A Petersburg marvel
Residents come out to comic book convention
PETERSBURG — Comic book fever was high at the Petersburg Library on Saturday, as enthusiasts from around the region came out to the Comic Book Convention put on by nonprofit Galactic Griot.
“This was a wonderful introduction of comic books and the comic book community, to Petersburg,” said Galactic Griot founder Henri Dozier. “It was well received.”
In addition to browsing a wide variety of comics, clothing, art, and action figures, convention goers got to sit in on several panels.
One of those panels talked about the impact of the recent blockbuster “Black Panther”, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Black Panther” was the first superhero movie to feature a black superhero
with a mostly-black cast, and broke numerous boxoffice records when it came out in February.
Panelists Tabitha Bugg, Pamela Bingham, and Kayla Pinson talked about how they thought the movie impacted society. Dozier helped moderate the conversation.
Pinson, a Virginia State grad, was on the panel, and recited a special poem as a part of her insight.
“The first line of my poem was ‘the birthright versus the blind eye’,” said Pinson. “When you acknowledge your birthright as being a holistic individual that can do anything they desire to do, you don’t have to be blind: the blind eye has been put on you by your upbringing or experiences. But ultimately, the poem is about remembering your birthright: you can do whatever you want to do.”
Bingham, a Petersburg resident and confessed comic book nerd, talked about how the movie was “culturally diverse” and how the filmmakers made sure to “appeal to many different demographics.”
The panelist also talked about the role of female warriors in “Black Panther” and how their portrayal could impact the young women who saw them on-screen.
“I wanted people to get a firm understanding that the Black Panther is not just a piece of entertainment,” said Pinson. “There was a lot of historical information in [the movie]: there was a lot of societal information about what we can do with different things happening in our world: technology, education, all of those things were in the movie. It’s teaching us to be more mindful to what we are experiencing.”
Another panel had Dozier talking to Gary Cohn and Bob Sodaro, two comic book writers who have recently relocated to the Richmond area.
In addition to the panels, convention goers got to cosplay (dress up as a character), for which prizes were given out. There were also several STEAM and STEM demonstrations put on by the Petersburg League of Urban Growers.
Vendors like artists Brian Gordon and Tony Anthony Knight were showing off some of their artwork as well.
Galactic Griot is hoping to use the convention as a springboard for more programs in the community. Dozier has been in talks with the city’s Leisure and Cultural Affairs Department, and the school system about starting some programs for the students.
“I hope people see that this is dope,” said Pinson, smiling. “Comic books, literature, cosplay, all of these things are very interesting, and they allow you to be invested in what is entertaining you. A lot of us just watch things for entertainment, but I feel like comic books give you an opportunity to get involved.”
Panelist Kayla Pinson recites a poem during the comic book convention at the Petersburg Library on April 14, 2018.
Left to right, Morgan Maxwell, Henri Dozier, and Nasya Bugg during the comic book convention at the Petersburg Library on April 14, 2018.