Tag Archives: comic book fans

Mind Your Surroundings

Words of wisdom from Ra's Al Ghul...
Words of wisdom from Ra’s Al Ghul…

“The only weapon the uninformed has in a debate against an informed opponent is the circular argument “…

– Jib Tzu – The Art of Verbal War

Wow. My last post sparked some real conversation.

If you haven’t read my last post, you can check out The Complexion of Comics.

It’s interesting to be responded to, and referenced as a solution, simultaneously…

A follower of mine on Facebook had a response to my article concerning the return of Milestone. Here are a couple of excerpts:

“Its not that black people don’t want these comics or minorities in general, its the lack of authenticity in most minority creators approach to selling the books based on our needs and behavior as a group of minorities in America. As someone who substitutes at schools where I have shown minority comics with excitement, I’ve witnessed from the shining eyes of children from 5th -8th grade school I know they want it.

Too many Minority-owned companies competing in an industry where there is not enough mainstream established creators for it to have meaning. As in this industry is so dominated by Caucasians that each time a minority creator is so called competitive that they are not building more ground to establish themselves, but rather are really lessening their appeal for it’s numbers that decide who is successful and a hot commodity in an industry.

And Milestone is only repeating a common practice by most Blacks when it comes to success, that its not understood to maintain it that you have to grow it from the community you are trying to represent instead of obtaining success and not spreading it.”

In the immortal words of Morris Day, "Oh, lawd..."
In the immortal words of Morris Day, “Oh, lawd…”

Wow…

That response pissed a number of my fellow creators off. Here’s an excerpt of a response from T.A.S.K. creator Damion Gonzalez:

“You called Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and Michael Davis sellouts. You accused them of not hiring minorities. I think that Joseph Illidge, Ivan Velez, Jr., ChrissCrossX, Jason Scott Jones, Robert Washington (RIP), Eric Battle and Micheline Hess would beg to differ. Those are just the people I know. Also Michael Davis would go on to mentor and tutor scores of other including N Steven Harris! You can talk all the businesses talk you want to talk but calling those men sellouts and ignoring what they actually did to foster your lack of knowledge about what they did will not fly.”

Damion Gonzalez took the commentary to... Well, you know...
Damion Gonzalez took the commentary to… Well, you know…

Wildfire creator Quinn McGowan also offered this as a counter to the argument posed to the commentator:

“Perhaps doing some actual research (as has been suggested to you before) and being informed before criticizing and tagging other people in your argument based in emotion (not in fact) would behoove someone considering themselves offering suggestions to people doing the work (And clearly already offering real and workable suggestions) in this industry…”

Quinn McGowan lit that... You see where I'm going...
Quinn McGowan lit that… You see where I’m going…

E.P.I.C. creator Lonnie Lowe Jr. came at my man straight no chaser with his response:

“Ok, until you create or contribute something wit at least 1/16 of the importance of what Milestone did for creators of color and minority creators you need to chill.

You’re way too heavily opinionated for someone who hasn’t done one thing to push the culture forward yet you have all the answers and solutions. You lack tangibility. You have no physical evidence. You haven’t done anything creator wise other than talk and make these long-ass posts about what someone else should be doing.”

Lonnie Lowe's response was... Now, I'm just being ridiculous...
Lonnie Lowe’s response was… Now, I’m just being ridiculous…

I felt what some could do is share the article on their walls to spread the word as opposed to preaching to the choir with their manifesto.

One of the points in my article is that the activation of fandom is also crucial in this equation.

Here was my response:

“For example, instead of explaining the creator’s responsibility (which as the name of this group suggests, most of us are), you could share this article on your wall in addition to other walls thereby spreading the message. Active fandom is an essential part of the cause. People do it for DC and Marvel all the time. Why not for us doing the good work as well?”

In the 20 years since Milestone ceased regular publication, this is what happened:

Griot Enterprises
Rosaruim Publishing
Gettosake Entertainment
Ravenhammer Entertainment
133Art
The Operative Network
Black Comix
ONYXCON
The Glyph Awards
MECCA Con
Genius
Concrete Park
Blackjack
Wildfire
4 Pages 16 Bars
T.A.S.K.
Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams
Trill League
Cannon Busters
Legend of the Mantamaji

And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

The point I am making is that the solution is in practice… Right now. As stated, the widespread awareness of diversity in comics is in its infancy (in one’s estimate, only 20 years when in actuality it’s almost 30). It takes not only time, but also an active word-of-mouth audience who purchases our work and promotes it for all to succeed.

We do the promotion. We’re active on social media and have been getting exposure on mainstream and independent media outlets. We’ve got the conventions established. We’re doing our part. What we need are active, not passive, consumers.

Yeah... I said it...
Yeah… I said it…

With Print On Demand outfits like Ka-Blam, Amazon’s Createspace, IngramSpark, etc., there is no need to spend extra money to print books in all 50 states to increase awareness or availability… Anyone can buy our books, in print and digital formats, anywhere in the world. One doesn’t even have to go to the comic book store to get their books. One goes to the comic book store for a sense of community, kinda like the barbershop.

In terms of marketing, social media takes care of the wide net awareness approach (i.e. articles, posts, etc.) while conventions (if one could afford the cost of travel, housing, booth space, meals and product) handle the personal interaction and direct sales to potential fans…

In short, we as creators don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

What the consumer needs to do is click on that post, read that article, come to the cons to see cats who look like them doing this thing well and purchase the books that speak to them. Then, they need to tell their people about it and support the movement in their way.

We do it for others, but we don’t do it for ourselves. Instead of blaming the creators, why not take your fellow consumers to task? Why not shout from the rooftop about that new book you picked up that no one is hip to yet?

Why is it so hard for the consumer of color to do their part in making this grow? They do it for less… Why they scared?

You keep talking about solutions when the solution is staring at you... Right in yo' face...
You keep talking about solutions when the solution is staring at you… Right in yo’ face…

With 4 Pages 16 Bars, each contributor gets access to order print copies of the book through my printers at my printing costs. In addition, they also receive a copy of the digital issue for free to sell on their websites. I’ve already implemented what you proposed… It ain’t new. That’s Cross Promotion 101.

4 Pages 16 Bars is Cross Promotion 101, a place for those who don’t know to sample what we have to offer with links to the websites of those participating so that we continue to build on the community… Emphasis on continue.

The simple fact is, everything you say Black Indie Creators should be doing, we are doing. What you, the fans, need to do is stop and take a look.

One.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

There Is A Season

I must admit, I'll be picking up this book when it drops...
I must admit, I’ll be picking up this book when it drops…

“To every thing (turn, turn, turn)…
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)…”

– The Byrds

Marvel is working hard to get your dollars…

I recently picked up their free Previews magazine and I saw not one, not two, but ten books with characters of color in its upcoming roster of releases post their current Secret Wars event.

However, only two of their books have characters of color as the lead, those being the upcoming Spider Man featuring Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel featuring Kamala Khan.

Fine and good, right? I’m sure some of you and definitely Marvel is breaking its metaphysical arm patting itself on the back as it celebrates its latest stab at diversity.

Well, let me throw this out there: I looked at the creative teams on the books and do you know how many writers of color are going to be on these books?

One.

Yes, yes y’all… It’s about that time.

I’ve noticed that every 20 years or so, the mainstream comic book industry all of a sudden becomes diverse… Really diverse… As in, they lean into diversity like a corrupt police officer leans into a defenseless “suspect” of color.

In a way, the Avengers line-up of the comics will emulate the Avengers in the upcoming Civil War film...
In a way, the Avengers line-up of the comics will emulate the Avengers in the upcoming Civil War film…

Granted, the seeds are planted a couple of years before the crop fully matures. For instance, Marvel planted a seed when the Black Panther first debuted in 1966. They planted another seed with the Falcon in 1969. But, we didn’t get the full crop of Black superheroes until the 70s with characters like Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo, Misty Knight, Storm, Blade, Black Goliath (later, the Black Giant Man) and more. Of course, that crop coincided with the escalation of the Civil Rights Movement, but more so came to pass because of the proliferation of African-American themed action films (commonly known as “Blaxploitation).

DC, which by the way has always played catch-up to the change of society, followed with the first of the “race-bent” characters. John Stewart inherited the mantle of Green Lantern in 1971, a full five years after T’Challa’s debut. Tyroc (the Angry Black Man with the voice of an angel) joined the Legion of Super Heroes in 1976 and Black Lightning didn’t appear on the scene until 1977.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

“Jib, we know this. You’re just repeating the same old thing…”

And, you’re right. But, bear with me… I’ma take this to another level. I just need to put what I’m about to explore in an historical context.

Here’s the thing: Diversity came into the mainstream comic book industry purely because of profit, not because of any underlying social responsibility these companies felt. Indeed, once the books failed to yield any lasting sales (i.e. Black Lightning’s initial run only lasted 12 issues, Brother Voodoo only lasted 5 issues as the headliner in Strange Tales, etc.), many of the initial crop of Black superheroes were either folded into larger superhero teams or teamed-up with other characters (i.e. Black Panther and Falcon joining the Avengers, Luke Cage teaming up with Danny Rand aka Iron Fist, Storm always being and X-Man, etc.), or, more commonly, sent to the minor leagues to fade into relative obscurity…

In other words, the explosion imploded.

They don't Ultimately feel that three of the characters can carry a book of their own...
They don’t Ultimately feel that three of the characters can carry a book of their own…

Now, that’s not to say that we didn’t have African American characters created during the 80s. Indeed, the 80s saw the debut of Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel (initially a “legacy” character that would later claim her own identity as Spectrum), Cyborg, Vixen and others. However, none of these characters would be the lead in their own title. Captain Marvel was a member of the Avengers, Cyborg was in the New Teen Titans and Vixen was a part of the oft fronted upon Detroit Justice League.

While Hip Hop was emerging as the dominant cultural force in the United States, while the Cosby Show was the most popular television show of the decade, We wouldn’t see an African American lead a comic book in the larger comic book community until the 90s…

Until Brotherman… An independent comic book created by creators of color.

Then, the floodgates opened again. After Brotherman, the next big African American superhero was Spawn. Once again, emerging from the independent sphere.

However, when Milestone Media came along (and best believe, DC never owned Milestone), the game done changed. All of a sudden, we were seeing Black characters popping up left and right, and the independent scene led the charge. From Tribe becoming the biggest selling comic book from creators of color in history to the start of Ania to Blackjack, Prophecy of the Soul Sorcerer and more, brothers and sisters were creating some exciting IP…

And getting paid.

You say you want a revolution...
You say you want a revolution…

DC and Marvel took notice. They had to. New characters like Steel were carrying their own books, Black Lightning got another shot at being a headliner, the first Blade movie would become the template for the eventual domination of the cinematic Marvel Universe, the list goes on and on.

More importantly, we saw more people of color creating product at the “Corporate Two.” Writers like Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Priest, Alex Simmons and others were getting the opportunities to shine, creating innovative and provocative concepts. Artists like Ken Lashley, Darryl Banks, the late Steven Hughes, Eddy Newell, ChrisCross and many more emerged as the visual caretakers of the American mythology. For a time, it was all good…

Then, the implosion happened… again.

This time, the implosion happened behind the scenes.

To be clear, we still had characters of color shining. Black Panther had two successful titles in the new millennium. Luke Cage became a major player in the Marvel Universe. Nick Fury became Samuel L. Jackson. DC kept on race bending and creating “legacy” versions of Mr. Terrific, the Crimson Avenger, and others. John Stewart, thanks to Justice League Unlimited, became the Green Lantern of a generation. Vixen went from a footnote to a strong character that will be getting her own animated series at DC. And, of course, Miles Morales and Kamala Khan would enter the scene.

However, fewer and fewer writers of color would be hired to chronicle their exploits, so much so that we would have to celebrate one Black writer getting hired at Marvel since 2009 and one Black writer getting hired at DC since 2011. To be fair, artists of color working for the “Corporate Two” are still getting love. And, some would argue that we’ve got brothers and sisters in other positions at the “Corporate Two,” but there are no Black editors. It seems that we are only good enough to draw the characters, not write them. It’s as if our images matter, but not our voices.

A real superhero...
A real superhero…

Our voice is important, now more than ever. With the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and too many others painful to name at the hands of corrupt police practices and systemic racism, with the too-recent atrocities of Ferguson and Charleston, with the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, from Boko Haram and #BringBackOurGirls, to the bravery of our real-life superhero Bree Newsome and the new leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we cannot be silenced. We must not be co-opted.

We should not and cannot be satisfied with the status quo. The scraps of representation others give us should not placate us, especially when the creators of said representation do not look like us nor care about the issues that continue to plague our community. The “Corporate Two” has been pulling a Rachel Dolezal on a large, and growing, part of their audience for far too long. And, don’t get it twisted, as soon as sales drop or don’t even achieve the break-even point, these books will fade into obscurity, once again to be mused upon until the next cycle of diversity comes around.

Yet, there is a bright light amongst the despair. And, once again, it’s coming from the independent sphere. From projects like Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams to the satirical Trill League, from webcomics like Project: Wildfire, Hunter Black, Kamikaze, Bounce, Diskordia, Matty’s Rocket and many others, from books like One Nation, Midnight Tiger, The Horsemen, Kid Code, Molly Danger, Concrete Park, Dziva Jones, Juda Fist and so much more, creators of color are coming on strong, taking no shorts, providing true representation, and giving voice to the voiceless. We’re saying it loud and we’re saying it proud.

The question is: Are you listening?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not gonna wait another 20 years for the “Corporate Two” to get around to some half-assed stab at diversity if it doesn’t work this time.

Vote with your dollars, support those who speak with your voice and #PlantYourFeet.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Calling Out To The Tribe

What’s up, fam.

2012 was a year of transition. Politically, socially, spiritually and personally, this past year was one of upheaval… And all of us felt its effects.

It is during these times of evolution when our mettle is tested and our true selves come to light. Sometimes, that light is too intense to bear. Sometimes, we see the truth and we don’t like it. But, if we face our fears and battle the greatest demons, ourselves, we become stronger than ourselves. It is at this point we evolve… We gain wisdom… We get better.

With that being said, I need to ask something of you. Before I do so, I want to give you a little insight on my hustle, Griot Enterprises

Griot Enterprises frontpage
Griot Enterprises frontpage

Since 2000, Griot Enterprises has existed for one reason: To tell great stories featuring heroes of color.

We have 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 fills that void.

Griot Enterprises properties page
Griot Enterprises properties page


The comic book market needs to continue developing innovative concepts that represent the world in order to thrive in an arena in which they have to garner attention from the movie and the video game industries as well as the buying public at large.

And honestly, Black Superheroes are cool.

Now, that you know a little more about my business, I’ll let you in on a little secret:

Griot Enterprises is just one man… Me… That’s it.

This is my baby… This is my passion… This is my grind…

And I need your help to keep this going.

Due to the transition of 2012, I’ve hit a snag and I need to raise $3000.00 by January 15, 2013 to stay in my current home lest I’m out on the street before this period of transition finishes its cycle. I’m not asking for a handout nor am I asking for charity. I just need you to do one thing:

Buy a book. Buy some swag.

That’s it. If each of you buys one book, I’ll live to fight another day. In addition, I’m offering incentives for y’all based on how much you purchase:

$1.00 – $3.00 – You will have a place in the thank you section of the upcoming The Horsemen: Book of Olorun trade paperback, which will be available in January.

$5.00 – I addition to being added to the thank you section, you will get a FREE PDF copy of The Horsemen: Book of Olorun trade paperback.

$10.00 – You’ll get a FREE PDF copy of The Horsemen: Book of Olorun trade AND a FREE PDF copy of Outworld: Return of the Master Teachers, which will be available in March.

$25.00 – All of the rewards above PLUS a FREE PDF of The New Mythology print AND Black Sci-Fi print available on Zazzle.com

The New Mythology
The New Mythology
Black Sci-Fi
Black Sci-Fi

Here’s Griot Enterprises’ current line of titles. Clicking on the links will take you directly to the books and products:

THE HOLY BIBLE: DIGNITY & DIVINITY
By Walter D. Greason & Jiba Molei Anderson
$1.00 USD
(digital)

The Holy Bible: Dignity & Divinity
The Holy Bible: Dignity & Divinity

This timely collection of stories reminds us how deeply men’s images fill religious traditions worldwide.

Dr. Walter Greason (Department of History, Monmouth University) and Jiba Molei Anderson created The Holy Bible: Dignity & Divinity to ask two fundamental questions:

How would familiar tales like the Garden of Eden and the Nativity differ if the women in the stories were the central characters?

Can we understand women as being as divine as men, if we shift our perspectives on our religious values?

The Holy Bible: Dignity & Divinity presents an important revelation about the universal power religion retains in the twenty-first century. Where commerce often takes center stage through a secular understanding of the holidays, these portraits remind readers that humility, piety, introspection, and integrity hold unique power to inspire a cynical world.

THE HORSEMEN: DIVINE INTERVENTION
By Jiba Molei Anderson, MCL, Digital Broome, Patrick Brower & Eric Pence
Issues 1 -3: $2.99 USD
(digital); $4.99 (print)
Trade Paperback: $10.00 (digital); $20.50 (print)

The Horsemen: Divine Intervention
The Horsemen: Divine Intervention

The gods of ancient Africa have possessed seven people to protect humanity from itself…whether humanity wants them to or not. They have been chosen to combat those who control the fate of the planet. Who controls the eight immortals but the number seven?

The world of The Horsemen is one of political intrigue, hip urban science fiction, and mythological fantasy where the actions of beings with immense power and extraordinary ability have reality-altering consequences.

THE HORSEMEN: BOOK OF OLORUN
By Jiba Molei Anderson, Bymers 2, Lea Goffinski & Joe Rubenstein
Issues 1 -3: $2.99 USD
(digital); $4.99 (print)

The Horsemen: Book of Olorun
The Horsemen: Book of Olorun

The Orisha emerged from a deep slumber. Seeing that their mission had been perverted, they had set about to free us…whether we wanted them to or not.

But, what if there were others not Orisha, not Deitis, not Human, but something more, a new Race? What side would they choose in the coming war?

And, who truly controls the Eight Immortals but the number seven?

MANIFESTO: THE TAO OF JIBA MOLEI ANDERSON
By Jiba Molei Anderson, foreword by John Jennings
$10.00 USD
(digital); $20.50 (print)
Also available in hardcover!

Manifesto: The Tao of Jiba Molei Anderson
Manifesto: The Tao of Jiba Molei Anderson

He is a writer, illustrator, designer and educator.

He has been nominated for the Glyph Award and his work is in The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

Now, Jiba Molei Anderson, creator of The Horsemen, shares his work and his thoughts on illustration, design, writing, and the philosophy behind it all in this visual and educational retrospective of his career.

Also, I’ve got prints, T-shirts and swag at Zazzle. Feel free to get some of that as well.

The deadline for this drive is January 11, 2013. When you make your purchase, hit me up at jiba@griotenterprises.com and let me know how much product you copped so that I can give you your props. I thank you in advance for the support, Tribe. May 2013 be a brighter day for us all… Cheers!

www.griotenterprises.com