BIPOC Pop Brings Together Minority Comic Book Creators, Animators, and Filmmakers
Mar 23, 2023

BIPOC Pop Brings Together Minority Comic Book Creators, Animators, and Filmmakers

Reporting Texas TV

AUSTIN, Texas – Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) artists, creators and scholars gathered March 9-11 at the University of Texas for a convention centering on BIPOC creatives.

The three-day BIPOC Pop convention launched in 2022 and is the only convention of its kind dedicated to bringing together BIPOC creators from multimedia arts, uplifting them and giving a space for discussion.

Frederick Aldama, also known as Professor LatinX, led the convention. He came to UT in 2022 from Ohio State University, where he hosted a similar convention called SÕL-CON, and now directs UT’s Latinx Pop Lab. SÕL-CON focused primarily on BIPOC comic creators.

Aldama said when he came to UT, he knew he wanted to expand the space to just more than comic creators.

“I wanted more of us to be in conversation with one another,” Aldama said. “There’s a lot of important overlap and experience that we need to be sharing together. This is one and only of its kind where you have BIPOC creative, scholars, makers (and) industry people all in one place for three full days.”

BIPOC Pop host Frederick Luis Aldama welcomes participants on the first day of the convention in Austin, Texas, on Friday, March 9, 2023. (Kevin Vu/Reporting Texas)

Held every spring, BIPOC Pop brings together comic book creators, animators, filmmakers and writers to show their works.

Joey Gonzales, a co-founder of Plus Waco Comics in Waco, Texas, attended BIPOC Pop with his colleagues to show off their comics and meet people from different areas of art.

“There’s a huge variety of people out here creating different kinds of books,” Garcia said. “Being in a room full of other creators, it’s introspective because you get to see, learn and talk to them, find out what inspired them to create and what decisions they’ve made to get there.”

Joey Gonzales showcases a series from his company, Plus Waco Comics, in the convention expo hall in Austin, Texas, on Friday, March 9, 2023. (Kevin Vu/Reporting Texas)

The festival featured workshops and guest panels with discussions focused on celebrating creatives, forging paths for creators, and being BIPOC in K–12, college and community spaces.

Informatics sophomore Marisol Guel said some friends dragged her to the convention, but she was surprised to learn more about her career interests in technology and user interface, which is how  people interact with websites and apps.

A common theme in these discussions involved recent events of diversity, equity and inclusion issues and the negative stigma surrounding it. States and institutions are attempting to dismantle these DEI efforts. With Texas leaders such as Gov. Greg Abbott telling state agencies to stop considering diversity in hiring, and the UT System following suit by telling all UT schools to pause any policies that promote DEI, the convention’s guest speakers were worried this could threaten their work and safety.

Aldama believes the works of BIPOC creators and BIPOC Pop are important because they allow for solidarity within the community.

“There have been consequences that we’re experiencing,” Aldama said. “The kinds of things that are being censored, pulled off bookshelves, things that we’re being told we can’t teach and so on. We are pushing hard against all of that. We have to remember that this work that we’re doing, BIPOC Pop and beyond, is significant and important.”

Artists showcase their work in the convention’s expo hall in Austin, Texas, on Friday, March 9, 2023. This display features characters from the anime series “My Hero Academia” along with comics and other works. (Kevin Vu/Reporting Texas)