Most conventions have Guests who are, to some extent, the headliners of the convention. A convention may have Author, Artist, Editor, Music, Toastmaster and Special Guests.
We also serve the interests of authors, editors, comic book creators and other publishing professionals, providing opportunities for networking, promotion, and a convenient location for negotiations and other business meetings.
At SOBSF Con (“SOBSFic Con”), all of the professionals began as fans, and most still consider themselves fans, so you will find that they are approachable, friendly and eager to share their knowledge, wisdom and experience.
State of Black Science Fiction Convention Guests are chosen very carefully. Of course we want our guests to attend panels and workshops, but we also invited guests we genuinely think will enjoy SOBSF Con and have fun themselves! Guests are highly encouraged to experience all the activities that the convention has to offer.
Here is a list of some of our confirmed Guests. This list is ever-expanding, so check back often to learn what other Blacktastic Guests will be in attendance at SOBSF Con!
Charles R. Saunders
Living literary legend Charles Saunders is our Distinguished Guest of Honor.
He began his career writing stories and essays for fanzines in the early 1970s, but he is best known as the founder of the subgenre of Fantasy called “Sword & Soul,” which is described by Charles: “Sword-and-soul is the name I’ve given to the type of fiction I’ve been writing for nearly 40 years. The best definition I can think of for the term is ‘African-inspired heroic fantasy’. Its roots are in sword-and-sorcery, but its scope is likely to expand as time passes.”
In 1981 he published the first Sword and Soul novel, Imaro, about a skilled, fearless, wandering warrior who rivals (exceeds?) Conan. He continued expanding the genre of Sword and Soul with the two-volume Dossouye series about a fierce woman warrior from Dahomey and her mighty war-bull, Gbo. Set in an alternate-earth Africa, Imaro was the first sword and sorcery novel that featured a Black hero and was well-rooted in African history, cosmology and folklore rather than the prevalent Celtic, Arthurian, and Scandinavian inspired fantasies.
Charles has inspired several generations of writers with his work.
Our Guest of Honor, Tananarive Due, teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Antioch University in Los Angeles and is a former Cosby Chair in the Humanities at Spelman College, where she taught screenwriting, creative writing and journalism.
Tananarive, an American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient, is the author of over a dozen novels and a work of non-fiction as well.
Her first novel, The Between, published in 1995, and many of her subsequent books, are part of the supernatural / horror genre. Tananarive has also written The Black Rose, historical fiction about Madam C.J. Walker and Freedom in the Family, a non-fiction work about the civil rights struggle. She also was one of the contributors to the humor novel Naked Came the Manatee. She is also the author of the African Immortals novel series and the Tennyson Hardwick novels.
In 2010, she was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement at Northwestern University.
Tananarive’s novella, “Ghost Summer,” published in the 2008 anthology The Ancestors , received the 2008 Kindred Award from the Carl Brandon Society, and her short fiction has appeared in best-of-the-year anthologies of science fiction and fantasy.
This leading voice in Black Speculative Fiction lives in Southern California with her husband, author Steven Barnes and their son, Jason.
Brandon Massey was born June 9, 1973, in Waukegan, Illinois and grew up in Zion, a suburb north of Chicago.
He self-published Thunderland, his first novel, in 1999. After managing to sell a few thousand copies on his own, Kensington Publishing Corp. in New York offered him a two-book contract, and published a new, revised edition of Thunderland in December 2002.
Since then, he has published up to three books a year, ranging from thriller novels, to short story collections and anthologies.
He lives, with his family, near Atlanta, GA.
Sheree R. Thomas
Sheree Renée Thomas is an author, book editor and publisher.
She is the editor of the award winning Dark Matter and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones anthologies, both collections of some of the best in Black speculative fiction.
She is also the publisher of Wanganegresse Press, and has contributed to national publications including the Washington Post, Black Issues Book Review, QBR, and Hip Mama. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Ishmael Reed’s Konch, Drumvoices Revue, Obsidian III, African Voices, storySouth and other literary journals, and has received Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, 16th and 17th annual collections.
A native of Memphis, she lives in New York City.
Dawud Anyabwile is an Emmy Award winning artist, illustrator and co-creator of the groundbreaking Comic Book Series, Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline.
He and his brother Guy A. Sims, the writer and co-creator of Brotherman Comics, are pioneers of the contemporary Independent Black Comic Book movement. Selling over 750,000 copies in the early 1990’s without a major distributor and recently released a prequel graphic novel entitled “Brotherman: Revelation”.
Dawud has shared his artistic talent with major companies such as Cartoon Network, Turner Studios, NBA TV, Nickelodeon, Harper Collins Publishing, Scholastic and many others as a character designer, storyboard artist, illustrator and concept artist.
He has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career including the Key to Kansas City for Outstanding Service to Children and was nominated for the Will Eisner Award – Best Artist category at the San Diego Comic Con in 1992.
He has also been acknowledged, recognized and interviewed on television, radio and print media with BET News, America’s Most Wanted 1992, CBS News Nightwatch 1993, USA Today, Essence Magazine, Vibe Magazine, LA Times, Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Ebony Man Magazine, PARENTING, Black Enterprise Magazine and a host of others.
When Dawud is not working on his illustrations, he is busy volunteering, teaching art classes to young students, giving lectures and participating in community events.
Steamfunk Icon, cosplayer extraordinaire and model, Nivi Hicks is the director of Salt City Steamfest, Utah’s only running Steampunk convention.
On her long and glorious time in Steampunk, Nivi says: “Steampunk, to me, is my outlet, my muse, and my friend. It’s been something I can say in regards to a hobby and a genre I have been interested in for the longest time. I have met some of the most creative people in my life and have been super grateful for them exposing me to even MORE possibilities with Steampunk! To them, I will be forever grateful and continue, full steam ahead, never stopping until I’m forced to!”
Born in Rockford, Illinois; raised in Memphis, Tennessee; matriculated in Tacoma, Washington and broadcasting live from Los Angeles, Hannibal Tabu is an author, emcee, poet, journalist and a fan of comic books, science fiction and fantasy.
Hannibal was the winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, writer of “New Money” for Canon Comics, “Waso: Will To Power” for Stranger Comics, four issues of “Project: Wildfire” for Legends Press, three issues of “Menthu” for Hometown Studios and co-writer of an issue of “Watson & Holmes” (alongside 2 Guns writer Steven Grant) for New Paradigm Studios. In 2015, he wrote the Aspen Sourcebooks for the makers of Fathom and Soulfire.
He is currently the co-owner and editor-in-chief of the Black geek channel Komplicated at the Good Men Project, and uses this website to publish his poetry, market what he’s doing, rant at the world and emit strangled cries for help.
In addition to all that, Hannibal collects comic books, has scores of action figures, DJs private parties, is a Mac OS zealot, sings and sometimes even hosts karaoke, practices a form of spirituality based on ancient Egyptian belief, and goes to bed every day, secretly hoping that half the world will commit suicide in his honor.
Hannibal will be appearing at SOBSF Con through Skype.
Da’Mon Stith is a martial artist, martial researcher, and innovator.
Born in 1975 in Austin, Texas, his love for the martial arts began at the age of six when his father gave him a toy sword. From that day on the “way of warrior” became his path and passion.
His journey as a martial artist began in the art of Shorin ryu Karate which he had the privilege of studying in Okinawa as a teenager. It was in this environment, steeped in martial tradition, that he became exposed to the philosophies of Miyamoto Musashi and Bruce Lee and, through cross training, began to explore martial arts as a form of self expression. Eventually he began studying Jeet Kune Do and developed a strong interest in the arts of South East Asia: Kali, Silat, and Muay Thai.
In 1994, after the release of the martial arts movie Only the Strong, which featured the African martial art of Capoeira, Da’Mon began studying this powerful and beautiful martial art. Attracted to its movement, music, history, and philosophy, Da’Mon devoted his life to the practice and preservation of Capoeira. After a few years of training he founded his own Capoeira group and began researching the indigenous fighting arts of Africa and its Diaspora, including Tahteeb, Zulu Stick-fighting, Kalenda Stick-fighting, Dambe boxing, Kokowa wrestling, Mani and 52 Blocks.
He is currently studying the traditional sword dances of the Tuareg people and has created a group dedicated to the research and resurrection of the warrior arts of Africa’s medieval past.
Greg Burnham and Marcus Williams
From illustrator, Marcus Williams and children’s book author, Greg Burnham – both hailing from Atlanta – comes the Tuskegee Heirs: Flames of Destiny comic series.
Tuskegee Heirs is a futuristic sci-fi adventure that follows a squadron of young, gifted aviators, who are forced to become Earth’s last line of defense against a menacing race of highly advanced warriors bent on destroying civilization.
The duo will share their knowledge and experience in creating comic books, graphic novels and fundraising for creative projects with attendees at SOBSF Con!
This list will expand in the next few days, so check back often. And if you haven’t already purchased your membership, or submitted your vendor application, do it now! Brush the dust off that time machine in your basement, hop in and do it yesterday because you do NOT want to miss this historic, fun and powerful event!