Boundless: 10 Years of Seeding Black Comic Futures, celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s Black Comic Book Festival, through photographs, memorabilia, creator highlights, comic book reading stations, and clips from past festival programs. Drawn from the Schomburg Center’s archival collections, this exhibition illuminates the long history of Black comics and sequential art creators and their motivations to render humor, justice, irony, and futurism in Black aesthetic and liberatory practices from the Golden Age of comic books (1938-1956) to the present.
The Schomburg Center Black Comic Book Festival, co-founded in 2013 by Deirdre Hollman (former Schomburg Director of Education) with John Jennings (artist, scholar, publisher), Jerry Craft (author and illustrator), and Jonathan Gayles (filmmaker and scholar), was first conceived to connect Black comics scholars, artists, publishers, and audiences in one multifaceted celebration. Over the last ten years, the festival has grown into a regional hub for Black creative expression and economic opportunity for independent comic book creators while instituting a social network for a wide-range of fandom. Pivotal to introducing a broader public to emerging and veteran creators like Tim Fielder, Vita Ayala, Riley Wilson, David Walker, and Michelene Hess, the festival has attracted over 50,000 visitors and created a huge platform for the diverse range of visual and written content produced by independent creators. In addition to exhibitors, the festival’s annual slate of talks that contextualize these Black comics with the ideas moving through the currents of popular culture, mainstream politics, and the comic book industry. Past panels have addressed Reimagining the Past: Historical Fiction and Alternative Histories (2018), Blerds and Bleeks Speak: Celebrating, Archiving and Reporting on Black Fan Culture (2016), Black Characters Matter: Social Justice and Representation in Comics (2018), #StrongFemaleLeads in Comics and Graphic Novels (2020) to name a few.
The annual Black Comic Book Festival contributes to the ongoing visionary exploration of the interconnectedness of Black history and Black futures.