Tag Archives: comic book industry

Fear of the Black Hero

 

LongTimeComin
Long time comin’…

The Black heroes are coming, y’all… I SAID THE BLACK HEROES ARE A’COMIN!

Right now, some would feel that American society is under attack. The heroes they would normally turn to have been compromised, captured, and in some cases, systematically destroyed as their way of life is going through a fundamental shift. To those feeling this pressure, I would like to say one thing:

Get over it.

In the past couple of weeks, amidst the heart-breaking tragedies, amidst the ongoing home-grown terrorism that people of color, women and other communities that are not Cis-gendered, White men have been subjected to, amidst the blustering of would-be demagogues and the corruption of elected officials who would rather save their own skin than bring the gross abuse of injustice to light, something else has happened:

Diversity has come to heroism.

I’m going to concentrate on what has happened, what has been revealed on the television, digital and widescreens. I am going to celebrate what is already here and what is to come…

And yes, I’m going to give the Corporate Two their props.

Creed-Jordan
The Champ is here…

First off, let’s talk briefly about Creed. Let’s talk about a little film that at once is an amazing addition to a beloved film mythology, yet can stand on its own while creating a completely new franchise. Let us praise Ryan Coogler’s vision of a Black hero, Adonis Johnson (Creed) the son of fallen hero Apollo Creed once rival then mentor then brother-in-arms to the lovable underdog Rocky Balboa. Let us praise Michael B. Jordan’s performance of a young man saved by Creed’s wife, had a good job, but gave it all up to pursue his passion, his father’s passion, for boxing. Let us celebrate the portrayal of a determined young man finding his way, forming his family and taking control of his own destiny.

Luke Cage Netflix
A Hero for Hire indeed…

Second, let us give thanks to the appearance of Luke Cage in Marvel’s Netflix series Jessica Jones. Let us take note of how a character that once epitomized the stereotype of the hyper sexualized angry Black male became an emotional center of perhaps the most mature depiction of superheroics on the screen. Mike Colter’s portrayal of the future Hero for Hire showed a true depth of strength, honor and heart. From the casual use of his super strength to his almost casual boredom when an assailant tried to pierce his unbreakable skin to his interaction with Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones in probably the most honest portrayal of interracial relationships even seen on film, his Luke Cage may have had steel-hard skin, but his heart was all gold…

And, left viewers wanting more. With his series coming in 2016, we will probably see the Blackest, make that honestly Black, superhero series since the first Blade movie make it to the screen. Furthermore, we will see the first Black heroine, Daughter of the Dragon Misty Knight on camera as well…

And no, Halle Berry’s Storm does not count. As marginalized and as tepid as Ms. Berry’s performance was in those films, in addition to the fact that she never once captured the majesty of the Wind Rider, I cannot in good faith count that a strong representation of the Black heroine. The abysmal Catwoman only further validates my stance.

Speaking of cats…

EW Black Panther
Enter the King…

I have to say, and I’m sure the majority of my fellow Nerds of Color will agree, that the absolute best elements of the upcoming Captain America: Civil War trailer was the inclusion of the King of Wakanda. Yes, we finally, finally, saw T’Challa, The Black Panther on the screen… For five seconds. But, damn, those were some of the best five seconds ever. Here he was, our hero, the Jackie Robinson of comics, being that hero. Dusting Captain America in pursuit, Capoeria-kicking the Winter Soldier clear across the screen, leading not following. About 20 seconds after the release, memes and gifs flooded my Facebook page featuring our hero (shoot, I made one myself).

Sorry, Falcon. No disrespect, War Machine. But, our hero has finally arrived and Marvel is about to get all of that Black Geek Money… Hell, Disney is about to get all that Black Geek Money (I ain’t forgot you, Finn).

legends-photo-4387b
A Justice League…

I would remiss to ignore what DC has done to bring Black heroes and other heroes of diversity to the small screen week after week. If you truly pay attention to Arrow, what they have done on that show is create a team that is predominately female and people of color. Think about it, we have the Black Canary, Speedy and John Diggle finally in costume (though the helmet is still so problematic that some in my community have taken to call him “MagNegro”) fighting alongside the newly christened Green Arrow with Felicity as their information hub.

Firestorm_LOT
Firestorm in full costume… Light my fire…

Over in the world of The Flash, we were introduced to the new half of the Firestorm matrix, a young Black man (though not Jason Rusch) and the Latina Hawkgirl. Both characters will be featured to the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow series.

Finally, the fledgling Supergirl series gave us a real treat. In a fascinating bit of race-bending and character merging, the mysterious leader of the DEO Hank Henshaw (played by David Harewood) was revealed not to be the Cyborg Superman (which I expected), but instead J’onn J’onzz AKA the Martian Manhunter.

Supergirl-Martian-Manhunter-Hank-Henshaw
The ultimate outsider… Man, am I glad to see him…

I call this an interesting case of race-bending, as J’onn himself is a shapeshifter. Before the Justice League cartoon series, J’onn J’onzz would transform into a white detective calling himself John Jones. However, in the cartoon, actor Carl Lumby, an African American, would voice J’onn.  As a result, from the Smallville television show to now Supergirl, the human identity of J’onn J’onzz would be played by and African American first, by Phil Morris and now Mr. Harewood. With a simple choice of voice actor, the Martian Manhunter would now forever be associated with a true sense of what it is like to be a person on the fringes of what is considered normal society.

Mythology is crucial to the development of a society. We need heroes. This is a fact of life. Heroes reflect the best of us. They are the models of perfection that we aspire to achieve. The heroes that a society creates represent the dreams, the goals, and the psychology of that society…

Yes, American society is under attack. American mythology is under attack. In fact, I would go so far to say that the destruction is irreversible. Everything that you thought was true isn’t. The lie has been exposed. The Wiz is just Richard Pryor in a bathrobe and the Emperor has no clothes. What is this, this thing you thought to be a fundamental truth now ripped to shreds and thrown around like so much confetti into the air? What is this security blanket, Linus, that used to wrap you tight now shredded and discarded on the ground and trampled into the mud? The lie exposed is this:

The White man is the only model of heroism.

PantherKick
Seriously…

The Black heroes have come and there is nothing that you can do about it. We need them. America needs them. This is only the beginning…

Don’t be scared.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

 

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The Complexion of Comics: The Business of Representation

This has been an interesting past couple of weeks…

On a personal level, I have been doing a lot of interviews, some in print, some for online radio, and the topic has been the same…

The Complexion of Comics.

MECCA Con 2015
MECCA Con 2015

Now, this phrase came about as I was speaking with MECCA Con founder Maia “Crown” Williams and I were working to title a panel I was going to moderate at the event. We didn’t want the panel to be the same old “bitch session” concerning the state of representation on the printed page and behind the scenes of the two largest publishers in the comic book sphere. Rather, we wanted to steer the conversation towards independent publishers and creators of color working on the fringe, navigating this space and creating new streams of access that DC or Marvel don’t care, or are too large of an entity, to navigate.

No more complaining. No more hoping, wishing and praying. This panel was to be about celebrating and forming alliances. You know how I get down.

It was a great panel, a true cross-section of publishers, artists and distribution with Bill Campbell, publisher of Rosarium Publishing, Daniel Zarazua, publisher of Pochino Press, Imani Lateef, owner of online distributor of comics by African American creators Peep Game Comix and Anthony Piper, creator of Trill League. We broke it down, we came correct, chopped it up and learned from each other…

Oh, yeah… The audience dug it as well. You can check out the panel right here:

I also had the extreme pleasure of meeting Sheena C. Howard and swapped a copy of ‪#‎4Pages16Bars‬ for her award-winning book, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation. It’s a meaty read and an extremely necessary discourse concerning the history of Black comics and their creators. If you want to get your academia concerning comics on, this is the book to read… It won the Eisner for a reason…

Sheena C. Howard flipped the script... Congratulations, sister!
Sheena C. Howard flipped the script… Congratulations, sister!

Oh, and Ms. Howard will be contributing to 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape… That’s how you build…

So, all in all, it was a great experience for everyone involved and something that I hope more of us, creators and fans can and will experience.

Coates... Stelfreeze... T'Challa... Indeed...
Coates… Stelfreeze… T’Challa… Indeed…

Now, coming back from MECCA Con, I was pleasantly greeted with this news:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/books/ta-nehisi-coates-to-write-black-panther-comic-for-marvel.html?_r=4

Huzzah…

I am excited by this news not because T’Challa is heading a solo book again (I called that when they announced that the Black Panther movie was green lighted; just good business), not because Ta-Nehisi Coates, a crucial voice in racial discourse, a voice who I listen to is writing the book, but also because Brian Stelfreeze, one of the greatest artists in the game, an influence on my work and an African American is drawing the book as well.

Peep game: A major African character from the “Corporate Two” has a writer/artist team that is representative of that character’s ethnic background.

Now, you may be saying: “Well, we’ve seen this before, haven’t we?” And, I would say yes… Almost 20 years ago. I can cite Steel towards the end of its run when Christopher Priest handled the writing duties and Denys Cowan handled the art circa 1997. Before then, Marcus McLaurin and Dwayne Turner working on the Cage book in the early 90s…

Since then? Nope… Until the recent news development.

A family of African descent with extraordinary abilities at Marvel... Somebody might have read The Horsemen...
A family of African descent with extraordinary abilities at Marvel… Somebody might have read The Horsemen…

On the flip side, this article popped up yesterday in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ebonycom/the-black-family-in-comic_b_8196644.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047

Now, I posted this and called it a revolutionary story and I stand behind those words. Never in comics coming from the “Corporate Two” have you seen a story focused around a family with extraordinary abilities of African descent… Never. Steel doesn’t count because John Henry and Natasha Irons never wore their respective armors at the same time. Black Lightning, pre-New52, never shared a book with his super powered daughters Thunder and Lightning. This is the first time, though only a mini-series, that you have seen this type of dynamic on the comic book page. It is revolutionary… Marvel should be patting its back on this book…

However, neither the writer nor artist of Infinity Gauntlet is of African descent. So, revolutionary in the sense we haven’t seen this from the “Corporate Two.” However, still problematic as there are no people of color writing nor drawing the book…

And, unfortunately, since Infinity Gauntlet is a mini-series, which is part of the Secret Wars event with no signs of becoming an ongoing title, by this time next year folks will complain about proper representation at the “Corporate Two”.

That’s the ongoing problem. People are so content with representation on the printed page, but aren’t nearly as concerned about the voice writing it. When that happens, things tend to get disingenuous. That’s why the upcoming Black Panther is so important. With the team of Coates and Stelfreeze, those are two brothers guiding the King of Wakanda. The only thing that would make that book more authentic is if one of the creators hailed directly from the continent.

C'mon with it, Ms. Richardson...
C’mon with it, Ms. Richardson…

So, Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther is coming along with Brian Stefreeze drawing the book. They also just signed my girl Ashley Woods along with ally Afua Richardson as the first African American women working as an artists at Marvel as well as Sanford Greene finishing Runaways, Jason Pearson, Olivier Copiel, and more doing those Hip-Hop variant covers. I have to admit, this is kind of cool. It seems as if the “Corporate Two,” in some form, is paying attention to their buying audience and making some inroads to representation behind the printed page…

But, you know how I roll in this business and, you know I am one of the biggest critics when it comes to the “Corporate Two’s” practices. My side-eye is permanent.

Sol-Con: The Brown + Black Comix Expo
Sol-Con: The Brown + Black Comix Expo

This coming weekend is the inaugural Sol-Con: The Brown + Black Comix Expo held at Ohio State University’s Hale Hall from October 2-4. I hope that some of you will be able to attend and experience the true Complexion of Comics… Cheers.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

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

Comics Are Hip Hop

4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape... We're coming for yo' ass!
4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape… We’re coming for yo’ ass!

“It was all a dream, I used to read Wizard Magazine…”

– Paraphrasing ‘Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G

Pssst… Guess what?

Comics are Hip Hop.

It takes a strong woman to control a community...
It takes a strong woman to control a community…

Of course, if this were written in the 20s, I would have said, “Comics are the Blues.” If this were written in the 40s, then Comics would be akin to Jazz. In the 60s, Comics would be considered Rock and Roll

You get the idea.

Comics started out as a sort of gutter hybrid art form of image and text, which (for the most part) were crudely drawn, crudely written disposable fair printed on cheap paper for the unwashed masses, mostly children, to enjoy.

Comics are hood. Back in the day, nobody who considered themselves “true” artists or writers would claim comics as a legitimate art form. Artists wouldn’t claim comics, using that work as a stepping-stone while they pursued “legitimate” work from advertising agencies.

Hell, Stanley Lieber created the pen name Stan Lee initially to distance himself from comic book work for the day when he would write The Great American Novel.

Our power and influence is eternal...
Our power and influence is eternal…

Comics are dangerous. Along with Jazz, along with Rock and Roll, along with Hip Hop, Comics were once, and according to some, still considered the bane of existence; a poison of the mind that would lead to delinquency, crime, homosexuality, and murder. Frederic Wertham made his bones by putting the fear of comics into the hearts and minds of good, hard-working, American folk with his ode to ridiculousness Seduction of the Innocent.

Comics are gully. They have the ability to tap into our base instincts. They allow some to engage in power fantasies of strength, sexual illusion and dominance, fulfilling wishes to be overly-muscled, gritted teeth savage demigods who can kill with impunity, cruelly reducing women to disposable plot devices only useful for fulfilling carnal needs or a tool for motivation in their mutilation or death by exotic and tragic means.

Our energy is dynamic and fierce...
Our energy is dynamic and fierce…

The Comic Book industry knows beef. From the eternal struggle for dominance by DC and Marvel to the conflict between Milestone Media and Ania (a rift that echoed the East Coast/West Coast war without the death of its representatives), to the dearth of flame wars pertaining to every aspect of comics in social media, it’s a wonder that we’ve never seen scuffles on par with the Source Awards at the San Diego Comic Con.

At the same time, Comics are conscious. Comics can uplift. Comics can inspire. Comics can show us at our absolute best. We love Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Black Panther, Storm and many others because they illustrate who we want to be. Two Jewish men for the purpose of punching Hitler, and the ugliness of Nazism, in the face, created Captain America. Spider Man shows that an ordinary schlub could rise from his nebbishness and become a hero because, of course, with great power comes great responsibility. The X-Men fight for equality in a world where not only are they not wanted, but are outright persecuted for being different.

We continue to push the boundaries of imagination...
We continue to push the boundaries of imagination…

Like Hip Hop, Comics are experimental, have different styles, represent different regions, and are global. East Coast is different from the West Coast, which is different from the Midwest and the Dirty South, yet no matter if you rock Nas or Rakim, NWA or the Souls of Mischief, Common or Eminem, Outkast or T.I., it’s still representing the culture that is Hip Hop. By the same token, no matter if you’re Justice League or Avengers, Hellboy or Saga, Blade of the Immortal or Archie, you’re still knee deep in that comic book culture.

Comics and Hip Hop share the mastery of elements in order to be truly down in the game. The practitioners of Hip Hop are the MC, the DJ, the B-Boy & B-girl and the Graffiti artist. The practitioners of comics are the Writer, the Penciller, the Inker, the Colorist and the Letterer.

Don't fight the feeling... Purge yourself of preconceived notions...
Don’t fight the feeling… Purge yourself of preconceived notions…

And, just like Hip Hop, money has come in and changed the game. Before 2008, one could say that DC and Marvel were in the same boat as Dark Horse, Image, Dynamite, IDW, Boom, etc. Even though DC and Marvel were “bigger labels,” they were still in the comic book family.

Like Hip Hop, Comics had cinematic success well before recent memory. For instance, one may be able to call the 1978 Superman film the Beat Street of comic books movies. Furthermore, Comics and Hip Hop have borrowed from each other as well as had moments of symbiosis (i.e. the Wu-Tang Clan, MCs using their rap monikers like secret identities, rappers creating comic books, Brotherman, etc.).

Real talk, 1997’s Blade, in tone, attitude and execution, was as close to a Hip Hop influenced comic book movie as you were gonna get.

You can't ignore the funk, so don't even try to fake it...
You can’t ignore the funk, so don’t even try to fake it…

However, once Iron Man and The Dark Knight made big money, the Mouse (Disney) bought Marvel, the Rabbit (Warner Brothers) doubled down on DC and changed the whole game. Now we’ve got the Corporate Two trying to dominate, and sublimate, an industry that thrives on innovation and diversity. For them, it’s not about creating good stories, but exploiting IP.

Same thing happened in Hip Hop. Before Dr. Dre’s classic The Chronic, you could have A Tribe Called Quest, EPMD, Salt N Pepa, Public Enemy, Arrested Development, 2 Live Crew, MC Hammer and more rock the airwaves and all be considered Hip Hop. After The Chronic, it became all about blunts, guns, sex and keeping it real. It became all about the clothing deal or schilling products before even getting the record deal. It became less about speaking your truth and more about fattening your bank account…

In other words, Hip Hop became more about Drake and less about Kendrick Lamar.

Not only do we keep it real, we keep it right.
Not only do we keep it real, we keep it right.

Still, just like real Hip Hop, real Comics endure. Like Hip Hop, Comics have the mainstream and the underground. Like Hip Hop, the underground, or independent scene of Comics is where true innovation and experimentation exists. That’s where you’ll find cats grinding out with passion, creating their own labels and selling their wares out of the trunks of their digital cars (POD, websites, Comixology, Drive Thru Comics, Kickstarter, etc.) searching for that fan with discernable taste to purchase what they have to offer.

And, just like Hip Hop, the work is diverse, dangerous, gully and uplifting. These Comics represent our base fears and our wildest dreams.

Remember when Nas said, “All I need is on mic?” The Comic creator could say, “All I need is one pen, or one pencil, or one stylus…”

This is where the future exists. This is where we exist. We are 4 Pages | 16 Bars, and we came to rock the house.

Protect ya neck.

Cop the EP before you grab the album...
Cop the EP before you grab the album…

4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape presents Sequential Graffiti is available for print ($14.99) and digital formats ($5.99) now at Amazon and Drive Thru Comics. Think of it as a 66-page EP celebrating some of the Visual MCs and Literary DJs who help make comics a cooler place to be. It’s all leading up to Vol. 01 of 4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Digital Mixtape. It’s called The Symphony for a reason…

http://www.griotenterprises.com

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

They all want to be Number One...
They all want to be Number One…

Are geeks, especially African American geeks, elitist?

That’s something to ponder.

I’ve found that those who are most elitist are the most ignorant with a very limited pool of information to draw from. Lack of knowledge, context and history will do that to a person. I think that some would like to be thought of as the Wise Old Man on the Mountain, but quickly find their knowledge pool challenged when they come up against someone with a deeper knowledge pool to draw from.

Don’t get it twisted… Geek Knowledge Kung-Fu is real. It’s like immortals challenging each other in Highlander or Scanner battles.

Because they are embarrassed by what they don’t know, then it becomes personal and ugly and extremely uncool. They start grasping for allies and, when they don’t have numbers to back up their view, it gets all hotep (for my uninformed readers, look up the term), people get all sensitive and it gets very nasty.

Another issue that I have a serious problem with geek culture, especially African American geek culture, is the culture of complaint and entitlement. It’s like no one is satisfied with a cot-damn thing nowadays and people go out of their way to shut a thing down before even experiencing it.

Case is point: the news that Milestone Media is coming back into the publishing game. Those same people waiting for not only pop-culture salvation, but pop-culture validation as well met the thing that fools hoped for, wished for, prayed for, and ignored others, who have been carrying the torch for, with skepticism.

My man from the Comic Nerds of Color Edward Eugene steps to the mic:

You go, gurl!
You go, gurl!

Another example I can give is when news broke of Vixen getting her own animated series.

Get that. A woman—a Black woman—getting her own animated series. A really good and underused character at that finally getting the shine she’s deserved since JLU was cancelled. But what happened? The complaints started falling in without hesitation: “So Arrow and Flash get a mask, but she doesn’t?” “So Flash and Arrow can get a live action show, but ole sista girl isn’t worthy of one?” Are you serious?! DC has some of the best animation around. They could have easily stuck Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, or some other female character in that spot but they chose Vixen. And here y’all go nitpicking over some of the silliest things I’ve come across in 2015 so far.

Thanks, Edward… I’ma take it from here, bruh…

Those are just two examples of this problem. From television to film to animation to the creative field in general, I’ve seen this happen with increasing frequency. I wish that people would seriously analyze and think before responding. I wish that people would respect other people’s opinion if that person made a logical conclusion from that same analysis. I wish some people operated with a little more class. I wish people supported, or revolted, with their pocketbooks instead of bitching.

It’s interesting how people are hoping that DC Entertainment would give Milestone back their characters when Milestone has owned them from jump.

It’s also interesting that people still feel that Milestone fell off due to poor business practices.

It’s also interesting how some people feel that now Milestone is back, indie creators should go to them to have their books acknowledged.

It’s extremely interesting that people are still fronting that these brothers, that changed the game an inspired a generation to do for self and create your own, that created classic characters like Static, Icon, Hardware and more.

The Silverbacks have returned... We're ready for you...
The Silverbacks have returned… We’re ready for you…

Y’all make me laugh sometimes. You really do…

At the end of the day, my question is: what happened to embracing your culture? What happened to self-definition, self-determination, self-love and self-respect? Why are so many people still defining themselves through another’s lens?

Sorry… I’ve got my bowtie on and holding the Final Call in my right hand at the moment.

I feel that geekdom, especially African American geekdom is, to some extent, an exercise in passive creativity. Meaning, not everyone has the ability to create, but everyone has the ability to imagine. Now, the process of imagination, especially in this country and in our culture in particular, is stamped down at a very early age. We’re taught that the ability to not only imagine, but to create, is for those who have the resources and time to create these notions of fancy for all to enjoy.

And because our natural ability has been stunted, and because so many of us still seek our self-worth through the other’s lens, we tend to never be satisfied. We’re always hoping and praying and always expecting to be let down all at once.

Don't trust them new ni%^#s over there...
Don’t trust them new ni%^#s over there…

I know, I know… “You getting too deep, Jib.” But dag, y’all. I’m looking at the current entertainment landscape and I am seeing some very diverse interpretations of us, from us and from others.

Yeah, you may not dig Tyler Perry or Lee Daniels, but you have Ava Duvernay. You may not dig Scandal, but you’ve got Blackish and Sleepy Hollow. You may not dig Power or Empire, but you had The Divide (how many of y’all saw that show). You may not dig Mighty Avengers or the new Captain America, that’s why you’ve got Concrete Park, Wildfire, The Horsemen, Hunter Black, Bounce, the Legend of the Mantamaji, etc.

In other words, if people stopped complaining for a minute and really used the internet as the dearth of information that it is and not be lazy about it, if more cats flexed a little critical thinking and less knee-jerk opinion, if more people stopped looking for acceptance and accepted themselves, ourselves and the diversity of OUR culture (and it is mad diverse), if we were more active rather than passive participants, I think we’d all be in a lot better shape.

To be clear: I am ecstatic that Milestone is coming back to the publishing game. I am over the moon that this company, which inspired me to create not only my own properties (thank you, Denys Cowan) but also my own company, is coming back in full force. I am proud to be sharing the space with the company that started it all.

I ain’t scared. I’m ready. A lot of us are. The real cats are ready to share the landscape with their spiritual elders. The game done changed. The space done changed. This is what is supposed to happen. Not a monolith, but a group of publishers, focusing on proper representation, at different levels, working the marketplace.

Keep... Keep bouncing!
Keep… Keep bouncing!

This is how you challenge the Corporate Two. This is what the Black Age of Comics is supposed to look like…

We are the sun, stars shining brightly in the firmament… With the Silverbacks back in the game, we are the standard and we are the solution. We not only stand on the shoulders of giants, We are the giants

For real, though… Just like the New Black Movement… It ain’t about one leader, it’s about many leaders doing for self, showing true diversity of content, insight and viewpoint.

Just like the African Diaspora has many countries and cultures, so do Black Comix and so does Black Creativity.

Damn bowtie… Y’all buy the pies… They’re sweet potato…

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Kicking and Screaming Towards The Light

2014 was a year of great change…

No, that’s incorrect. 2014 was a year of great revelation.

2014 was the year that we witnessed a man thought to be the definition of fatherhood brought low by indiscretions and heresy proclaimed guilty by the court of public opinion.

You got caught out there, sir...
You got caught out there, sir…

2014 was the year that we saw injustice happen every 28 hours, the year that African American lives were terminated with extreme prejudice and that their murderers saw no repercussions for their actions.

The United States of America, 2014
The United States of America, 2014

2014 was the year that those who were charged with protecting and serving their public committing the greatest sign of disrespect by literally turning their backs to the ones that they must answer to.

2014 was the year that we, as a country, had our rose-colored glasses severely smudged, that the fallacy of superiority was just that, a straight-up fabrication; the ultimate marketing tool if you will.

2014 was a year of great denial in the overwhelming face of truth; a year where many people willfully shoved their heads into the sand clinging desperately to an ideal that never was.

This is what they think about you...
This is what they think about you…

2014 was the year that the majority realized that they were not the cool kids anymore.

2014 was the year that, despite complaints to the contrary, diversity reared its glorious head.

Do your thang, gurl!
Do your thang, gurl!

2014 was the year of Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, a Muslim Ms. Marvel and Storm taking the comic world and turning it on its ear.

Fly high, Sam... Fly high...
Fly high, Sam… Fly high…

2014 was the year we saw Sam Wilson flying high in The Winter Soldier and taking the shield as Captain America.

2014 was the year that we would cheer for a talking raccoon and his walking tree.

2014 was the year that a woman held the hammer of Thor.

Looking forward to checking you out, Big Guy...
Looking forward to checking you out, Big Guy…

2014 was the year they announcement that in 2017 the King of Wakanda will arrive on the big screen and our Hero for Hire will have bullets bouncing off of his chest on Netflix.

The Multiverse is diverse...
The Multiverse is diverse…

2014 was the year that the Multiversity of the DCU showed the potential for diversity in the DCU.

Two of the best shows on TV right now...
Two of the best shows on TV right now…

2014 was the year we would see that Barry Allen was raised in a male single-parent African American household with strong moral values to help him on his journey to become the fastest man alive and that Oliver Queen would depend upon and support a brother in his time of need who’s only secret identity is that he has a good job, good credit and a gym membership.

She's a bad mamma-jamma...
She’s a bad mamma-jamma…

2014 was the year that the history of Gotham City became a little more interesting with the introduction of mob boss Fish Mooney.

He's coming to television... Soon...
He’s coming to television… Soon…

2014 was the year that another vision of Milestone Media would be realized with the announcement of a live-action Static Shock project.

Independents are where REAL comic books live...
Independents are where REAL comic books live…

2014 was the year of the independents taking real chances with books like Low, Black Science, Velvet, Lazarus, Ragnarok, Sirens, Day Men and East of West.

2014 was the year of the creator of color flourishing beyond the Corporate Two. Writers and artists of color produced amazing, groundbreaking work beyond the sphere of the mainstream.

A small taste of the flavor Indie Black Comics brought to the game in 2014...
A small taste of the flavor Indie Black Comics brought to the game in 2014…

2014 was the year of Genius, Concrete Park, Midnight Tiger, Rat Queens, Cannon Busters, Watson & Holmes and the Legend of the Mantamaji.

Sheena C. Howard flipped the script... Congratulations, sister!
Sheena C. Howard flipped the script… Congratulations, sister!

2014 was the year that a sister would win the Eisner Awards for her book Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation.

2014 was the year that our Stan Lee, Dwayne McDuffie, would have an award named in his honor.

DMC... Tougher than leather!
DMC… Tougher than leather!

2014 was the year of DMC.

The man is truly back!
The man is truly back!

2014 was the year of Shaft.

The Future of Entertainment... You Better Recognize...
The Future of Entertainment… You Better Recognize…

2014 was the year of Griot Enterprises, Action Lab, Lion Forge, and the operative.net.

2014 was the year that the world of comic books became way more interesting.

So, what does that mean for 2015?

It means that the gloves are off. It means that we will not be held back. It means that our voices will not be silenced. It means that we are once again realizing our power

It means that the world done changed.

Hope you got your ticket…

The train has left the station…

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Dreams

He's a comin'... I SAID, HE'S A COMIN'!
He’s a comin’… I SAID, HE’S A COMIN’!

“Thunder only happens when it’s raining…”

– Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

Brothers and sisters rejoice… The Jackie Robinson of Black superheroes is coming to the big screen…

And, he will be played by Jackie Robinson…

If you’ve been living under a rock with no Wi-Fi, the comic book industry was pleasantly rocked by the news from Marvel Studios. Not only has Benedict Cumberbatch has been tapped to play Doctor Strange on the big screen, not only will Marvel give us the first comic book movie with a female lead in the upcoming Captain Marvel film, but…

Wait for it…

The King of Wakanda is coming to big screen Nov. 3, 2017... About damn time...
The King of Wakanda is coming to big screen Nov. 3, 2017… About damn time…

The Black Panther is coming to the big screen in 2017, and Chadwick Bosemen (42, Get on Up) will be the King of Wakanda.

This news, on top of DC’s announcement of a live-action Static series is the equivalent of Christmas and Kwanzaa coming early to comic geekdom, in general, but Black geekdom in particular. This is the news that the brothers and sisters have been waiting for. This is the comic book version of Barack Obama being elected as president of the United States. We are happy…

Very happy.

We are dancing in the streets, we are patting each other on the back, and we are acting like we have finally reached the Promised Land.

Quick sidebar: remember that the evolution of the comic book movie began with a little film called Blade.

Don’t get it twisted.

Blade is the template for the modern comic book film. Without the success of Blade, Marvel wouldn’t have made Spider Man, the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios would not have the balls to release Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen…

A comic book film with an African American lead, with an African American viewpoint, got the ball rolling.

You... Better recognize...
You… Better recognize…

As much as Black fandom has to celebrate, as much money as we are about to throw to corporations that already got our dough, a couple of questions should be raised:

Does this news mean that the “Corporate Two” will now increasingly diversify their talent pool by hiring not only more artists, but also more writers of color?

More important, what happens to the independent Black comic book scene?

Yes, the one-two punch of the Static TV series and the Black Panther movie is huge news… huge. But, does that mean that the Black comic book community is satisfied? That we independent creators of color are gonna get lost in the shuffle?

Hell naw!

Miranda Mercury is that next shit...
Miranda Mercury is that next shit…

As independents, we’ve got to stop thinking like creators and start thinking, and acting, like businesspeople. We’ve got to go hard in the paint, study our competition in all arenas, and become truly ready for combat. With all that is at our disposal, social media, Print on Demand, the democratized distribution landscape, we must evolve. We must be prolific, we must market, we must grind. We must make our voices so loud that they can’t ignore us. And, our product has to be so on point that they cannot refute us.

Midnight Tiger is that next shit...
Midnight Tiger is that next shit…

In fact, what should happen… What will happen is that we must, and will, capitalize on this good news. We will use the momentum generated by these announcements to further our cause. We will piggyback with the notion of:

“Y’all about that Black Panther?”

“Y’all about that Static?”

“Well, check out Concrete Park, check out Midnight Tiger, and check out Ajala, One Nation, Wildfire, Witchdoctor, Genius, Miranda Mercury, E.P.I.C., T.A.S.K., Millennia War, DMC, The Almighty Street Team, The Horsemen…”

“We are that next shit.”

It’s already been done. We have our template. Brotherman, T.R.I.B.E. and the almighty Milestone Media showed us how it’s done.

Let’s rock this funky joint.

One Nation is that next shit...
One Nation is that next shit…

Speaking of…

In other monumental moments in Black Comics History: Griot Enterprises, home of The Horsemen, will be distributing their graphic novels and art books through the biggest distributor in the United States, Ingram, Baker and Taylor. You can pre-order The Horsemen: Divine Intervention at your local bookstore or comic book store today.

The ISBN is: 9781941958001.

The Horsemen is that next shit...
The Horsemen is that next shit…

We are beyond Diamond. We are beyond the comic book store. We are officially everywhere. Griot Enterprises is global, baby.

This is how you take it to the next level.

Thunder only happens when it’s raining.

http://www.griotenterprises.com