Jiba Molei Anderson is the owner of Griot Enterprises and creator of its flagship property The Horsemen. He has also written the educational text Manifesto: The Tao of Jiba Molei Anderson as well as Chronicle: The Art of Jiba Molei Anderson, and maintains The Afrosoul Chronicles a blog dedicated to the discussion of race, politics and the business of popular culture.
Mr. Anderson is also a part of the fine art community having various one-man and group shows including being featured in the book Black Comix and guest lecturing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
with The Horsemen’s inclusion in The Smithsonian’s permanent library.
In addition, Mr. Anderson has been interviewed for various publications like SciFi Pulse, Afropunk, GQ Magazine and the New York Times and has written articles for various magazines such as LaRana de Sevilla and other online journals.
Currently, Mr. Anderson is a Part-Time Lecturer at Chicago State University, teaching courses in Animation, Multimedia and Video Game Design and speaks across the country promoting comic books and graphic novels as tools for education in the exploration of race, culture and identity.
The Horsemen: Birth of the Spark – Part Deux campaign is moving along very nicely. Help us hit our initial goal this week so that we can get to going on those cool STRETCH GOALS we have in store!
If you’re in the Chicago area the weekend of August 5-7, come check out The Horsemen creator Jiba Molei Anderson and Is’nana, The Were-Spider creator Greg Anderson-Elysée at the 12th annual C2E2 held in McCormick Place in downtown Chicago!
Finally, this is the Diamond year for DJ jazintellect AKA the #MeanOlLion as he celebrates his 50th birthday! His annual birthday episode of Ghetto of the Mind is designed to get up out of your seat and celebrate the trials, tribulations, and promise of a better day. Click on the link and let go!
With 12 days left in the campaign, we are only $502.00 from our goal. Please don’t wait until the last minute. Let’s make this campaign a huge success by clicking on the link and backing The Horsemen: Birth of the Spark- Part Deux today!
As Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside (UCR), John Jennings examines the visual culture of race in various media forms including film, illustrated fiction, and comics and graphic novels. He is also the director of Abrams ComicArts imprint Megascope, which publishes graphic novels focused on the experiences of people of color. His research interests include the visual culture of Hip Hop, Afrofuturism and politics, Visual Literacy, Horror, and the EthnoGothic, and Speculative Design and its applications to visual rhetoric.
Stories are the first technology and humans live in metaphor. It’s through our myths, our folklore, our culture and our religion that we build an understanding of the world. Long before any type of mediation or distortion of those stories there was the human voice; the power of oral tradition. There was nothing “lost in translation” because the story, the meaning, the poetry, and the narrative were incarnated in the griot.
The griot is the warrior poet; dedicated to telling the stories that bind us together as a people. It’s for that reason, I feel that the company that Jiba Molei Anderson started two decades ago was aptly named. Griot Enterprises is a shining example of what’s possible when the spoken word becomes the actual and one of those primary actualizations is the amazing comic book series: The Horsemen.
Jiba, like myself, was raised on the enticing and exciting offerings of what was becoming American popular culture. A child of the African Diaspora growing up in the Motor City: Detroit, Michigan, Jiba was surrounded by positive images and ideas around Black stories, music, literature and philosophy. So when he was pursuing his Masters of Fine Arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, it only made sense that he would fuse his love for the medium of comics and graphic design into a beautifully radical story world.
If comics are our “modern mythology”, then why do we only show a small sliver of culture in that space? Despite our love for characters like Superman, Thor, Hercules, Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman they only show so much. The African Diaspora is an amazing spectrum of gods, spirits, and stories that not only translate well into super hero comics but also educate the masses about the rich history of Africa and the diversity of Black identities in the world.
Imagine a team like The Justice League of America, The Avengers or The Uncanny X-Men, but instead of beloved but well-trod paths of adventures focused on primary white protagonists, you get a coalition of characters based on the pantheon of Yoruba gods and goddesses that have chosen “horses” to possess in order to save the world from itself. I’d been researching Voudou when I came across Jiba’s work I had just finished reading the book The Divine Horsemen:The Living Gods of Haiti by dancer Maya Deren. So, the notion of being “ridden” by ancestral spirits was fresh in my head. I was immediately sucked into the world just by that wonderful connection.
Jiba’s concept, character design and story arc was truly compelling from day one and now we’re here with The Horsemen being a cornerstone of the Black Age of Comics and the Black Comix Movement! With an unmistakable style and grace, Jiba has taken the power and culture of the Diaspora and reified it into a legendary story that not only pays homage to the ancestors but also celebrates the love for comics culture in ways that have never been explored before. Combining impressive design with clear and engaging storytelling, The Horsemen is a vital part of the global Black Speculative Arts Movement, a part of culturally diverse comics culture, and I am very glad that this book is out there educating the masses.
So please pour some libations and give thanks to this groundbreaking series! Happy 20th anniversary, Jiba, and thanks so much for showing us how to build new worlds through our own culture!
With 41% funded, we’re officially at the halfway point in our campaign thanks to our 38 backers to date. Help us get to the 50% line this week when you pre-order The Horsemen: Birth of the Spark today!
Check out this review of The Horsemen from Wingless Entertainment president Brian J. Lambert!
Jiba Molei Anderson’s The Horsemen is classified as a superhero comic but make no mistake what we witness is the rebirth of gods.
For those that are new to these deities, while they are given a new treatment, they are well within the constraints of their traditional mythology. Not only that, but Anderson also alludes to their deep history in an easily accessible way.
The tales weaved before us have multiple layers but they never seem to get bogged down. We enter the world of our story after events in the past have changed the course of history. Evil forces have controlled the world after the war that saw our Horsemen leave the first time.
Their resurgence means that we are at a crossroads. There’s a duality to the story that feels real. The gods are fighting for peace, which itself is a dichotomy. The ruling class attempts to keep the status quo, they fight the prophecy that is born from it. It’s interesting to see gods with subtle gradations of human nature.
Another piece of this puzzle that Anderson nails is the shifting narrative. It’s used in movies to great effect and usually less so in comics. But there are jumps from character to character as they are all interviewed and spin one overall story. While doing so, it doesn’t get jumbled or forgotten.
Anderson’s love of music permeates his stories and there’s a rhythm to the tale that easily translated through his words. As the story progresses, we also see how the god-like power of our protagonists ripples throughout other lives. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that heavy is the head the wears the crown.
Anderson’s art is bold and powerful like the characters it represents. There are strong lines and the intensity of the battles (both mental and physical) is translated through the illustrations. You can tell this is a project that Anderson holds near to his heart, not just because of the time he’s dedicated crafting it, but also because of the painstaking way the details are rendered and the story is told.
Jiba Molei Anderson’s Horsemen is a story that opens the door to mythology and comics in a way that’s only been seen recently with the resurgence of Thor from Marvel Comics. Anderson’s fresh and true to culture take on The Horsemen is a breath of fresh air.
“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.”
Created by Jiba Molei Anderson, The Horsemen is the saga of seven ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, as the gods of ancient Africa possess them.
“When the first issue dropped in 2002, I was mad nervous. I didn’t know how this would be received. We sold over 3500 copies through Diamond (which would be major numbers today, still managed to be in Diamond’s top 300 for the month).
The official debut was Motor City Comic Con. That would be the true test. That weekend, we sold out of the box we brought with us to the con by Saturday. I had to go back to my mom’s crib in to pick up another box and we almost sold through that one by Sunday.
The biggest proof of concept came when I was trying to sell a copy to someone who already grabbed it at his LCS. He was not my target audience, but said it was the best book he had read that week.
I also met, and shook, Billy Dee Williams hand that weekend…”
– Jiba Molei Anderson
With the release of the Divine Intervention first issue in 2002, The Horsemen became a pioneer of the Afrofuturism movement in comics by using the Orishas as the basis for the superhero mythology.
The groundbreaking series celebrates its 20th anniversary with The Horsemen: Birth of the Spark!
“In 1995, I moved to Chicago and received my MFA in Visual Communication from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was at SAIC when I understood that the creation of comic books were an exercise in graphic design with script, illustration, layout, color story, etc. all components of the overall product.
My thesis project was going to be a book on the history of African American superheroes and linking them with the Orishas of the Yoruba faith as it were one of the religions that survived the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade through “hiding in plain sight” as it were.
This thesis project was the birth, and first appearance, of The Horsemen…”
– Jiba Molei Anderson
Written and Illustrated by Jiba Molei Anderson, The Horsemen: Birth of the Spark is an 80-page, 8.5″ X 11″ “Treasury-sized” volume, which continues the New Mythology saga with four stories filled with metaphysical intrigue, psychedelic locales, and pure AfroFantastic action!
The Elder Champions of Creation face their greatest challenge in The Consonance: Revelations!
Discover the truth behind the emergence of the Orisha in The First Iteration!
The Horsemen battle humanity’s psychic decay in the Birth of the Spark!
Witness a reinterpretation of the very first Horsemen story published in the now-legendary 1999 Griot Preview Book by The Horsemen: Manifest Destiny variant cover artist Aries Art!
The Horsemen: Birth of the Spark will also feature three pin-ups by indie comics legend Shawn Alleyne, articles by Wingless Entertainment founder Brian J. Lambert & scholar Lisa Kottas with a foreword by the co-architect of the Black Comix movement, John Jennings (Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Black Kirby) plus plenty of bonus materials celebrating this momentous milestone!
20 years ago, the world was introduced to The Horsemen and a world filled wonder, mystery, and grandeur told through a Pan-African lens. In doing so, The Horsemen helped change the climate in the comic book industry. Come and help us raise a glass and give cheers by entering The New Mythology on June 6, 2022!
Welcome to the eighth volume of 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape! Thank you to all of the Visual MCs, Literary DJs and Crowd Controllers who saw the vision and decided to enter the Cipher. Y’all have shown where the true diversity in this comic book industry exists and came through with straight bangers!
And to think, all of this started with a casual conversation…
In 2007, I was at the WizardWorld Chicago Comic Con. I happened to run into Sanford Greene (BitterRoot, Power Man & Iron Fist). Both of us were taking a much-needed break from manning our respective booths. At the time, we were both working on Hip Hop-related projects with Sanford creating the artwork for the Method Man graphic novel while I was writing a book called (at the time) Hip HopChronicles.
Since we were both in a “break dancing & wall tagging” state of mind, we started reminiscing on the direction our respective careers were taking. We talked about the sketchbook and how that reminded each other of the mixtapes DJs and rappers would create to sell their skills directly to the masses.
Taking the sketchbook/mixtape metaphor further, the Comic Con became, in essence, the equivalent of selling a mixtape at a swap meet or out of the trunk of your car. The sketchbook reflected the stage of the creator’s career.
The analogy breaks down like this…
When you start out, you probably don’t have a lot of money. But you could go to Kinkos and, using the copy machine, print up about 20 – 50 of those sketchbooks right quick to give the audience a taste of your skills.
As you grew in the business, hopefully, you had gotten some credits under your belt and some coins in your pocket. Maybe now, you could afford better quality paper for your next sketchbook. Maybe now, you could afford a color cover. Maybe now, you could afford full-color interiors.
The full-color experience let you know that the artist was ballin’ and making power moves… They done come up!
In any event, the whole idea is that as one levels up in their career, their presentation evolves as well. One develops their professional persona and define their swag. The sketchbook then becomes the avatar of one’s “drip, “so to speak. The sketchbook, in our summation, is a visual mixtape.
You picking up what was just laid down?
I’m a child of the 70s who came of age in the 80s. The mixtape, in my time, was a carefully curated work. One didn’t just slap a bunch of songs together on a cassette and send it on its merry way. Nah. You had to come up with a theme. Your mixtape had to have a narrative, and a raison d’etre or reason for being.
Maybe you were nursing a heartbreak. Maybe you were trying to shoot your shot with that special someone. Maybe you wanted to get the party started with the perfect selection of tracks guaranteed to get the crowd amped up. The mixtape was a form of personal sonic expression where one could become the DJ, the Bard, or the Griot they felt they were meant to be.
Track selection was an extremely important aspect of making a bomb mixtape. Again, one could be basic about it; just take the hits everyone heard on the radio, slap them together and off they go. But anyone could turn on the radio and listen to the hits. You might as well buy a volume of Now, That’s What I Call Music and call it a day. To make a dope mixtape, one had to go off the beaten path and “dig in the crates” a little bit.
Track arrangement was the secret sauce of the mixtape. It’s one thing to have the dope music. It’s another thing to arrange those tracks and assemble a tale that hits the emotions of the listener. A great mixtape was the soundtrack to a film that people wished they could see. A mixtape was all about mood and intention with the goal to take its intended listener on a journey into the creator’s psyche.
This philosophy is the methodology behind 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape. Each volume has been carefully curated with each entry chosen and arranged to take the reader on a journey through the diversity of creators, and content, that is present in the comic book industry. We go deep; finding the best cuts and the illest tracks to craft an eclectic experience that can only be found in the indie comic world.
And now here we are; eight volumes in serving up the crème de la crème of Black Comix, in particular, and Indie Comics in general. This village has definitely become a nation.
This volume features the next crop of Visual MCs and Literary DJs who decided to grab the mic! Aries Art (Cover Artist and Visual MC), Michael Watson (Hotshot), Raudric Curtis (Dambe), Milton Davis (Changa and the Jade Obelisk), Andre Roberts (The Dog Years), Terry Huddleson (Visual MC), Malachi Bailey (Her), Akinboye Olasunkanmi (Weju), Juan Arevalo (Oya), Brett Hillesheim (The Book of Gylou), Curtis “Specks” Thompson (Legacy of the View), and more enter the Cipher!
So, sit back and relax, kick your feet up, get into this playlist we put together for you, and remember…
This is a public service announcement to all of the artists and writers who are considering entering this wild world of comics.
Ok, so what I’ve been seeing in these internet streets is that some neophyte writers think that artists are interchangeable and should be happy with whatever rate they are offered. They believe that artists are just sitting around and twiddling their thumbs waiting for these neophyte writers to bless them with their ideas.
These so-called writers are also upset because other artists, who’ve been in the game longer than most of them, are telling younger artists, no matter where they reside, to know their worth and not get jacked by people who don’t value nor respect their efforts.
And yet, some of these writers… Excuse me… “creators” want to play victim when they aren’t willing to respect the artists they hire and pay them what they’re worth?
As one who handles every aspect of comic book production (writing, illustration, lettering, coloring, design, etc.), I know exactly the amount of work it takes to produce a book from beginning to end.
I’ve also gotten paid as a freelancer for over 20 years working as a writer, illustrator, and designer.
And, I have never let anyone undervalue the work I put into the game nor would I ever undervalue anyone else…
Because I respect their talent. And that respect is shown by paying them what they are worth.
When I see these so-called writers, or “creators,” complaining or trying to justify not paying potential artists what they’re worth, regardless of which country they reside, I see that they don’t respect the artist.
That is sad because the artist, not the writer is the attraction to the book.
Look, this is comics, not prose. Comic book readers don’t care about words until they open the book. The artist is the part of the collaboration that gets eyeballs on the project.
Let me put it another way: you literally get what you pay for when it comes to art. $20 art will look like $20 art. $200 art will look like $200 art. No matter which artist from which country you deal with, the metric is the same.
Yet some “creators” act like artists from other countries live in hovels. Because of this poisonous mentality, they employ exploitive capitalist practices (Power to the People) as the model for their businesses while, for the most part, larger companies like DC or Marvel pay their creatives a living wage equivalent for their talents…
And make up that cost by selling books.
UPDATE 01: Here is a link to an article from Creator Resource which lays out the page rates from major comic book companies in 2017.
Some of these “creators” are being cheap as fu*k and their slip is showing. Show some respect and pay the artist their worth.
What is the national average for every country from every artist you work with? And, is that your metric for hiring artists from that region?
If so, that still smacks of exploitation in my eyes.
I would rather pay a bit above their national average, especially if they come from a country whose currency is less than the country where I reside.
I can afford it because that’s showing respect.
You’re talking to a cat who has told other artists to charge me their real rate as opposed to the “I’m just happy to be here” rate because that’s not only showing respect, but that’s also a guarantee that I’m getting some of the best talent in the business.
I treat my collaborators the way I command to be treated in this business.
Here’s another point these so-called “creators” might want to think about if they are going to attempt this mode of artistic exploitation:
Did you ever consider that some artists set the price they set in order to weed out “clients” who they consider are a waste of their time and effort?
To the “creator” who prompted this piece (I’m not giving them the satisfaction of naming them), the claim that American artists are encouraging artists from other countries to raise their rates to price themselves out of their jobs is… ridiculous.
Real talk: an artist should base their rate on the time it takes to create the work and their experience level. Newer artists should charge less because of their experience. Artists with a track record can, and should, charge more.
UPDATE 02: There is a site called Litebox which breaks down the rates illustrators have been paid in various industries including comics.
For example, I wouldn’t do a page for a $100 because my CV shows that I’m worth more than that. However, I tell all of my students that they should establish a baseline rate in order to teach them to respect their talent from jump and to never sell themselves short.
Do you honestly think that artists encouraging other artists to know their worth is part of some devious plan to shaft other artists from different countries in order to what? Level some playing field to work with a bunch of start-ups that are just learning the business themselves?
That is hilariously arrogant.
No, what some people seem to be getting upset about is that artists are encouraging other artists to know their worth.
What some people are getting upset over is artists communicating with other artists in order to help the younger cats coming up in the game not get jerked.
Again, it’s not about pricing themselves out of the market. It’s about self-respect and recognizing their value in this business.
This is where respect comes into play.
As stated earlier, comics are a collaborative effort. Unless you are a true cartoonist and can execute every role yourself, a comic book needs a writer, an illustrator, a colorist (if color book), a letterer, and an editor in order to be a viable product.
A comic book is an exercise is graphic design; a synthesis of image and text coming together to create a message.
No one is more important than the other in this process. If one aspect of the product is lacking, then the entire book falls apart.
So, you need to respect every member of the team. That respect, in part, comes from paying your creative team properly.
4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape is Heavy Metal magazine meets fabled Hip-Hop periodical The Source. Each 124-page volume is filled with comics and articles celebrating the true diversity of creators in the comic book industry.
Volume 8 – Change Clothes has a featured article showcasing some of the Visual DJs 4 Pages 16 Bars series curator Jiba Molei Anderson considers to be among the best in the business. Shawn Alleyne, one of the artists featured in the article, decided to draw up Ogun, the Architect from Anderson’s groundbreaking series The Horsemen.
“Born in Barbados now residing in Philadelphia, Shawn’s work is… How shall I call it… Sexy A.F. His figures are long and sinewy bursting with a sensual energy that exists in his lovingly-rendered line work. He doesn’t do too much interior work, but his covers for books like The Almighty Street Team and his pin-up work taking his own unique spin on existing properties from the “Corporate Two” are absolutely stunning.”
Next month is the 20th anniversary of The Horsemen and Shawn Alleyne, along with 4 Pages 16 Bars Vol. 08 cover artist Aries Art will be a part of the big celebration!
61 backers. 104% funded. With only SEVEN days left in our campaign, help 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape reach 100 backers by March 30. If we reach 100, all backers will receive the 96-page graphic novel JBD: The Devil’s Due (written and created by La Morris Richmond, illustrated by Seitu Heyden, Jiba Molei Anderson, and Barton McGee) absolutely free!
So, click on the link, become a part of the Cipher and remember…
With 10 days to go, 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape Vol. 08 – Change Clothes is fully funded!
Now, it’s time for that stretch goal!
Now, you’re already getting the “Roll Call” poster because we reached 50 backers and the “Comics Are Hip Hop” poster because we made our goal. What’s the next goal? 100 backers. What’s the reward? Quite possibly one of the most controversial and provocative books you’ll ever read…
JBD: THE DEVIL’S DUE
He rose up against those who oppressed his people. Using an image meant to denigrate a race, he united a people and created a mighty nation. Now, he must rise again to save the nation he created from the corruption within.
“’White people look at what you are, and not who you are,’ remarks a supporting character, neatly setting out the Devil’s contraction: he dresses as all the most denigrating assumptions American society might have about a black man, and then behaves in a manner demonstrably superior and utterly without mercy. He thinks to usurp, and fights to kill. In the parlance of mid-’90s spandex he would be termed an anti-hero, perhaps akin to a horror character, his blade and suit drenched in blood. But, obviously, the iconography active in his design goes far deeper into comics history, all the way back to the most ‘traditional’ depictions of black people as comedic minstrel figures, an acrid and enduring shorthand. To me, graphically, he seems like Will Eisner’s The Spirit and Ebony White combined into one damning person.“
“But there is another power residing in this story, in its depiction of a liminal America. To give the Devil his due is to understand that to affect the spirit of justice is to prompt great shifts in social thinking. The Devil as bringing light and offering the fruits of knowledge. Protest, to him, is destruction, but destruction is only the prelude to reconstruction. He does not mean this in terms of a shift in the Presidency, but in accosting the makeup of the U.S. self-identity to finally ascertain the humanity of persons. All of the heroes in this comic eventually abandon the United States, for new terrain within its old borders. Repressive extremism is normal, which means it can comfortably worsen, and the answer is to push harder, harder still.”
Written by La Morris Richmond and featuring the first professional work of The Horsemen creator Jiba Molei Anderson, JBD: The Devil’s Due is #BlackComix unleashed: a bold and unflinching look into a world where Black Liberation was achieved, the lengths forces that be would go to dismantle a nation, and what one man would do to preserve it.
When we get to 100 backers, this graphic novel will be yours. So, spread the word, click on the link and remember…
The 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape anthology series is a celebration of where true diversity exists in the comic book industry. Curated by Griot Enterprises’ publisher Jiba Molei Anderson (The Horsemen), this anthology celebrates the work of BIPOC creators from mainstream to independent, webcomics to graphic novels and everything in-between.
VOLUMES 06 & 07 SHOWED THE WORLD WHAT TIME IT IS!
The Kickstarter campaigns for the last two volumes were a huge success! People flocked to see what creators like Sheeba Maya, Crystal Gonzalez, George Gant, Javier Cruz Winnick, Jamal Yaseem Igle, Kofi Bazzell-Smith, Jahni Kwatrae, Alan Saint Clark, Moana McAdams, J.M. Hunter, Ronnie Dukes & Elvira Carrizal-Dukes, Dedren Snead, Mason Easley, Tony Kittrell, Albert Morales, Michael Norton Dando, and Amber Denise Peoples brought to Vol. 06 – The Feel.
People like Vol. 06 so much, they came back for Vol. 07 – Mass Appeal which featured works from Blossom Blair, Newton Lilavois, JayDee Rosario, Bradley Golden, Keef Cross, Marcus Roberts, Ryan Francis, Lance Tooks, Corey Davis, Daimon Hampton, Brian J. Lambert, Giselle “FunkyPunkNYC” Bradshaw, and Sean Hill!
GRAB A SUIT AND GET IT TAPERED UP FOR VOLUME 08: CHANGE CLOTHES!
Vol. 08 – Change Clothes promises to keep the party going! This volume leans hard into fantastic visions of the Motherland with this next crop of Visual MCs and Literary DJs who decided to grab the mic! Aries Art, Michael Watson, Raudric Curtis, Milton Davis, Andre Roberts, Terry Huddleson, Malachi Bailey, Akinboye Olasunkanmi, Juan Arevalo, Brett Hillesheim, Curtis “Specks” Thompson, Marc Blair, and Marco Lopez have all decided to enter the Cipher!
TELL THE WHOLE WORLD THE TRUTH IS BACK!
4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape is more than just an anthology of great comics. Each 126-page volume is a portable gallery featuring the past, present, and future of comics’ finest creators of color. It’s an academic document recording the evolution of the medium… It’s living history!
The stage is set and we’re back with another banger. The Cipher returns February 28, so click on the Kickstarter link, sign up to be added to the guest list, join the party and remember…
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!