Archive for the '2011 Guests' Category
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Ray Billingsley: An Inspired Cartoonist
Mr. Ray Billingsley created the comic strip Curtis, which is distributed by King Features Syndicate and printed in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.
Mr. Billingsley was born in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and raised there in his earliest years. Later, his family moved to Harlem, New York. He contributed early cartoons to Kids, a magazine “by kids for kids” published in Cambridge, Massachusetts and then in New York City from 1970 to 1975 under the co-editorship of Ms. Jenette Kahn, future president and editor-in-chief of MAD Magazine and DC Comics. Those intricately detailed drawings already showed a cartoonist in the making. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, he attended the School of Visual Arts on a four-year scholarship. After graduating, he began an internship at Walt Disney Studios in 1979.
Mr. Billingsley drew a nationally syndicated strip called Lookin’ Fine from 1979 to 1982. By 1988, he was freelancing in advertising and public relations; doing television commercials, posters and animation; and working for magazines such as Ebony. In October of that year, King Features Syndicate introduced Curtis. Mr. Billingsley states that the inspiration for Curtis came to him in the wee hours of the morning. “It was 3:30 or 4:00,” he said. “I didn’t even turn on a light. I just sketched a little boy, and the next morning, there he was: Curtis.” He credits sibling rivalry with sparking his initial fascination with cartooning. As a young boy, he learned to draw in order to emulate his older brother, who studied fine arts.
Mr. Billingsley acknowledges that Wee Pals creator Mr. Morrie Turner, the first Black cartoonist in national syndication, opened the door for Curtis and other strips. He also credits Mr. Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit, for encouraging him to stretch out artistically. “[Eisner] always told me to reach out and do more than I thought I could. I continually draw strength when I relive his teachings,” Mr. Billingsley said.
Mshindo Kuumba I. is mostly well known for his enduring attention to detail and the “Afro-centric” look to his work. “Africa being so instrumental in civilizing the world, I found it peculiar that a strong positive image of Africans is largely absent from contemporary media. Since my youth I wanted to build a career addressing this discrepancy.”
Born in 1964, Mshindo, largely a self developed talent, moved through his early years developing each aspect of his art one skill at a time. “I was fascinated by art that looked realistic and photo realism.” Studying one aspect of the process at a time allowed Mshindo to develop strong foundation skills that would become the hallmark of “The Mshindo I. look”.
Moving from pencil techniques to ink, color pencil and airbrush in that fashion allowed for lengthy study with each technique. Some of the early influences were: his Father, older brother, Mike Bonum (the after school teacher who he did his first painting with), Frank Frazetta, Amsel, Keith Pollard, Neal Adams and many others whose names were not known… just the fantastic lessons in their work.
After high school and a three year infantry medic stint, Mshindo ventured out into the world as a freelance artist selling tee shirts with a newly acquired airbrush at a flee market while living on Oahu Hawaii. It is here he met a Rastafarian named Bongo I Fareed who would change his entire life! He was the true African influence that not only taught Mshindo to be an entrepreneur, he lead him to the waters of African culture which Mshindo drank freely from. He stressed the need for self knowledge, self education and the truth of the Africans place in the world historic view.
Returning to the states in 1985 Mshindo continued to vend and grow a reputation for being a “true artist.” He began to attract clients like The Salvation Army, The NYC Fire and Police Dept., McDonalds, and the V.I.M. store chain. Celebrities and educators were also apart of this long list such as: Bobby Brown, Vertical Hold (including Angie Stone), Arrow, Mathew St. Patrick, John Henrik Clarke, Leonard Jefferies, Queen Afua and Baba Heru. Mshindo’s talents were also noticed by comic companies like; A & B, Ania, Brainstorm, Continuity, Defiant, Valiant, Broadway, Crusade, Kevlar, Amara and DC comics.
Currently Mshindo is honing his digital skills to complete yet another learning cycle in his over 20yr. experience. He is working on self publishing and reproductions of his astonishing work. Please visit www.mshindoiart.com to see more work from this bright star of the artistic universe.
Tony Isabella has been a comics fan since childhood. In 1972, that passion drew him to Marvel Comics where he began his career as an assistant to Roy Thomas.
In his 36-year career, Isabella has been an editor for both Marvel and DC. He was a pioneer in the comic book retail business as a specialty store owner and distributor. He created Black Lightning, the first black hero to star in his own DC Comics title. A Black Lightning action figure, part of the Total Justice line, is one of his most treasured possessions and much cooler than all other action figures.
Isabella’s body of work is diverse. A partial list of his comics credits would include: Captain America, Daredevil, Doc Savage, Donald Duck, Dracula, Elvira, Ghost Rider, Hawkman, Luke Cage, Mickey Mouse, Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman, Tarzan, Uncle Scrooge, and Young Love. With Bob Ingersoll, he’s written two prose novels: Captain America: Liberty’s Torch and Star Trek: the Case of the Colonist’s Corpse.
Isabella is a contributing editor and the lead reviewer for Comics Buyer’s Guide. His humorous and thoughtful “Tony’s Tips!” is a favorite among fans and industry professionals alike. He was CBG’s first columnist and remains one of its most popular. He’s reviewed more comics and related items than any one else writing for CBG, and he has reviewed a wider variety of comics (manga, small press, etc.) than anyone else writing for the magazine.
In June of 1997, the nigh-daily “Tony’s Online Tips” debuted on the World Famous Comics website. Isabella’s thousands of columns are believed to be an online record in the comics community.
Isabella continues to work and write for a variety of comics and non-comics clients while developing new projects. His major 2009 project is a hardcover book on comics that may well be his ultimate expression of what he’s been doing in his columns all these years.
Isabella, his wife Barbara, and children Eddie and Kelly reside in Medina, Ohio.
TONY’S ONLINE TIPS
Rob Stull is a fourteen year comic book industry veteran. He has worked for every major publisher in the comic book industry. Stull began his professional career after graduating from the School of the Boston Museum of Fine arts in 1989. At Stulldesign/Ink on Paper, he worked with several companies in Boston and New York, providing services ranging from graphic design to art direction.
Stull’s comic book projects include: SPIDER-MAN ADVENTURES, SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN, FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN (The Back in Black campaign), IRON MAN, UNCANNY X-MEN, X-FORCE, WOLVERINE and NEW MUTANTS all for Marvel Comics. Other projects include: 52, SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER HEROES, NIGHTWING, SECRET FILES and FIRESTORM for DC Comics and TELLOS for Image Comics.
Stull was also the creator and curator of Sequential Art: THE NEXT STEP. A first of it’s kind traveling exhibit that spotlighted the contributions and impact of African Americans on mainstream comic book art and popular culture. Stull, along with co-curator Gloretta Baynes, sought out to increase the understanding, appreciation and awareness of Sequential Art as a valuable and necessary art form. “I’ve always believed that ALL art is relative. In the arena of the visual arts, there are aspects that can be taken from any genre and applied to another,” Stull said. THE NEXT STEP debuted at The FESTIVAL of CARTOON ART in 1995.
An event organized by Ohio State University’s Cartoon, Graphic and Photographic Arts Research Library, which is the world’s largest archive of original cartoon art. The year 1995 marked the centennial celebration of the american comic strip and Stull, along with Jeff Smith (creator of BONE), co-organized an exhibit that featured the first ever gathering of comic book artists in the history of the festival. From that beginning, THE NEXT STEP has been a featured exhibit at The NATIONAL CENTER OF AFRO-AMERICAN ARTISTS in Boston, The WORDS AND PICTURES MUSEUM in Northampton, MA, teamed up with HEROES CON and The AFRO-AMERICAN CULTURAL CENTER in Charlotte, NC, The TUBMAN MUSEUM in Macon, GA, been featured in The COMICS BUYER’S GUIDE and received press coverage from numerous newspapers and magazines. The exhibit traveled for a total of ten years and showcased over one hundred works of art by fifteen different mainstream contemporary African American comic book artists.
Outside of comics, Stull was a founding member of Armada Design Group. This New York based studio’s mission was to properly fuse together the two contemporary cultural phenomena of comic books and hip-hop. The studio produced high quality illustration work for clients such as rap legend GURU on Virgin Records Jazzmatazz Streetsoul, DJ GREEN LANTERN on the Cornerstone mixtape series, TOMMY BOY RECORDS and THE FADER MAGAZINE. In 2004, Stull was asked by international recording artists LES NUBIANS to participate in “The Carnival of the Two Rivers” in Bordeaux, France. The month long festival was a celebration of music and art and Stull conducted a two week long “crash course” workshop on comic books influence on hip-hop. The workshop was open to the public and the participants produced work in a deadline fashion just like the comic book artists that work in the industry.
Currently Stull is the Director of Visual Arts for MELTING EARTH PRODUCTION GROUP. Melting Earth Production Group (MEPG) is a creative services organization focused on three vertical markets: music for video, video for music, and business for artists. He is a key element in the radical business development approach promoting the (rock x soul) band HOUSE OF ECHO.
Over the past 30 years Simmons has been a professional actor and writer. He’s penned (and in some cases also created) a number of juvenile mysteries under a variety of pseudonyms for many well-known publishers. He’s also written several educational documentaries and stage plays. One of his plays, Sherlock Holmes & the Hands of Othello, received critical praise and was published in an anthology by Signet/Mentor Books.
Simmons has written three movie novelizations for Disney and three biographies for Steck-Vaughn, including one on Denzel Washington. He has also created/written and independently published a critically acclaimed adventure comic book series, BLACKJACK, about an African-American soldier of fortune in the 1930s.
Simmons co-created Orpheus for DC Comics Batman books, authored Scooby-Doo comic book stories, three mini series for Archie Comics; created 12 interactive mysteries for the Tiger Toys’ WHO DONE IT; and has co-written a middle grade mystery series, The Raven League for Penguin Books.
Simmons, along with BCC director of collaborative education Gene Adams, recently created the Kids’ Media Arts and Graphic Design Studio. The Studio was established for the exclusive use of public school children. Through this, collaborative workshops, career seminars, art exhibits, and the annual Kids’ Comic Book Convention over 3000 students, teachers, and parents have participated in literacy based comic book programs.
Simmons travels the country as a guest speaker and teaching artist. He conducts workshops in creative writing (prose, comics, and playwriting), as well as performing and producing for theater. He has conducted creative arts professional development workshops for middle and high school teachers throughout New York State. Simmons has received several awards for his work with young people, and consulted on a number of creative arts programs and curricula for children.
Currently, Simmons is the consulting Arts in Education Director for the Children’s Art Carnival, NYC. He is also a founder and producer of the Kid’s Comic Con; an educational advisor for the Museum for Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in NYC, and on the board of the New York State Alliance for Arts and Education. He is also a member of the New York Writer’s Workshop.
Photo taken by Marc Manley
The Glyph Comics Awards Committee is proud to announce that Jamar Nicholas will return to host this year’s awards ceremony at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) in Philadelphia.
Nicholas, a Philly native, is best known for his hip hop comic strip Detective Boogaloo, as well as his autobiographical series The Jamar Chronicles. In 2007 he hosted the Awards for the first time, delighting the audience with his unique brand of humor while serving as emcee of the evening’s entertainment, which also included performances by spoken word/rap artists Grayson Board, Randy Moore, and Brother G.
“I’m very excited about having the opportunity to host the 2008 Glyph awards, and am honored to be asked,” says Nicholas. “I had a great time hosting last year’s awards, and to have it take place in such a historic institution as the African American Museum makes it even greater.”
“We really couldn’t ask for a better host,” says Committee Chair Rich Watson. “Jamar’s local, he’s a cartoonist himself, and he’s funnier than anybody hosting this thing has a right to be, so we hope to have him as our go-to guy for a long, long time.”
The Awards ceremony is free and open to the public and will be heldat the African American Museum in Philadelphia, the night before the full day of the ECBACC convention, which will be held the next day, , at Temple University’s Anderson Hall.
The Committee also wishes to remind everyone that the poll for the Fan Award remains open until http://ecbacc.com/wordpress/?page_id=76) and vote for your favorite black comic from 2007.. Everyone is encouraged to head over to the ECBACC website (
Sign up for Jamar’s mailing list and find out more about his work at http://www.sweatshoppress.com/.
Heavy Sedation is a short film series created by Shannon Newby which uses comedy, science-fiction, and mystery to tell stories. The series started on WYBE public television and within weeks the show became a top ten hit on the station. ‘Heavy Sedation’ is now a national and internationally syndicated public television series that has aired on 42 stations across the United States, in Canada, and in the United Kingdom. Heavy Sedation airs on WHYY TV12. www.outthehouse.com/heavysedation
William H. Foster III is presently a Professor of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Professor Foster has a BA from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA, and a Masters degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
A long-time comic book collector and researcher, Professor Foster has been an expert commentator for both CNN News and National Public Radio. He was a consultant on the historical image of Blacks in both comic strips and comic books for the Words and Pictures Museum of Fine Sequential Art in Northampton, MA. He was also a consultant to the 2004 exhibit,“ Heroes, Heartthrobs, and Horrors: Celebrating Connecticut’s Invention of the American Comic Book” presented by the Connecticut Historical Society. He also has presented his research at the 2001 bi-annual conference of The International Association for Media and History in Leipzig, Germany and at the 2002 Conference on Analyzing Series & Serial Narrative at John Moores University in Liverpool, England. He is the author of “Looking for a Face like Mine” published in 2005 by Fine Tooth Press. In 2007 he was also an invited speaker to the International Symposium on Langston Hughes at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, China.
JERRY CRAFT / CARTOONIST / ILLUSTRATOR
Jerry Craft is one of the few syndicated African-American cartoonists in the country. He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip that has been distributed by King Features Syndicate since 1995.
His first book, Mama’s Boyz: As American As Sweet Potato Pie was chosen as a Great Book For African American Children His most recent release, Mama’s Boyz: Home Schoolin’ is endorsed by Comics in the Classroom and Teachers Against Prejudice.
Jerry has done illustrations for Essence Magazine, comic books, greeting cards, book covers, and has recently illustrated his first children’s book called Hillary’s Big Business Adventure. Mama’s Boyz was also featured in Chicken Soup For The African American Soul.
You can learn more about him or check out his popular Flash cartoons such as The Randy Moss Driving School and Confronting the Black Superheroes of My Childhood on his website, mamasboyz.com
Working with the ACFN: mamasboyz.com/news/index.html acfn.org
Main Website: mamasboyz.com
YouTube cartoon: Black Superheroes of My Childhood
Comic Space: comicspace.com/jerrycraft
Newest Book: mamasboyz.com/products/homeschoolin