On February 18th, dozens of fans packed into the basement of Brooklyn, New York’s Anyone Comics for a launch party celebrating Marvel Voices #1, an anthology one-shot featuring essays, art, and stories primarily by creators of color, all inspired by the podcast series of the same name. The turnout was huge, and in keeping with the goals of the Marvel Voices project, diverse too.

Writer/editor Joseph Illidge (left) is not a contributor to the anthology, but that didn’t stop him from posing for a dramatic reading with Khary Randolph (right).

Not only did this event give the Crown Heights neighborhood the opportunity to get their hands on the comic a day early, but multiple contributors to the project were tabling to sign books and chat with fans. These included podcast host Angélique Roché (Marvel Voices), writer Karama Horne (The Blerd Gurl), artist Alitha Martinez (Black Panther: World of Wakanda), writer Brandon Montclare (Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur), writer/artist Khary Randolph (Black; Excellence), podcast host Tatiana King (For All Nerds), writer Regine Sawyer (Ice Witch; The Rippers), hip-hop journalist Rob Markman (Genius), and artist Damion Scott (Batgirl, Accell). Marvel editor Chris Robinson was in attendance as well, floating around the room and chatting with creators and fans.

All the Marvel Voices contributors who attended, plus Anyone Comics store Handler Dimitrios Fragiskatos (top right)

“It definitely hasn’t been done before. It’s totally unique, and definitely ahead of its time.” Robinson said. “What can I say? It was something I wanted to do, and it’s fun. It’s fulfilling… to support my community, other communities, and get us all working on a comic together. We were already working on the Marvel Voices podcast series, so it was easy to say, ‘alright, why don’t we just turn this into a book?’ Turning a podcast into a book is very interesting to me, and it just so happened that it was emotionally fulfilling to me, as well as professionally.”

The energy from the crowd was palpable, something Robinson found encouraging.

Variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze

“This is a slice of the larger picture, hopefully,” he said. “This is happening all across the world… by the time (Comics Beat readers) hear this, it may already be sold out and onto a second printing. If you’re interested, hopefully you went out day one and got it, because it may be hard to get!” He added that he hopes those same readers check out Marvel’s Children of the Atom in April, written by Voices contributor Vita Ayala.

Anyone Comics store handler Dimitrios Fragiskatos believes the strong turnout for the event, and the excitement for the anthology itself, indicates more than many people within the comic book industry may realize.

“For the industry, it’s just another anthology, but for people outside the industry, which I think is the most important market that everybody should be concentrating on, it’s an opportunity to show people that your average comic fan, and comic creator, isn’t what you see on The Big Bang Theory, or whatever the stereotypes are. Marvel Voices is just that: there’s voices outside of what you realize. Most of the marketing we did for the store was for people in this neighborhood, in Crown Heights… which is primarily a West Indian neighborhood. (They) could say ‘hey, there is someone out here like me making comics.'”

Variant Cover by Damion Scott

“I’m really lucky,” he added when asked about the success and palpable energy of the event. “Everything I do with the events at the store are events that I would’ve liked to have seen at a comic book store growing up… here’s my thing: this comic book store, and I believe comic book stores in general, are a service to people. When we create events for people to participate in, it’s in service to the people who come in. The energy just shows that the right people are showing up, and the right people are coming back to the store. And they’re bringing the energy with them.”