Announcing our Special Guests!
We’re very proud to announce this year’s special guests (alphabetical order):
John Jennings is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside. His work centers around intersectional narratives regarding identity politics and popular media. Jennings is co-editor of the Eisner Award-winning collection The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art and co-founder/organizer of The Schomburg Center’s Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem. Jennings is a former Nasir Jones Hip Hop Studies Fellow with the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. He is also a former mentor for the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier program. Jennings’ current comics projects include the horror series Box of Bones with Ayize Jama-Everett, the supernatural crime noir story Blue Hand Mojo, and the New York Times best-selling and award-winning graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s classic dark fantasy novel Kindred. He and Damian Duffy’s adaptation of Octavia Butler’s book Parable of the Sower has been nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Adaptation and The Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. Jennings is also curator and founder of ABRAMS Megascope; a new line of graphic novels dedicated to primarily speculative stories entered around BIPOC people.
Latoya Peterson lives at the intersection of emerging technology and culture. She is cofounder and CXO at Glow Up Games, a game studio centering storytelling around black and brown joy. Glow Up Games recently launched their first title set in the world of HBO’s Insecure. Previously, she was the Deputy Editor, Digital Innovation for ESPN’s The Undefeated, an Editor-at-Large at Fusion, and the Senior Digital Producer for The Stream, a social media driven news show on Al Jazeera America. In 2018, she soft launched AI in the Trap, a collaborative art project that explores the future of artificial intelligence and predictive policing through a hip-hop lens. In 2016, she produced a critically acclaimed YouTube series on Girl Gamers that was highlighted on Spotify. She is currently on the advisory board of the Data & Society Institute and the board of visitors for The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships. She is also part of the selection committee for the Museum of Play’s World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Diana M. Pho (she/her) is a Hugo Award-winning editor with over 15 years of experience in publishing, most notably the Science Fiction Book Club and the Tor Publishing Group. Before landing her current job at Erewhon Books as Executive Editor, Diana served as Lead Creative Executive for Co-Productions & Partnerships at the podcast studio Realm Media. She has had the pleasure of working with household names like George R. R. Martin and the Robert Jordan estate for The Wheel of Time, as well as critically acclaimed writers such as P. Djèlí Clark, Bethany C. Morrow, Lara Elena Donnelly, Benjamin A. Wilgus, and Margaret Killjoy, among others. Books she has edited have won the Thriller Award, the Ditmar Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Nebula Award, and a Kirkus Best Book of the Year Selection. Diana herself is also the recipient of the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Long form, a two-time finalist for the Ignyte Award and a finalist for the Locus Award. More than anything else, she appreciates a good cup of tea.
Sheree Renée Thomas is a New York Times bestselling, two-time World Fantasy Award-winning author and editor. A 2023 Octavia E. Butler Award honoree and a 2022 Hugo Award Finalist, she is the author of Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future, a Locus, Ignyte, and World Fantasy Finalist, Marvel’s Black Panther: Panther’s Rage novel, and she collaborated with Janelle Monáe on “Timebox Altar(ed)” in The Memory Librarian and Other Stories of Dirty Computer. She co-edited Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, a NAACP Image Award Nominee, and is the Editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Sheree lives in her hometown, Memphis, Tennessee, near a mighty river and a pyramid.