For the past 40 years, around the second week of July, everyone from comic book enthusiasts to scientists from all over the world gather in San Diego to learn about movies, art, and the comic book culture. This celebration is known as Comic-Con International. The conference is produced by a nonprofit educational corporation of the same name dedicated to creating awareness of and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms, mainly through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.
The Comic-Con International Corporation began in 1970 when a group of comic lovers — including the late Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger, and Richard Alf — got together to put on the first comic book convention in Southern California. Comic-Con started as a one-day event called San Diego’s Golden State Comic-Minicon, on March 21, 1970 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. Fortunately, the success of the Minicon led to the first full-fledged, three-day San Diego Comic-Con, held later the same year on August 1, 1970 in the same venue. Over 300 attendees packed into the hotel’s basement for the event, which featured a dealers’ room, programs and panels, film screenings, and more: essentially, the model for every comic book convention to follow. Now with an annual attendance of over 130,000 people tickets for Comic-Con sell out in mere hours, the fastest rate of which was this year where the event was sold out in 93 minutes. Sales for Comic-Con have grown into the largest Comic convention in the world reaching over $160 million,
The emergence of African-American characters in the comic-book world began with Lothar from the 1934 comic strip Mandrake the Magician. Lothar was an African prince who left his throne behind to go around the world with Mandrake to fight crime and evil. He was first depicted as a savage who could not speak properly. Lothar was followed in the 1940’s by the characters White-Wash from Timely Comics and in the 1950’s by Waku, Prince of the Bantu from Atlas Comics. Both of these characters were stereotyped with White-Wash drawn in an over dramatic style that displayed the then popular trend of depicting black people resembling monkeys who spoke broken english. His talents were the ability to play the harmonica and eat watermelon. In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, in 1965 the first black Superheroes were introduced in the forms of Black Panther and Storm. They were also the first non-stereotyped African American characters. Black Panther and Storm were the King and Queen of the Wakanda, a fictional African territory. Both had superhuman properties including intelligence. The same year, Lobo was the first African American character to have his own comic book series. He was depicted as a rich cowboy who fought crime in the Old West.
In 1992 Milestone Media, the first ever African-American comic company was created. The company was founded by a coalition of African-American artists and writers: Michael Davis, Denys Cowan, Dwayne McDuffie, and Derrick Dingle. They believed that minorities were severely underrepresented in American comics. Milestone Media was their attempt to correct this imbalance. The company’s most notable titles are: Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and Static. Creating famous heroes America has grown to love such as Static Shock, Wise Son, Hardware and Icon. Since its debut in 1993, Milestone has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest Black comic book publisher in the world. This year at Comic-Con Milestone Media celebrated its 20th Anniversary and the surviving founders(Dewayne McDuffie passed away in 2011) were awarded with the prestigious Inkpot Award, which is given to individuals for their contributions to the worlds of comics, science fiction/fantasy, film, television, animation, and fandom services.
Last year Hidden Beach’s Founder and CEO Steve McKeever was a panelist on “The Black Panel” at Comic-Con with Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Cowyn and host of others. Former President of Motown Animation and Co-Founder of Milestone Media, Michael Davis created the Black Panel at Comic-Con with the aim to discuss black influence in all media. This year Hidden Beach recording artist Tony Rich sat on the Black Panel with Wayne Brady (The Wayne Brady Show, Let’s Make a Deal,) Orlando Jones, (Sleepy Hollow, Tainted Love, Black Dynamite) Tatiana El-Khouri, (Dark Girls, The Milestones Show) John Jennings, (BLACKCOMIX, Octavia Butler’s Kindred), and David Walker (Bad Azz MoFo, Super Justice Force.)
This year at Comic-Con Hidden Beach hosted a dinner where we debuted our very own comic-book series to the world. The Hidden Beach strives to tell the story about the powerful return of TRUE Soul music in the not too distant future where all music with passion had been outlawed. Complete with animated characters and intriguing conflicts, the comic is sure to please all readers.
View the introductory Ashcan online:
For Tony Rich, being immortalized in a comic book and invited to sit on the Black Panel cements his place in pop culture as an award winning singer/songwriter. Now everyone will know Mr. Nobody Knows.