By Erica Friedman

Roz Chast delivers the keynote speech at Diversity Comic Con 2019

On October 25, 2019, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City hosted the second Diversity Comic Con at FIT’s John E. Greeves Great Hall. Comic artists gathered together to celebrate the history and diversity of comics art and fandoms.

The keynote was given by award-winning cartoonist for the New Yorker, Roz Chast. Chast spoke passionately and entertainingly about the accessibility of comics as a narrative and art form: “All you need is paper and pen or stylus and tablet.”

Attendees had a variety of panels to choose from that discussed far-ranging topics like: queer representation moderated by cosplayer, editor, and disability advocate Jay Justice; YA and children’s graphic novels, featuring Jamar Nicholas (Leon: Protector of the Playground), Carli Spina (ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table) and Andrea Colvin (former VP, Editor in Chief at Lion Forge Comics), moderated by Amy Chu (Red Sonja);  webcomics; and “Drawing Your Culture,” moderated by The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

Historical panels touched on Mark Gruenwald’s career and a Q&A with Roz Chast, moderated by Random House Graphic’s Gina Gagliano. Jon Roscetti (Titmouse), Mike Reiss (Simpsons), Rachel Pace (Nickelodeon), Chris Allo (Magnus Art Agency), and moderator Hamilton Johnson (FIT) were on hand to discuss what people need to make a career out of their art.

Guests and exhibitors were lively and very willing to share their work and stories. Local creators A Wave Blue World, Ahoy Comics, PaperCutz, Pronto Comics, Wayward Raven, and more were on hand to do portfolio reviews and offer advice to up-and-coming creators. Women in Comics Collective International, Saving Jane, and Society of Illustrators presented a variety of comics education and advocacy.

A cosplay panel and contest rounded out the events. FIT Diversity Comic Con was free to all students, faculty, and staff of FIT and their guests, and free with registration to all comers.