I used to be an interesting character pre-52, now I'm reduced to token status??!!!??? I want revenge!

Dear Dan

I used to be an interesting character pre-52, now I'm reduced to token status??!!!??? I want revenge!
I used to be an interesting character pre-52, now I’m reduced to token status??!!!??? I want revenge!

So, while I’ve been busy this past weekend, almost wishing that I were at San Diego Comic-Con to be amongst the hordes of my fellow lovers of the medium, I happened upon this post written by Khalil Kakarot Asadullah in the Facebook group Comic Nerds of Color. He had written, basically, a “Dear John” letter to the “Corporate Two,” in general, and DC in particular. Here is that letter now in all of its heartfelt glory:

Dear Dan DiDio,

The big two, Marvel and DC Comics have for years been a cornerstone of great ideas and stories that I have loved since my childhood. Some of my favorite characters have been DC Comics characters, Nightwing and the Flash (Wally West). I personally was a little disappointed in the New 52 and the reboot of characters and altering their history. The New 52 was convoluted and seems haphazard with no true direction. In establishing the New 52 continuity, there was no continuity at all. Some stories were not even on the same time frame as some stories were five to seven years in the past while others were present, and the stories that were supposed to be in the past frequently referenced events that were supposed to have happened in the present.

Very confusing indeed.

This, however is not the main issue I have been having…

Diversity.

Remember me? I was in the Outsiders AND the Justice League (and yes, this look is STILL hot)!
Remember me? I was in the Outsiders AND the Justice League (and yes, this look is STILL hot)!

I applaud any true attempt at bringing diversity to comic books. The fact that Asian, Black, Hispanic and LBGT characters are under represented in comic books is a travesty in my eyes. Comics should represent the ultra diverse world that we live in, and it is about time that both Marvel and DC set the standard with this new path. There is however a way that this path should be done. Ultimately, I think it first starts with having a workplace where this diversity is celebrated. More capable female, Black, Asian and Hispanic writers and artists would be a big step in defining characters with authentic backgrounds and personalities because they have been written by people who reflect that diversity.

Ummm... Hello? Can a sista get some love up in this piece?
Ummm… Hello? Can a sista get some love up in this piece?

Currently, you have a reboot in progress for the character Wally West. This new reboot has changed Wally from a white character to a black character. I personally have a reservation with “race bending” characters, it shows a lack of originality. It doesn’t show true diversity because all you are doing is giving a character another complexion. But this is not the factor that has me to the point of not giving DC Comics another penny of my money. In four or five issues now, this new Wally West, this new black Wally West, has been in handcuffs in two of these issues. He has been arrested TWICE!

For real Dan? TWICE?

It just seems to me that all you are currently doing is reinforcing a trope about young black men- that we are criminals. I have never been arrested. My brother has never been arrested. My cousins have never been arrested. My male friends who are black have never been arrested. But this is however a statistic that is forced in the minds of young black men. It is seen in televisions shows like The Wire. It is in the news repeatedly. Now, it is in comic books.

Here's the irony: Marvel has actually brought the Captain America legacy full-circle from Isiah Bradley...
Here’s the irony: Marvel has actually brought the Captain America legacy full-circle from Isiah Bradley…

As an educated black man who is also a high school English teacher, my job is to not only educate these young men so that they are more prepared for college and beyond, but it is also to be an example of what these young men are fighting against– stereotypes. I often use comic books and graphic novels in the classroom to change up the pace and to give my students more reference material. Through characters like Batman and the Hulk I have been able to introduce students to characters like Sherlock Holmes and books like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But why on Earth would I introduce a juvenile delinquent to my students? Why would I allow a trope like what your company has created into my classroom?

I am truly disappointed in what DC Comics has done. The feign attempt at diversity is nothing more than stereotypical propaganda that consciously reinforces a racial and social paradigm that is undeserved. Maybe DC Comics (and Marvel for that matter) should study the work of Christopher Priest on The Black Panther. Use his writing as a lesson plan of how to avoid tropes and create stories about a character with dignity, honor and an unwavering moral code that not only young black men can be proud to read about, but also all races can see the goodness that dwells in the hearts of people of color.

... To Sam Wilson.
… To Sam Wilson.

To sum it up, DC Comics has failed. DC Comics has failed to create stories about characters with integrity and characters that do not negatively reflect any particular race, gender or sexual orientation. DC will make their money, and some people will still purchase this “Shazbot,” but it won’t be me. Make mine Indie Comics because I see nothing MARVELous about Marvel or DC.

Well, DC and Marvel, that’s one source of revenue gone. And trust… he’s not the only one that’s fed up. This is what happens when you short-shrift a sizeable portion of your “1000 True Fans.”

So, what are you going to do about it?

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Diaspora: The Fever

Take A Trip Through The Diaspora

Diaspora: The Fever
Diaspora: The Fever

It’s the official start of Leo Season and here’s a mix to get the party started… Find a lion and get your boogie on!

01. One Day, Won’t Give It Away – Wally Badarou
02. Ooh! – Fela Kuti Vs De La Soul Feat Redman
03. GH Baby – E.L & Efya
04. Hey Boy – Goapele
05. Make Her Say (Beat It Up) – Estelle
06. Bonita Keeps On Passin’ Me By – Gummy Soul
07. Think Twice – GDNA
08. Postal – Souls of Mischief
09. Gemini (Jesse Fischer Remix) – Melanie Charles & Rat Habitat
10. African Force – Dj Nays
11. Afro Blues (Jesse Fisher remix) – Takuya Kuroda
12. Hot Music (One Take) – Mark de Clive-Lowe

Diaspora, the latest episode of Ghetto of the Mind is available now for FREE download by clicking here.

The Revolution will not be televised… It will be digital!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

The BEST thing about Daredevil... You know I'm right...

Pick a Color… Any Color You Want…

Oh, wow... A Black Superman. Yet, I'm not excited... I wonder why...
Oh, wow… A Black Superman. Yet, I’m not excited… I wonder why…

Everybody is acting like this race-bending phenomenon is new when they’ve been doing this since, at least, 1989 (Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent anyone?).

Despite current attitudes, we are all down with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. We were introduced to that eventual reality thanks to Bryan Hitch drawing the Ultimates. Actually, Nick Fury was established as being Black in Ultimate X-Men. In fact, the cinematic Marvel U is based more so on the original Ultimate Universe than good ‘ol 616.

Honestly, if at the end of Iron Man, if anyone, Black or white, other than SLJ was wearing that eye patch, the entirety of fandom would have been pissed because the “reality” of Nick Fury being Black was established in the comics so much so that Marvel had to incorporate elements of the Ultimate Universe into the 616 universe.

Oh... Right...
Oh… Right…

Yet no one, I mean, no one cared that Kerry Washington played Alicia Masters…

Why? Because Alicia Masters is one of the last characters that you worry about in FF canon (really… how many people have clamored for an Alicia Masters solo book?)…

But Jessica Alba as Sue Storm? Don’t tell me y’all weren’t fronting on that decision…

I mean really?
I mean really?

It’s an interesting contradiction. I had called shenanigans when Jessica Alba was cast as Sue Storm yet was down with Michael Clarke Duncan was cast as the Kingpin (maybe, in my opinion, the only bright spot in the otherwise abysmal Daredevil movie). Both were examples of “Colorblind casting” rather than “Race-swapping.” One worked, the other didn’t.

The BEST thing about Daredevil... You know I'm right...
The BEST thing about Daredevil… You know I’m right…

Another great example of “Colorblind casting” is Sin City. Say what you will about “Uncle Frank,” but Robert Rodriguez is the man. This is the cat that makes sure that, at the extreme least, one Hispanic or Latino actor is in a lead role. Gail and Nancy Callahan were not Latino in the books, but did that matter with the casting of Rosario Dawson and the aforementioned Jessica Alba in those respective roles?

Yes, she was...
Yes, she was…

Now, let’s look at this in the reverse, specifically, the casting of Liam Nesson as Ra’s Al-Ghul and Marion Cotillard as Talia Al-Ghul in the Nolan Dark Knight universe.

We understand Talia Al-Ghul and Ra’s Al-Ghul to be Middle Eastern solely on their last names. Was it ever established really where Ra’s came from? In fact, one story depicted that Talia’s mother was a Chinese hippie in the 60s (Birth of the Demon… Look it up, that story does exist).

Now, on the Nerds of Color blog, they made mention of how they felt that Ra’s Al Ghul was more of a title than an actual person (which made sense as they were trying to avoid the more fantastic elements of the character i.e. the Lazarus Pit). That made sense to me when seeing Ken Watanabe playing Al Ghul in the beginning of the film when he was really the Sensei of the League of Assassins.

Nobody complained about this casting choice...
Nobody complained about this casting choice…

So, with that line of thinking in the Nolan Batman universe, if the title was passed from Watanabe’s Al Ghul to Nesson’s Ducard, the casting of Cotillard makes more sense. And, in the Fanboy of Color universe, if the outrage of Nesson ultimately being cast as Al Ghul had been present at the time, the displeasure of Cotillard’s casting as Talia would make more sense as well.

In addition, Marion Cotillard had a “look” that could work for a vaguely Middle Eastern character. If Talia were a blonde or a redhead, then a situation would have been created in where one would have heard outrage from fanboys.

...And you weren't mad at this one either...
…And you weren’t mad at this one either…

In other words, we don’t know. Hell, most people call Kim Kardashian a white girl with a big ass when she is, in fact, an Armenian girl…

With a big ass.

Look, did any of us call shenanigans when Liam Nesson’s Ducard was actually Ra’s Al-Ghul? No, no we did not. And honestly, none of us cared when Cotillard was revealed to be Talia, either.

Why? It’s because every time a POC is portrayed as someone in a position of power, especially one that had been traditionally “reserved” for a white man (let’s be 100% here), it’s one more instance of reality that skin color, or gender, or sexual orientation does not automatically put you in the power position…

And, a number of white fanboys don’t like that…

Now, we have switching race for the sake of switching race as some half-hearted attempt at “diversity” when, in reality, they are just tryin’ to get as many dollars as possible with the least amount of effort. From Michael B. Jordan’s casting as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot to making Wally West bi-racial in the New52 Flash comic, we are being insulted, and assaulted, left and right.

Truth be told, the “Corporate Two’s” Fans of Color don’t want Superman in Blackface.

They want Icon.

The Milestone Universe is an untapped cash-cow resource...
The Milestone Universe is an untapped cash-cow resource…

They don’t want a bi-racial Wally West.

They want Static.

...With a PROVEN track record of crossover, mutlimedia appeal... But, y'all don't hear me though...
…With a PROVEN track record of crossover, mutlimedia appeal… But, y’all don’t hear me though…

In other words, they want the characters of color that do exist and run rampant in the “Corporate Two” to be treated with the respect that they deserve.

Instead, the “Corporate Two,” DC in particular, have gone fetishistic in the comics and the films. It has gone from “Colorblind casting” to “Race swapping.” In other words, fools are lazy. Sure, there’s been a modicum of laziness in the past, but fools are straight-up sloth-like these days.

Laziness breeds apathy, apathy breeds racism.

That’s the real problem.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Gentrification Is Not a Solution to White Flight

jazintellect:

Another tidbit for you to chew on…

Originally posted on Leftcheek deuce:

Chicago has changed significantly over the last fifty years in some ways. In others, it’s been the same old thing – racial segregation tied to economic apartheid. But where and how this plays out has shifted. From the late 60’s through the early 80’s Chicago – like most other north urban cities still in the thralls of exercised anti-black racism in the post-Civil Rights era – experienced massive white flight.

Myopic Books - Wicker Park
Myopic Books, Wicker Park – by MA1216 via Flickr

Actually, that’s a horrible way to put it. First, white flight didn’t just happen to Chicago and second “white flight” is a problematic label that doesn’t in the least describe what was and is (still) happening. What happened to neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Ukranian Village, Lincoln Park, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, and South Loop is what happened to Detroit – white people decided their areas were too tainted, too impure, too…

View original 676 more words

The Mighty Larry Stroman is back on the book (other than TRIBE) that made him a household name!

Food for Thought…

Mike McKone (penciller for Teen Titans, Fantastic Four, Justice League United, etc.) is a Facebook “friend” of mine. He just posted that he’s done working for the “Mouse” and the “Rabbit,” and gonna focus on his creator-owned works.

His fans didn’t bemoan the fact that he doesn’t want to draw DC or Marvel characters anymore and is happy to bounce (he posted his celebratory drinks of choice), but instead are looking forward to his original work, his original vision, and will definitely cop it if, and when, it drops…

Yet, over in these parts, if an Artist of Color said the same thing, around here a good number of us in this group would either beg him to stay on the “plantation,” front on him or her for leaving the “plantation” and definitely would not support said artist’s outside of the “plantation…”

Keith Pollard was the first comic book artist that I met in the flesh. A fellow Detroiter, knowing that he existed showed that I could have a career in comics...
Keith Pollard was the first comic book artist that I met in the flesh. A fellow Detroiter, knowing that he existed showed that I could have a career in comics…

The statement was made to illustrate a point that’s been a frequent topic of discussion and debate in certain circles, not the comic book community in general.

The argument isn’t to “Support Black Just Because It’s Black.” That line of thinking only reinforces the idea that COC (Creators of Color) generate inferior work.

The product has to compete at the level of the competition. It has to stand up against the average book coming from DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, etc. That’s just the name of the game. Keep in mind; the access to creative tools has always been democratic (i.e., anyone can buy art supplies). The attention to craft is something that must be addressed.

Still, if the craft is present, if the product can compete in the comic book realm, the question is (again by some in this group), why is the work considered lesser if not coming from the “Corporate Two”?

A lot of people like to say that art is subjective, but having been an art professor for over 12 years, I can honestly say that there is a criterion for judging whether competent hands or one who’s still developing has made a work.

Trevor Von Eeden is the co-creator of Black Lightning with Tony Isabella. His rough-hewn style still resonates...
Trevor Von Eeden is the co-creator of Black Lightning with Tony Isabella. His rough-hewn style still resonates…

That aside, even if the “different” work is of the same standard (if not better) than the established work, why is that work still deemed inferior if it has been created by a POC… Especially by other people of color?

Peep game: All illustration, especially comic books, animation, video games, etc., is based on the theories established during the Renaissance (i.e. proportions, perspective, anatomy, etc.). Every artist working today has to understand those concepts in order to produce competent work.

Now, other styles of art and personal interpretation come into play (for example, graffiti, Expressionism, Japanese art, Art Nouveau, etc.), but comic book artists in particular have to work with the established Renaissance theories in order for their vision to “work” for the audience.

Artists of Color are no exception. Even with the diverse interpretations of artists such as Jamal Yaseem Igle, Afua Richardson, Larry Stroman, Ashley A. Woods, Khary Randolph, Sanford Greene, Jason Reeves and myself (to name a few), we all have mastered the basic theories to create some exciting work that not only stands, but supersede much of the competition.

Even in the face of those facts, why do some people of color still find the work inferior if the “plantation” doesn’t distribute it?

In other words: is the work only valid if someone who is not of the culture admires the work? If so, why do some fans of color feel that way?

Is the PoC consumer so passive and unsure of what they purchase, especially if the product (in this instance, comics) is created by a PoC, that they need to see a person outside of the culture purchasing it in order for them to feel “safe” in supporting one of their own?

Do you also feel that, as fans and consumers, we need to delve further into our passion? By that I mean should it behoove us to learn more about the creators rather than the characters?

Do you feel that by learning about the person “behind the pencil” would better serve the FoC in understanding the nature of true representation in the game?

Paris Cullins is the co-creator of Blue Devil. He's recently been working on a comeback to comics in the independent arena...
Paris Cullins is the co-creator of Blue Devil. He’s recently been working on a comeback to comics in the independent arena…

Now, from my years buying and creating comics, I have found many fans somewhat very knowledgeable in who creates their favorite characters. From pencillers to inkers to writers to colorists, they know who does what, they know who the creators look like, etc.

in other words, they are more than fans of the characters, they’re fans of the medium.

Yet, it seems that the only creator that anyone mentions in this group when it comes to PoC creators (well, really Black creators) is Dwayne McDuffie, as if he were the only African American creator in the history of comics.

Beyond the Milestone crew, Reggie Hudlin or Christopher Priest (because those creators have already crossed that “The Man accepts them” goal in the minds of those who hold on to that philosophy), could they name other artists such as Paris Cullins, Keith Pollard, Chuck Patton, Trevor Von Eeden, Denys Cowan and so many others throughout the history of the medium?

Furthermore, is it our job as CoC to educate the CoC audience to the dearth of the African American presence of comics? Personally, I say “yes” as I am proud to be included in the now-classic Black Comix book (do y’all have a copy?).

Chuck Patton (another Detroit-based comic book artist) made his bones working for Marvel and DC before entering the animation arena working on the G.I. Joe cartoon among others...
Chuck Patton (another Detroit-based comic book artist) made his bones working for Marvel and DC before entering the animation arena working on the G.I. Joe cartoon among others…

But, as was seen in the last year (in various threads), there was, and is still, an almost defiant pushback in the revelation of various EXCELLENT titles created by CoC. From the aforementioned “quality” issue to half-assed explanations of marketing from people who clearly don’t understand the practice to even the excuse of not buying from “online” sites due to lack of “trust” of privacy when they use their credit/debit cards on the daily.

So, where is the responsibility of education at this point? Is it on the creator to continue to educate or is it on the consumer of Color to educate themselves on the deeper workings and the idea of true representation in this business?

The Mighty Larry Stroman is back on the book (other than TRIBE) that made him a household name!
The Mighty Larry Stroman is back on the book (other than TRIBE) that made him a household name!

Discuss…

http://www.griotenterprises.com

The first act of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven in all its glory!

You’ve Been Marked…

The first act of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven in all its glory!
The first act of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven in all its glory!

What’s happening!

The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven is in full swing with the third issue of the illustrated novel by Jiba Molei Anderson and Jude W. Mire out now! Here’s a little re-cap of what you might have missed…

America is in the grip of a crippling depression. Africa has become the land of opportunity. The bastard children of the Deitis want to take what the Horsemen have created. They want to leave their mark, the Mark of the Cloven, on the world.

Chapter One: Cripples' Deluge
Chapter One: Cripples’ Deluge

Chapter One: Cripples’ Deluge
A favor for Eshu goes wrong and Yemaya comes face to face with a trio of dangerous foes… The next chapter of The New Mythology begins here with this nine-part illustrated novel!

Chapter Two: Plague's Ransom
Chapter Two: Plague’s Ransom

Chapter Two: Plague’s Ransom
New enemies threaten the African Union as Ogun faces a threat that will take more than muscle to defeat.

Chapter Three: Divinity's Knell
Chapter Three: Divinity’s Knell

Chapter Three: Divinity’s Knell
Oshun has an old love interest return with ties to a cult that worships the Horsemen. When the cult splits into two rival factions, nothing is what it seems and Oshun must discover the truth behind a dangerous plot.

All three issues are available NOW at IndyPlanet, Amazon and DriveThruComics. Pick up your copies today!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Divinity's Knell, the third chapter of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven by Jiba Molei Anderson & Jude W. Mire goes on sale in print and digital June 18!

The Game Done Changed… The Game Remains The Same

Divinity's Knell, the third chapter of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven by Jiba Molei Anderson & Jude W. Mire goes on sale in print and digital June 18!
Divinity’s Knell, the third chapter of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven by Jiba Molei Anderson & Jude W. Mire goes on sale in print and digital June 18!

So, while searching the interwebs, I saw this post from David Harper at Multiversity Comics in February of this year:

http://multiversitycomics.com/columns/diminishing-role-of-artists/#.U4y_oB6EVhq.twitter

I think that it’s very telling about the state of the game. With the corporatization of DC and Marvel (based on the success of comic book films), it’s been more so about promoting the properties than the individuals that create them.

I would look at Image as a reason why. When the Magnificent Seven (Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Rob Liefeld, Jim Valentino and Whilce Portacio) bounced from Marvel in the early 90s to form Image, Marvel lost a lot of readers who flocked to the new company.

If you got all sensitive about what I just said, blame these dudes...
If you got all sensitive about what I just said, blame these dudes…

It has become easier to promote the writer within the “Corporate Two,” since there are fewer writers on multiple books than artists. Plus, they learned their “lesson” from Image: if the artist is better known than the property, people will follow the artist no matter which book they work on.

So, even though some artists still get shine (not as much since the demise of Wizard Magazine which really fomented this current state of personality with their monthly top 10 writers and artists lists), in corporate mentality, that’s not a good look. From a corporate standpoint, you don’t want the workers to get more shine than the product you’re selling (i.e. the property). Remember, the bean counters at DC and Marvel 9 times out of 10 are not creatives, much less fans of the business that they are in.

Thing is, comics are equally visual as well as literary. The artist is not the back up to the writer. They are on equal footing in the creative process. Indeed, the artist, in some ways, are more important to the selling of the product as their efforts are the first thing the consumer experiences which will entice said consumer to buy the merchandise.

Unless the writer and the artist are the same person, the proper combination of both makes for a memorable experience (a la Lee/Kirby, O’Neil/Adams, Claremont/Byrne, etc.). If the “Corporate Two” aren’t careful, they may be shooting themselves in the foot long term well after the allure of the movies fade.

Claremont kept you at the dinner table, but Byrne made you want to try the restaurant in the first place...
Claremont kept you at the dinner table, but Byrne made you want to try the restaurant in the first place…

Real talk? Independent comics are the future of this business. DC and Marvel are the McDonalds and Burger King of the game now.

If you’re looking for nutritional value from your reading material (i.e. proper representations of a character that is not a heterosexual white male), it ain’t coming from them.

If you are looking for the next big influential creator (i.e. the next Dwayne McDuffie, Fiona Staples, Afua Richardson or Robert Kirkman) that will change the game, it ain’t coming from the Mouse and the Rabbit.

Books like Saga, Watson and Holmes, the above Rocket Girl, Midnight Tiger, Black Science, Velvet, The Horsemen (shameless plug), and many more, are supplying the vitamins and minerals, the essential nutrients that your comic book diet is missing.

Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclaire's Rocket Girl... Nom, nom, nom...
Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclaire’s Rocket Girl… Nom, nom, nom…

Here’s another little tidbit of information from Heidi McDonald over at The Beat:

http://comicsbeat.com/creator-says-creator-owned-comics-pay-as-little-as-31-25-a-page-if-youre-lucky/

When you support Indies, you’re not giving your dough away to a faceless corporation that doesn’t give a s$%t about you. You’re supporting the creators who are grinding day in and day out to give you what you need… What we need.

I said... The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven #3 drops next week! Pick it up at Indyplanet, Drive Thru Comics and Amazon you suckas!
I said… The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven #3 drops next week! Pick it up at Indyplanet, Drive Thru Comics and Amazon you suckas!

Get out of your comfort zone. Jump into the deep end of the pool and see what’s out there.

The solution exists… You just gotta take a leap of faith.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

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