There is a singular, solitary comfort that comes from curling up with a good book. Books are an escape into both fantasy and reality. They can help us to dream or to learn. They are loyal friends and confidants. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that even in this digital age, the decades-old Miami Book Fair is still as well attended as it has ever been. This staple of the South Florida literary community is just as vital to our culture – Americans, Hispanics, humanity – than ever before.
And when we say literature, we mean that in every form. One area the book fair pays special attention to is also one that was derided by experts early on: comic books.
Founded in 1984, the Miami Book Fair appeared on the national scene only a few years before the graphic-novel renaissance of the mid-'80s that birthed classics such as The Dark Knight Returns, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen. These works gained enough credibility to be hoisted up alongside other outlets of nerdiness, including the science fiction of Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein and the fantastical masterworks of Le Guin and Tolkien.
This year, the fair's focus on geek culture is laser-sharp and ready for transport — and organizers have saved some of their best events for this weekend.
Unless they’re on the hit list, there’s hardly an action fan who doesn’t enjoy a good old-fashioned assassin yarn. Whether they serve themselves, a secret organization, or a greater cause, assassins have always been a source of fascination simply because of their willingness to go to a dark place most cannot fathom. Three writers will discuss their books and the life of trained killers in the worlds of comics, film, and videogames. The panel features Margaret Stohl (Black Widow Red Vengeance), Conor McCreery (Assassin’s Creed, Vol. 1: Trial by Fire), and E.K. Johnston (Star Wars: Ahsoka).
Saturday, November 19, at 3 p.m. at MDC Live Arts Lab.
Play to Win: Graphic Novel Games
Perhaps only the truly nerdy will enjoy this crossroads of math, Shakespeare, puzzles, and videogames, but then Play to Win could be a portal into a new way of thinking for readers accustomed to simpler tales. Box Brown (Tetris: The Games People Play) Ryan North (Romeo and/or Juliet), and Library of Congress Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Yang (Secret Coders) present a type of entertainment experience that’s much more complex, more involved, and oftentimes more intellectually rewarding that the Sunday funnies.
Saturday, November 19, at 2:30 p.m. at the MAGIC Screening Room (Building 8, first floor).
Brave New Worlds: Building Comics Universes
Inside the brain of every artist, creator, or writer is a tiny god sitting on a throne. Forging a universe out of nothing but the imagination, whether it’s done in seven days or longer, is no easy task. Comic book creators Jeffrey Brown, Faith Erin Hicks, Eddie Pittman, and Robert Venditti come together for a panel of supreme intelligences, each of whom have lorded over a variety of new worlds: Brown's Paleo planet of Lucy and Andy Neanderthal; Hick’s quasi-Chinese adventure The Nameless City; Pittman’s intergalactic odyssey of a kidnapped girl, Red’s Planet; and Venitti’s Rise of the Robots, which pits a tween superhero against an army of robots.
Saturday, November 19, at 10:30 a.m., at the MAGIC Screening Room (Building 8, first floor)
They Shoot Black People, Don’t They?: A Cartoonist’s Look at Police Brutality in the U.S.
Keith Knight is an American cartoonist, humorist, and rapper. The majority of his work is either personal in nature (for instance, he had a brief career as a Michael Jackson impersonator) or social, with varying degrees of political satire. His slideshow They Shoot Black People, Don’t They? is a cheeky yet serious foray into the disease of police brutality. The event debuted in 2014 but is a conversation that has become all the more urgent as the number of incidents between citizens and the police continue an alarmingly steady rate.
Sunday, November 20, at 4:30 p.m. at the MAGIC Screening Room (Building 8, first floor)
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Teenage Riot: YA Reality With a Comics Kick
Admit it. Regardless of age, there’s hardly a fan of geekdom who doesn’t enjoy at least some of the current crop of young-adult fiction that pervades popular culture. From Harry Potter and The Hunger Games to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and The Fault in Our Stars, YA is consistently the best-selling genre in the book game. It’s no wonder there’s a glut of films based on these books and series; everyone wants to cash in. Comics have long been a part of adolescents' formative years, so it only makes sense they should star in these books too. Some of the best recent characters come from a variety of cultures and worlds: Miles Morales (Spider-Man), Kamala Kan (Ms. Marvel), Teen Titans (including Teen Titans Go! perhaps one of the funniest and strangest shows on television), Runaways, and Robert Kirman’s Invincible are only a few. At this event, authors Margaret Stohl (Black Widow: Forever Red), Maggie Thrash (We Know It Was You), and Jessica Abel (Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars) will break it down.
Saturday, November 19, at 1:30 p.m. at the MAGIC Screening Room (Building 8, first floor)
Miami Book Fair
Through Sunday, November 20, at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami. All above events are free. Visit miamibookfair.com to RSVP; spots are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.