'Writing Is Power' – Sitting In The Black Panel At San Diego Comic Con (Update)

BtZ_P-1CQAACyNZ"Last year after the Black Panel, me and Orlando Jones were smoking crack. And Orlando says … this is some good crack!" – Michael Davis.

The Black Panel is a San Diego Comic Con tradition. And it would be a solid, optimistic, future looking, respectful – and ultimately a little dull if it wasn't for the host and creator of the panel, Michael Davis, who constantly uses self deprecation, ironic sterotype and wit to constantly undercut emphasis, or raise the energy in the room making this, always, the unmissable panel of San Diego Comic Con, celebrating black voices in the comics-and-related industries.


Michael Davis talked about how he'd been called out for a lack of diversity on the Black Panel, Which is why, out of the seven guests this year, three were women for the first time. And he talks about how he is interested in helping people be the next Orlando Jones, and how the Black Panel is the place to introduce yourself in that fashion. And how Tatiana showed up at the Black Panel one day and now she's responsible for getting films on the Oprah Network…

And so we have Orlando JonesNe-YoJ. August Richards, Kevin Grevioux , Cree SummerErika Alexander Tatiana El Khouri and Bleeding Cool favourite Michael Davis.

It is a Q&A panel, with people asking about the industry, the future of black people in the Hollywood and comics industry, both represented and creating and producing, and how fan fiction can push that – and is doing.

The panel offering to retweet any of the audience's projects. A lot of excitement at that one.

Orlando Jones about how to represent yourself the most important way and spread love to those who support you in the community.

J August Richards, on how he is happy to play black characters, and sees how their blackness differs from his own and informs their personalities.

How Batwing is a superhero who is black rather than a black superhero, and how we can get more of that.

How Cree Summer plays white boys, animate objects – and all the African American characters as well.

How music is in a really great place for representing minorities, with Ne-Yo pointing how audiences are far less split by race than other entertainment options. But how shows like Scandal are getting better opportunities and representation on the screen, especially for black women. And how comic books have the opportunity to get there.

But how, courtesy of Cree, how all races take a hit from reality TV shows. And how the best way to get voice acting work is to practice reading aloud. Though as Michael Davis says, not on a New York subway. "No joke."

How music had Motown, where comics had Milestone and how writing is power. And how purchasing only supports that power…

Erika Alexander on how she wrote a spec script for Mad Men, Don Draper Goes To Harlem, and put it online because it would never be made.

J August Richards raising the roof by going through his shows since Angel, to Agents Of SHIELD and his new show for Bravo, Girlfriends' Guide To Divorce. Cheers all round, before dropping the mic and walking away…

Kevin Grevious giving the advice that sometimes you gotta kiss a little butt to kick some.

How the Milestones comic exhibition will be getting a Milestones 2 with many more artists' work.

About a lack of teen black character in all sorts of fiction, and from Michael Davis how Static Shock was an attempt to address that, and how comic books are a cheap development tool for all sorts of media.  And how Static Shock is an example of the blindness and stupidity of media executives.

Michael Davis talked about how he networked the publication of The Fifth Beatle from creator to publisher, and how people are ready to listen to you. You just have to find a way to talk to them. "Access is everything". And that's what the Black Panel is all about…

Hey, why not watch along with me?


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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