Shawn Martinbrough (Keynote)
Shawn Martinbrough is the author of “How to Draw Noir Comics: The Art and Technique of Visual Storytelling”, published by Random House and reprinted in several languages. He is a critically acclaimed creator/artist whose DC Comics, Marvel and Dark Horse Comics projects include “Batman: Detective Comics”, “Luke Cage Noir”, “Captain America”, “The Black Panther” and “Hellboy”. Shawn is the artist of “Thief of Thieves”, published by Skybound/Image Comics. The celebrated graphic novel crime series is written by Robert Kirkman, co-creator of “The Walking Dead” and Eisner Award nominees Andy Diggle and Brett Lewis. Shawn has been a featured guest and panelist at comic conventions in San Diego, New York, Washington, D.C., the UK, Paris, Angoulême, São Paulo, Rome and Algiers.As an artist, Shawn has given lectures on his career at Walt Disney Animation, Lockheed Martin, The Pentagon, TEDx Mid Atlantic, The California African American Museum, The Society of Illustrators, the School of Visual Arts, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Columbia University, The University of Michigan, The Savannah College of Art and Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, The Barrie School, The 100 Black Men of America Conferences and the Book Expo of America. Shawn is a Native New Yorker and an alum of both the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art/Performing Arts and The School of Visual Arts.

John Jay Cabuay is an illustrator and FIT instructor. His illustrations have graced the covers of newspapers, magazines, and book jackets worldwide. He received his MFA in Illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology. He was featured in a book by Taschen called “100 illustrators” a book about the 100 important illustrators around the globe. John Jay illustrated his first major picture book project “Get Up Stand Up” and is available now on local bookshops and online stores.

Stanford W. Carpenter, PhD is a Cultural Anthropologist, Comic Scholar, Comic Creator, and former Archaeologist. Dr. Carpenter is co-creator of the forthcoming NPR Affiliate podcast Brother-Story and the Correspondent, an ethnographic and journalistic take on comics, culture, and the lives of the people who create and consume them. He is on the advisory boards of Abrams ComicArts’ Megascope Imprint, the Black & Brown Comix Arts Festival, and Pocket Con Team.

Amy Chu is a comic book writer who runs the comic imprint Alpha Girl Comics as well as writing stories for other publishers. She has written Poison Ivy and Wonder Woman issues for DC, Red Sonja, Green Hornet’s Kato and KISS for Dynamite, X-Files for IDW, Where We Live for Image, X-O: Manowar for Valiant and Deadpool and Secret Empire for Marvel Comics. In 2017, she came out with her first graphic novel Ana and the Cosmic Race through Papercutz.

Andrea Colvin is the editorial director of graphic publishing at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Before that she was editor-in-chief of the independent comics publisher Lion Forge, where she acquired the well-received and award-nominated graphic novels Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu, No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniels, and the Amazon Graphic Novel of the Year for 2017, Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green.

Christian Cooper was Marvel’s first openly gay writer and editor.[4] He introduced the first gay male character in Star Trek, Yoshi Mishima, in the Starfleet Academy series,[4] which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in 1999.[5] He also introduced the first openly lesbian character for Marvel, Victoria Montesi[4][6] and created and authored Queer Nation: The Online Gay Comic. On May 25, 2020, Cooper played a key role in the Central Park birdwatching incident,[12] which led to the creation of Black Birders Week.[13] The incident is also the basis for his online graphic novel published by DC Comics about racism called “It’s a Bird”.

Phil Falco is an art director at Scholastic where he oversees the graphic novel imprint, Graphix, in addition to hardcover novels. His specialty is book design, but also enjoys challenges that are not perfect bound. He lives in Brooklyn. 

Photo of Gina Gagliano

Gina Gagliano is easily one of the most influential people in graphic novel publishing today. Gagliano attended Reed College in Portland, OR where she first discovered her love for comics. Since then she has been the marketing manager for First Second Books and now heads up the graphic novel division of Random House. She also co-hosts the very informative podcast Graphic Novel TK.

Ramon Gil got his first cartooning credit at the age of 10 and is still waiting to get paid for it. Despite being stiffed, he has been telling stories ever since. In some cases, for highly questionable reasons. His favorite genres and themes are science fiction, espionage, government conspiracies and action/adventure with a healthy dose of humor and witty banter which he plagiarises from conversations with people who are way smarter and funnier than he is. He is also the organizer of Diversity Comic Con.

Gamal Hennessy is a comic book attorney and author with twenty years of experience in the entertainment industry. During his career, he’s represented major corporate clients including animation and manga companies, Marvel Comics, After Shock, Mad Cave Studios as well as independent artists and writers. He is currently writing a book on the business and legal aspects of publishing independent comics, scheduled for release in 2020.

Shanty Harmayn is an Indonesian film producer based in Jakarta. She has been in the film industry for more than 20 years. She is currently the Chief Executive of BASE ENTERTAINMENT, a Jakarta and Singapore based film studio with focus on development, financing, production and distribution. BASE’s current International co-productions projects are TRESE, a Netflix Original Animated Series based on a popular Filipino graphic novel series by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldissimo and THE EAST (DE OOST) a war drama by Dutch award winning director, Jim Taihuttu, a co-production with New Amsterdam Film Company.

Kiku Hughes is a cartoonist and illustrator based in the Seattle area. Her work has been featured in Beyond Anthology volumes 1 and 2, Short Box #6 and the Alloy Anthology. She creates stories about identity, queer romance and compassionate sci-fi. She currently has a book called Displacement from MacMillan/First Second.

Heidi MacDonald, A writer, editor and journalist, Heidi is also the publisher of The Comic Beat. She created her long-running blog The Beat: The News Blog of Comics Culture at in June 2004, before moving it to Publishers Weekly in 2006, and to an independent site in 2010. She is a former editor for DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint and Disney Adventures, and she edited the graphic novel The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning from Fox Atomic Comics that served as a prequel to the 2006 film. MacDonald also served as an editor and writer at Publishers Weekly.

Alitha E. Martinez is an artist best known for her work drawing for Marvel’s Iron Man, NBC’s Heroes, and DC’s Batgirl. Martinez has been working at Marvel Comics since the 90s when she got her first major gig as an assistant to Joe Quesada. She co-created the villain Knightfall and helped create the artwork, including cover art, for the special commemorative issue of Riverdale by Archie Comics. In addition, Martinez contributed drawings for the comic book series World of Wakanda, a spin-off from the Marvel Comics’ Black Panther title that is written by Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Leatrice “Elle” McKinney, writing as L.L. McKinney, is an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing. Elle’s also a gamer, Blerd, and adamant Hei Hei stan, living in Kansas City, spending her free time plagued by her cat–Sir Chester Fluffmire Boopsnoot Purrington Wigglebottom Flooferson III, esquire, Baron o’Butterscotch or #SirChester for short. Her works include the Nightmare-Verse books, Nubia: Real One through DC, Marvel’s Black Widow: Bad Blood, and more.

Omar Mirza, The son of South Asian immigrants, is the co-creator of Zindan, the best selling comic of Pakistan. A saga of South Indian superheroes and supervillains set in the 17th century Mughal Empire. Along with his co-creator Khurram Mehtabdin, they also produced the New York Comic Con hit The Incapable Trump. Omar comes from Cincinnati, OH and by day, is a medical doctor.

Ed Murr has been an Illustrator for over twenty years and has been creating art for a wide range of clients. Starting off at the Marvel Comics Bullpen in the nineties, working alongside legendary cartoonists and moving over to the Topps Company, Ed immersed himself in the study of storytelling and illustration. He has also worked as a storyboard artist for various advertising, films and television productions for live action and animation. Ed is also a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s MFA in Illustration Program where he now teaches comic book art.

Jonah Newman is a cartoonist and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. He’s the author and illustrator of the historical fiction webcomic Empire On Edge, many short self-published comics, and the young adult graphic novel Out of Left Field, forthcoming from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. He’s also an editor at Scholastic, working on picture books and graphic novels including Dav Pilkey’s blockbuster Dog Man series. When he’s not creating, editing, or reading graphic novels, you might find Jonah binge-listening to history podcasts, petting his two sons (who are cats), or getting way too invested in his fantasy baseball team.

Meagan Peace is a children’s book publishing professional with editorial experience in a variety of areas from picture books to middle grade and YA fiction to graphic novels. She’s had the privilege of working on several #1 New York Times bestsellers and on books created by award-winning authors and illustrators. 

Kyunghee Pyun is an Associate Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York. Her scholarship focuses on history of collecting, reception of Asian art, diaspora of Asian artists, and Asian American visual culture. She was a Leon Levy fellow in the Center for the History of Collecting at the Frick Collection. Fashion, Identity, Power in Modern Asia surveyed modernized dresses in the early twentieth century. She is working on a new book on school uniforms in East Asia. As an independent curator, she has collaborated with contemporary artists in New York since 2013.

Alex Sanchez has published eight novels, including the American Library Association “Best Book for Young Adults” Rainbow Boys and Lambda Award-winning So Hard to Say. His novel Bait won the Tomas Rivera Mexican-American Book Award and the Florida Book Award Gold Medal for Young Adult fiction. Currently Alex is at work on a graphic novel for DC Comics due out in 2020. He has a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and worked for many years as a youth and family counselor.

Fabrice Sapolsky A true storyteller, Fabrice can write, draw, letter and edit any comic book. He is the co-creator/co-writer of Spider-Man Noir for Marvel Comics (with David Hine). He also published creator-owned comics at Image Comics and Dynamite Entertainment. Breathing comics night and day, Fabrice also served as Senior Editor at publisher Humanoids (2017-2020) where he developed the new H1 Comics and BiG imprints. He lives in Los Angeles where founded FairSquare Comics, a new publisher where he’s hosting his own projects like One-Hit Wonder, Intertwined and Lady-Bird as well as those from his amazing friends. FairSquare Comics’ mission statement is “Comics For The Rest of Us”: the goal is to showcase and publish comics and graphic novels from immigrants and under-represented categories of creators.

Regine L. Sawyer is an American comics writer, editor, and founder of Women in Comics NYC Collective International.[1]She is the author of The Rippers, Eating Vampires and Ice Witch. She is owner, writer, and creator for Lockett Down Productions, a small press company that employs all-female comic book artists with an emphasis on women of color.

Andy Schmidt is a comic book editor and writer. He is best known for his work at Marvel and is now editing and writing at other companies. He owns and teaches at Comics Experience, a school dedicated to teaching comics writers and artists. In February 2020 it was announced that Schmidt will be scripting Generation One: Age of Mysteries for DC Comics.

Robert Scull is half of the Emmy Award-winning creator team of Nickelodeon’s hit preschool show Bubble Guppies (with Jonny Belt), now in its 6th season. Astounded and inspired by Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Robert started out as a commercial animator in San Francisco and lucked into a career-launching job as a writer and storyboard artist on Rocko’s Modern Life in Los Angeles. He has been the show runner on, and a writer for, Little Bill, and a writer and supervising director on Janice Burgess’s The Backyardigans. Robert currently lives in New York City with his partner, Matthew.

Alex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. He is the author of the acclaimed Pete Fernandez Miami Mysteries, which include SILENT CITY, DOWN THE DARKEST STREET, DANGEROUS ENDS, BLACKOUT, and MIAMI MIDNIGHT. He has also written a number of comic books, including the best-selling and critically acclaimed Archie Meets KISS storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story, Archie Meets The Ramones. Alex is the co-president of Archie Comics.

John Siuntres is the host of the Word Balloon Podcast. A free one-on-one audio interview show, featuring in-depth talks with the creative stars of pop culture. You’ll hear discussions about Comics, Film, TV, Books, and Games in the genres of Crime, Horror, Action/Adventure, and Comedy. Patron support will help Word Balloon travel to the conventions to conduct panels and interviews, and eventually expand the show into a full time audio streaming network of pop culture coverage.

Mika Song is a children’s writer and illustrator who likes to make stories about sweetly funny outsiders. She grew up in Manila, Philippines and Honolulu, Hawaii before moving to New York to study animation at Pratt Institute. She worked in children’s educational animation before devoting herself to writing and illustrating children’s books. She has several books through Random House Graphic including Donut Feed the Squirrels and Cancer Hates Kisses. Before the need to quarantine for Covid she held a regular comic class for young people in her Queens neighborhood. She now contributes to free weekly kids comics newsletter that she started with Jen de Oliviera in March 2020.

Carli Spina has written extensively about graphic novels for several online publications, particularly for The Hub, the YA Literature blog of the American Library Association’s Young Adult Library Services Association. She is also a member of the American Library Association’s Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table and has a chapter coming out later this year on nonfiction graphic novels for libraries.

Vivek J. Tiwary is an award-winning producer of narrative entertainment from groundbreaking Broadway shows to genre-defining immersive experiences, a media financier/investor, and a #1 New York Times bestselling author. He is the founder of Tiwary Entertainment Group.Vivek’s graphic novel The Fifth Beatle won numerous literary awards including the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award and two Harvey Awards.