Tag Archives: comic book

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

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

Food for Thought…

Mike McKone (penciller for Teen Titans, Fantastic Four, Justice League United, etc.) is a Facebook “friend” of mine. He just posted that he’s done working for the “Mouse” and the “Rabbit,” and gonna focus on his creator-owned works.

His fans didn’t bemoan the fact that he doesn’t want to draw DC or Marvel characters anymore and is happy to bounce (he posted his celebratory drinks of choice), but instead are looking forward to his original work, his original vision, and will definitely cop it if, and when, it drops…

Yet, over in these parts, if an Artist of Color said the same thing, around here a good number of us in this group would either beg him to stay on the “plantation,” front on him or her for leaving the “plantation” and definitely would not support said artist’s outside of the “plantation…”

Keith Pollard was the first comic book artist that I met in the flesh. A fellow Detroiter, knowing that he existed showed that I could have a career in comics...
Keith Pollard was the first comic book artist that I met in the flesh. A fellow Detroiter, knowing that he existed showed that I could have a career in comics…

The statement was made to illustrate a point that’s been a frequent topic of discussion and debate in certain circles, not the comic book community in general.

The argument isn’t to “Support Black Just Because It’s Black.” That line of thinking only reinforces the idea that COC (Creators of Color) generate inferior work.

The product has to compete at the level of the competition. It has to stand up against the average book coming from DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, etc. That’s just the name of the game. Keep in mind; the access to creative tools has always been democratic (i.e., anyone can buy art supplies). The attention to craft is something that must be addressed.

Still, if the craft is present, if the product can compete in the comic book realm, the question is (again by some in this group), why is the work considered lesser if not coming from the “Corporate Two”?

A lot of people like to say that art is subjective, but having been an art professor for over 12 years, I can honestly say that there is a criterion for judging whether competent hands or one who’s still developing has made a work.

Trevor Von Eeden is the co-creator of Black Lightning with Tony Isabella. His rough-hewn style still resonates...
Trevor Von Eeden is the co-creator of Black Lightning with Tony Isabella. His rough-hewn style still resonates…

That aside, even if the “different” work is of the same standard (if not better) than the established work, why is that work still deemed inferior if it has been created by a POC… Especially by other people of color?

Peep game: All illustration, especially comic books, animation, video games, etc., is based on the theories established during the Renaissance (i.e. proportions, perspective, anatomy, etc.). Every artist working today has to understand those concepts in order to produce competent work.

Now, other styles of art and personal interpretation come into play (for example, graffiti, Expressionism, Japanese art, Art Nouveau, etc.), but comic book artists in particular have to work with the established Renaissance theories in order for their vision to “work” for the audience.

Artists of Color are no exception. Even with the diverse interpretations of artists such as Jamal Yaseem Igle, Afua Richardson, Larry Stroman, Ashley A. Woods, Khary Randolph, Sanford Greene, Jason Reeves and myself (to name a few), we all have mastered the basic theories to create some exciting work that not only stands, but supersede much of the competition.

Even in the face of those facts, why do some people of color still find the work inferior if the “plantation” doesn’t distribute it?

In other words: is the work only valid if someone who is not of the culture admires the work? If so, why do some fans of color feel that way?

Is the PoC consumer so passive and unsure of what they purchase, especially if the product (in this instance, comics) is created by a PoC, that they need to see a person outside of the culture purchasing it in order for them to feel “safe” in supporting one of their own?

Do you also feel that, as fans and consumers, we need to delve further into our passion? By that I mean should it behoove us to learn more about the creators rather than the characters?

Do you feel that by learning about the person “behind the pencil” would better serve the FoC in understanding the nature of true representation in the game?

Paris Cullins is the co-creator of Blue Devil. He's recently been working on a comeback to comics in the independent arena...
Paris Cullins is the co-creator of Blue Devil. He’s recently been working on a comeback to comics in the independent arena…

Now, from my years buying and creating comics, I have found many fans somewhat very knowledgeable in who creates their favorite characters. From pencillers to inkers to writers to colorists, they know who does what, they know who the creators look like, etc.

in other words, they are more than fans of the characters, they’re fans of the medium.

Yet, it seems that the only creator that anyone mentions in this group when it comes to PoC creators (well, really Black creators) is Dwayne McDuffie, as if he were the only African American creator in the history of comics.

Beyond the Milestone crew, Reggie Hudlin or Christopher Priest (because those creators have already crossed that “The Man accepts them” goal in the minds of those who hold on to that philosophy), could they name other artists such as Paris Cullins, Keith Pollard, Chuck Patton, Trevor Von Eeden, Denys Cowan and so many others throughout the history of the medium?

Furthermore, is it our job as CoC to educate the CoC audience to the dearth of the African American presence of comics? Personally, I say “yes” as I am proud to be included in the now-classic Black Comix book (do y’all have a copy?).

Chuck Patton (another Detroit-based comic book artist) made his bones working for Marvel and DC before entering the animation arena working on the G.I. Joe cartoon among others...
Chuck Patton (another Detroit-based comic book artist) made his bones working for Marvel and DC before entering the animation arena working on the G.I. Joe cartoon among others…

But, as was seen in the last year (in various threads), there was, and is still, an almost defiant pushback in the revelation of various EXCELLENT titles created by CoC. From the aforementioned “quality” issue to half-assed explanations of marketing from people who clearly don’t understand the practice to even the excuse of not buying from “online” sites due to lack of “trust” of privacy when they use their credit/debit cards on the daily.

So, where is the responsibility of education at this point? Is it on the creator to continue to educate or is it on the consumer of Color to educate themselves on the deeper workings and the idea of true representation in this business?

The Mighty Larry Stroman is back on the book (other than TRIBE) that made him a household name!
The Mighty Larry Stroman is back on the book (other than TRIBE) that made him a household name!

Discuss…

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Battle Marketing: Round One… FIGHT!

Cover detail from Hallboy Comics' Oya #1... Illustration by Mshindo Kuumba
Cover detail from Hallboy Comics’ Oya #1… Illustration by Mshindo Kuumba

“You want DC and Marvel to give you a look.”
– Lee Jackson

“No I don’t.”
– Hannibal Tabu

The sad part that it’s harder for me to get a Black comic book reader interested in reading The Horsemen than a white, Latino or Asian comic book fan. I don’t have to convince them to buy the book. They check out the art, flip through the story and say “That’s dope! How much?”

So, my question is, in terms of mass appeal, I can sell a book. But, when it comes to the Black comic book reader, there’s an extra level of programming that I, and others, have to cut through. Why is that?

3.1% of the people producing books at the Corporate Two (i.e. penciling, inking, writing, lettering, etc.) are African American. 3.1%. Do you honestly believe that only 3.1% of the ENTIRE Diaspora is talented enough to work for DC or Marvel?

Here’s the problem of the first quote… Not all of us want to work for DC or Marvel. If you think about it, the artists of color working for the Corporate Two don’t have a financial/ownership stake in the characters they work on. It’s a job, plain and simple.

Peep game, as a comic book fan, I checked out who did the art, wrote the story, etc. so that I knew who created work that I like vs. the cats I didn’t dig since I was… Oh… 7 years old. Maybe because I wanted to be an artist from that age or whatever, I made sure to know who gave me what I needed and who to walk away from.

And yeah, it made it extra special to find out cats that looked like me actually made those books as well (special shout-out to Chuck Patton).

Page from Oya #1 written by LaMorris Richmond with interior art by Juan Arevalo and Pascal Saint-Clair
Page from Oya #1 written by LaMorris Richmond with interior art by Juan Arevalo and Pascal Saint-Clair

Here’s a question: besides the Milestone universe, how many of your favorite sepia-toned heroes from the Corporate Two were created by creators of color?

Here’s another question… Besides Dwayne McDuffie (who everybody knows of like they know Stan Lee), could those who fervently defend the Corporate Two name, let’s say, three other Black creators (writers, artists, etc.) who work and/or have worked for the Corporate Two in the past ten years?

When you can name those creators, then the argument may hold more water.

I ask these questions to prove a point that when you understand the ins-and-outs and the outs-and-ins of a thing, then we can have a more useful and productive discussion about this problem, not in the industry, but within this community.

“But, if the art is good, then it should stand on its own…”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the old “If the art is good argument…”

Again, as an informed consumer, I found out who did the hot business. And yeah, when it’s a brother or sister bringing the fire, I’m gonna support them extra hard… No excuses, no matter if it’s for the Corporate Two or Indie.

Why? Because the first comic book artist that I ever met was a brother. And because of seeing that, I knew I had a place in the world of comics. Real talk.

Oya is on sale in October... Stay tuned for more to cop this "Blaxis-Blessed" title!
Oya is on sale in October… Stay tuned for more to cop this “Blaxis-Blessed” title!

When you support, say, Mighty Avengers, you’re not supporting Black creators or the cause… You’re giving “The Man” more money to treat you, as the consumer, in a cursory, dismissive fashion.

When you support independent books of quality created by the creator of color, then you’re actually doing something for the cause. I’m not telling you how to spend your money nor to buy a book just because a brotha or sister made it. Just trying to create a more informed consumer.

The thing is this:

We are here and we are bringing the fire. We are what Hip-Hop used to be. And, honestly, some of us in the Indies are creating work 10 times better than you will find at the Corporate Two for the next 10 years. We’re that next shit… Better be up on it…