"I love ECBACC and I love that it's not just a standard convention. They lead the way."

Omar Bilal

Founder of Museum of Black Superhero & Graphic Designer

How many ECBACCs: 4

Favorite Indie: Brother Man Dreadlocks

Favorite Mainstream: Miles Morales Spiderman

Favorite Character: Black Panther

But wait, there's more: The Museum of Black Superheroes

How did you get involved with ECBACC and how was the relationship between the Black Superhero Museum and the convention?

I founded the Forum of Black Superheroes in about 2002. The only reason I started that forum was I needed to learn web design. The forum started in either the same year or the year before ECBACC. Me and a bunch of other creators were meeting about ECBACC like Turtel Onli, Brother Yumy Odom, and Bill Foster. It was kind of swirling around. I don't think I attended the first one. I think 2004 was my first one. I designed the poster for the 2004 ECBACC and also the Glyph Awards icon, and the Black Sci-Fi logo.

Can you expand a bit more on how you came to make so many iconic images for the community?

I don't think I did a lot, but making business cards and letterhead was my profession anyway. This was all pre-Instagram and Twitter. Where did you go when you needed a logo or poster? We went to the Museum of Black Superheroes forum. That's where we all started out. We did a lot of sharing stories and graphic design ideas. I was watching Lovecraft Country and I hear, "This art was by Afua Richardson," and I know that name, so I looked it up and that's a Hero Talk member right there!

What's a cherished memory from ECBACC?

The Friday night get-together where we'd honor folks with Lifetime Achievement awards at the African-American museum and network a little bit. It was good to see each other and be thinking about what was going to come the next day. My favorite memory was just coming together and being with the people who were into the same things I was interested in.

Do you still follow the industry? Have you noted any influence that ECBACC has had on the industry?

Many of the forum members moved on to other platforms. I mainly follow the industry on Instagram since it's the most visual platform. In the industry, ECBACC made a huge impact because they were the lead on this whole idea of not just talking about it but actually doing something. Up to that point, in my mind, there just wasn't anything out there. It's been critical in promoting Black superheroes and education about women in comics, cosplay, tutorials, and reading groups. ECBACC is kind of different because it is not just a fanboy or fangirl thing, but this is us being portrayed in a variety of ways. I love ECBACC, and I love how it's not a standard convention format. They lead the way.

Where would you like to see BHM go in the future?

I'm big on technology, so I'd love to see ECBACC incorporate a lot more video games and coding. If you notice we have all these comic book franchises that have been around for a while, but at some point, that peak is not going to continue upward; it's going to flatline. I think the next wave of inspiration is going to come from the multimedia and video game worlds. If we don't have characters in that domain everybody else is going to be way ahead of us while we're trying to catch up like how we were with comic books back in the '90s.

What's the status of the Black Superheroes Museum?

I stopped the forum in 2012. I let it stay up for archival purposes for about a year and then I ended all the stuff I was doing online. I just knew the state of things with new social media platforms that people were not going to be on a bulletin board forum for much longer. But eventually, my interest was piqued again. I've only been back for a year now. I started the museum back up again on Instagram. What I'm doing now is timelines on history. If we don't tell our own story and the history of our books, it's going to be left behind or somebody is going to write it and it's not going to be accurate.