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Boston Comics in Color Festival celebrates comic artists of color

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Boston Comics in Color Festival celebrates comic artists of color
Comic artist Keith Knight PHOTO: CORNELL WATSON

The Boston Comics in Color Festival (BCICF), running April 22-24, is New England’s first comic arts festival homing in on works created by and for people of color. The three-day hybrid event featuring virtual and in-person programs highlights artists from Boston and around the country working in the comics world.

Comic by Keith Knight. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

BCICF is the brainchild of Barrington Edwards and Cagen Luse, the founders of the Comics in Color community. What began in 2018 as a group of comic-lovers meeting at the Grove Hall Library to discuss their favorite strips has blossomed into an essential piece of Boston’s artistic community. The organization provides workshops and meet-ups and hosts comic artists from around the country for regular events.

“The comics world, as most of the world, has been white-male-dominated. We grew up on these comics and we loved them, but there was really only one perspective given,” says Luse. “We wanted to amplify voices, we wanted to create more artists and storytellers of color in the comic medium.”

Keith Knight will headline the BCICF festivities. A Boston area native, Knight has been working in comics for decades. He has adapted three of his most popular strips, “the Knight Life,” “(th)ink” and “the K Chronicles” into the TV series “Woke” on Hulu. In the show, a happy-go-lucky cartoonist experiences an instance of police brutality and has his simplistic worldview shattered. “Woke” utilizes humor, music, puppetry and animation to delve into systemic racism and the Black experience.

Comic by Keith Knight. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

Comic by Keith Knight. IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST

At the festival, Knight plans to show a portion of his racial literacy slideshow, describe the behind-the-scenes of creating “Woke” and perhaps give a sneak preview into the action of season two. “I hope viewers are entertained. I hope they laugh and I hope it poses questions. I hope it starts conversations,” says Knight. “That, to me, is the best that this art can do.”

The BCICF schedule begins with two days of virtual programming that includes workshops, talks and opportunities for community gatherings. On Saturday, April 24, the festival will host an open-air marketplace at the Reggie Lewis Center at Roxbury Community College, where visitors can interact with artists, view their original artworks and purchase pieces. Timed-entry reservations are required for this event to maintain COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Boston needs a space like this for artists of color, for comic enthusiasts of color to come together and feel like they belong,” says Luse. “Walking into that room full of Black and brown people loving comics, loving science fiction, was kind of like an awakening.”

arts, comics, visual arts

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