The Horsemen is the culmination of the journey to find my voice as an artist and storyteller.
I’ve been a student of mythology since first seeing Clash of the Titans in 1981. I read the Greek myths, the Norse myths, Egyptians and so on. Around the age of 16, I started studying the myths and folktales of Africa and decided that I wanted to create a series of illustrations based on the gods and goddesses of various regions.
I created a concept called The Race in 1993. The Race were the descendants of the heroes and demigods of mythology. These descendants had a recessive gene that, when activated through either proximity or severe trauma, would gain super powers. They were pawns in a war between two gods, Exodus and Othello. Whosever side they joined would tip the scales of the war in either god’s favor.
Also during that time, I created another concept called Jom & Aida based on not only African mythology and African cinema, but also the opera Aida as performed by Leontyne Price, which was the story of an Egyptian princess. I wanted to use the idea of death and rebirth as the central theme.
These concepts never came together…
I was developing my graduate thesis at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; writing, designing, and illustrating a book on the history of African American super heroes and their connection to the gods and goddesses of Africa. I had taken a class on Afro-Caribbean art and rituals, which exposed me to religions like Vodou, Santeria, and Candomblé. It also exposed me to the African root faith systems of these religions, most notably the Ifa faith of Nigeria.
Finally! This was my chance to do those African god illustrations I had always wanted to create! The book was going to be called The New Mythology. I used the names of seven Yoruba gods, the Orishas, and their aspects as the chapter titles for the book. But when I got around to actually developing my depiction of the Orisha, I realized that I couldn’t illustrate them in traditional African dress.
It was a book about super heroes and the Orishas had to be illustrated as such. I delved into creating these super heroic interpretations of these gods. Jack Kirby’s reimagining of Norse mythology was my inspiration. As the thesis took shape, I realized that I did not want to let these designs exist only for a thesis only a few people would see in a graduate exhibition and nothing else. These characters would become my official entry into the comic book industry.
But, what do I call them?
I remembered the title of a book that I had to read for the Afro Caribbean Art and Ritual class; The Divine Horsemen by Maya Deren. I dropped the “Divine” and the rest, they say, is history. As for the book’s premise, thank DJ Krush. On the title track of his album, Meiso, Black Thought of the mighty Roots Crew said these fateful words:
“Who controls the eight immortals, but the number seven, in this continual maze?”
The eight immortals became the Deitis, with Exodus and Othello among them. The Race (now called The Manifest thanks to Mark of the Cloven writer Jude W. Mire), Jom, and Aida folded into this new universe, this New Mythology.
66 backers. 78% funded. With only 7 days left in our campaign, we are a mere $1050.00 from reaching our goal. Help The Horsemen reach their Manifest Destiny by donating to our Kickstarter today!