There Is A Season

I must admit, I'll be picking up this book when it drops...
I must admit, I’ll be picking up this book when it drops…

“To every thing (turn, turn, turn)…
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)…”

– The Byrds

Marvel is working hard to get your dollars…

I recently picked up their free Previews magazine and I saw not one, not two, but ten books with characters of color in its upcoming roster of releases post their current Secret Wars event.

However, only two of their books have characters of color as the lead, those being the upcoming Spider Man featuring Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel featuring Kamala Khan.

Fine and good, right? I’m sure some of you and definitely Marvel is breaking its metaphysical arm patting itself on the back as it celebrates its latest stab at diversity.

Well, let me throw this out there: I looked at the creative teams on the books and do you know how many writers of color are going to be on these books?

One.

Yes, yes y’all… It’s about that time.

I’ve noticed that every 20 years or so, the mainstream comic book industry all of a sudden becomes diverse… Really diverse… As in, they lean into diversity like a corrupt police officer leans into a defenseless “suspect” of color.

In a way, the Avengers line-up of the comics will emulate the Avengers in the upcoming Civil War film...
In a way, the Avengers line-up of the comics will emulate the Avengers in the upcoming Civil War film…

Granted, the seeds a planted a couple of years before the crop fully matures. For instance, Marvel planted a seed when the Black Panther first debuted in 1966. They planted another seed with the Falcon in 1969. But, we didn’t get the full crop of Black superheroes until the 70s with characters like Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo, Misty Knight, Storm, Blade, Black Goliath (later, the Black Giant Man) and more. Of course, that crop coincided with the escalation of the Civil Rights Movement, but more so came to pass because of the proliferation of African-American themed action films (commonly known as “Blaxploitation).

DC, which by the way has always played catch-up to the change of society, followed with the first of the “race-bent” characters. John Stewart inherited the mantle of Green Lantern in 1971, a full five years after T’Challa’s debut. Tyroc (the Angry Black Man with the voice of an angel) joined the Legion of Super Heroes in 1976 and Black Lightning didn’t appear on the scene until 1977.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

“Jib, we know this. You’re just repeating the same old thing…”

And, you’re right. But, bear with me… I’ma take this to another level. I just need to put what I’m about to explore in an historical context.

Here’s the thing: Diversity came into the mainstream comic book industry purely because of profit, not because of any underlying social responsibility these companies felt. Indeed, once the books failed to yield any lasting sales (i.e. Black Lightning’s initial run only lasted 12 issues, Brother Voodoo only lasted 5 issues as the headliner in Strange Tales, etc.), many of the initial crop of Black superheroes were either folded into larger superhero teams or teamed-up with other characters (i.e. Black Panther and Falcon joining the Avengers, Luke Cage teaming up with Danny Rand aka Iron Fist, Storm always being and X-Man, etc.), or, more commonly, sent to the minor leagues to fade into relative obscurity…

In other words, the explosion imploded.

They don't Ultimately feel that three of the characters can carry a book of their own...
They don’t Ultimately feel that three of the characters can carry a book of their own…

Now, that’s not to say that we didn’t have African American characters created during the 80s. Indeed, the 80s saw the debut of Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel (initially a “legacy” character that would later claim her own identity as Spectrum), Cyborg, Vixen and others. However, none of these characters would be the lead in their own title. Captain Marvel was a member of the Avengers, Cyborg was in the New Teen Titans and Vixen was a part of the oft fronted upon Detroit Justice League.

While Hip Hop was emerging as the dominant cultural force in the United States, while the Cosby Show was the most popular television show of the decade, We wouldn’t see an African American lead a comic book in the larger comic book community until the 90s…

Until Brotherman… An independent comic book created by creators of color.

Then, the floodgates opened again. After Brotherman, the next big African American superhero was Spawn. Once again, emerging from the independent sphere.

However, when Milestone Media came along (and best believe, DC never owned Milestone), the game done changed. All of a sudden, we were seeing Black characters popping up left and right, and the independent scene led the charge. From Tribe becoming the biggest selling comic book from creators of color in history to the start of Ania to Blackjack, Prophecy of the Soul Sorcerer and more, brothers and sisters were creating some exciting IP…

And getting paid.

You say you want a revolution...
You say you want a revolution…

DC and Marvel took notice. They had to. New characters like Steel were carrying their own books, Black Lightning got another shot at being a headliner, the first Blade movie would become the template for the eventual domination of the cinematic Marvel Universe, the list goes on and on.

More importantly, we saw more people of color creating product at the “Corporate Two.” Writers like Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Priest, Alex Simmons and others were getting the opportunities to shine, creating innovative and provocative concepts. Artists like Ken Lashley, Darryl Banks, the late Steven Hughes, Eddy Newell, ChrisCross and many more emerged as the visual caretakers of the American mythology. For a time, it was all good…

Then, the implosion happened… again.

This time, the implosion happened behind the scenes.

To be clear, we still had characters of color shining. Black Panther had two successful titles in the new millennium. Luke Cage became a major player in the Marvel Universe. Nick Fury became Samuel L. Jackson. DC kept on race bending and creating “legacy” versions of Mr. Terrific, the Crimson Avenger, and others. John Stewart, thanks to Justice League Unlimited became the Green Lantern of a generation. Vixen went from a footnote to a strong character that will be getting her own animated series at DC. And, of course, Miles Morales and Kamala Khan would enter the scene.

However, fewer and fewer writers of color would be hired to chronicle their exploits so much so that we would have to celebrate one Black writer getting hired at Marvel since 2009 and one Black writer getting hired at DC since 2011. To be fair, artists of color working for the “Corporate Two” are still getting love. And, some would argue that we’ve got brothers and sisters in other positions at the “Corporate Two,” but there are no Black editors. It seems that we are only good enough to draw the characters, not write them. It’s as if our images matter, but not our voices.

A real superhero...
A real superhero…

Our voice is important, now more than ever. With the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and too many others painful to name at the hands of corrupt police practices and systemic racism, from the too-recent atrocities of Ferguson and Charleston, from the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, from Boko Haram and #BringBackOurGirls, from the bravery of our real-life superhero Bree Newsome and the new leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we cannot be silenced. We must not be co-opted.

We should not and cannot be satisfied with the status quo. The scraps of representation others give us should not placate us, especially when the creators of said representation do not look like us nor care about the issues that continue to plague our community. The “Corporate Two” has been pulling a Rachel Dolezal on a large, and growing, part of their audience for far too long. And, don’t get it twisted, as soon as sales drop or don’t even achieve the break-even point, these books will fade into obscurity, once again to mused upon until the next cycle of diversity comes around.

Yet, there is a bright light amongst the despair. And, once again, it’s coming from the independent sphere. From projects like Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams to the satirical Trill League, from webcomics like Project: Wildfire, Hunter Black, Kamikaze, Bounce, Diskordia, Matty’s Rocket and many others, from books like One Nation, Midnight Tiger, The Horsemen, Kid Code, Molly Danger, Concrete Park, Dziva Jones, Juda Fist and so much more, creators of color are coming on strong, taking no shorts, providing true representation, and giving voice to the voiceless. We’re saying it loud and we’re saying it proud.

The question is: Are you listening?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not gonna wait another 20 years for the “Corporate Two” to get around to some half-assed stab at diversity if it doesn’t work this time.

Vote with your dollars, support those who speak with your voice and #PlantYourFeet.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

A Week in the Life of a Social Instigator

Been stepping up my meme game...
Been stepping up my meme game…

Hey, y’all.

Allow me to share a week of my life with you.

So, while strolling through the garden of social media, I came across this flower of an article…

http://heroicuniverse.com/why-the-new-approach-to-diversity-in-comics-sucks/

Sigh…

Cue up representation in comic books subroutine:

“When you only focus on DC and Marvel for diversity, you will always be disappointed…”

Hold up, hold up… In addition, the research of this article is mad faulty. Black Panther under utilized? My man has been a B+/A- list character since the Marvel Knights launch, Bradley was the recipient of the first version of the Super Soldier serum, no mention of DC’s roster or Milestone?

Nope. Couldn’t take the article seriously at all…

The core conceit of race and gender bending to create “diversity” was on point, but the sheer sloppiness in terms of research and myopic thinking concerning the “solutions” to the “problem” in this post destroys whatever credibility the writer is trying to establish.

For real, I’m tried of the bitching for bitching’s sake when it comes to a lot of this “reporting.” If you don’t acknowledge what has come before and really investigate what is happening currently (it ain’t hard… it’s called research), you’re just wasting energy flapping your gums…

On the flip side…

This paper written by JD Boucher is quite possibly one of the most informed and nuanced pieces I’ve ever read concerning the presence of race in comics. Insightful, provocative and engaging, this is a must read… A must read… For anyone who calls themselves a fan of comics and social issues. At 80 pages, it’s a quick-ish read, but it will change your perception, and conversation, of comics and issues of identity… Perhaps forever. Download it for free.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/r2j8q…/FearofaBlackSpider-Man.pdf

Next, we have The Strange Case of Rachel Dolezal.

Life imitates art... Ain't that a bitch...
Life imitates art… Ain’t that a bitch…

The way social media is used to assassinate character nowadays is insidious. I was wondering why this was brought to the fore now as opposed to years ago. Hearing about the court case puts everything into perspective…

I imagine that your response to Ms. Dolezal’s outing is similar to some whites when they discovered that those that they thought were white were actually passing as well. If we want to link it to entertainment, that was a key plot line to such books, and films, like Devil In A Blue Dress, An Imitation of Life, Pinky, Trick Baby, etc.

What makes her story so problematic is her extreme appropriation of “race,” culture and color in order to prove herself an ally to the cause. In fact, she benefitted from this “transformation” in ways people of African descent never could to the point of trying to check people who were born into the social strata based on skin color on their level of “Blackness” or whatever. The lack of authenticity that she perpetuated is the problem, when it was completely unnecessary…

I feel that the greater issue/problem is the question of why, in order to be an ally for social justice, Ms. Dolezal felt that she had to alter her appearance and deny her family in order to operate in that space when it was totally unnecessary to do so…

I don’t feel it’s a non-issue to discuss considering the ongoing discussions of race and representation. If anything, this could be looked at as Stockholm Syndrome in reverse, with Ms. Dolezal identifying with the oppressed (her adopted siblings in this case) as opposed to the oppressor (i.e. respectability pundits, etc.)…

Transgender and transracial are two completely different things. In fact, the use of the term transracial when it comes to Ms. Dolezal is incorrect as well since it actually refers to children of one “race” adopted by families of a different “race,” which is true of her siblings, but not Ms. Dolezal herself.

Think of it more akin to the situation when, say for instance, White parents adopt Chinese infants. More often than not, those children are never taught nor exposed to the culture they were born in, but rather raised completely in white culture. That lack of self-awareness can lead to a great deal of feelings of exclusion and lack of belonging… To any culture…

We come together, we fight for right...
We come together, we fight for right…

Now when it comes to Ms. Dolezal, that level of appropriation could border on some sort of disorder. We’ve got to look at her family as to understand why she felt the need to take it that far…

We all know that notions of identity begins at an early age with the family being critical in that development…

The issue is not what has gone before pre-colonialism. No one is saying that every thing was hunky-dory before then. In addition, the empires stated (Aztec, Incan, Chinese, Egyptian, etc.) weren’t established by outside forces, which did not look like them, placing the way they look as the ideal. All of these empires, and more, were created well before the construct of “race.”

What we don’t address is the conflict of those who bought into the underlying construct of “race” and realizing that construct was a lie, especially when encountering the negative ramifications of that construct, and how some have dealt with that realization.

And then, Charleston happened. A hate crime occurred… In a church… Please people… Please…

This is the rage we feel...
This is the rage we feel…

Did you see the president’s eyes though in his public statements? He has to walk that extreme bleeding edge. There was so much that he wanted to say, but deals with a pressure that none of us will ever know unless being in that position. I definitely would not want his job…

His words blame gun violence… But, his eyes let you know he wants to go off on the real problem…

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart (who I will truly miss when he steps down from the Daily Show even though I am looking forward to his replacement Trevor Noah) used his platform to eloquently and truly gives honest, real commentary as to the root of this tragedy.

Musician Sunn m’Cheaux appreciated what Stewart had done, but did not want to share it on his wall. His reasons were as such:

“Ideally, it should be the content of the message, not the color of the messenger that matters, but in the case of representing the Black experience, the deep seated aversion of Whites (and many conditioned persons of color) to accepting the intellectual and/or emotional testimony of Black intelligentsia and everyday people is more harmful than helpful towards the cause of anti-racism.

And this would be an obvious point if it took men to parrot the points of women for people to accept feminism. We could easily identify that pattern as misogynist. How then is waiting for Whites to parrot the points of Black people before accepting the points not racist? If you genuinely believe that #BlackLivesMatter, you should also believe that Black Voices Matter… and uplift them. #dontBSyourself”

I shared Stewart’s commentary on my wall. I agree with Brother Sunn’s statements. At the same time, as a teacher, I know that sometimes a student needs another student who grasps the concept taught to explain it to them… Because they sure as hell didn’t listen to the teacher…

Don’t get me wrong. I wish Obama went ham on this one, especially since this is his last year in office… True “no fudge” stage. But, damn if being the first African American president isn’t riding the bleeding edge of all this. I do not envy his position at all in this moment.

Still, if I had that type of platform, I would be a little less subtle in my condemnation of the real issue…

But, I don’t have that platform. I have another. I have this blog. I make these books. My purpose is to bring people together and get them talking (hopefully, in a positive and productive way), get them moving in a more collaborative, more compassionate way. That’s what I’m here to do.

#PlantYourFeet

HorsemenOlorunMeme

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Get On The Mic For The Symphony

The Revoltion is here!
The Revoltion is here!

It’s that time of year again. The weather’s getting warmer (in theory), which means that the temperature is rising.

I’m not talking about cookouts and beach time; I’m talking about the ongoing discussion of Characters of Color and the people who create them in the entertainment industry.

As I continue my marketing and analysis of representation of diversity in comics, once again the discussion breaks down into tried and true tropes:

“We need more characters of color!”

“We need to start our own companies!”

“We need to support our own!”

“If any Black artists or writers come out with decent stuff, I’ll support it.”

“We need a huge investment of capital in order to put out quality product.”

“What happened to Milestone? We need a new Milestone, but ‘The Man’ would never allow that to happen!”

“Where the comics created by POC at?”

Did you taste the flavor that we savor up in here, neighbor?
Did you taste the flavor that we savor up in here, neighbor?

In April, a mixtape dropped, Sequential Graffiti. It was a taste of something on the horizon, a little treat to get you ready for the LP.

The revolution is here.

4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape Vol. 1 – The Symphony is the shot fired across the starboard bow. It is the dream realized and the face of the true diversity that exists in the entertainment landscape today. It is where you will find us, the creators, the Hard Riders, the Visual MCs, Literary DJs and Crowd Controllers who have been holding this scene down, changing the color of the industry one innovative concept at a time.

Peep the line-up:

We've got straight-up Silverbacks on our squad!
We’ve got straight-up Silverbacks on our squad!

Purge created by Roosevelt Pitt, illustrated by Rob Haynes, Krishna AndBalram Banerjee, Gus Vasquez & Jay Reed

Tales of whimsy for all ages!
Tales of whimsy for all ages!

The Anansi Kid’s Club created by Micheline Hess

Heroes redefined!
Heroes redefined!

Project Wildfire created by Quinn McGowan

Slice-of-Life comedy... This is what they really think about you!
Slice-of-Life comedy… This is what they really think about you!

Bounce created by Chuck Collins

Supeheroes and Politics... Like Peanut Butter and Jelly!
Supeheroes and Politics… Like Peanut Butter and Jelly!

One Nation created by Jason Reeves, Alverne Ball and Luis Guerrero

Hard-hitting Western action!
Hard-hitting Western action!

Purge: Black, Red & Deadly created by LaMorris Richmond, illustrated by Roberto Goiriz

Afrofuturistic Funk!
Afrofuturistic Funk!

Juda Fist created by Mark C Dudley

Tense Urban drama and intrigue!
Tense Urban drama and intrigue!

Dziva Jones created by Aminah Armour, illustrated by Ashley A. Woods

Afrocentric Fantasy!
Afrocentric Fantasy!

Dreadlocks created by Andre Batts

There’s also a gallery featuring the work of John Jennings as well as articles from Maia Crown Williams, Damon Alums & Jiba Molei Anderson.

4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape is the answer to all of those questions, all of those complaints, all of that wishing, hoping and praying. A four-volume quarterly trade paperback series has been created to focus on comics, webcomics, animation and prose featuring creators of color. It is a resource that celebrates the past, present and future, the evolution of this movement that has been in full effect for well over 20 years.

Where the comics created by POC at? We’re right here. Cop 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape Vol. 1 in print and digital formats at Barnes & Noble and Amazon June 3.

This is the Blaxis
This is the Blaxis

The Blaxis ain’t coming… The Blaxis is HERE!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Taken to T.A.S.K.

T.A.S.K. is coming...
T.A.S.K. is coming…

In today’s social media climate, people are wont to complain, especially self-proclaimed geeks. Now granted, a good deal of the griping is warranted, particularly when it comes to diverse images in visual and literary media.

The problem is when alternate images are presented; not from the “mainstream,” but from the independent sphere and those who make the biggest complaints concerning misrepresentation ignore them.

Well, they would be fools to ignore this…

Created by Damion Gonzales, T.A.S.K. (Tactical Allied Superhuman Kommand) is an intergovernmental organization enabling international police cooperation and action in meta-human matters. It was established in 1963 and is the fourth leading intergovernmental organization by member states. T.A.S.K.’s headquarters is in New York City near the U.N. building but it maintains eight regional bureaus and several smaller satellite offices throughout the world. Its current Executive Director is John Henry, who co-founded the organization and has been its leader since its inception. As Executive Director of T.A.S.K. John Henry has a seat on the U.N. Security Council.

A brand new world...
A brand new world…

In matters where meta-human involvement has escalated a particular incident beyond the capabilities of a nation’s law enforcement agencies to combat effectively, T.A.S.K. facilitates international police collaboration and meta-human countermeasures. Any action taken by its operatives is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. T.A.S.K. operatives receive training in police procedure and most have an extensive knowledge of international laws/treaties.

T.A.S.K. is an animated superhero series set in our truly global reality. What’s it all about? Engaging characters thrown into incredible situations. Young super-humans learning what it means to be heroes in the midst of learning how to just … be.

Big fights. Big wins. Crushing losses. Throw in a dash of teen angst. Season with heinous villainy…

T.A.S.K. is coming!

... That represents our own...
… That represents our own…

Shoot, T.A.S.K. is here!

Gonzales and Echo Bridge Pictures have just released a proof of concept trailer for the T.A.S.K. animated series. The trailer does everything that a good trailer should. The world of T.A.S.K., heroes and villains are truly diverse, the world is extremely engaging and, man, it’s a whole lot of fun. The animation hearkens back to the style of Saturday Morning cartoons, taking one back to a time when you would wake up, Saturday morning at 7am, fix a bowl of cereal, and plop yourself in front of the television for 4 hours of pure escapism and imagination.

Check out the trailer here:

Damion Gonzales just took y’all to T.A.S.K.… Step ya game up.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Booth 212… Boom…

See you at C2E2!
See you at C2E2!

It’s that time of year again…

Once again, yours truly and Griot Enterprises will be at C2E2 in Chicago April 24-26. We’ll be at Booth 212, shaking hands, kissing babies, saving the world… You know… The usual…

While you’re at the booth, come cop these goodies:

DivineIntervention(small)
THE HORSEMEN: DIVINE INTERVENTION
The beginning of The New Mythology! The Horsemen is the story of seven ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, as the gods of ancient Africa possess them. The gods have chosen them to protect humanity from itself…whether humanity wants them to or not. They combat those who control the fate of the planet. Through their actions, the world would never be the same.

C2E2 TRADE COVER(frontWeb)
THE HORSEMEN: MARK OF THE CLOVEN
The New Mythology continues! Africa is now the new frontier and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.However, controlling the world has always been a “Family” business…

And, the bastard children of the Deitis want in…

chroniclecoverweb
CHRONICLE: THE ART OF JIBA MOLEI ANDERSON
The creator of The Horsemen returns showcasing the work and philosophy of a new master of the medium. More than just the average “sketchbook,” Anderson also includes two tutorials on the creation of comics… A must have for any fan of the medium!

OutworldDeluxeFrontCover
OUTWORLD: RETURN OF THE MASTER TEACHERS
The Annexation is at hand. After years of conflict, the Utopia is finally on the brink of bringing the Outworld back into the Collective’s fold, The Master Teachers are all but a fading memory…

… And in the celestial wilderness, the Second Revolution is about to begin.

They have been outlawed and hunted to the brink of extinction. The Diaspora,
once devoted to peace and diversity, has become the Utopia, dedicated to war,
subjugation and destruction. However, a rag tag band of rebels holds the key to the Diaspora’s liberation and will ignite a revolution that will bring justice to a galaxy.

4 PAGES SequentialGrafittiCover
4 PAGES | 16 BARS: A VISUAL MIXTAPE PRESENTS SEQUENTIAL GRAFFITI
Comics are Hip Hop! In 2015, diversity has become the buzzword in the comic book industry with companies like DC and Marvel claiming to lead the charge, but merely scratching the surface of the complexity and intersection of race, culture and gender.

4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape presents Sequential Graffiti is a sampler for potential fans to enjoy our intellectual properties, a showcase for existing and upcoming talent as well as a source guide for those fans to purchase our books.

The scene is more diverse than Image or Dark Horse. This is visual Jazz, Rock, Funk, Hip Hop and electronic music. This is art for the people.

In addition, we’ll have EXCLUSIVE prints for The Horsemen and 4 Pages | 16 Bars as well as the animated The Song of Lionogo: An Indian Ocean Mythological Remix created for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. This con is gonna be one for the ages… Hope to see you this weekend!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I? Steamfunk and Dieselfunk are Racist!

jazintellect:

Had to share this…

Originally posted on Chronicles of Harriet:

I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I?

Steamfunk and Dieselfunk is Racist!

LEROY_LOTUS_HQTwo days ago, I posted an article about my Dieselfunk novel, The Scythe, premiering at AnachroCon in February. I also mentioned that this year, AnachroCon’s theme is Dieselpunk.

Yesterday, this was all brought up by author and Dieselpunk, Jack Philpott, who inquired if the founder of Dieselpunks.org – the premier Dieselpunk social website – knew of AnachroCon’s Dieselpunk theme.

Here is the inquiry:

Tome, Larry, Johnny, 

I just heard that Anachrocon in Atlanta 14-16 Feb (http://www.anachrocon.org/) is having a Dieselpunk theme this year. Balogun Ojetade (CC) is even releasing a Dieselfunk book there.  Had any of you heard of that? Anyone have plans to be there (aside from Balogun)?

Jack…

Racist 3Here is the answer from the Creator / Editor of Dieselpunks.org, Tome Wilson (the bold emphasis is mine; the words, however…

View original 1,652 more words

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