of multiculturalism in the sequential arts. DC Comics is to sponsor a Q&A panel at this year's Diversity Comic-Con, going online, for October 16th and 17th. Former Marvel comics writer and editor Christian Cooper was harassed in New York's Central Park by a woman who threatened to call the police claiming "there's an African American man threatening my life." when Cooper asked her to leash her dog. The event, captured and posted by his sister and comics writer Melody Cooper, went viral.
Cooper along with artist Alitha Martinez, through DC, have produced a comic anthology called "Represent: It's a Bird" partly inspired by his experience in Central Park but focusing more on the broader subject of racism.
Also appearing will be Shawn Martinbrough, artist on Batman and Black Panther. Martinbrough will be delivering the keynote address and answering questions as well. Other creators appearing include Kiku Hughes, Alex Sanchez, LL McKinney, Mika Song, Vivek Tiwary, Alex Segura, Amy Chu, Regine Sawyer, Jonah Newman and Robert Scull.
Aspiring artists and writers are also encouraged to submit their own comic stories and art to the anthology "Black Stories Matter" which is the theme of the comic con itself. "The book will be released a few weeks after the event and creators can submit 1-5 pages of comic stories by October 30th," says organizer Ramon Gil. "We wanted something tangible that remains after the event is over. All the details are on the website."
Scholastic Graphix, Archie Comics, First Second, Random House Graphic, and Nickelodeon are also supporting the event by contributing prizes and having their creators at the various panels throughout the weekend. "I'm excited to return to Diversity Comic-Con this year – a year that has shown more than ever that discussion, education, and change in diversity is essential for everyone in the publishing industry." offers Gina Gagliano, publishing director at Random House Graphic.
"Today's publishers have been rectifying the diversity imbalance that came from the decades of mostly white straight male characters." writes FIT's Chief Diversity Officer Ron Milon. "Comics often reflect the events, news, culture, and the trends of the time. Sometimes they teach us valuable lessons about our society."
Diversity Comic Con 2020 is online and accessible by anyone anywhere with internet access. It happens Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17. The event is free and live online at diversitycomiccon.com where people can also find all the details on how to participate as a creator.