MeccaCon (Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts) will be held September 18-19, 2015, and we had a chance to chat with founder Maia “Crown” Williams about her thoughts on the comics industry and #MeccaCon
GeekGirl World: What inspired you to create #MeccaCon?
Maia “CROWN” Williams: I created MeccaCon, Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts, in 2013, because Detroit and the midwest as a whole needed a prominent fixture in art representation from the black community as a whole. Far too often, Detroit is completely ignored in the the comic book community when it comes to do with black creators. Every time I read or listen to media speaking on Detroit in ANY way, it is 80% negative when referring to people of color, or of the diaspora. Detroit is a beautiful city, full of a LOT of culture. This can be widely due to the auto industry and Henry Ford being known for equal opportunity in employment. Many people migrated to Detroit back then, so we became a huge melting pot. That also helped build the foundation of Detroit art, be it fine art, dance, music, graffiti, and more. I also felt that female representation needed to be highlighted more. The female voice is very much needed in the comic book industry. We get overly sexualized, ignored, brushed off, or paid less. Even in press interviews, i have fell victim to sexism. Artists and writers like Regine Sawyer, Erika Alexander, Ashley Woods, Alitha Martinez, Arie Monroe, Micheline Hess, Jennifer Cruté, Arie Monroe, and many more have helped build and finesse this new microscope of women being held to a higher standpoint than before. And to be honest, it’s about damn time. I also wanted to contribute more to my community via arts. I have been throwing various art events around the city for over 5 years now, and although stressful, the highlight is the energy it brings into the city. Detroit is amazing, and should be uplifted more.
GGW: What do you hope to accomplish with this convention?
CROWN: I want children to know that heroes live in their own backyard, and don’t necessarily look like they have been so trained and taught for generations. Heroes come in many backgrounds, many hoods, many planet, and many suburbs too, lol. I want these children who come to MECCAcon to walk out with a strength of 1,000 soldiers, ready to create something. Doesn’t matter what: i just want these babies to CREATE. Art can help you reach your goals. Art can actually BE your goal. I want parents to be more encouraging to these children on their creativity. Take them to your local comic shop. Help them pick out age appropriate titles. Let them start studying different artists, different writers. Have their teenagers start reading up on the creators and learn how they got to the level that they are today. MECCAcon will have many classes and workshops to guide them: illustration workshops, writing workshops, dj workshops, and more.
I also want people to get more in tune with independent films with black creators. MECCAcon also features a very prominent all day film festival. We will have movies from creators from all over the country, and abroad. Independent film is dire. Not everything has to be mainstream. Not everything has to be so generalized. It also encourages people to work on their own goals of filmmaking.
GGW: How do you feel about the history of underrepresentation of Black superheroes and is the comics industry catching up?
CROWN: To be honest, catching up to what or whom, mainstream? Cuz black superheroes have been present since day ONE, lol. Independent comics have been prominent with black characters for decades. Milestone Media and Brotherman are two VERY good examples of that. You also have Griot Enterprises, and a very long list of others. I try not to focus on gaining salutations of the big companies like Marvel and DC Comics, when there are people out here who have been working just as hard with their self owned entities. At MECCAcon, we focus mostly on them. With that being said, I am very happy to see projects from DC like WE ARE ROBIN. I find that to be completely brilliant. Khary Randolph is doing an absolutely outstanding job with the art, as well as the writing team. But… We also have independent titles like TRILL LEAGUE, AJALA, ONE NATION, and many more who are independent labels are also well known in the comic industry. Watson and Holmes was nominated for an Eisner award last year. So I don’t think they need to necessarily catch up. I think mainstream is doing exactly what they intended to do. It’s up to you on how hard you want to get them to notice you. Just make sure you don’t lose yourself in the process.
GGW: Do you feel that gender stereotypes are still prevalent in the comics and geekdom and what can we do to move forward?
CROWN: Yooooo… Just today, i cringed and left a group on social media because all i saw up and down the page were scantily clad women, severely useless and low functionable outfits, with very badly drawn breasts, lol. Like dude: at least get the breasts right if you’re gonna degrade her, ok? lol. I am so tired of it, you have no idea. I have chosen not to support many projects because they objectify women so much. Be it how she is dressed, or the WOE IS ME, DAMSEL IN DISTRESS role. I’m pretty over it at this point.
GGW: Who is your favorite comic book superhero, and what is your favorite storyline in comics?
CROWN: I would definitely say Storm… OK, the OLD Storm. I’m not really into the new one. She doesn’t look the same, didn’t act the same, and not even her skin complexion was the same half of the time. That is another conversation in itself, lol. My favorite storyline? Most definitely Shaft, by David Walker. It was very well written, and completely snubbed for an Eisner. The story was written with a lot of character, not just the characters alone. I also related to it a lot. I am more of a realistic fan than a cape and hammer kinda girl, lol. I also am a huge fan of Jem. I think it is brilliant. I’m so disappointed in this movie coming out, i might tear up as I type this, lol. I used to pretend i was Jem when i was little, sit in my mother’s backseat of her Chevy Nova, grab the long windshield scraper, and pretend it was my controller on my space ship. True story. I had her earrings, her dress for Halloween one year, lol, and had every SINGLE Misfit lol. That cartoon was my life, and the comic does not in the least bit disappoint. What i love about it also is that Sophie (Campbell) is so diverse in the art, it’s amazing. Women of all sizes and shapes are represented. Truthfully, every single “diverse” box has been checked off, lol. If i had a daughter, she would DEFINITELY be a huge fan of Jem… She’s truly outrageous.
#MECCACon will have two different venues this year offering a “three in one” convention experience. You can purchase tickets HERE!
Follow #MECCACon at:
Tumblr: http://MECCAcon.tumblr.com/ @meccacon
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MECCAcon @meccacon
MECCAcon/5E Gallery’s DJ & ENTERTAINMENT Night
MECCAcon COMICS & ART CONVENTION
MECCAcon INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL & PANELS