Detroiter Marco Evans of Generate Comix works on a piece at Black Comic Book Day on Saturday at the Detroit Public Library. (Lauren Abdel-Razzaq / The Detroit News)
Detroit— Wayne State University junior Kelly Guillory had a story about her hometown of Detroit that she just couldn’t get out of her head. So she turned it into a comic book.
“This is my city,” said Guillory, who is one half of Ashur Collective, along with her writing and editing partner in New Jersey, Jaime Acoceola. “It’s really important to me.”
The result was a graphic novel called “Blood Money: The Road to Detroit” and much like any good pulp fiction novel, it features crime, intrigue, violence, sex and adventure. Its’ all set in a future Detroit where real places and real people make cameos.
“There are these two guys and one loves Detroit and the other hates it,” said Guillory. “It’s like, ‘what can this city do for me?’ We explore that.”
With funding through the university, Guillory has been able to reach new audiences while sharing her perspective about Detroit. On Saturday, she and six other vendors participated in Black Comic Book Day at the Detroit Public Library.
The event was created three years ago by Maia “Crown” Williams as a way to bring more diversity to the comic book world through a platform for different creators.
“Not everybody is the blond-haired and blue-eyed like Thor,” said Williams. “Superman was modeled after the Egyptian god Heru. I want children to see anybody can be heros.”
Speaking of children, Williams says she also wants to promote reading among youngsters and comic books can be a fun way to do that.
“I try to encourage literacy, especially in children, and just sharing the importance of holding a book and not just digital downloads,” said Williams.
G. Walker Teon, co-creator of Generate Comix, said it’s important for him to have a voice in the comics industry. After years of working in the industry for other companies, he was ready to put out his own ideas.
“A lot of the local books focus on African mythology. We’re sort of basing our books on African American mythology,” he said. “This is the African American experience, the Detroit experience.”
With books ranging from superheroes and sci-fi to other pulp fiction and thrillers, Teon says the books are his outlet for creative ideas.
“As creators, whenever we watch movies and we say, ‘you know what I could have done…’, this is our chance to actually do it,” he said. “So we tell our own stories.”
Ann Arbor comic book artist and writer Kamron Reynolds, 31, brought several of his works for all age levels to the library to sell. The 31-year-old said he focuses on introducing more African American characters, and other underrepresented groups, into the comic world.
“Superman, Batman, I love those guys, but that’s just one aspect. You need more diversity: black people, women, gay and lesbian people, Hispanic people,” said Reynolds. “I’m all about doing any type of story.”
Growing up Reynolds says he drew with his uncle and grandfather and that’s what inspired him to the craft.
“That was nothing but fun,” he said. “They liked comics too.”
Reynolds appeared to also be doing some inspiring of his own Saturday. Waiziye Mulibwa, 14, says he loves comics and enjoys drawing, but hasn’t yet created his own comic book. He flipped through Reynolds’ graphic novel “I Hate U” and explained to Reynolds why he enjoys reading the stories.
“It’s the suspense that leaves me wanting to turn to the next page,” he said. “With comics, you can express your talent, get away from whatever is going on that you don’t like and just express yourself.”