In part two of our interview with MECCAcon CEO/ founder, Maia Crown Williams, Ms. Williams speaks further about bringing in new fans, reception to the convention, and what the future has in store for MECCAcon.
BlackSci-Fi: Do you feel with this convention that you’ve opened doors to the worlds of sci-fi, comic books, fantasy, etc. for newcomers? Do you have any examples of this, of maybe bringing some new converts into the fold?
Maia Crown Williams: I definitely feel as though any convention does that, if done with balance. Many people can go to MECCAcon because they are drawn to DJ’ing and hip hop and come the next day and discover the sci-fi series, OSIRIS. Little do they know, creator Donnie Leapheart is close friends and former schoolmate of SlaughterHouse’s Royce da 5’9, lol. See how that works? There are methods to my madness. There are methods to who I have participate, and how.
Networking is everything, event planning is not even half as easy as most think. Independent film lovers can go upstairs after watching Nosa Igbinedion’s OYA: RISE OF THE ORISAS, and discover Keef Kross’s DAY BLACK from Rosarium Publishing. Spoken word artists can listen to BLACK TIE COLLECTIVE on Friday, then wake up and purchase MSU GRAPHIC NOVELS’ new comic anthology on Saturday, created and published by Michigan State students.
Mothers who are trying to get their daughters and teens into comics can purchase Devon Camel’s TROJANZER HIGH, N Steven Harris’ AJALA, and many others. And then there are people here in Detroit who may need mentors to guide them. We have DETROIT TRADE CRAFT, who include the one and only legend, Arvell Jones. You can visit a world you know, and discover yet another in the same weekend. Even as far as our hip hop night, I have some of the best around. And there will be deejay and beat making workshop stations there as well!
BSF: How has reception to the convention been over the years?
MCW: This is our second year, and it has honestly and surprisingly been pretty well received. We had a few glitches last year, but even still, people thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I was the only one walking around like a brat, lol. I am truly in awe of the public’s feedback and growth as a whole.
BSF: How do you feel that conventions like yours help to promote the idea that diversity matters and exists in industries like comics, television, film, etc., indie and mainstream?
MCW: Oh, it helps a lot. This gives self-owning properties the exposure they truly deserve. It also gives them a way to profit, with affordable vending when they cannot afford to at larger conventions. As far as a larger aspect, artists and industry members show a strong force and prove that they need to stop being ignored. Networking AMONGST ourselves is also crucial. It not only benefits self, but also helps to strengthen our community and fan base.
BSF: What does the future have in store for MECCAcon?
MCW: Chiiiile…. Hopefully we WILL have a FUTURE, lol. I’m just taking it one day at a time right now. It’s overwhelming as it is, so I can’t think about the future when still tryna’ get a firm grip on the present. It takes a LOT of work to handle a convention of any kind. I’m proud of how much I have accomplished in just two short years alone. My first year, I had Joe Illidge, Jason Reeves, N. Steven Harris, Shawn Alleyne, and LeSean Thomas all participate. That in itself is a LOT for this lil’ Farmington fed, Detroit bred girl to brag about.
BSF: Personally, what have you taken from creating/ organizing an event like this? What have you learned, or have had confirmed?
MCW: In the 5 years of me convention planning in GENERAL? This is Boys Town, lol. Point blank, with a period at the end, everything in caps, lol. In all seriousness, I have learned that it takes a LOT of work and dedication to organize ANYthing, let alone a multicultural comic book and arts convention in the heart of the blackest but soon to be most gentrified city in America. That ALONE is a task. Y’all have no idea the challenges I face.
What rewards me the most is the reaction from the children after seeing comic books that look like them for the very first time. That makes me cry just about every year, lol. That is why I do this, and for not too many more reasons besides that.
Art helps transcend communities. Art heals. Art builds. Art gets you out of the ghetto… And that’s for those who WANT to leave.
Robert Jeffrey II is an award winning journalist whose work has appeared in such publications as UVC Magazine, JaDore Magazine, BlackSci-Fi.com, and The Atlanta Voice Newspaper. He is a regular contributor for the Tessera Guild, and his comic book work includes client work for the Centers for Disease Control, and Nitto Tires. His comic book writing includes work on such award winning/ nominated series as his creator owned series Route 3, Radio Free Amerika, Terminus Team-Up, and Soul of Suw. He’s yet to fulfill his dream of pop-locking to save a community center.
Head to his website here, and you can follow him on Twitter @SYNCHRKJ, Tumblr @robdawriter , and Instagram @robertk.jeffrey.