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Third annual Boston Comics in Color Festival returns to Roxbury

The Boston Comics in Color Festival, the first event of its kind in Boston, is a family-friendly event open to all ages, focused on uplifting the voices and telling the stories of people of color.

The annual festival celebrated its third event this past Saturday at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center on the campus of Roxbury Community College. The event ran from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and included an artist alley, panel, cosplay contest and more.

Barrington Edwards, BCICF co-founder and professor of illustration at the Boston Arts Academy, explained that the origin of the festival came when he and the other co-founder Cagen Luse visited similar comic festivals in New York and Philadelphia.

Boston Comics in Color
The Boston Comics in Color festival. The first of its kind event aims to elevate the voices and tell the stories of people of color. SELENE HO/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

They saw “the outpouring of folks of color, who are comic fans and writers and artists.”

“It was overwhelming. What a great affinity group, where people were writing and making comics about their experiences and from their points of view,” Edwards said.

Prior to BCICF, Boston had no comic festival specifically for people of color, and Edwards said he and Luse knew “it wasn’t going to happen until [they] created it.”

Edwards said the planning started with monthly meetings at the Boston Public Library.

“It’s grown from being an event in the parking lot at the beginning of the pandemic, and every year has gotten bigger and more people are hearing about it,” Edwards said.

An artist himself, Edwards said he was most excited to see “how different people and artists express their ideas and their imagination for what the world could be or what the hope is.”

Compared to previous years, guests are “starting to bleed out into other forms of art,” said Jamal Simmons, a video game character artist from Roxbury. Simmons said from his first BCICF he remembers seeing people “who were just beginning, just starting out, and now they have tables and actual products.”

BCICF seemed to have a lot to offer to all attendees. The day included artists and their comics, jewelry, books, dances, fashion and music performances from local organizations and creators.

For people like Ella Scheuerell, it was their first time at the free event. Scheuerell is a first-year graduate student in Boston University’s Masters of Fine Arts program in visual narrative.

Scheuerell sat behind a table alongside BU Visual Narrative associate professor Joel Christian Gill, cartoonist and historian. Together, they showcased artwork and comic books written by Gill, along with flyers to promote BU’s Visual Narrative program.

Scheuerell said that she is “just happy to be here and a part of it and learning from people.”

For future comics in color festivals, Simmons said he “would love to see the nerdiness grow even more,” suggesting the festival could have video games and possibly attract Hollywood celebrities.

In all, the annual gathering of various artists and vendors at the BCICF seems to paint a bigger picture.

“It’s important to make sure there are spaces for all voices,” Scheuerell said. “This event … is mostly comic artists who are people of color, and there needs to be more spaces like this.”

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