Not making it to Comic Con this week? Don’t sweat it. On July 29 & 30, the Big Apple will transform into BLERD City, a new conference for Blerds and Geeks of all kinds to come and raise their nerd flag. This inaugural convention is being brought together by Clairesa Clay, a filmmaker and educator by day, Blerd by night. I was able to catch up with her to talk Blerd City.
Before we jump into BLERD City, tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m the Founder and CEO of the BLERD City Conference, but I’m known for being a film programmer, that’s where I first started. I co-founded Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival and Lecture Series, I’m on the Board of the Directors of ImageNation, and Director of the award-winning movie In Remembrance. I’m also a writer/artist and a full-time teacher.
How did you come to creating BLERD City?
Actually I’ve been looking for something, and if found me. I wanted to program afrofuturistic film I’d went to the Studio Museum of Harlem and saw an exhibit, and I wanted to program a micro afrofuturistic film, but the program didn’t happen. So I was thinking about maybe I could make a festival on it and while I was doing my research on films I came across the word blerd, I was like oh that describes me perfectly. I went to the last year’s New York Comic Con and the different diversity panels thinking this is us, this is really who we are and we need to celebrate it more often, more widespread. I just wanted to marry the two ideas together.
What can people expect when they beam into BLERD City?
They can expect a two-day conference full of panels, workshops, screenings, and writers of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. On Saturday we’ll have a live reading and examination of Joss Whedon’s 2009 Wonder Woman script and its issue the Women in Comics Collective will go into gender and inclusion in the Modern Age of comics, and one that speaks to one of my passions, it’s called “Enter the Last Dragon: Black Folks & Martial Arts.” My dad took me to see Enter the Dragon when I was young. Just looking at Bruce Lee’s movements and charisma, I would tell people Bruce Lee was my first “boyfriend”. The panel at Blerd City will have filmmakers Warrington Hudlin, Floyd Webb, martial arts instructor Daryl Aiken-Afam and artist Chuck Collins, It is moderated by Jacinto Taras Riddick, an actor and martial artists. This is an homage or nod to the brothers that when I was younger, in my teens, and brothers would basically stop whatever they were doing outside and run inside to watch the Kung Fu movies on Channel 5, then go back outside and talk for hours about it.
Those sound like some amazing panels, what other attractions will BLERD City have for folks?
There’s a host of family friendly spaces for the kids and some panelists will also be vending, like Women in Comic after their panel, they are selling their comics to the public’s. Besides the AfroPast to the Afrofuture: Indy Explosive Comics, we’ll have a cosplay panel on diversity and “Correcting People Correctly,” empowering people on how to deal with hate led by an all queer cosplay group and that will lead into the Cosplay Ball. Black Girl Nerds will be there, they’re doing Fandom Diversified: The Changing Face of Nerd & Geek Journalism. We’ll have AfroCrowd talking to folks about how to write wikipedia entry. We’re also going to have a tribute to the late LA Banks, two things will be happening with that. The first is anArtist Spotlight on Eric Battle, he was the artist for Bank’s graphic novel. The second is a lifetime achievement award to Sheree Renée Thomas for pushing the envelope in the Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy and Black Speculative genre. I absolutely adore her. In addition LA Bank’s sister will be on hand for the bestowing of the award.
How can people get tickets for this event and follow you on social media?
You can go to BLERD City to buy tickets and checkout the full schedule for planning your visit to BLERD City, and the price of this event is very reasonable. Other cons charge $45 for a single day, where BLERD City is $45 for two days. Tickets are also available on Eventbrite, and follow BLERD City on social media at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with #BLERDCity.