Q & A with MECCAcon founder/ CEO, Maia Crown Williams, Part 1
On September 18-19 Detroit, MI will play host to one of the most prominent national comic book/ sci-fi/ fantasy conventions, MECCAcon. The event will feature a wide variety of talented comic book creators, DJ Workshops, an indie film festival, along with many other events.
Convention founder, organizer, and CEO, Maia Crown Williams, recently spoke with blackscifi.info about the upcoming convention, attending guests, and her experiences with being one of the comic book industries’ hardest working women.
BlackSci-Fi: Can you tell us a little about yourself, and how you got involved in convention organizing, in addition to being a fan of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, pretty much all things geek.
Maia Crown Williams: I’m basically just your all around Detroit hustler, lol. Executive assistant, event planner, vegan chef, culinary instructor, African trade bead jeweler, and mama. Raised in the burbs, but Detroit MADE me. No ounce of my being doesn’t represent Detroit to the fullest. Ask any of my exes, they say I go TOO hard for Detroit, lol. I’m a happy medium of 1/3 geek, 1/3 comic head, with 1/3 Detroiter. That equates to AUTOMATIC culturally filled Blerd swag, minus the gentrification, lol. I was raised to be a book nerd. I used to sneak and read books under the cover with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleep. I was the child who ordered EVERY book EVERY month in the Scholastic News brochures, lol.
Didn’t matter what it was about, I just enjoyed reading period. Discovered comics from my brother. He used to read them to me when I was really little. Memories guide me into the direction of Superman, Batman, and later Static. When I discovered that my son loved the cartoon Static Shock, it made it all worthwhile. He told me a few weeks ago after I got off one of my phone calls with Milestone great, Denys Cowan, in a deep conversation of how empowered he felt that he had the same skin color as the coolest cartoon on television. He said he would be at school and feel cool listening to his friends saying it was theirs as well.
That meant all the world seeing the pride in his face. That meant EVERYTHING. That is why I created MECCAcon: so children could see that heroes come in an array of colors, not just cream. I was working with other comic book conventions for about 5 years, and finally decided that it was time for me to see how I could help progress by doing one on my own. It’s been…. A journey, lol.
BSF: What is MECCAcon? What would you say is the goal of the convention?
MCW: Midwest Ethnic Convention of Comics and Arts, aka MECCAcon, is a full arts convention, centered around black and independent comic books and literature. It also includes independent hip hop artists and deejays, as well as a registered independent film festival. The event takes place two days, at two different venues, all in the city of Detroit. The goal is to make sure that culture stays prominent in the city of Detroit, even when it is being hastily erased. I don’t want to wake up one day and have to SEARCH for events, venues, and companies of culture. I want the city of Detroit to stay diverse, from art to everything in between. I also cannot, have not, and will not apologize for my events being mostly black. I am black, and I won’t be changing that anytime soon, lol. I am a VERY proud black woman, and I’m also a proud MOTHER. As a parent, I know EXACTLY how important it is to teach a child to live thru creative means, and never shelter them from it.
BSF: There’s significance with being one of the few black female convention organizers on a national, or heck even international stage. How does it feel to hold such a title, or is it not a big thing for you?
MCW: I’m actually the only black female organizing a comic book convention solely on her own, and that is a huge honor in itself. I have no team, and struggle even to gain volunteers. It is very important that women of ANY culture be represented in the art community as a whole, but it goes to an entirely different warrior level getting black women represented, especially in the comic book community. It is most definitely a big deal. Women get shunned or even worse, overly sexualized in the industry, be it IN the book, or BEHIND the book. It is crazy what I have experienced firsthand. That in itself is why I am so passionate about it.
BSF: Can you talk about some of the guests/events that you have featured this year? From what I’ve seen there will be a great line up of guests and panels.
MCW: This year I’m very excited. Of course we have Jason Reeves, Shawn Alleyne, and N Steven Harris. They are not only my staple artists, but they are also three of my closest friends. They represent me to the fullest, even when it’s hard to, lol. Regine Sawyer, founder of WOMEN IN COMICS INTERNATIONAL, will also be joining us, and has brought her famous panel along with her. I’m overly elated to have Dr. Sheena Howard, the first black woman to win an Eisner Award, and her book was also the ONLY book to win an Eisner by a black person in 2014. So that’s a huge honor in itself to have her here. Plus, she is just dope all across the board, lol.
We also have my brody, Anthony Piper of Trill League, aka the Demi god of satire comics, lol. Imani Lateef, founder of Peep Game Comix, will be there on site doing registrations. Bill Campbell of Rosarium will be there, and everyone knows how much I adore ALL THINGS Rosarium. Kim and Jen of Women Creating Comics, another prominent organization, they will be there with their properties. Abdul H Rashid, Jiba Moleli Anderson, Sean “Smack”, and Lloyd Cheatham are all heavyweights in the industry and are all from here. I’ve known them all for years. It feels great to have them here with me.
Award winning filmmaker, Ka’ramuu Kush, also from here, he will be co-curating our registered independent film festival. He is in the middle of filming his movie AS THE FREAK TAKES YOU with John Singleton. And then there is the HUGE hip hop night, with DJ Sicari, DJ Jungle, DJ Los, Mahogany Jones, Nick Speed, Seven The General, Mel Wonder, and many more. It is sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME), Spin University, and 5E Gallery. It’s a lot going on for MECCAcon, lol. A lil’ here and a lil’ there for everybody.