Comics are rewarding, but they can also be confusing - that's why Newsarama does what it does, and that's why the 2021 book The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community has become such a resource. The joint effort of publishing executive Joseph Illidge, reporter George Carmona 3rd, and retailer Dimitrios Fragiskatos, The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community offered a roadmap of sorts to the comics, creators, publishers, and conventions in the Black community.(opens in new tab)
And just like roadmap, there's unexplored territory they wanted to explore but couldn't. So they're back again with a 2021-2022 edition of The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community, in what they hope will now be an annual tradition.
"Every volume is created to be an entry point or expanded view to the wide variety of people and stories in the Black comic book community," Illidge tells Newsarama. "The 2021-2022 book is more up-to-date and expansive, and because these are reference books, having both volumes presents an opportunity for the reader to see the industry's progression from last year.
"The growth of publishers like Second Sight Publishing, the significant increase in Black creators and Black characters featured in DC Comics' publishing output, the debut of Abrams' Megascope imprint. We're seeing the change in real time, and Access Guide To The Black Comic Book Community will continue to chronicle that year after year."
When asked for recommendations for some Black-created comic books not on everyone's radar, Illidge recommended Bass Reeves (opens in new tab) (Kevin Grevioux and David Williams), Pax Samson (opens in new tab) (Jason Reeves and Rashad Doucet), and "everything published by Stranger Comics."(opens in new tab)
The new Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community 2021-22 recently reached its $7,000 crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter (opens in new tab), and plans to go on sale in February 2022. The new volume will not only be an updated edition of the original, but contain new sections and some previous pages now in full color.
"One of the first things my partners Dimitrios Fragiskatos and George Carmona and I discussed in the early days of planning this new book was how to add more value for the reader, so this volume will be in full color and have more pages, in part because the comic book industry really stepped up in 2021 in terms of the visibility and presence of Black creators and businesspersons," says Illidge. "There are more books to discover, which is great because in terms of sheer imagination, comic books are still the most vital storytelling product for ideas from any genre you can immediately think of."
One of the new sections the Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community 2021-22 will include is a section on podcasts.
"The podcasters are a binding agent for the community. When the pandemic hit us all really hard in early 2020, podcasters helped to keep us all connected to one another. They were broadcasting and uplifting Black voices, and the comic book industry at large, before it was fashionable," says Illidge. "No two podcasts are alike from the Black community. For All Nerds, Black Comics Chat, Comicidal Terrahawks, and many others, all different in vibe and identity while working toward the same goal."
If the Kickstarter for the new edition surpasses $9,000, the trio plan to add another section profiling reference books profiling "the historical significance and evolution of the Black comic book community through the decades."
Recently, major publishers like DC and Marvel began doing focused campaigns for Black characters and Black creators. Illidge, who worked at both Milestone and DC in the '90s, says that those can be "great", but only "as long as the publishers realize they're a starting point but not the end goal of a marketing approach."
"Everyone loves good stories, and a significant number of those stories are crafted by Black creators. That's why the Access Guide To The Black Comic Book Community is targeted to anyone who likes good stories and wants to support diverse creators," Illidge says. "After all, Marvel Studios marketed the Black Panther film to a wide variety of communities, so major publishers can do the same."(opens in new tab)
Illidge learned even more about the Black comics community after publishing the original Access Guide, but one of the key things was the number of Black-owned comic book stores there are.
"It makes me want to do a national tour in the new year and visit every one of them!" says Illidge. "Grassroots efforts have gone a long way to increasing awareness about the book."
Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community 2021-22 goes on sale in February 2022, and is available for pre-order now as a backer to its Kickstarter (opens in new tab).
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