Category Archives: Armchair Philosophy

I Am The Face of Black Rage

Don't Shoot by John Jennings... Even the new Captain America is not safe in his own country...
Don’t Shoot by John Jennings… Even the new Captain America is not safe in his own country…

Ok, time for me to chime in…

White people are not the standard of humanity.

Here’s the thing about white privilege… White people have the option to either “buy in” to the privilege or not.

They have the benefit to walk around carrying open firearms to compensate for their lack of confidence in… other areas.

They have the benefit of having their own taking the multiple lives of people, who look like them, with no consequence of cultural shaming because of that person’s actions.

They have the option to ignore the injustices perpetrated against people of color every single day.

People who look like me do not have that option.

Keep in mind that this is not a racist statement. This is fact. White people have never had the indignity of being defined by another group to justify the negative actions that people of color, Black people in particular, have been and continue to be assaulted by.

Unfortunately, this is a fact of life for an entire cultural groups in this country...
Unfortunately, this is a fact of life for an entire cultural groups in this country…

Is it racist that I am a proud man of African and African American heritage?

No.

Is it racist that I celebrate my culture on the daily through my work and my actions?

Nope.

Is it racist that my standard of excellence is based on the household that I grew up in, the amazing men and women that I am fortunate to share immediate DNA with as opposed to others who don’t “look like me?”

Hell no.

Do I use my anger at the climate of this country, the absolute disrespect and, in some cases, outright institutionalized terrorism against people of color (especially people colored like me) in a negative way to denigrate other cultures?

Hell fuck naw.

If that were the case, you might be “shocked” that I posted this.

It’s not about being helpless. It’s about knowing the odds you’re up against.

Peep game: for all of the rhetoric, all of the opposition, African Americans not only have survived, but exceeded, to an extent, the limitations that were imposed upon us. Yet, we bear the weight of the sins perpetrated against us. We have fools attempting to “justify” the MURDER of an unarmed young man on the basis that he might have stolen a cigar or because he might have had marijuana in his system… And,weare expected to understand, and accept, that justification.

Fuck. That. Corny. Shit.

This book is the Do The Right Thing of comics...
This book is the Do The Right Thing of comics…

I am not a victim. Young Black men are not targets for impotent, pea-brained goobers are so afraid of a level economic, cultural and generational playing field that they have to murder the supposed competition to maintain a status quo that they themselves are not a part of.

I am done with the bullshit… Period.

I’m tired. I’m tired of the bullshit outrage certain people are feeling because they’re being taken to task. I’m tired of people calling others racist, not because they are being oppressed, but because they don’t like to be reminded of this country’s original sin.

At this stage of the game, all the comments contrary to the stance of compassion and justice are based on laziness of thought and, especially, action. In other words, it’s a whole lot of “I’m not______” passivity politics.

If these voices are not actively acknowledging nor addressing the issue in a real way, they’re full of shit, plain and simple. They are trying to justify their inactivity, they are trying to piss on our heads and tell us it’s raining.

Their inactivity tells me exactly who they are. Their “facts,” their hollow reactive “outrage” against the truth, their middling excuses does not hold water.

They are a waste of time.

Yale Stewart, the creator of the JL8 comic strip, created this image in solidarity for the situation in Ferguson. Because of this, some cowardly troglodyte was able to find his mother's... HIS MOTHER'S phone number and has been sending harassing phone calls to her. I applaud Yale for putting himself out there, for not standing on the side lines with the rest of the sheep spewing their inadequacy, ignorance and hate. You've put skin in the game, Yale... We got your back.
Yale Stewart, the creator of the JL8 comic strip, created this image in solidarity for the situation in Ferguson. Because of this, some cowardly troglodyte was able to find his mother’s… HIS MOTHER’S phone number and has been sending harassing phone calls to her.
I applaud Yale for putting himself out there, for not standing on the side lines with the rest of the sheep spewing their inadequacy, ignorance and hate. You’ve put skin in the game, Yale… We got your back.

I am about justice. I am about true equality. When I say something, it’s because I’ve analyzed the situation 360°.

There is no way on G-d’s green earth that anyone with a quarter of a brain could justify murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed, defenseless 18 year old Black man who was about to begin college before racism snuffed out a possible shining light on this country. If, by any chance, you have the audacity to try and defend it…

You are not intelligent. You are not informed. You are a bleating sheep that needs to be culled from the herd.

You are a racist, Plain and simple.

Yeah… I said that shit.

So, are white people the gold standard of humanity? No. Not by a long shot. But then again, neither are Black people, nor Asians nor Latinos, etc. Humanity is humanity and we should all strive for a higher standard of being human.

So, if anyone doesn’t understand my rage, if they want to come mix it up in a bullshit debate, if you trolls are looking to stir some shit up?

Bring it. But trust, y’all are bringing a knife to a gunfight…

And, I pack a howitzer.

Chronicle: The Art of Jiba Molei Anderson is now available for print exclusively at Amazon. Grab a copy if you so choose. 10% off the cover price. Peace.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

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

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 Final Rant: Relapse

It's only because of Ivan Reis' artwork that I stick around...
It’s only because of Ivan Reis’ artwork that I stick around…

I know. I said I wouldn’t do this again and I’m not… Not really…

Ok, maybe a little bit…

I’m being especially hard on DC with this post (like it matters to them). Before getting into the business, I was a DC kid growing up. Batman was my guy and DC was the home of Batman. The company was my gateway drug and I am extremely disappointed at how poorly they’ve “cut the product.” It definitely doesn’t pack the same punch anymore. It’s weak.

Ever since the success of The Avengers, the powers-that-be at the Rabbit (Warner Brothers), have totally lost their shit. Every business decision (because, let’s face it, they’re dead creatively) has been “How can we be Marvel?” And, they’ve messing up ever since.

The Letters Column... Still a brilliant marketing tool...
The Letters Column… Still a brilliant marketing tool…

One of the most brilliant marketing tools ever utilized by Stan Lee was the letters column. By personalizing it in the beginnings of the Marvel Comics brand, he brought the fan base together with interaction.

The thing about that interaction was the creation of a false sense of familiarity by the fans as if their opinions mattered in how the characters were going to be portrayed. This false sense of inclusion has mutated into the delusion that “The Corporate Two” actually care about the hard-core fan’s opinion of how they’re going to make their movies…

But, they don’t care. Hard core fan dollars are a drop in the bucket compared to the casual fans. The books aren’t driving the market anymore. The movies are. The toys are. The television shows are. That’s where the big money is. Besides, no matter how loud the hard core fans bitch, moan and cry wolf, they are gonna be there opening night, first in line, ready to drop them dollars…

Your pushers have you very well trained.

Word up, it's Guardians of the Gal... My bad, Justice League United...
Word up, it’s Guardians of the Gal… My bad, Justice League United…

Ironically though, if you think about a business and the “1000 True Fan” concept of business, DC Comics as the comic book publishing / intellectual property development division of Warner Brothers have been messing up royally by completely ignoring / understanding / accepting the properties they have. They are trying to be Marvel… And they are failing miserably. The “New 52” universe is a shambling mess of storytelling sacrificed for the “Event” mentality…

Seriously. A reality-threatening crisis every six months that has to, in some way, involve every book on your roster by mining concepts that happened a mere four years ago (i.e. Future’s End, a not-so-subtly a cheap imitation of Infinite Crisis) or haphazardly shoehorning classic concepts into the latest hollow “game-changing” event (i.e. the Anti-Monitor at the end of Forever Evil).

Even the animated films, where DC killed, have gone down in terms of entertainment value because of the sloppy marketing / “creative” mandates of the New 52. The only place where DC has been DC (and has worked financially and creatively) is Arrow and, hopefully from the looks of it, the upcoming Flash and Constantine series.

What’s going to happen is that the casual fan, the movie-going fan, will go on to the next shiny thing that catches their eye. But, by alienating the “1000 True Fans,” and the Mouse and the Rabbit are going to look at “The Corporate Two (really I’m talking about DC because their recent strategy has been deplorable) as liabilities rather than assets.

Yeah... Boo...
Yeah… Boo…

Last bit of rant before I go: while we’re on the subject, how messed up is it that the co-publishers of DC include a person of Korean descent and Arab descent while Marvel editor-in chief is Latino, yet we have continued half-assed attempts at diversity shoved down our throats? Let’s take my mathematical equation concerning the “new” Wally West as an example:

Costume – Color Theory / Meaningful Backstory X Half-ass Cultural Pandering = Yuck.

In terms of “diversity,” Marvel is light years ahead of DC… Which, isn’t saying much. Currently, it publishes multiple books featuring characters of color or women as the lead (Mighty Avengers, the upcoming Storm, Ghost Rider, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Ultimate Spider Man, She Hulk, Black Widow, Elektra) and is the proud employer of the (at this writing) one Black writer working for “The Corporate Two” since 2009 in the camp.

DC just cancelled Batwing (thank G_d), the last book in their roster featuring a hero of color as the lead.

C’mon, y’all. Quit being geeked for small pickins’… We don’t have to eat chitlins anymore…

But, don’t get it twisted… I know nobody’s listening, and I’ve got to get back to work.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

A Moment on The Soapbox

Peep game…

Poverty never held Black folks back.

Martha Washington from Give Me Liberty
Martha Washington from Give Me Liberty

From slavery up until, oh say, Bush’s first “placement” into office (can’t all it an election because that sucker was bought), our people knew that education was our salvation. Hell, we were killed for wanting to have the ability to read and, despite that real threat, the slave parents did whatever they could to educate the next generation so that they wouldn’t have to suffer what they went through, so that they could rise (to quote sister Maya Angelou).

And so we did. Each generation did better than the previous one (Reconstruction, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power movement, the rise of the Black Middle Class). All of this came about because we, as Black Folk valued education and fought for it.

Alan Moore and J.H. Williams' Promethea
Alan Moore and J.H. Williams’ Promethea

Then what happened? We forgot. We saw cats getting over from the ‘hood via sports, via Hip Hop, etc. Now I’m not knocking those elements (indeed, those cats had that same value system, that same desire to achieve and that’s why they achieved greatness).

But, once we thought we had “arrived,” a group of us got lazy and fell into the trap of “entitlement” (which the country, in general, fell into). It became all about the “Benjamins,” all about flossing and surface with no substance to support the flash and razzle-dazzle. It became more about looking fly than being fly.

The Immortal Rosalyn from Todd Johnson's and Larry Stroman's TRIBE
The Immortal Rosalyn from Todd Johnson’s and Larry Stroman’s TRIBE

Coupled with the dissolution of funding for programs like art and music (which are crucial to a holistic education because those programs promote critical thinking), the rise of Bullshit programs like “No Child Left Behind,” which are more concerned about standardized test scores rather than true education and the growing apathy of parents not truly being involved in their children’s education (i.e. not attending Parent/Teacher conferences, a growing litigious culture pitting Parent against Teacher, teenage single mothers, the Industrial Prison Complex fueled by “The War on Drugs,” etc.), THIS has led us to the state we’re in now.

Dahlua Strong of Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse's Tom Strong
Dahlua Strong of Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse’s Tom Strong

The fault lies within ourselves, but so does our salvation. We cannot be complacent anymore. We cannot throw up our hands and give our power away. We can’t just sit around and complain. We have to stand up, man up, woman up and grow up. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and make this shit right. We’ve gotta go old school because that’s what is was… school.

Nobody else is gonna do it for us, so we need to do it for ourselves.

Jakita Wagner of Warren Ellis' Planetary
Jakita Wagner of Warren Ellis’ Planetary

We did it before. We need to do it now.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Done (Sung to the tune of N’Sync’s “Gone”)

Bring the Thunder by Alex Ross
Bring the Thunder by Alex Ross

This goes to certain individuals; not an entire group of people, but only for this chosen few.

They are not many, standing on the fringe, puffing their chests and ruffling their feathers.

But they get loud, angry and “armchair-bitter.” They so desperately want to sound as if they are experts to something that they know absolutely nothing about other than what they’ve read in passing or seen on television.

I’ve realized that I’ve spent too much time dealing with these individuals. And so, think of the following statements as a sort-of “Dear John” letter ending a particularly worthless relationship.

This is my purge.

So this sparked a “conversation”…

http://comicsalliance.com/african-american-robin-sean-murphy-scott-snyder-batman-detective-27/

Sorry, but this “conversation” you’re having is the exact same conversation that has been going on for all of 2013… And, I’m sick of it.

What’s really annoying is the fact that no matter how many times the question is posed and the solutions are offered, there are those who still want to get into this circular conversation that absolutely goes nowhere.

“How come there aren’t more characters of color at DC or Marvel?”

“What can we do to get Marvel and DC to create more characters of color? Or, why won’t they do the Black Panther movie with Idris Elba or Michael Jai White or ‘whatever-the-flavor-chocolate-of-the-month-actor’ is on our radar?”

“Why has Milestone gone? What can we do to create another Milestone?”

“Do white readers like Black characters in their comics?”

The thing is: They don’t want to hear the answers. They don’t want to put their money where their mouth is. They don’t want to support… Not really. They don’t want the truth…

Val-Mar, Prince of the Damned by Grey Williamson
Val-Mar, Prince of the Damned by Grey Williamson

Here’s the truth:

For those who want to talk about how we Indies fail because “others don’t buy Black books” or we Indies don’t create what the “market” wants… you are the fucking market! We used to be like you and we said “enough.” Yet, for all of our efforts, we are invisible to you.

And, I get it. I’m sure many of you are strictly DC and Marvel. I’m sure you don’t have any Image books after 1995. I’m sure you don’t read Valiant, BOOM, Dark Horse, Dynamite or many other books outside of the “Corporate Two.” So, if it ain’t from them, you don’t know and don’t care.

So you wait, you get frustrated and you bitch about how the “Corporate Two” don’t serve your needs or desires. You get frustrated because white folks don’t go out of their way to create meaningful characters of color. Do you want to know why you are so frustrated, so angry?

It is because you have become lazy and you have willingly surrendered the ability to form your own identity, your own fantasy, and have grown to depend on others who share neither your viewpoint nor the commonality of culture to define your imagination.

Yeah, you’re a sell-out.

Oh, you’ve got your excuses, your ramshackle philosophy about this and that. You hope that by using big words and, if that doesn’t work, juvenile emotion, you’ll be given a pass…

Shadowman by Roberto de la Torre
Shadowman by Roberto de la Torre

Guess what? I’ve heard it all… and all of it is bullshit.

You want internships? Mentorships? That’s called school. Art school, marketing classes, etc. You need to get yourself educated.

What’s the most important aspect of comics? Art? Story? How about all of it. How about lettering? How about your logos? What most people fail to understand that making a comic book is an exercise of graphic design. That includes typography, page layout, color choices, etc. You want to be a better comic creator? Study all aspects of creating a comic from writing to penciling to inking to coloring to lettering to editing, etc.

You want a new Milestone? It’s called Lion Forge, Action Lab, New Paradigm, Griot Enterprises, Ravenhammer, etc. There are many of us putting it down every day. You see us posting how we get down every day.

BTW, don’t ever ask me this question: “How can we get Marvel or DC to act right and give us cool characters of color?”

Not a damn thing. I’m not trying to figure out how to put more money in their coffers… I’m trying to figure out how to put money in mine.

Mambo de Erzulie Freda by David Poe
Mambo de Erzulie Freda by David Poe

The question is are the “fans” gonna stop complaining about not being represented and make that move off the “Corporate Two” teat to properties where they are better represented. I just read a quote from Joe Illidge (former editor for Milestone and DC Entertainment) that 1 in 5 comic book readers are either Black or Latino.

Imagine if that one out of five bought an indie book by a creator of color? That would help ensure the book going beyond four issues, help establish a fan base, help have these characters create a sense of longevity, that “iconic” status people so desperately strive for.

Do you realize the reason why DC and Marvel in the 90s did Black Lightning, Steel and Cage solo books ultimately leading to 1999’s Black Panther was due to the financial success of Brotherman, T.R.I.B.E. and Milestone? The reason why your precious Marvel and DC don’t cater to your needs is because you give them your money anyway. If you spent that money on even one indie a month, that would begin to get their attention.

Seraphim II: High Vigil by Sequoia C. Versillee
Seraphim II: High Vigil by Sequoia C. Versillee

Finally, and this is for those “fans,” if you really want to support, buy the damn book. You don’t even have to look around as we are marketing to you every single day.

If this offends some people, good. You need to be offended. Maybe it’ll make you take a second look at what’s really out there. But, I’m not waiting for y’all to get it. There the rest of the planet Earth that I’m working to connect with.

You know what? I’ve gotta get off this horse, too… Because I’m offering the same solutions every time this question comes up…

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Hit The Ground Running… The Hustle 101

The Black Phantom... The first TRUE African American superhero predating The Black Panther by nearly two years. He even had a white sidekick. Why post this? Because it's COOL.
The Black Phantom… The first TRUE African American superhero predating The Black Panther by nearly two years. He even had a white sidekick. Why post this? Because it’s COOL.

Hey, all. Welcome to 2014 and the first bit of original content for the year. I’m not a year-in-review sort of dude… I’ma just get into it…

So, someone posed a question on one of the many Facebook groups I check out on the daily. In a response of sorts to this question, the same question (ugh), posted a Newsarama article on how 2013 was a good year for comic book retailers. It’s a good article. Check it out.

Along with the post I posed this question:

“Now fellow creators and fans, how can we use this information and get our books to the brick and mortar audience?”

This was the response that I received from one of the group members:

Interesting read. I think one of the key points to tackle would be what was covered under Publisher Improvements.

“Retailers also acknowledged that the last couple years have demonstrated what a boon it can be to the industry to have new, fresh content coming from publisher, combined with returnability and one-time shipping — which they said was lacking in previous years.”

For smaller publishers, this may mean teaming with others to offer some sort of package deal in terms of titles offered in quantities that will improve shelf presence and help stores cut down on the shipping and returnability issue. Not sure if this could work, even exists currently, or even makes good business sense from indie publisher standpoint.

Powerman, a comic book from the United Kingdom developed for the Nigerian market in the 70s. Features some of the earliest Dave Gibbons work (Camelot 3000, Batman, The Killing Joke) you'll find. Why post this? Because it's COOL.
Powerman, a comic book from the United Kingdom developed for the Nigerian market in the 70s. Features some of the earliest Brian Bolland work (Camelot 3000, Batman, The Killing Joke) you’ll find. Why post this? Because it’s COOL.

This is my response to the poster’s comments…

It does make business sense for independent creators to become allies and form a professional marketing and promotion network, or as the French call it, a company under a similar sensibility.

Part of the reason comic book companies work is because they can provide X amount of content per month. Even though there are various titles they push out, the retailer knows that they are getting new DC or Marvel product every week of every month of every year.

The problem with the indie creator is that 9 times out of 10, we can’t honestly keep up with that kind of output… And that’s working on one title.

After all, DC Comics generated its roster (and, by default, creating its Multiverse) through acquisition (i.e. Shazam from Fawcett, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom from Charlton, etc.). From a branding and purchasing standpoint, there is greater strength in numbers coming under one banner as opposed to each individual creator trying to push their wares independently of each other.

Image is the business model for a confederation of independent comics or, the modern comic book company.

The Image of 2014 is more of a loose confederation of indie creators banding together under one flag. Image doesn’t put together creative teams. Rather, the band has to come together and produce a pitch package to Image. If Image likes the pitch, they’ll publish, market and help distribute the books. They get their cut to recoup their costs and the remaining profits are split amongst the creators.

Now, some books do better than others (i.e. Walking Dead and Saga are big hits while other Image books have smaller readership) and the higher-sellers would honestly get better returns on their creations.

If there were another situation of creators getting together under a company structure a la Image, that would show retailers that they would be getting a certain amount of new product from this same group/company on a monthly basis.

The question then would be to work out the terms of the package deal. Since a lot of us work with POD, we’d have to convince retailers to pre-pay for the books as opposed to 30 day a la Diamond.

Keep in mind, when you sell your book to retailers, you are not making cover price. You are selling the book to them at a discount so they can sell it to the customer at cover price. Think of the comic book store as your agent and the agent takes his/her fee for services rendered.

This kind of alliance would benefit the group of indie creators as whole because it boils down to this:

Brand Loyalty.

Page from unfinished Wu Tang Clan project Wu Massacre circa 2007. Art by Chris Bachalo (Steampunk, Uncanny X-Men). Why post this? Because it's WAY COOL!
Page from unfinished Wu Tang Clan project Wu Massacre circa 2007. Art by Chris Bachalo (Steampunk, Uncanny X-Men). Why post this? Because it’s WAY COOL!

DC fans tend to buy all DC books.

Marvel fans tend to buy all Marvel books.

If Bob Kane did not sell Batman to National Periodicals, If Siegel and Shuster did not do the same thing with Superman but instead tried to make it happen on their own, they may not have survived over 75 years and become the cornerstones of DC Entertainment. In a more modern context, if McFarlane, Lee, Silvestri and the rest of the “Original Seven” didn’t ban together under one banner, you wouldn’t have the success of Spawn, Wildcats, Witchblade, etc., you wouldn’t have Image

You see where I’m going with this?

So, yes, it can work and it does make business sense. The real question is if we independents could go beyond the creation of our books and really get into the marketing and operational aspects of the comic book game…

And that is a conversation some people aren’t ready to have.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

I’ll Make You Timeless…

Image

As 2013 shouted “Last Call,” in its preparation of settling debts and handing the keys over to the Celestial Lounge’s new owners, he came to a conclusion:

If you’ve played your cards right, you should be free from the past and not concerned with what may come… You will be everlasting…

…You will have become timeless.

1.) Sad N A MoFo – Denaun Porter 
2.) Thank You feat. Q-Tip, Kanye West, Lil Wayne – Busta Rhymes 
3.) Move Yer Self Instrumental – The Procussions 
4.) Big Girl Body feat. Eric Roberson – Robert Glasper Experiment 
5.) Shines – J.A.N. 
6.) Something feat. Lalah Hathaway – Snarky Puppy 
7.) Mo Money, Less Problems feat. Quelle – Denmark Vessey 
8.) Last Cypher feat. Cj Fly, Dyemond Lewis, Ala $ole, Nyck Caution, Kirk Knight, Rokamouth, Joey Bada$$, Capital STEEZ – Pro Era

 
The latest episode of Ghetto of the Mind, The New Classic, is ready to caress your earhole. Get a massage at Itunes or just click here for your happy ending… Cheers!
 
 

Politics, Pop Culture And Race: One Brother’s Perspective

Yep... It's gonna be THAT kind of party...
Yep… It’s gonna be THAT kind of party…

The misnomer is that Post-Racial means Post-Racist.

People want to say that the first election of Barack Obama showed that America finally got “it,” that we have conquered the beast and slayed the dragon called Racism…

Which is completely untrue.

The construct of Race is nothing more than modern-day feudalism. To put in current terminology, it’s corporate structure and being “white” is like being in Middle Management.

All Middle Management is concerned with is being Middle Management with the hope that as long as you stick with the Corporation, you will be rewarded by having a “seat at the table.” Middle Management will defend policies that are detrimental to the people who work for the corporation as a whole just to keep their illusionary sense of status. But, at the end of the day, the Corporation doesn’t give a damn about Middle Management, as they are replaceable as well.

In my opinion, that’s what it’s like to be white in America right now.

Back off, or the n%^$a here gets it...
Back off, or the n%^$a here gets it…

What’s even worse (in their estimation), the Lord of the Manor (i.e. the president) doesn’t even look like them, which means they can’t even take that as a solace. The security blanket of Race has been taken from them.

Real talk? Most Americans thought his ascendancy to the presidency was a fluke, that he’d be a one-term president, and white folks could pat themselves on the back because they voted a Black Man into office because, in four short years, everything would be back to “normal”.

Obama’s second go-round showed that it wasn’t a fluke and yes, there is a Black Man who is the spokesperson for the supposedly “most powerful nation in the world.” Now, that has been a true mindfuck for the entire country. Not just white folks, but us as well.

From the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case (peep the aftermath on that choice) to the endless filibusters in Congress (which threatened the very financial standing of the U.S. in the world market) to the influx of the “slave porn” films and so on, the Old Guard, trying to assert really their dwindling authority and “dominance” in the world has done everything from in order to put people back in their “place…”

Not African Americans, but in truth, those uppity white folks.

BTW, I’m not talking out of my ass with this assessment. Check out Michael Kimmel’s article at The Salon here.

"Looking good, Billy Ray!" "Feeling good, Louis!"
“Looking good, Billy Ray!” “Feeling good, Louis!”

Really, all of this is to placate not African Americans, but white folks into thinking that “everything is ok,” “white is still on top,” “you’re still one of us” while they are the ones getting the shaft, worse than us, because their “Massa” looks like them. They bought into the okey-doke hook, line and sinker.

African Americans are still reeling from the fact that “The Man” looks like us, but he hasn’t given us our 40 acres and a mule and we’re all butt hurt from our own fantasies not realized by others. We’ve forgotten to do for self and support those who are doing for self and doing it well in our communities. So, the response to that reality manifests itself with statements like:

“Why can’t Idris Elba play James Bond?”

“Which Black superhero has the same ‘status’ as, say Superman?”

“How many white people went to see ‘Best Man’s Holiday’ instead of ’12 Years A Slave?”

You know, in the 90s up until, oh, I don’t know, 2008, no one asked these questions because it didn’t matter. Everyone saw New Jack City, Blade, etc. We didn’t worry if non-Black folks liked movies like Eve’s Bayou, Love Jones or the first Best Man because African Americans supported them first, then everybody else came on board.

It’s like some folks want to be mainstream so bad when they fail to realize that to be mainstream is to be boring.

undercover-06

If you look at most of the new so-called “sitcoms” on BET and TV One, they are cheap knock-offs of “mainstream” shows… And, they are not good because of this desire to create a “Black mainstream.”

It’s the same thing in comics. When people talk about supporting Mighty Avengers instead of books like Miranda Mercury, Watson and Holmes, Midnight Tiger, The Horsemen, etc., they’re talking about supporting this mainstream, as if being a part of the mainstream gives them some sort of value… Which, it doesn’t.

Some African Americans have been so obsessed with being accepted by white (read: mainstream) audiences as validation in 2013; we’ve totally forgotten that African America has always set the trends that others follow… Globally. We forgot that we won the “Culture War” by the new millennium (thanks Hip Hop… Now get your shit together) by sticking to our guns, being unique with our stories and voices and supporting one another.

Heroes!
Heroes!

We’ve gotta get back to that because we have been the spark of revolutionary culture, thought and change in this country… And, our country needs us.

The Ghetto Can be a Beautiful Place…

It’s a state of mind.. a way of being, moving, acting and grooving… Walk with ease and purpose, make every move look like it’s effortless and never let them see you sweat. Be cool, Daddy-o… Be cool…

Casual Dap
Casual Dap

1.) Sirens (Live) – Level 42
2.) Rhyme Fighter – Mellow Man Ace
3.) Don’t Mimic feat. Ronald Bruner Jr, Thundercat, Taylor Graves, Kamasi Washington & JThorn – Chris Clarke
4.) Ghetto Woman – Janelle Monae
5.) Time Will Come – Wayna
6.) [un]Average Fruit (Ahmed Sirour Remix) – Quadron
7.) What You Won’t Do For Love – Jesse Ware
8.) Twice feat. Solange and The Roots – Robert Glasper Experiment
9.) Magnum Opus – Top Quality
10.) Get Started feat. Omar – Mark DeClive

The new episode of Ghetto Of The Mind, Casual Dap is available NOW here and on ITunes… Did I mention that it’s FREE?

Be cool get your groove on… Cheers.

http://www.griotenterprises.com