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Posted by The Charlotte Post on Monday, March 7, 2016

Arts and Entertainment

Kapow! Bang! African American artists expand the comic universe
Illustrators put heroic effort into diversity
Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017 10:31 am
by Kareem Wilson, The Charlotte Post

Power Man and Iron Fist are among the comic book credits on Columbia, South Carolina illustrator Sanford Greene’s resume. He’s also drawn Black Panther as well as his own series, 1000.













Look! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s HeroesCon.

The 35th Heroes Convention will suit up on June 16-18 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The convention was founded in 1982 by Shelton Drum, host and owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, a local comic book store. The showcase features discussion panels, special guests, comic book selling and trading, toy venues and cosplayers, or costumed participants, to meet and greet fellow artists and fans.

Three-day passes are $50, $25 on Friday and Saturday and $20 on Sunday while kids 12 and under get in free.

The event features an assembly of cosplayers, collectors, and a panel of over 500 professional illustrators from different comic companies.

Drum said the vendors and speakers will be the highlight of the convention.

“Come ready to have fun and wear comfortable shoes and bring lots of money,” Drum said, “There’ll be lots to look at and buy. We have vendors from all over the country and the artists are selling their own art work and publications.”

One of those artists, Sanford Greene, will be a guest speaker and exhibit some of his recent work.

Greene, a Marvel illustrator from Columbia, South Carolina, is African American., He has drawn several titles, such as Power Man and Iron Fist, Black Panther and his own series 1000. Greene has been going to the convention since 1996 and was completely overwhelmed by all his favorite comics in one place. He also said working at Marvel has been quite a journey for him.

“It’s definitely a dream come true, but it’s definitely a lot of work,” Greene said, “You can’t take too much time off of your work because it’s very focused and intensive research to put on a story based on these characters. So you really have to know and be familiar with pretty much everything.”

Greene’s covers for the new series Power Man and Iron Fist has received praise and his own series in 1000, a sci-fi fantasy that will debut this summer. His work has helped evolve some of the characters with his style of storytelling and illustration.

“I’m influenced by everything from classical illustrators like Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, and John Buscema all the way to urban graffiti art so the span goes pretty far,” Greene said. “I tried to include a lot of those different aspects of those in my work.”

Another African American, Charlotte native John Hairston Jr., is owner of All City Studios. He has produced solo and group exhibits  around North Carolina,  including UNC Charlotte, Ultra Running Company and Bank of America Stadium. His work tends to blend political satire, social commentary and pop culture references into one vibrant piece.

Hairston has attended the con since 1990 as a fan and as a participant since 2000. His fixation for drawing superheroes started after the 1989 Batman movie but couldn’t follow the style of artists like Jim Lee, an illustrator known for his work on the Caped Crusader franchise.

“It was hard for me to draw that way and make something just like those people and as I got older I realized it was something where they already exist,” he said.

Hairston contributes his life in the ‘90s with graffiti and hip hop as the source for his urban style.

“I always thought that it was a really cool style of artwork,” he said, “some of the artwork was fluent and it had a cool groove to it, I just kind of applied it to what it was I already do.”


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