Since 1997, Griot Enterprises has existed for one reason:
To tell great stories featuring diverse characters.
When Griot began, we had seen many great African American superheroes in comics, but we never saw an iconic African American superhero team. We didn’t have our Justice League, our Avengers. We, as comic book fans of color, young and old, didn’t have a universe where our heroes reside…
… Griot Enterprises filled that void.
In the past, we have paid for everything out of our own pockets. Because of this, our market saturation hasn’t matched our output and dedication to the company. However, despite our limited resources, Griot has made an impact on this industry. Our books have become educational tools and cultural touchstones. We have been celebrated as vanguards of the Black Comix movement and as pioneers of Afrofuturism in comics.
Our books can be found online at Amazon, Comixology, Drive Thru Comics and Peep Game Comix. And we have established distribution with Independent Publishers Group through our alliance with Cedar Grove Books, publisher of Young Adult books.
Now, we are in a moment where creators of color and their properties are beginning to receive their just due. From companies like Catalyst Prime to properties Like Niobe: She Is Life, Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams, Black and others, the call for diverse images and heroes has never been louder…
We’ve built the foundation. Now, it’s time for Griot Enterprises to take it to the next level and, we need your help.
We have planned an aggressive marketing and sales campaign to bring our books to the masses in 2018. We will be attending at least seven conventions across the U.S. throughout the year to build our fan base and promote our brand.
Here’s our proposed convention schedule:
April: C2E2 (Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo), Chicago, IL
May: ECBACC (East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention),
June: BASM (Black Speculative Arts Movement), Los Angeles, CA
August: Wizard World Chicago, Chicago, IL
September: M.E.C.C.A. Con, Detroit, MI
October: Sol-Con (Black and Brown Comics Expo), Columbus, OH
October: New York Comic-Con, New York, NY
The funds generated from this campaign will pay for convention appearances, printing books, production and shipping. It only takes a dollar to participate, but if you give a little more, we have a bunch of rewards to show our appreciation…
You could even become part owner of the entire operation.
For 20 years, Griot Enterprises has been the future or entertainment. Help us in continuing our mission. We are a village. We will become a nation…
However, the Black Panther also used to frustrate the hell out of me.
Six years earlier in 1960, 17 African nations gained independence from their colonial overlords. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, two men of Euro-American Jewish descent, famously introduced The Black Panther in Fantastic Four #52 dated July 1966, three months before the revolutionary Black Nationalist organization of the same name.
I don’t know if the upheaval in the continent influenced the creation of T’Challa, but the introduction of the Black Panther was a revolutionary moment.
To have the first mainstream Black superhero in comic book history come from the continent, from a country (though fictional) that was technologically ahead of the Western world, to have that hero not only as competent as, but superior, to his white counterparts (he defeated the Fantastic Four in his first outing), was as radical as the Civil Rights Movement and as resonate as the African Independence Movements. The Black Panther was ahead of his time…
Too far ahead.
I will say that Don McGregor is a cornerstone in the development of the Black Panther’s world. McGregor would build T’Challa’s court including W’Kabi and Taku as well as creating, arguably, T’Challa’s greatest adversary in Erik Killmonger as well as his first great love, African American musician Monica Lynne.
The story was called Panther’s Rage, which ran as a 13-issue story arc in the bi-monthly Jungle Action title from 1973 – 1975. Recognized as the industry’s first “graphic novel,” Panther’s Rage was an epic tale set in Africa. Beautifully illustrated by Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, Billy Graham, Klaus Janson, P. Craig Russell and Bob McLeod, Panther’s Rage was dense, complex and sensuous.
T’Challa was depicted as a man of great passion and determination. Killmonger was more than just a standard mustache-twirling villain, but a revolutionary wanting justice for his father who died laboring in the vibranium mines (the fictional metal of the Marvel Universe and the source of Wakanda’s vast wealth). T’Challa and Killmonger’s rivalry was personal and brutal. Every victory was hard-fought and hard earned in this story. McGregor was able to infuse the world of the Black Panther with some realities of life on the continent giving the story and the character a resonance that one would think made the Black Panther a character to be reckoned with, an A-list property if you will…
Despite McGregor’s Panther vs. The Clan follow-up arc to Panther’s Rage, the Black Panther failed to gain substantial traction as an ongoing series. Oh sure, he would pop up in other titles, sometimes as a guest star, but mostly stayed in the background, the veritable “Franklin” of the Marvel Universe.
The mainstream comic book industry was, and is, dominated by white men. It’s majority-cultivated fanbase, until relatively recently, was geared towards white male power fantasy. In the late ‘60s and early 1970s, creators of color, especially writers of color, were few to none. Though this period saw the emergence of Black comic book artists the likes of Billy Graham, Arvell Jones, Trevor Von Eeden and others, the voice of Black superheroes was the voice of the other…
And, T’Challa suffered from it.
From the age of ten, I knew that I was going to be a comic book creator. I became enamored with the medium the second I opened the first comic book my father gave me. My love for the medium was beyond mere brand loyalty. DC, Marvel, Atlas, Charlton, First Comics, it didn’t matter. I was a nerd in the classic sense. In addition to comics, I was interested in science fiction and mythology. This love of mythology, coupled with the awakening of my political philosophy and Diasporatic African identity, led me to study the ancient faith systems of the continent. This largely untapped subject matter became the well from which my eventual contribution into the industry would spring forth. I was an Afrofuturist before the term was coined.
And, it was in this emergence of my creative self that my frustration with the Black Panther began.
Though the character would be the focus of various mini-series by Peter B. Gillis, Denys Cowan, Don McGregor, Gene Colan and Dwayne Turner, I felt that the character was underutilized and that the Black Panther was a treasure chest of untapped potential and untapped exploration…
The Black Panther became a promise unfulfilled.
I erroneously thought that all creators tapped into the same wellspring of creation, that we all studied the same points of interest and Marvel had dropped the ball by not making Black Panther an ongoing series thereby giving these creators the opportunity to utilize the revelation of story ideas that the exploration of African history, politics, culture and mythology had provided me.
But eventually, I realized that T’Challa’s development, as a character was, ultimately, not my concern. Though I had affection for the Black Panther, I did not own the character, he was not my “child,” so to speak. I had to use my resources and influences for my benefit, for my creative process. I had to use the elements that were “forgotten” in the Black Panther’s development for my own purposes.
I had looked to the promise of the future that would be labeled as the Black Age of Comics, or Black Comix movement, for my inspiration. Inspired by the emerging voices that Milestone Media, Brotherman, Tribe and others brought to the industry, I forged ahead with my exploration and development of my property, infusing my nascent universe, The Horsemen, with the elements I felt missing from the Black Panther.
In reality, the only thing that T’Challa needed were Black voices to tell his tale.
Christopher Priest found T’Challa’s voice in his silence. When Black Panther Vol.3 debut in 1998, Priest (along with artists Mark Texeira, Joe Jusko and Mike Manley) made T’Challa the epitome of detached cool. The Enemy of the State arc made T’Challa, and Wakanda, a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel Universe. A tale of espionage, Priest created State Department attorney K. Everett Ross to be the white reader’s entre into the Black Panther’s world. More importantly, Priest introduced the Dora Milaje, T’Challa’s personal guard of women warriors, which added a much-needed feminine strength and energy to the world of Wakanda.
Following Priest’s impressive 62-issue run, a new Black Panther series was launched in 2005, which ran for 41 issues. Scribed by Hollywood writer and producer Reginald Hudlin (Boomerang, House Party, Django Unchained) and illustrated by John Romita, Jr, Hudlin’s Who Is The Black Panther arc introduced a neo-Kirbyesque Wakanda that was never conquered, defiant and untouched by the taint of colonial influence. More so, Hudlin’s arguably greatest addition to the Black Panther’s mythos was the creation of Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister who would become the ruler of Wakanda and a Black Panther in her own right following T’Challa’s incapacitation.
In 2016, author and journalist Ta’Nehisi Coates would create a Wakanda rooted in a less romantic, more fact-based context reflecting the reality of the African continent. Though somewhat controversial amongst long-time Black Panther fans, Coates’ A Nation Under Our Feet arc tapped into the wellspring of African mythology, philosophy, culture, politics, and social issues I thought abandoned by other creators save myself. With a sense of novelization rivaling the earlier work of Don McGregor, Coates weaves a Wakanda exclusively from Afrofuturistic cloth, fulfilling the promise of a Black Panther I thought would never be realized.
This promise will be further made good come February 2018 when the Black Panther hits the big screen. Thanks to director Ryan Coogler, lead actor Chadwick Bosemen, Danai Gurira and the rest of the cast and crew, This will be the first time that audiences worldwide will see a vision of Wakanda and the Black Panther that had always existed in my mind, but will be new and exciting for the majority of a people who have been historically denied the ability to imagine a fantasy world where they play front and center.
In 2017, I attended the annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) not as an exhibitor, but as a fan. I strolled the convention taking in the sights and visiting the creators’ tables in Artist Alley, something I rarely had the luxury of doing since I began to attend comic book conventions over 20 years ago. Brian Stelfreeze, artist of Ta’Nehsi Coates’ inaugural run on the title was in attendance. I was able to strike up a conversation only to be surprised and humbled that an artistic hero of mine followed my work.
But, the best part of our exchange?
We acknowledged that we were drawing from the same wellspring for inspiration…
T’Challa has lived up to his promise. All hail the king.
Now, keep this mind (especially for those sitting in the back of the auditorium)…
Black men and women who were murdered by police for doing nothing but being, well, Black (i.e. Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and the yet to be murdered Black person because it’s not Monday) are vilified as the media digs deep for any past transgression like, say for instance, jaywalking.
Yet, this heifer, who was caught in no less than three acts of statutory rape, is called hot? As if her attractiveness (which is mad questionable BTW… Love that #Pathology) makes her crime more palatable?
Yeah… Call me a bigot all day, every day. I’d rather be this kind of bigot than a hypocritical sycophant any day…
Now; this was the article where I was called out for my bigotry.
I looked over the initial post again… The #Sensitive really got all in a tizzy because I said Gal Gadot was white while others have been trying to make her the Hollywood Rachel Dolezal because she is Israeli… And I said that it was ok for Gal Gadot to be white…
Damn… I didn’t know that saying it’s ok to be white was so racist…
What I have found since I started posting this material in 2013, is how deep this #Pathology goes and how fervent people are willing to defend this toxic ideology (so much so that people voted for the absolute worst candidate in the 20th/21st century in 2016).
The information is out there. The statistics exist for anyone to obtain. You don’t even have to really search for it. Hell, all I do is share information that other people post on their walls.
The reality is that this information completely dismantles the rhetoric that people have been spoon fed for centuries. It completely destroys the illusion of the inherent goodness that the #Pathology promotes. It’s all a lie, the ultimate Ponzi scheme, if you will. But, because of the fact that the majority of the world is brown and that brownness is overtaking the safe spaces and that brownness, with other marginalized voices actively rejecting the #Pathology, the “dominant” culture is real nervous.
They read the articles, hear the voices of critique and feel that; somehow, they are experiencing racism…
They couldn’t handle what real racism is.
Racism is the power to make policy based on prejudice. The only people who have, and exercised that “power,” is the “dominant” culture (AKA white culture). When one can produce evidence that marginalized people (i.e. Black, Latinix, Asian, LGBTQ, etc.) have held positions of power in this country to create legislation that is detrimental to others (AKA white people), then we can talk anti-white racism. Until then, marginalized people can only practice prejudice, which results in hurt feelings and, perhaps, individual agony…
The United States was founded on racism, built by racism and still feels it must operate under a racist paradigm (especially with this administration). Facts.
And that is the thing that they are most scared of, that the sins of the father will revisit them tenfold.
So, they lash out. They find spaces like mine to reclaim some sort of supremacy for themselves as if to say, “If I can shut this guy up, then I’m right and things can go back to ‘normal’.” They use the false information they’ve digested as fact assuming that someone like myself (read: Black) doesn’t know any better…
And, they get really mad when it doesn’t work.
Engaging in conversation and making “flame” arguments are two different things. Every single thing I post is to puncture the hypocrisy of the racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. narrative that we have been spoon-fed. Interestingly enough, pointing out this hypocrisy makes me the very thing I rail against?
Eff. That. Noise.
I don’t have to pull out any disclaimers about my intentions because, if you truly know me, you know where I’m coming from. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I’m going to be brutally honest. This is the work I do. It’s the work I’ve always done. I do not pray to the #Pathology of whiteness. I don’t believe in false prophets.
Because of this do I hate Euro-Americans or others of European descent? Not even. However, I’m not gonna sit and get pissed on while fools try to tell me it’s raining either.
Fun fact: I don’t troll other people’s walls with my viewpoints. Folks always wanna say something on my wall when they get #Sensitive about things that I point out…
Why is that?
Yeah, addressing this willful ignorance is tiring and disappointing. But, if what I do enlightens one, just one, person to take a step back and change their thinking, then I’ve done my job.
I mean, isn’t that what teachers are supposed to do?
No, that’s not the total truth. The truth is that so many of the things have happened in the past almost-year I’ve written about before…
“But what about Hidden Figures? What about Get Out? What about the #45thRegime? What about Wonder Woman…”
Yo, there have been so many think pieces about all of that, and more, I felt that I would just be adding noise to the ether, especially when so many of those pieces touched on themes I would touch on but in, some cases, a more eloquent way.
Then, Friday happened.
Here’s my response to that. Art and words by yours truly…
I will be giving you more of what (I hope) you remember me for soon and frequently. For the New Jacks checking this out for the first time, welcome.
This post is dedicated to the memories, family and friends of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Lorne Aherns, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa.
I need to share this with y’all… Especially those of you who still feel the need to question what I post and the veracity of what it’s like to be a Black man in America.
I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. Now, despite what some of you may think or heard about the 313, I can tell you for a fact that I felt safer in the “D” than I ever did going out to the ‘burbs. Why? Because of the color of my skin.
I remember one evening when my brother and I were heading back to the city from, I think, West Bloomfield. We’re waiting at a light when this group of white dudes in the car next to rolled up and in a brief moment of supposed bravery had the courage to yell nigger to us as the light changed and they very quickly sped off as if a car of five white dudes were afraid to catch the wrath of two Black dudes.
It’s real out here. Knock on wood, every encounter I’ve had with the police has been without incident, but that’s because my mom gave me The Talk in high school. And, best believe that in every said encounter (wasn’t that many, but all it takes is one time), I was worried because I knew that every encounter was a crapshoot. Man, I even got pulled over in Walled Lake, Michigan a few years ago when I was in a relationship with a woman whose parents lived there for little reason other than… Well, fill in the blank.
Luckily, the cops I encountered had cool heads, in part, because my mom gave me The Talk and my outwardly calm and agreeable demeanor aided in neutralizing what could have easily been a tragic situation. But best believe, I was well aware that things could always go left…
This is a small taste of what it’s like to be a brother in the U.S. I’m one of the lucky ones. Too many of us are not.
That shouldn’t be the case and I shouldn’t have to say this unfortunate truth.
This isn’t an abstract intellectual debate. Shit is real out here. No matter how many degrees you have or what you wear, in this dark skin, there is a permanent target on your back in these United States of America… Realest talk.
They call us racist because we remind them of the racism that exists every day. They call us racist because we pull the blinders away from their eyes every day. They call us racist because we force them to acknowledge that what they live are the lives of slaves trapped in mental shackles.
But, people need to know these real stories. They need to read what’s it’s truly like to be a Person Of Color in this country. They need their noses rubbed in the shit that we have to endure every day, even those of us who are not in the more concentrated areas of this oppression. We still live in this state of hyper awareness that at any moment, any wrong turn, we could become another name that people are told to remember due to this disgusting pathology.
As you can read, the past few days have been really tough. Honestly, the past few years have been extremely difficult to deal with. My spirit has been sorely tested, damn near beaten to the ground. A rage has been building inside of me, poisoning my soul and corrupting my mind. The battle that I have been fighting had almost destroyed the love that I had for myself and the love I have for others.
And then I went to the 9:30 service at Soul City Church. I was in a space where our pastor, Jarrett Stevens, addressed these trying times honestly and unabashedly, bringing another member of our church, Reverend Chris Griffin, up to the stage to give his testimony as a Black man, born in 1963, who was a young boy during the riots shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, who after nearly 50 years of that tragedy saw the same injustices against our people play out again. These men of God gave us, a truly diverse congregation (something that is, unfortunately, rare in places of worship), and a space to lament.
In this space, I did something I rarely ever do…
I let myself feel the pain of this moment in time. I looked into my own heart and faced the anger that was poisoning my mind and affecting my soul. I was able to cleanse myself of all of this toxic pain and rage…
And then, God spoke to me. And God reminded me of my mission, my gifting and my ministry.
Now, I understand that this post will take some of my readers aback as I have never spoke about my spirituality before…
Or, so it seems.
But, let me let you in on a little secret…
Comics are my ministry.
Peep game: The Horsemen is so much more than just a graphic novel series with, hopefully, a cool group of Black superheroes fighting bad guys. It’s my manifesto. It is my diatribe against the injustice I see every day (i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.). The mission statement for The Horsemen is this:
They have come to save Humanity… Whether we want them to, or not. For who controls the Eight Immortals but the number seven.
The Horsemen’s logo is an adaptation of the Andikra symbol known as the Gye Nyame, which translates to, But for the grace of God.
The Horsemen, you see, is a blessed book.
I said it before: The Horsemen would never exist at DC or Marvel. It can’t. The Horsemen exists to serve a higher purpose. The Horsemen is my space to explore and critique the miasma of bullshit we, as human beings, subject ourselves to every day that keep us separated from a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.
Finally, I saw this photo posted over the weekend of nurse and mother 28-year-old Ieshia Evans facing off against a group of police officers in Baton Rouge.
This is how I see this photo:
Notice that the sister stands tall and proud in the face of injustice.
Notice how her strength is too much for the oppressor to handle.
Notice how they are being pushed back with the power of her righteous indignation.
Notice how that Blue line stands in the distance afraid to approach her for fear of being pushed back as well…
That is what I see in this photo…
The power of the righteous dispelling fear and hate.
This is what I do, fam. I work my passion and use the gifts that the Most High gave me in order to fight for a better day for all people. Remember when I wrote that everything I make is Protest Art? Well, now you know why.
Y’all may think I’m crazy, but I need to change the narrative within myself if I am going to change the narrative within others…
“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
This article is dedicated to the memory of two icons in African American, and American history, who have recently transitioned: Prince Rogers Nelson and Muhammad Ali.
This article is also dedicated to those of the LGBT community who lost their lives in the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando.
Finally, this article is dedicated to the young woman who did not receive justice from the American legal system in the Brock Turner Rape Trial.
Privileged White Rage…
Privileged White Male Rage…
Privileged Male Rage…
We have not seen this level of “insurrection,” blatant and widespread calls for sedition and overthrow of the government and staggering uptick of mass shootings, until President Obama took office. I had always said that with the election of President Barack Obama, the lie of America that many hold onto his presidency had dispelled, would not mean that America was post-racial, but instead would reveal the simmering toxicity that laid soup- skin thin under the surface.
It’s only getting crazier. With Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee, the hate is simply transferring from racism to sexism. The rise of Donald Trump illustrates that perfectly. You have people, an entire political party, throwing their lot with a man that they know is completely opposite of the ideals that they purport to uphold, a man that, if by some fatally ridiculous twist of fate becomes president, would totally decimate the United States domestically and abroad, simply because he is a white man.
That’s how real this pathology is. That’s how damaging the false caste system called race is.
As someone who taught in at risk schools on the West Side of Chicago (i.e. the trenches), none of the security measures every staff member, faculty member, or student were lax. In fact, they were tighter than security at O’Hare Airport.
As a frequent club attendee in the cities of Detroit and Chicago and others, the security at a number of the clubs I went to was on point.
As someone who attended many, many movie theatres in the cities of Detroit and Chicago, I have never experienced doors being wedged open.
For all of the hypotheticals you put out there, I have had intimate experience with each one, which counters what you have stated.
Look, responsible gun owners would probably agree with me that we don’t need to be walking around with pistols on our hip like the Old West. Responsible gun owners would also probably agree that we have way too many guns in our society and that we need better, not tougher, laws on the books that make it harder for someone to purchase a gun than getting a driver’s license.
And, before you get into the argument of “who’ll stop the bad guys from getting guns,” as yourself this: whom are they buying the guns from and who are manufacturing these guns? Also, ask yourself this question: why, in the hell, do we need so many guns to feel “protected” in this country? Because, as we have seen, the amount of guns in this country have not made it any safer. In fact, the problem has again reached epidemic proportions.
Yes, violent people will do violent things. If it is in their heart to cause pain and havoc, they will do that. But, the availability of guns makes their ability to cause mayhem that much easier, that much more prolific, that much more damaging.
Realest talk, people of color did not create this mental illness. Neither did women, nor LGBT people nor those who have willingly immigrated to this country. And, until this disease is addressed, truly addressed with the cold, hard, brutal honest truth of what’s really going on, it’s only going to get worse.
I’m talking about the frequency of mass shootings and verbal calls for rising up against the government. Before Obama’s presidency, those incidents were few and far between, certainly with mass shootings, which now happen on an average of every 60 days. You know that it would be extremely easy to research those numbers to verify my point.
The problem is this: if this country truly offered equal opportunities from its inception, then the arguments concerning the perceived notion of entitlements to marginalized groups would hold water. However, that has never been the case.
From, for example, African Americans being considered 3/4 of a human being to wage disparity, voting rights, right to marry (consider interracial marriage as well as same-sex marriage), redlining, etc., this country has a long way to go before anyone could say that marginalized communities have an unfair advantage over the dominant culture.
Think about this: Brown Vs. Board Of Education happened only 18 years before I was born. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 only 7 years before I was born (and that is under extreme attack right now). Roe v. Wade? One year after I was born. Marriage equality for LGBT? 2015. And all of these advances, as incremental as have been, are under constant attack on a daily basis.
Now, compare these recent advances time wise of only 61 years ago (both of my parents are older than these advances), with the centuries of disparity in this country (and let’s only focus on the United States for this as this is the country we live in now).
So the question is, has there even been enough time for these advances to truly take root in the American psyche without pushback to the point where those who have benefitted, directly or indirectly, can complain about preferential treatment?
What we have been seeing, brothers and sisters, from the tragedy of Orlando to the rise of Trump, to the bemoaning of those who benefited, either directly or indirectly, from a system that has denigrated the other for centuries (you know exactly who has been deemed “other”), from the nerd rage, white tears, homophobic/misogynistic hoteppery and so on, is the violent reaction of impotent people who have bought into the lies of a system never designed for them in the first place, but will protect that system even as humanity takes those painful, awkward steps to (hopefully) a new and better society.
What I liked when I saw the President’s address was that it was this dude who put it all into perspective. The way he addressed and assuaged the audience into order to get the Democrats, the Hillary supporters, the Bernie Bros back on the same page while slick-talk snappin’ on Trump was… Magical. Ashamedly triumphant and hopeful simply because we, as a country, haven’t heard that kind of message in a long, long time.
Is it just me, or sometimes when you hear President Obama speak, he’s kind of spittin’ bars like one of the greatest MCs ever to rock the mic?
Hillary smelled what Barack was cookin’, and so did Bernie. If you have those three together like the Mod Squad, bringing the Democrats into one common goal: Defeat Trump…
It’s gonna be an asswhuppin’ of epic proportion.
But, that alone is not going to solve the underlying problem. This election cycle alone is not the war. It is merely a battle in an ongoing struggle that will take all of us to get into the trenches in order to defeat not a physical opponent nor a political one, but a mode of thought that has been in practice for centuries.
Those who’ve taken the red pill, keep fighting the good fight. For those who’ve taken the blue pill… Wake up…
Straight up, this is the Black nerd’s Lemonade right now.
For the first time in history, a comic book featuring an African superhero, written and illustrated by African Americans, is the highest-selling title from the Corporate Two. Yeah, having the character steal the show in the best comic-book related movie this year and a major marketing push definitely helped, but this is what happens when you #BetOnBlack…
The Black Panther marketing plan should be taught in schools. It’s actually a pretty textbook marketing strategy. They got the right team, did the proper product placement and marketing and got a winner on their hands.
Furthermore, they respect the importance of the character that is in their stable, a character, which encapsulates the hopes and dreams of a marginalized demographic. They actually heard this fan base and gave the character its due respect, steeped this character in its culture (fictional, but based on an amalgam of existing cultures from the marginalized demographic) and gave this character the necessary agency this character, and the marginalized demographic it represents, deserves. Because of this, Marvel produced yet another profitable situation that they, and their parent company, will benefit from greatly. This bit of good will is, in fact, good business.
In short, Marvel created the climate in which the Black Panther could be Columbused. We are seeing the effects of this as I write these words.
This should be a call to arms of what happens when you produce a fantastic product and market a great property.
Too bad DC Entertainment wasn’t in class that day… If you’re in the minority that DC has kept it on point cinematically, read this article written by Verge Entertainment bigwig and former Milestone and Batman editor Joe Illidge:
This information puts to bed a lot of superfluous “explanations” of why product featuring and created by people of color doesn’t sell. Independent creators should use this fact to push our products to the forefront…
Some people want to bring up Spawn as a counter to my statements. To that I say…
I am way more excited about this development than I ever was with the introduction of Spawn in the early 90s. In fact, if you wanna be real Image about it, I will always hype Tribe way more than Spawn as it was the first comic book featuring characters, and created by people of color, Todd Johnson and Larry Stroman, that sold over a million copies, which adjusted for inflation is on par with BP’s sales.
In other words, I’d rather celebrate the whole cake rather than just the frosting…
This should be inspiring to a lot of us independent creators of color and we need to capitalize on the climate. In fact, a number of us are.
We have seen an increase in coverage concerning independent properties dealing with the discussion of diversity (i.e. Black, The Legend of the Mantamaji, Niobe: She Is Life, Watson and Holmes, Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams, Solarman, etc.) exactly because these cats had their marketing game down and went beyond the perceived market to find their audience.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these projects are expertly created (i.e. writing, art, etc.), but creating is the easy part. Marketing is where the work comes into play.
This is the kind of work we should continue to push and purchase in addition to showing love to the “Corporate Two” when they “get it right.” Way more than being a DC or Marvel fan, I’m a fan and practitioner of the art form.
Interesting times indeed.
So, let me know if you are interested in more than just enjoying this historic moment in representation. Let’s keep it going. Let this be more than just a moment. Let’s make this a fact of life.
Speaking of, I’m going to be teaching a course on this exact subject through the International School of Comics starting in July. Granted, this class will be in Chicago, but if there is enough interest, I would possibly take this bad smoker into the remote teaching realm.
P.S. Personal note to the brothers Johnson and Stroman, c’mon fellas. We need to do a Tribe trade so that people can experience the loveliness that book was and can be again. Get at me.