The Color of Comics
By Jasmine Medina
Crayons, colored pencils, markers, and drawing paper are scattered across a table at the Poe Park Visitor Center. The walls are covered in bright comic book covers from The Black Panther to Spiderman. Children clamor around the table, excited to scribble down their own comic art.
It is all part of The Color of Comics, an exhibit that allows children to learn about minorities in the comic industry and make their own works of art. As children gather around the table, a young girl goes to Lucy Aponte, the Community Associate of Poe Park, and asks, “Are any of these artists still alive?”
She explains that a lot of children that come to see The Color of Comics exhibit are always surprised to learn that the artists featured in the exhibit are still involved in the comic book industry. “On top of that, children always seem to be thrilled to find out that these artists are people of color, just like them.”
The Color of Comics is on display in honor black history month at the Poe Park Visitor Center. Curated by comic artist, Ray Felix, The Color of Comics exhibit has over 70 pieces of art. “One of the main reasons I wanted to bring this exhibit to Poe Park was for black history month,” said Aponte. “Many of the members of our community are minorities and I knew that they would be excited to see their own cultures reflected in the comics.”
The exhibit includes work from a number of prominent comic artists, including Paris Cullins, an artist for Marvel and DC Comics. “Ray Felix and I have been friends for years. We worked on a number of projects together, including the Bronx Heroes Comic Con,” Cullins said. “I admired his drive for wanting to create more diversity in the comic book industry and I was excited to have my work become a part of the movement for more representation.”
Aside from featuring mainstream comics, the exhibit also showcases a number of independents comics that portray the distinct experiences of minorities in America. One of the independent comics featured is Cullins’ Bronx Heroes, a series on African American super heroes and black power. “I believe that now is the time for all comics of color to take the lead in creating more diversity in comic books,” Cullins said. “Now more than ever, comic fans of all colors are interested in seeing minorities being portrayed as heroes.”
The Poe Park Visitor Center has already received what Aponte calls enthusiastic feedback about The Color of Comics from the community. “Parents appreciate the fact that this event empowers young minorities to be a part of an industry that is predominantly white,” she said.
For Cullins, the exhibit does more than just showcase the achievements of comic artists of color. “Growing up, I noticed that there was almost no representation of the African American experience in the comic world,” he said. “I hope that The Color of Comics teaches the community that it is up to us as minorities to lead the way in creating the more inclusive and diverse narratives that we want.”