Blacks in Comic Books: Jeremy Love’s BAYOU Wins Awards at Black Comics Convention

Bayou, the on-line comic by writer/artist Jeremy Love of Gettosake, was a big winner at the 8th Annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) that was held in Philadelphia on May 16th. Bayou won several Convention awards, all of them well deserved.

Scenes from Jeremy Love’s on-line (and soon to be printed) Bayou comic:
Bayou at Zuda.com

Bayou at zudacomics.com

Bayou at zudacomics.com

First, some info about ECBACC: it’s a comic book convention that’s uniquely focused on African American content and creators. The convention includes the issuance of The Glyph Comics Awards to recognize the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color from the preceding calendar year. As noted on the ECBACC’s website, “While it is not exclusive to black creators, it does strive to honor those who have made the greatest contributions to the comics medium in terms of both critical and commercial impact. By doing so, the goal is to encourage more diverse and high quality work across the board and to inspire new creators to add their voices to the field.”

A very informative and interesting audio interview with organizers of the 2009 Convention is at the site here.

This year’s Glyphs were dominated by Jeremy Love’s Bayou. I raved about this comic in an earlier post:

You MUST check out what I regard as groundbreaking comic: Bayou, by writer/artist Jeremy Love of Gettosake.

Bayou is published by ZudaComics.com, an on-line comics site from DC Comics. The idea of online comics, at first, doesn’t seem viable. For comic book readers, there is a joy to holding the book itself, pondering its art and text, and going back and forth through a comic to find the words and images that really grab you. You can’t do that on-line.

But when it comes to Bayou… everything works.

Bayou is basically a children’s book, but this is not your mommy or daddy’s children’s book. Set in Depression-era Mississippi, it’s about a black girl who lives with her sharecropper father and “finds companionship with a blues-singing swamp monster named Bayou.”

The story mixes elements of Uncle Remus, Alice in Wonderland, southern gothic, the Blues, African and Native American mythology, and Jim Crow.

The art is wonderful.

The sheer execution of it all makes me call it groundbreaking. Jeremy Love’s images fill the screen wonderfully; he’s figured just the right scale for the art that makes it work on a computer monitor. It’s a breeze to read the text, view the images, and go from one page to another. And Lee, the main character, is a truly heroic young black girl-the kind I wish we’d see more of in any genre.

Bayou is free. As of this writing, it has 129 217 pages of content, and the story won’t wrap up for several months. It’s a tale that will appeal to teens (14+) and adults, and people of all races. (It has images of lynchings that might be too much for pre-teens.) It has a magic that will touch everyone. Highly recommended.

Bayou won the 2009 Glyph Awards for Story of the Year, Best Writer, Best Artist, Best Female Character, and Best Comic Strip. The comic is more than worthy of the honors it’s received.

(Note: DC Comics, under the Zuda brand name, has announced that it will release the comic as a paperback graphic novel on June 2nd. This will be volume 1; the strip is still running on-line, and I think the author could easily go on for several more months. But in the meantime, this printed version will make an excellent addition to anyone’s book collection – and I’m not just talking about comic lovers or black readers.)

A list of all the 2009 Award winners is at the ECBACC site.
***

In other award categories, DC Comic’s Black Lightning got the award for Best Male Character, for his role in the single-issue comic Final Crisis: Submit.

BlackLighting
DC Comics’ Black Lightning looks serious.

And fellow DC Comics character Vixen won the Fan Award for Best Comic, for the 5-issue series Vixen: Return of the Lion.
VixenCover
DC Comics’ Vixen looks… well… sexy.

I happened to buy the Black Lightning Final Crisis: Submit book, as well as the Vixen Vixen: Return of the Lion series. I would have voted the awards differently. I liked the Vixen series, the art by an illustrator named Chufu was gorgeous. I just thought the story-character returns to homeland in a fit of self-doubt and finds self in a series of heroic encounters-was too too same old same old.

Meanwhile, I thought Black Lightning did deserve an award for Best Male Character-but for the 6-issue series Black Lightning Year One. The art in that series was great, and the story was well done. That series would have gotten my Fan Award for Best Comic vote.

One thing that was heartening to see: the Black Lightning and Vixen books had excellent artwork. It’s a sign that a character is taken seriously when a comic company assign good artists to the character’s books. DC Comics should be applauded for their commitment to black characters (although notably, neither of these characters has an ongoing comic.)

Meanwhile, Marvel Comics, which does have ongoing series starring black characters, was shut out of the ECBACC awards. I do think that Marvel’s War Machine comic – about black cyborg Jim Rhodes, an associate of Tony Stark/Iron Man – is wicked-good, and again, very well illustrated.

war_machine
Marvel Comics’ War Machine looks scary.

Marvel is also publishing the Black Panther, a character that is widely regarded as the first black superhero. There is some buzz that there might be a new, possibly female Black Panther in the future. It’s not clear yet what will happen, but it is keeping things interesting.

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