The Complexion of Comics: Step Ya Game Up

This image by Jason Reeves may be a bit of fan fic, but the return of Milestone is very real...
This image by Jason Reeves may be a bit of fan fic, but the return of Milestone is very real…

What’s happening, fam…

I’m not gonna lie to y’all… I’m a little shook.

Just reached out to Mr. Reginald Hudlin today congratulating him for the announcement made at the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend and, hopefully, put a little bug in his ear…

“Hello, Mr. Hudlin!

As a huge fan of both your film and comic book work as well as a fan of Milestone, I would first like to congratulate you and the rest of the team in bringing Milestone back to the comic book landscape. You were sorely missed and I’m looking forward to the new adventures featuring the heroes of Earth-M.

As a comic book creator of color, Milestone was influential at beginning of my career and the inspiration for me to create my own property, The Horsemen, as well as my company, Griot Enterprises.

I would love to work with Milestone in the near future. Moreover, I would love to, at some point, have the opportunity for our characters to interact in some form or fashion. A “Fan turned Professional” wish to be sure, but this is a time for all us (Creators of Color) to make the enduring mark on the industry through a sense of unity, something that deferred the dream back in the 1990s.

In any event, I hope this message finds you well and deservedly resting from the event that was SDCC. Please take a look at my website at your earliest convenience and I look forward to the day when we would meet in person.

Cheers!
Jiba Molei Anderson, MFA
CEO – Griot Enterprises
http://www.griotenterprises.com”

We shall we what we shall see…

Milestone officially back in the game is intimidating… Extremely intimidating. People have been hoping, wishing and praying that these brothers and their properties come back in full force. For nearly 20 years since Milestone stopped regular publication, two questions have been asked on a daily basis:

“When is Milestone coming back?”

“Who is gonna be the next Milestone?”

Personally, I’m more concerned that we Indie cats don’t go all Ania and front on Milestone because they had the ability to link with DC from jump.

This is the company that inspired a great many of us creators of color to step into the arena. Milestone Media has truly iconic characters in their stable. Icon, Hardware and especially Static are household names. They have the financial, marketing and distribution power of the “Rabbit” behind them. They are the Silverbacks, the 800lb elephant in the room.

Are the rest of us going to be overshadowed by the Return of the Cool?
Are the rest of us going to be overshadowed by the Return of the Cool?

Fellow creator of color and head of Ravenhammer Entertainment Brian Mark Williams expresses the concern some of us have:

“I feel terrible about this…I like Milestone. And I don’t want to be that fiery indie guy who doesn’t like anything but his own books…but Earth-M? Geoff Johns and Jim Lee? It scares me. I have concerns. Or maybe my worst fears have come true and I am that paranoid black writer who believes nothing is what it appears to be on the surface…”

He’s got a right to be concerned about Milestone’s future developments. They are the giants whose shoulders we stand on.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me sweat a little.

I’ve been rocking Griot Enterprises since 1999. The Horsemen has been in the landscape since 2002. That’s 16 years of being in the game…

And I’m just now getting a little bit of shine.

With Milestone officially back in the game, DC once again has “Diversity” on lock. In this respect, they crushed Marvel as it comes to representation. Yeah, Marvel may have, what, 10 – 16 books featuring characters of color, but only one writer of color working on them…

DC has Milestone… A company owned by four men of color, featuring characters of differing cultures, genders and orientation. They just landed verbal agreements from rising stars/veterans Ken Lashley and David Walker. DC Co-Publisher Geoff Johns is all on their jock and going to write a Milestone project. The artistic demigod that is DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee has been slated to draw a Milestone project.

That, my brothers and sisters, is the ultimate trump card.

Is this a violation? A little bit...
Is this a violation? A little bit…

My man Al “Sugar” Cayne writes:

“There’s no reason why all the major ‘Urban’ and ‘Hip Hop’ websites shouldn’t be posting your works. But more importantly that support needs to be reciprocated. Only then can you create a real infrastructure to create the foundation for growth. In this day in age of “All Things Indie” the support can’t be one sided.”

He’s absolutely correct. Especially for creators and properties of color, trying garner attention from Comic Book Resources, Newsarama or Comics Alliance is not nearly enough; especially because of the stigma of being the other. In addition, many fans of color simply do not check for independent comics.

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but that BGSS is a real condition.

That’s why I approached sites like Afropunk to promote my work. In that respect, comic books become more of a cultural artifact, and art piece that people, who normally don’t read comics, become aware of and are attracted to. We become special. We become unique.

Concrete Park co-creator, Tony Puryear puts it all into perspective with this statement:

“I’ve said this here before and I guess I’m gonna say it again: Isn’t this a time? Isn’t this a time to be making comics that reflect our experience, our sadness, and our beauty? I think it’s a helluva time and I think it’s about time. Let’s go!”

Get it Ronald Wimberly...
Get it Ronald Wimberly…

That is the realest of talk right there.

Mr. Puryear is absolutely correct. Despite whatever “Doom and Gloom” I hear about the state of representation in the comic book industry, despite whatever reservations or insecurities I, as an independent creator of color, may feel about the return of Milestone, this truly is a new Golden Age of diversity. The Indie game is strong. It’s powerful. Fans are tired of the same old, same old and aren’t taking any shorts.

Think about this:

At SDCC, Congressman John Lewis, civil rights activist and creator of the autobiographical graphic novel trilogy March, cosplayed himself… recreating the march to Selma with young children on the convention’s floors.

Ronald Wimberly (Prince of Cats) announced not one, but two projects: Sunset Park and the highly anticipated Slave Punk: White Coal, which will be published through Image Comics.

... I said GET IT!
… I said GET IT!

Meanwhile, Mark Waid and J.G. JonesStrange Fruit published through Boom Studios, falls under an eye of scrutiny. The mini-series, which feels like the “Ultimate” version of Icon, is criticized for well-tread tropes and a lack of authenticity.

This image has earned a particular level of side-eye... Especially because of recent events in the past few weeks. Talk about timing...
This image has earned a particular level of side-eye… Especially because of recent events in the past few weeks. Talk about timing…

Interestingly, if Strange Fruit were published in, say 2000, it would be considered groundbreaking

Oh, and Marvel’s Hip Hop Variant Cover month coming in October gets fronted on as another case of Columbusing rather than seen as an earnest homage to the musical and cultural art form.

That’s why I came up with the #4Pages16Bars concept… It’s the best of the best in a “Heavy Metal” format where fans can sample the great work out there… Not to toot a horn, but if I could get half the cats that complain about representation promoting and buying a project like this, things will change.

Fact is: there are those of us in the indie game that go toe to toe with what the Corporate Two puts out. The only thing we don’t have are the funds for big marketing campaigns. What we do have is passion, drive and chutzpah. What we need are the fans who do dig us riding hard to bring awareness to those who still sip the Kool-Aid.

Don’t get me wrong; we do a lot… A whole lot. But, we need the people who keep bitching to get their heads out of the sand, put their money where their mouth is, do a little research (we’re everywhere on social media for Heaven’s sake), and spread the word.

If all y’all do is complain and don’t contribute, shut up and continue to give them your money… #VoteWithYourDollars

Ready for battle... We ain't goin' nowhere...
Ready for battle… We ain’t goin’ nowhere…

Indeed… We’re the vanguards of the Next Age!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

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2 thoughts on “The Complexion of Comics: Step Ya Game Up”

  1. If Black s/heroes are not warring in some way or another against White supremacy worldwide, then they are not worth the title. There is a dearth of mass-appeal Black sci-fi or Action Heroes because Black folks ain’t interested in somebody Black playing the role of the White man, that was called Overseer. Check out FB: “transhumanism in hampton roads, va” video on the left for a look at the wave of the future for a Plausible Projection of a Heroic Black Future.

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