KCC FOUNDER LEADS COMICS WORKSHOPS IN WEST INDIES
Bronx Writer Creates “International Incident”
by Challenging Jamaican Artists
There was no plan to create an “international incident” but Bronx writer Alex Simmons kind of did, challenging the writers and artists of Jamaica to stand up and change their children’s future during a recent workshop on the island.
Simmons, creator of Blackjack and the Kids Comic Con, and writer of everything from Archie to Nancy Drew to Batman, was invited to the island paradise as a featured artist by the combined efforts of the Jamaica University of Technology, which also played host, and the Jamaica Animation Nation Network (JANN), for ‘Blacks in Comics: The Creators and Characters’, a two-day seminar/workshop at the University of Technology in St Andrew.
According to reporter Tanya Batson-Savage, writing for the online Jamaican newspaper www.sussumba.com, “Writer Alex Simmons challenged the writers, animators and illustrators who gathered at the lecture ‘Blacks in Comics’ to use comics as a medium to properly represent Jamaican culture in a global space. He explained that creating a comic was cheaper and easier than producing a film or play and that in the modern landscape the internet provides an even more viable route and access to a global audience.”
The incident was also picked up by Rory Daley, a reporter for The Jamaica Observer, who wrote, “Simmons appealed to Jamaicans who wish to produce comic books as a cure to the racial and cultural divide. He said that it is the artist’s responsibility to produce quality content representing Jamaican views.”
Daley quoted Simmons as saying. “I understand that there isn’t a huge comic publishing infrastructure here, but the World Wide Web has opened up the market in the United States, and can do the same here.”
Simmons said the moment was not planned.
“A gentleman from the audience stood up and said to me, ‘Even with all this, our kids don’t read enough. What can we do?’ and I just told him what I would tell anyone, ‘You’ve got the writers, the artists, the rich traditional, you’ve got to change that, he said.
Simmons hopes he inspired the Jamaican community, but stresses that was his only intention.
“I was only doing what I believe we need to always do, try our best to inspire each other. The beautiful island and people of Jamaica inspired me in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and I hope I was able to offer some of that wonderful energy back,” he said.
Simmons said his “Jamaican challenge” are words he lives by. “What I said to the Jamaican artists is also the mission statement for the Kids Comic Con. Every year, New York area artists get together for local kids, to inspire them to read and write and draw and imagine. We do it a child at a time if we have to, because we believe inspiring them is what will get kids to read and keep reading and writing and drawing and inspiring their friends to do the same.”
This year’s Kids Comic Con 7 will be held on Saturday, May 11 at Bronx Community College’s Colston Hall, 181st Street and University Avenue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Kids get a bag of comics at the door, and along with parents and educators, they get to meet people who have made their dreams a reality.
— March 18, 2013 —