If you live in the Petersburg, Virginia area and you’ve been starving for more comic books and community, you’re about to get fed! The first PVA Comic Book Convention is Saturday, April 14th from 10am to 3pm at the Petersburg Public Library.
Organizer, Henri Dozier, has lived in Petersburg for the last three years and is a graduate of Virginia State University. A comic book enthusiast, Dozier used comic books in the classroom when he taught middle school. Now, his non-profit organization, Galactic Griot Inc., promotes literacy and the arts through afterschool and intern programs. When Petersburg native Trey Songz sent 100 Petersburg students to see Black Panther, Dozier was a chaperone. After the movie, Dozier said the kids were excited and asked if there was a book, “kids haven’t been exposed to comic books,” he said, “we’re going in reverse now.” The experience reinforced his effort to bring a comic book convention to Petersburg, a “comic book desert,” where Dozier finds his calling to “bring water to the thirsty.”
The convention, one he intends to do every year though he says, “it’s like calculus planning a date,” will have serious cosplayers like Brandon James and participants from ECAC, the East Coast Alliance of Cosplaying. He’s a “best kept secret,” Dozier says of James’s work, “amazing Panther!” The event will have what he calls a “family fun model” with a Girl Power STEM workshop, films, and face painting. There will be a panel on the “Impact of Black Panther,” and Amethyst creator Gary Cohn will be in the building. Dozier also teased a surprise but you’ll have to be there to find out what it is.
Dozier gives praise to Yumi Odom for the model of conventions that are taking place in cities other than Philadelphia, the home of ECBACC. Dozier reminisces about working with BlackSci-Fi.com founder, Maurice Waters, in ECBACC’s second year and for many years after. He’s using his experience to lay the groundwork of what he is sure will be another successful, annual comic book convention where his event will highlight the publishing aspect of the industry.
Currently, Galactic Griot is holding the “My hero, my image” contest where children participate in a comic creator lab. Dozier hopes to publish the winners in an anthology. The participants fill out an application like a gaming campaign sheet. Dozier says the questions asked are very therapeutic for those who build on their own qualities to find out that they are powerful. It supports what Dozier knows, “I know the power of comic books!” He feels his organization is “ministering to the whole child,” as children are able to express themselves and tell their own stories. He doesn’t end it there. The 10th component of the Galactic Griot Mission Statement is “To raise the bar on the dreams and artistic abilities and aspirations of the Petersburg area youth so as to A) provide area colleges experienced artists and to B) encourage the growth of a very profitable, inviting, and proud artistic community. Such pursuits will ultimately raise the school system’s performance, tourism, hometown pride, morale, and property values.” The ripple effect would benefit Petersburg in total. Why Petersburg, VA? Dozier feels “Virginia is open territory” and Petersburg is ripe for his movement.
It’s a movement Dozier still has room for you to be a part of. Vendor, sponsorship, and volunteer opportunities are available. Call (973) 510-8469 if you’re interested. Of course, if you’re just excited to attend this “free to the public” event, head to the Petersburg Public Library this Saturday (201 W. Washington Street, Petersburg, VA).
Tuere T. S. Ganges, a South Jersey native, writes in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a June 2009 recipient of the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her fiction has won prizes at the Philadelphia Writers Conference; and has appeared in the Shine Journal, Flask and Pen, Milspeak Memo, Mythium Literary Magazine, Wigleaf, Fiction Circus, and a Pushcart Nominated piece in Referential Magazine. Wilted and Other Stories, her collection of short fiction is available as an ebook on Amazon.com. When she isn’t trying to keep up with her teenaged children, she’s trying to keep up with her teenaged students. And when she’s had enough of that she entertains herself with countless games of Word Hero and live-tweeting. Follow her on Twitter @tuereganges.