1001 Black Men–#575

It’s that time of year again. The Brothers of Comic-Con Sketchbook returns! It is hard for me to believe that I have attended Comic-Con four times since beginning the 1001 Black Men project. I began this project in July of 2010, the summer I first made my way the largest annual geek pilgrimage in the world. This year, as in previous years, I was thrilled by the diversity of this event and, in particular, by the number of people of African descent–men, women, children, and entire Black families–getting their nerd on in bold and brilliant ways.

Comic-Con San Diego throws this phenomenon into high relief, with Black folks dressed in full costume–as Doctor Who (the Ninth Doctor), Darth Maul (who looked amazing), Spider Man, zombies, pirates, Captain America, Sho’ Nuff’ the Shogun of Harlem–or else decked out in the latest fan gear from their favorite movies, games, films books, and television series. At this, the first Comic-Con since the George Zimmerman verdict, seeing the Black men around me (of whom there were literally thousands) felt meaningful in very different ways than in the past. It was a powerful experience to be around so many Black men who, simply by celebrating the media forms and characters they enjoy, were resisting the narrow definitions so often applied to them.

And then there were people like the man in this drawing who, dressed as no character I could discern, paid homage to the spirit of the Con by donning a mask and wearing it throughout the day.

Ajuan Mance

PS: If you’d care to see a clip of Sho’ Nuff” the Shogun of Harlem, check out YouTube member William Hinson’s compilation of some of Sho’ Nuff’s best moments from The Last Dragon.

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