In continuing the celebration of Blerdom, this weekend marks the debut of a fresh BIPOC convention as Virtuous Con launches during Black History Month. Founded by fantasy writer Cerece Rennie Murphy, Virtuous Con goes all out. With a new spin on vendors, an amazing lineup of talent for the live panels, and sponsors like DC Comics and Subsume, Virtuous Con is not pulling its punches.
The weekend will be a mixed showcase of creatives like Tony award-winning actress and Disney Legend, Anika Noni Rose, Star Trek Discovery Actor, David Ajala, YA author Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper Cypher, Star Wars: The High Republic), artist, editor, and founder of Megascope imprint John Jennings (Black Comix Returns, Kindred: A Graphic Novel), Eisner Award-winning artist Alitha Martinez (World of Wakanda, Immortal Wonder Woman), award-winning writer L. L. McKinney (A Blade So Black, Immortal Wonder Woman NUBIA: Real One), Founder of YouNeek Studios Roye Okupe (E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika) and award-winning science fiction author and producer Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep, The Twilight Zone, Horror Noire.)
In full disclosure, I have known Cerece for several years, as well as being a contributing writer for her website, so getting her to answer a few questions about Virtuous Con for the Beat was relatively painless.
GEORGE CARMONA 3RD: For comic nerds out there who might not know you like I do, please let us know who you are and what you do?
CERECE RENNIE MURPHY: Sure. First and foremost, I’m an indie science fiction, fantasy, and children’s book author. Over the past 9 years, I’ve written, co-edited, and published 12 books and short stories, including my new short story collection, Between Two Seas, which will come out in April, and the 3rd book in the Ellis and The Magic Mirror children’s book series, which will be released this Summer. I am also the founder of NARAZU, which is a monthly blog/newsletter that features indie speculative fiction artists in film, comics, books, visual art, and graphic novels, and Virtuous Con, which is an interactive online sci-fi and comic culture convention.
CARMONA: How did you get into sci-fi/fantasy?
MURPHY: It all started when my mom took me and my sister to see Empire Strikes Back at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC and that was it. I loved the story, the characters, the adventure, and most of all the possibilities posed by the genre. I’d never seen anything like it before and I wanted more.
CARMONA: What is Virtuous Con and how did you come up with it?
MURPHY: Virtuous Con is an online sci-fi and comic culture convention that focuses on bringing back the interaction between artists and fans. I started Virtuous Con because I saw a real gap in the virtual convention experiences that we’ve been having in the past year. While there have been some great panels and premiers, there hasn’t been a lot of interaction. As independent artists, being able to meet fans and talk about our work is an essential part of our business and that just wasn’t happening for us in most spaces. For vendors, we’d get a link, maybe a chance to answer some questions in a chat, and that’s it. To me, the interaction between fans and artists is the heart of the con experience and I wanted to find a way to bring that back. So I started looking for platforms that I could adapt to our needs as artists.
CARMONA: With all the virtual cons from this past year, why should folks log on to this one?
MURPHY: All I can tell you is that the experience is truly unique from most of the virtual cons that you’ve been to. Instead of watching, the focus at Virtuous Con really is on having live “face-to-face” interactions with people. We have built an online convention that looks, functions and feels a lot like an in-person convention experience. When you’re on the floor show, you’ll be able to browse through the aisle, click on an artist’s booth, see a display of their work, and actually talk t
o them about what they do. You can also buy directly from the artist to get that coveted signed copy or custom commission. During our panels, you’ll be able to ask questions and get answers live. There will also be opportunities to come “onstage” and ask your question directly to the panelists. There are a lot of features that make this space really special. I hope folks will come and check it out.
CARMONA: I know you’re the mastermind behind this so you know how the sausage gets made, but asa geek what are you looking forward to the most?
MURPHY: Honestly, I just want to see us connecting with each other again. I can’t wait to click on a booth and overhear a conversation with a new fan and an artist. I’m looking forward to that moment when a fan gets pulled on stage and is excited to look the panelist in the eye and ask their question face-to-face. As a con lover and an artist, I have missed those moments so much over the past year. I’m just really looking forward to getting that feeling back again.