Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

The Black Panel at Comic-Con: ‘African American culture is American culture’

The storied panel has become an institution of established mentors and frank discussion about characters and culture.

Of the hundreds of panels available at Comic-Con, which drew to a close on Sunday, none are more respected than the long-running Black Panel, hosted by the comic book creator and Milestone Media co-founder Michael Davis. Unlike most of the other panels at Comic-Con, the Black Panel has nothing to sell, and features guests who also have nothing to promote. Instead, it is a discussion between audience and panel members about black culture, a way for prominent figures in African American entertainment to reach out to those who hope to emulate their paths to success.

Davis started the panel in 1998, five years after he founded Milestone, a comic book entertainment company responsible for some of the most successful black superheroes of the 90s, like Icon, a 300-year-old alien whose first earthly encounter was with a slave woman in the American south, and Static, about a high school teenager who receives superpowers after being mistakenly caught up in a gang war.

Today, the Black Panel is an institution. It is given a 90-minute slot at Comic-Con, a rare honour for any panel, and the panel alum have included RZA, Shaquille O’Neal and Nichelle Nichols, aka Lieutenant Uhura of Star Trek. This year, the Black Panel played host to .

“When I first started the panel,” says Davis, during an interview that took 40 minutes to get to because he kept being mobbed by passersby, “There was a panel here at Comic-Con called Blacks in Comics, and that was a bitch fest, people saying ‘Oh, Marvel won’t hire me …’ So I created the Black Panel, which is positive. We ask, ‘How do we create our own heroes?'” [continue reading]

— by Emma-Lee Moss writing for The Guardian

 

Static Shock

Pictured: Static Shock, created by late writer Dwayne McDuffie.

 

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