Tag Archives: comic books

A Quick Musing For The End of the Year

This is the last day of 2018 and the sixth day of Kwanzaa, Kuumba (creativity).
 
They say that diamonds are formed under immense pressure. Well, 2018 showed that Black creativity is brilliant, dazzling and gleaming. From Black Panther to Sorry To Bother You to A Wrinkle In Time to Dirty Computer to Into The Spider-Verse, the Afrofantastic has been on full display and crushing competition. The #BlackComix movement is thriving in its diversity of thought and content while Comicsgate was crushed under the weight of its misogynistic and racist vitriol.
 
Despite the continued assault on the African consciousness, 2018 was the year we came out in our full melanin creative glory. We’re gonna top it in 2019… #SurviveResistExcel #BlackArtMatters

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Books of the Afrofantastic that I purchased in 2018

Psychic Capital

bp-3
Who need a hero?

This is an article celebrating the worldwide release of Black Panther on the silver screen…

Seriously.

But first…

The construct of Whiteness is an exclusionary one. It’s really the promise of capitalism wrapped up in skin color. It is a tool designed by the rich to keep the poor separated. It was used as a fantasy to keep the white immigrants separate from the soon-to-be enslaved Blacks by giving the illusion that skin color made them better from others who were in the same economic situation.

It’s the ultimate marketing campaign and, the ultimate Ponzi scheme.

In order to become white, you must surrender your cultural identity because again, Whiteness is supposed to get you closer to economic freedom. The Europeans immigrants embraced this wholeheartedly. Being Italian or French or British or German, etc. Is a hell of a lot different than being white.

This is also evident with immigrants of color aspiring to this goal, to assimilate, to be respected, knowing this will never happen. They can sacrifice their culture, but the skin color will always be a deterrent to the perceived capitalist ideal.

Killmonger
The prodigal son, the would-be Revolutionary so poisoned by rage that he becomes the very monster he wants to destroy…

Whiteness has no culture, it has no soul, and it has no positive aspect to its nature. The construct of Whiteness was built on violence and exclusion.

Whiteness breeds and promotes mediocrity. No matter what a white person achieves, it pales in comparison to achievements of the other. The obstacles that institutional Whiteness places in front of the other when overcome makes that achievement that more inspirational and salient. That is a reason why Whiteness appropriates other cultures to give an illusion of substance for Whiteness is a parasitic pathology.

That is exactly why when someone talks about White Power, they speak of exclusion and the denigration of the other in order to feel powerful.

White Power? White Supremacy? They are terms that illustrate the ultimate inferiority complex. Hence, the mass shootings, the police brutality, the Alt-Reich, the Trump regime…

These cats are soft A.F.

Shuri
The smartest person in the room…

Now on the flip side, Black Power is a response to that. And, despite what some may try to say, Black Power is inclusive. It’s always been. It’s had to be. From slavery to Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter, Black Power understands that alliance is the key to salvation.

Black Power represents diversity, justice and inclusion. Black Power has allied itself with Latino communities, Asian communities, First Nation, LGBTQ and yes, even poor white communities to affect positive change for everyone, not just themselves. Black Power challenges everyone to be excellent, not just mediocre.

Therein lies the difference.

What’s happening with these brittle spirits is that their #PsychicCapital is diminishing day by day. These mediocre fools whose culture is the only thing that makes them worthy, the ones who voted for the homunculus of their mediocrity made flesh because of his promise to return them to glory, are reminded of how ultimately worthless they are without the comfort of privilege more each day.

Okoye_Black_Panther_Textless_Character_Poster_07
The General, the right hand, the true daughter of Wakanda

We don’t genuflect at their altar anymore. They can’t handle our level of clapback when they try to get verbally brolic. Their chosen leader is an incompetent blowhard who no one respects in the global arena. They know we see them as pitiful human beings. They know we don’t fear them. They feel the thousand cuts as we openly mock them. Their #PsychicCapital has declared insufficient funds while, despite their efforts of physical and mental terrorism, our stock continues to rise.

I don’t even get angry at them anymore. I laugh at their insecurity and bathe in their tears. It’s better than Shea butter.

Which brings us to Black Panther.

Nakia_Black_Panther_Textless_Character_Poster_10
The first love, the spy turned activist and one-third of Wakanda’s Red, Black and Green

Ok, full disclosure:

I wasn’t surprised by the costume and set design of Black Panther. I wasn’t astounded by its depictions of African societies, gender roles, spirituality nor the political conversations the film created or brought to the surface…

Because, with The Horsemen, I’ve been swimming in that same creative pool for over twenty years.

Instead, I felt a sense of validation. I felt a sense of relief. I felt a sense of pride. I felt completely Liberian and completely African American. For a brief moment, I felt the entire Diaspora connecting, becoming as one in celebration of our pure and unfettered selves. For 2 hours and 14 minutes, we were liberated. We were free.

Ryan Coogler achieved the impossible. He took a problematic character called the Man-Ape in comics and made him a breakout star in Black Panther. Okoye is the Storm people wish Storm could have been in the X-Men movies. Shuri is our amazing little sister who created perhaps the ultimate clapback against those of diminishing returns who attempt to deride our collective Black achievement and joy. Killmonger is the charismatic would-be revolutionary whose blind rage and limited vision make him a villain. We, the Diaspora, could see our true selves, dichotomies and contradictions intact, in these characters.

M'Baku
The rival cum ally, the surprise fan-favorite

This just in: Black Panther’s estimated worldwide debut is $387 million dollars. It’s the biggest domestic opening weekend ever for a film released in February… Or March… Or April.

Congratulations to the cast and crew of this film. Y’all have officially made history.

Putting this into a certain context: Blade is the equivalent of Sweetback’s Badasss Song, Luke Cage is Shaft and Black Panther is the Superfly of Black superheroes in cinema…

As those three films defined the Blaxploitation genre, Blade, Cage and BP define the Black superhero, in particular, and the superhero movie genre, in general, to a certain extent.

After all, the modern superhero film all started with Blizzade…

Now, back up, and don’t rain on my parade. This next bit is my fantasy…

Somewhere, I imagine that Wesley Snipes is sitting in a chair in full Nino Brown mode. The chair swivels to reveal Mr. Snipes tenting his fingers. His mouth slowly forms a smile as he thinks to himself…

“Mission Accomplished.”

This is the power of Psychic Capital.

This is what happens when we are shown in our full glory. Black Panther has made a huge deposit into our collective accounts. Now, take this energy and use it to support those of us who grind every day whether it is in the arts, activism, politics, economics or whatever. Use this power to help make a better world.

Wakanda Forever.

www.griotenterprises.com

www.gofundme.com/GriotEnterprises

 

 

Don’t Call It A Comeback: The Horsemen Have Returned To Save Us All

THE HORSEMEN: DIVINE INTERVENTION (20th Anniversary Edition)

ISBN: 978-1941958001

120 pgs. • $24.99 (print) • $9.99 (digital)

Written and Created by: Jiba Molei Anderson

Pencilled by: Jiba Molei Anderson, MCL

Inked by: MCL, Patrick Brower

Colored by: Digital Broome, Eric Pence

HorsemenG20Cover(FinalFrontCoverWeb)
The first family of Afrofuturism in comics…

Griot Enterprises is celebrating 20 years of publication with the 20th anniversary release of The Horsemen: Divine Intervention.

Created, written and illustrated by Jiba Molei Anderson, The Horsemen is the saga of seven ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, as the gods of ancient Africa possess them. The gods have chosen them to protect humanity from itself…whether humanity wants them to or not. They combat those who control the fate of the planet. Through their actions, the world would never be the same.

“I wanted The Horsemen to reflect my worldview,” Anderson explains. “I was tired of the ‘famine and underdeveloped’ narrative that the continent is saddled with in the United Sates,” Anderson explains. “I also wanted to address the problems that Post-Colonialism left behind on the continent as well.”

With the release of the first issue in 2002, The Horsemen became a pioneer of the Afrofuturism movement in comics by using the Orishas as the basis for the superhero mythology. “I wanted to work with a different faith system, a system that when The Horsemen was created, no one, I mean no one, was thinking of,” Anderson says. “No one was thinking of using the Yoruba religion and its deities, the Orishas as a launch point for a comic book world at that time.”

Declaration(Web)
They have returned to save us all… Whether we want it or not…

The Horsemen would go on to become a critical, if not financial, success. Its fan base would include Hollywood talents such as Tony Todd (Candyman, Star Trek DS9 and Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings, Stranger Things) and comic book royalty like the late Dwayne McDuffie (Justice League Unlimited, Milestone Media). In addition, The Horsemen and Griot Enterprises served as the link between the independent Black Comix scene of the 90s (Brotherman, Tribe) and 21st Century renaissance currently happening in the industry with books like Niobe: She Is Life, Is’nana: The Were-Spider, Black and the entire Catalyst Prime imprint.

“We have seen many great African American superheroes in comics,
but we never saw an iconic African American superhero team,” Anderson continues. “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.”

The Horsemen: Divine Intervention is available at Amazon, Comixology, Drive Thru Comics, IndyPlanet and Peep Game Comix in print and digital formats. In addition, Griot Enterprises is running a GoFundMe campaign to help fund the company’s 2018 convention schedule.

Please contact www.griotenterprises.com for inquiries and more information.

Moving The Needle

Print
Don’t sleep… We have been activated…

Imani Lateef, owner of digital comic book store Peep Game Comix and Todd Johnson, co-creator of the seminal independent Black comic book Tribe started a spirited discussion on Facebook. The conversation was a subject that I had written a few articles worth over the years. You can view them here and here.

Sparked by the upcoming Black Panther film, Mr. Lateef posed this simple question:

“Will Black Panther help Black Comix? Why or why not?”

bp-4
Is he really coming to save us all?

This prompted Mr. Johnson to start a post on his own page. This is how his thread began:

“Thinking about a recent post from Peep Game Comix’s Imani Lateef regarding would there be any financial blowback of the Black Panther movie into the other African American comic properties my short answer was NOPE.

 IMHO, opportunities for this market to penetrate will not be successful by solo efforts for a multiple of reasons that could be discussed and debated ad nauseam. Conflicting mindsets, experience, business acumen, street smarts, egos, finances, time dedication present unique leadership conflicts.

 But I would offer that a Think Tank model would be successful in formulating best practices, coop purchasing, marketing strategies, information hubs, mentorship/partnership possibilities, etc.; a representational body from many areas.

 The pioneers: Arvell Jones, Keith Pollard

 The legends: Denys Cowan, Turtel OnliLarry Stroman, Dwayne Turner, Guy A. Sims, Baba Dawud Anyabwile, Roosevelt Pitt, Brian Stelfreeze

 The next wave: Ashley Woods, Brandon EastonN Steven HarrisMshindo Kuumba, Eddy Newell, Jamal Yaseem Igle, Ken Lashley, Kevin Grevioux 

 The promoters: Andre Batts, Yumy Odom, Maia Crown Williams, Vince White, Robert Stull, Alex Simmons, Joseph Wheeler III, Brandon PeytonKeithan Jones 

 The brain trust: Joe Illidge, William H. Foster III, John Jennings, Marcus H. Roberts, Sheena C. Howard 

 The dreamers: Michael WatsonJiba Molei Anderson, G Walker Teon, Sean MackPeter DanielJ.m. HunterRobert Garrett, Greg Anderson Elysée, Victor Dandridge Jr.

This list by no means is all just some I thought of off the top of my head as an example. A think tank model harnessing a group such as above and more could do some damage on many fronts.”

The responses to both posts were immense and varied, from professionals and fans. The pros and practitioners, for the most part, were picking up what both Imani and Todd were laying down. But, in some parts, the conversation disintegrated into well-worn conceits of DC and Marvel Comics’ wish fulfillment of representation or the tired musing of some monolithic entity like Milestone Media controlling the flow of content and information. Some also cite Image as an example of independent success easily replicated. And that thought spooked a creator or two. It was as if the participants in the thread were having two conversations.

I wonder if they watched the Image episode of Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics on AMC. The Image of today is WAY different than the early days. Even then, the early success of Image was based on the star power the creators established at Marvel.

It’s hard to have people think and operate collectively in a more productive way than just wishing out loud.

Some cats love to dream, but the reality is too much for them. Some of them are fans playing professional. A lot of them think that DC and Marvel are the end all be all of comics. Most of them don’t know comic book history, especially when it comes to the Black presence in comics. So, becomes a perpetual “Johnny Come Lately” situation.

Being a fan of DC or Marvel comics does not make you an expert on the business of comics

Icon 2.0
Milestone 2.0… Good to have you back

One of the issues, I feel, is that some desire a Black Comix monolith using, mistakenly, Milestone Media as the model for such an entity when the truth is the Black Comix movement is more akin to Hip Hop: different viewpoints and concepts while emulate different aspects of the culture. Hip Hop is not only East Coast/West Coast or Def Jam or No Limit or Death Row. It’s all of those entities, artists, journalists, etc. contributing to the culture. Why should the Black Comix movement be any different?

It’s not about controlling creativity. It’s more about how we can market effectively. Again, folks flow in different spaces beyond the creation of comics. It’s not a question of conforming to one mindset, but more of how can we collectively continue to spread the word and celebrate the diversity of the movement.

We also have to step away from the gaze and operating practices of the “other.” I feel as if some think that the current of comics’ business affairs, audience and structure is the only way to go when that is so not the case. The current business model doesn’t really work for us financially or creatively. So why stick with a faulty model?

 

4 PAGES Volume Four Cover(Facebook)
We are a different breed… We must move in a different lane…

As creators of content, part of our responsibility is to grow the market. To pursue a classic comic book market model (i.e. monthly pamphlets, Diamond distribution, comic book shops, etc.) is a losing battle. That model requires a major influx of funds to compete in a stagnant space dominated by corporate-owned entities with the resources to maintain their control.

What I’ve found way more successful is the pursuit of the wider book market / educational route. I’ve found the signs of much bigger success there. Parents and teens enjoy the representation they see because it’s not Marvel or DC. And, there’s a growing niche field of study concerning comics and pop culture thanks to the emerging interest in Afrofuturism.

For example, books like Sheena C. Howard’s Encyclopedia of Black Comics, John Jennings’ & Damian Duffy’s Black Comix & Black Comix Returns and my own 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape anthology series are concentrated texts that show the diversity of the movement. We all can big up these projects as examples of how we get down. A few articles about these books in different spaces as well as social media and cons like M.E.C.C.A. Con, Sol-Con, BASM, ECBACC and others can bring more eyes to what we’re all doing.

Black-Comics
If you want to move the needle, is this book in your collection?

In essence, we’re creating cultural artifacts more so than just a new line of comics. So, we should think of, and market, them as such.

In terms of creating a sales metric of the movement, I think we could use successful Kickstarter campaigns and book sales of the Black Comix projects that received a great amount of grassroots marketing exposure. I’m thinking of books like Black, Trill League, Midnight Tiger, etc. along with the Catalyst Prime line as a baseline starter.

It would take all of us to promote each other. We all have fan bases, some shared, some unique. So, why don’t we promote each other more than sometimes wanting to be the G.O.A.T? Teamwork makes the dream work. That’s one of the ways Hip Hop became a dominant cultural force.

Black Comix Returns
We do not need to be a monolith… There is unity in collaboration.

If we did a full-court press cross-promoting some of the best that the Black Comix movement has to offer, beyond Facebook or Twitter, we could make an impact and move the needle.

It would take a series of articles that would focus on known books like Niobe: She Is Life, Black, the Catalyst Prime line, Milestone 2.0 etc. as well as projects like Bounce, Project: Wildfire, The Horsemen, Is’nana: The Were-Spider, DMC and more published in places like Afropunk, IO9 and “mainstream” outlets as well as CBR, Newsarama, etc, but I think that this will bring awareness to what we do.

We’ve got the network in place. We just need to flex it properly and unapologetically.

It’s ours for the taking. Hip Hop didn’t look for approval and built its audience the old-fashioned way: one person at a time. Then, the “mainstream” came in and co-opted aspects of the culture. We can do the same. We have the tools…

Of course, we should avoid the whole co-opting thing, though. Because as Paul Mooney said “Don’t have too much fun, or they’ll take you too…”

Currently Griot Enterprises has a GoFundMe campaign happening. Your contribution will help us keep this train moving and you can cop some cool rewards for your donation. So please, become a part of Griot Enterprises and a part of the future of entertainment… We tell great stories!

www.gofundme.com/GriotEnterprises

www.griotenterprises.com

A Tribute

So, yeah…

It’s been almost a year since my last post…

What can I say? I’ve been busy…

No, that’s not the total truth. The truth is that so many of the things have happened in the past almost-year I’ve written about before…

“But what about Hidden Figures? What about Get Out? What about the #45thRegime? What about Wonder Woman…”

Yo, there have been so many think pieces about all of that, and more, I felt that I would just be adding noise to the ether, especially when so many of those pieces touched on themes I would touch on but in, some cases, a more eloquent way.

Then, Friday happened.

Here’s my response to that. Art and words by yours truly…

JoyAndPain(Web)
My two favorite heroes from the Corporate Two

I will be giving you more of what (I hope) you remember me for soon and frequently. For the New Jacks checking this out for the first time, welcome.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Man, This Wakandan Lemonade Is Delicious

The Black Panther keeps making waves in this comic book landscape.

Black_Panther_1_Sook_Variant
Get this money… Erryday, erryday, erryday…

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/05/13/black-panther-is-the-best-selling-comic-in-april-2016-as-marvel-march-on-marketshare-ahead-of-dc-rebirth/

Straight up, this is the Black nerd’s Lemonade right now.

For the first time in history, a comic book featuring an African superhero, written and illustrated by African Americans, is the highest-selling title from the Corporate Two. Yeah, having the character steal the show in the best comic-book related movie this year and a major marketing push definitely helped, but this is what happens when you #BetOnBlack

The Black Panther marketing plan should be taught in schools. It’s actually a pretty textbook marketing strategy. They got the right team, did the proper product placement and marketing and got a winner on their hands.

Furthermore, they respect the importance of the character that is in their stable, a character, which encapsulates the hopes and dreams of a marginalized demographic. They actually heard this fan base and gave the character its due respect, steeped this character in its culture (fictional, but based on an amalgam of existing cultures from the marginalized demographic) and gave this character the necessary agency this character, and the marginalized demographic it represents, deserves. Because of this, Marvel produced yet another profitable situation that they, and their parent company, will benefit from greatly. This bit of good will is, in fact, good business.

In short, Marvel created the climate in which the Black Panther could be Columbused. We are seeing the effects of this as I write these words.

This should be a call to arms of what happens when you produce a fantastic product and market a great property.

Too bad DC Entertainment wasn’t in class that day… If you’re in the minority that DC has kept it on point cinematically, read this article written by Verge Entertainment bigwig and former Milestone and Batman editor Joe Illidge:

batman_v_superman___dawn_of_justice___wonder_woman_by_goxiii-d9bmo30
Gurl… Once again, Man’s World is playing an Amazon close…

https://www.theshadowleague.com/articles/the-true-enemy-of-black-panther-and-wonder-woman

This information puts to bed a lot of superfluous “explanations” of why product featuring and created by people of color doesn’t sell. Independent creators should use this fact to push our products to the forefront…

Some people want to bring up Spawn as a counter to my statements. To that I say…

Whatever…

I am way more excited about this development than I ever was with the introduction of Spawn in the early 90s. In fact, if you wanna be real Image about it, I will always hype Tribe way more than Spawn as it was the first comic book featuring characters, and created by people of color, Todd Johnson and Larry Stroman, that sold over a million copies, which adjusted for inflation is on par with BP’s sales.

In other words, I’d rather celebrate the whole cake rather than just the frosting

This should be inspiring to a lot of us independent creators of color and we need to capitalize on the climate. In fact, a number of us are.

We have seen an increase in coverage concerning independent properties dealing with the discussion of diversity (i.e. Black, The Legend of the Mantamaji, Niobe: She Is Life, Watson and Holmes, Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams, Solarman, etc.) exactly because these cats had their marketing game down and went beyond the perceived market to find their audience.

solarman2
We got next…

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these projects are expertly created (i.e. writing, art, etc.), but creating is the easy part. Marketing is where the work comes into play.

This is the kind of work we should continue to push and purchase in addition to showing love to the “Corporate Two” when they “get it right.” Way more than being a DC or Marvel fan, I’m a fan and practitioner of the art form.

Interesting times indeed.

So, let me know if you are interested in more than just enjoying this historic moment in representation. Let’s keep it going. Let this be more than just a moment. Let’s make this a fact of life.

Speaking of, I’m going to be teaching a course on this exact subject through the International School of Comics starting in July. Granted, this class will be in Chicago, but if there is enough interest, I would possibly take this bad smoker into the remote teaching realm.

BAMFCAd
Sign up for the class… You know you want to…

P.S. Personal note to the brothers Johnson and Stroman, c’mon fellas. We need to do a Tribe trade so that people can experience the loveliness that book was and can be again. Get at me.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Promised Land

CivilWar_Punmagneto
Captain America: Civil War… A promise delivered…

Captain America: Civil War

It is very hard… very hard for me to give this kind of assessment. I’m tighter with ratings than The Source used to be. With that being said, this is a 5-mic film. Any criticism would be some extreme nit-pickiness bull-caca. Anyone fronting on this movie is a hater, plain and simple…

I feel those fans who find criticism complain about the what-iffery of certain elements in the film, great elements that bring color to the narrative, not coming to fruition even though they weren’t supposed to. A few points (SPOILER-ALERT):

1.) I appreciate that at the end of the day, the “Civil War” was a very personal conflict that dealt with the loss of families (Zemo’s, Stark’s & T’Challa’s)

2.) That Zemo, basically Bin Laden-style, did to the Avengers that Loki, Ultron and Hydra couldn’t do… Destroy them.

Tony Vs. America
A battle worse than anything the villains brought to the table…

3.) Because of the personal nature of the story, we didn’t need to see those other Winter Soldiers in action against our titular heroes. Then, it would have been Universal Soldier: Regeneration wasting the emotional currency, which drives the film.

4.) Storytelling was on point. Things followed through logically and I felt that all of the important elements in the film had organic conclusions. Even with Spider-Man’s inclusion at the eleventh hour didn’t feel tacked on and yes, just like Jon Bernthal made the Punisher his character, Tom Holland IS Peter Parker. And, I am a big fan of Marisa Tomei as a modern Aunt May. There were no plot holes.

5.) CW was a sequel for two movies, Captain America: Winter Soldier and the Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a fine one for both.

6.) Everything made sense. Everyone was true to character. Every character had their moment to shine. The battles were top-notch with each character’s physical language as unique as the character themselves.

7.) CW is the rare instance that the film was better than the mini-series… Yeah, I said it. Also, remember that Thor and the Hulk weren’t around during the mini-series either.

8.) Just the hint of the Dora Milaje, along with the taste of Wakanda was enough for me. I’m gonna get all that goodness in the Black Panther solo film.

Dora_Milaje_CW
Strength and beauty, thy name is Dora Milaje…

9.) According to Dwayne McDuffie’s Rule of Three, this is the MCU’s Blackest movie to date… And it was so on point with the diversity and agency of Black folks from Alfre Woodard’s brief, but crucial scene, to War Machine, the Falcon and, of course… This is the rare movie I would pay full price to see again in the theatre… Immediately.

10.) The secret sauce in making this delicious meal is Nate Moore as Executive Producer for the MCU. Yes, the characters would have been there eventually, but having a brother as an exec. producer helped to ensure that said characters did not come off as stereotypical ciphers, but rather fully realized people making their ethnicity natural, yet crucial in the MCU.

Realize, there is no one representation of “Blackness” in the MCU, nor do we just add color to the background. From War Machine to the Falcon to BP to Nick Fury, etc., each character is unique, each character has agency, each character is authentically Black in their own way.

PantherLeaps
Bow down to the King… Everyone else has…

Brother Moore has made sure that we haven’t been seen as a monolith, but in a rich tapestry more in line with how we really are as opposed to how the Other often portrays us.

These reasons, and more which I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is why not only is Captain America: Civil War a more satisfying film-going experience than Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but also why Marvel has all but decimated the DCCU.

Quite simply, Marvel trusts and cares about their properties, DC does not. Marvel has been playing chess in unfolding their universe, taking time to craft their cinematic universe so that it has the same resonance as the comic book universe.

DC has been playing checkers, rushing product and blowing their wad repeatedly on half-baked measures which treat their properties as cash-grab ciphers rather than respecting the history and mythology of the characters to craft tales which speak to the human condition using the superhero as an analogy to inspire and make us seek out our better selves.

Here’s something to chew on: when people start writing think pieces on your film discussing the deeper ramifications of what your heroes represent in the larger world context rather than judging success or failure of your project based on how much money it makes, you’ve made a better film. When you respect not only your hard-core fanbase, but also can make your properties resonate with the casual viewer, you’ve made a better film. When you focus on storytelling rather than spectacle, you’ve made a better film. And, said film is steadily going to make a lot of money rather than suffering a near-90% drop in viewership the second week of release.

civilwar3
So, who won the Civil War? Marvel did…

Personal point of order… A few years ago, I got caught up in a what-iffery tread about a potential (at the time) Black Panther movie in which I broke down how I felt Wakandan self-image should be portrayed.

Then, Captain America: Civil War.

It’s like the Russo Brothers read my mind. For about 35 seconds, I thought: “Man, I may not have to do The Horsemen anymore…”

Then, I got out of my fanboy phase and became even more inspired to make more work.

Trust, that is the highest of praise.

So, I’ve never fallen into one camp when it came to the “Corporate Two.” I loved DC’s icons and Marvel’s B-list. But, after Daredevil: Season Two, Jessica Jones, Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming Luke Cage

Cinematically, Make Mine Marvel.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

The Secret Revealed

So, this article got everybody in a tizzy:

Comics: You’ve Got Your Diversity, So Why Don’t You Buy Them?

It’s an old chestnut, to be sure. Hell, I’ve written at least five articles on this subject alone. Still, as Diversity has become the number one topic in the comic book industry (yes, more prevalent than Batman Vs. Superman and Captain America: Civil War).

Wakandan Push Back
300 K in advanced sales… Marketing, beeyotch!

The “Corporate Two” will make a big initial bruhahah about a “diverse” project, but not follow up after the first issue’s release (i.e. DC’s handling of David Walker’s run on Cyborg). In fact, if you know your A-list properties have that built-in audience that’s carrying your line, how about spending less time marketing the obvious and spend a little more money, and attention, on your “struggling” or “off-beat” properties.

Diversity is more than just the color of your character… It’s also the tastes of the reading public.

Now, back to the independent portion. Say it with me one more time with feeling, people…

You build your audience one customer at a time.

This is where conventions and social media come into play. This is where you need a plan… Marketing 101. From my experience, this is the real work.

Although time intensive, creating the book is the easy part in making comics… Because it’s fun to create. As an Indie, keep in mind that you are not going to sell DC or Marvel numbers… You don’t have to. You don’t have the same overhead that those companies do.

Bounce-Know-Your-Place
Chuck Collins’ Bounce built its fanbase one comic at a time… Now collected in its first print volume…

In addition, trying to do a monthly comic when that is not your main job is kind of not the way to go nowadays since the only brick and mortar distributor, Diamond, is not really checking for Indies. You’re better off either doing a webcomic to build your audience and then create a trade when you have enough material, or creating an original graphic novel (OGN).

This model has way more shelf life than a 32-page book and easier to sell to parents or people looking for something new. In fact, new fans aren’t checking for “floppies.” The new reader, I’ve found, prefers the trade or OGN because of the fact that there is a complete story to read rather than buying one issue and waiting 30 – 60 days for the next installment.

“Floppies” only work on the old guard of fandom as part of our culture involves collectability. The new fan, because of the emergence of digital, doesn’t have the same mindset. So, when creating and marketing your property, think of the fan yet to be than the fan that was… Does that make sense?

 

DC Trinity
Started from the bottom, now we here…

The thing I have to remind myself is that it took over 80 years for DC to become DC and, like, over 60 years for Marvel to become Marvel. We’re babies in this game, and it’s a long game; it’s a marathon, really. The build is slow, but as long as you move forward, not backward, you continue to gain that traction you’re looking for.

This answer is really simple: make product that meets or exceeds the standard of your average DC, Marvel, Dark Horse or Image comic.

Now, what is the standard? Look at any comic book on the stands at your local comic book store… That’s the standard. Batman is the standard. Power Man and Iron Fist is the standard. Lumberjanes is the standard. Saga is the standard, you feel me? Flat out, your product has to… has to… Stand toe to toe with those books (art, story, lettering, package design, etc.) and others because they are your competition.

You don’t have to spend 4 -6 grand a month in advertising… As an Indie, one simply does not have that kind of money. And, in all honesty, if you create a product that meets, or exceeds, the standard of acceptable industry quality, it will sell.

IndieBlackComix
What do these books have in common? They all meet the standard…

But, when it comes to pushing your books, that’s where being a salesman comes into play. Honestly, the market has always been saturated with good product. Today is no different. And, there is always room for more.

It’s really not that hard to sell your book as long as you feel your book is worth selling. If you believe that your book is unique, if you believe that your concept is strong, if you create the book that you want to read and feel is missing in the landscape, you will be able to sell that book.

So, where’s the best place to meet and sell to your potential audience? Conventions… With the exception of San Diego. You ain’t gonna sell jack at San Diego, but you will be able to sell at C2E2, M.E.C.C.A. Con, ECBACC, DragonCon, Onyxcon, etc. Make a plan of attack for whatever convention, or conventions, you are able to attend and execute that plan. Be engaging to your potential audience. Be courteous. Stand at your booth as opposed to sitting down. Smile. Shake hands and kiss babies. All of this seems basic, but it’s true. If you don’t have the dollars, you need to put in the time.

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One of the many conventions where you have an audience that may be interested in your product…

Straight up, I don’t have to do a hard sell at conventions for my books. That’s because I produce work that meets, and hopefully, exceeds the standards of the comic book product.

What I have to do is get people to stop and look when they walk by my table, which I’m able to do because I’m able to engage people. I use humor and shared experiences to create a sense of comfort and break the ice with the customer. Then, after introducing the book to the consumer, I let the book do its job to draw the viewer in.

I apply that same philosophy online. That’s why I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. That’s why, in part, I write this blog.

At the end of the day, there is no secret formula to success… Unless, you were rich to begin with. Even then, it doesn’t exist. Everyone’s story of getting to a modicum of success is unique to them. Make a plan of success that is unique to you. This is how it’s done. This is what you have to do.

Flat out, you are not going to get huge sales right away. Those days of the 90s are long gone. Fact is if you’re looking at comics to get paid quickly, you need to find another hustle. First and foremost, you’ve got to make your book for the love. Passion begets passion. Attention to quality begets more eyes looking at your product. Tenacity and consistency begets trust. All of these plus interaction with the buying public begets your audience… You feel me?

John_Henry_New_Frontier
Keep grinding…

At the end of the day, this game is not a sprint… it’s a marathon.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Crash of the Titans

BatmanVsSuperman
It should have been so much better than it was…

I just saw Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was not good…

To be fair, I walked in knowing that I was going to be disappointed… Like, I was going to eat at McDonalds including the resignation of gastronomic depression and utter despair that comes with making such a decision.

It was X-Men: Days of Future Past bad… With Days being about 5% better.

Nah. It was bad… Don’t need to see it twice to change my mind. The film was a solid “C” when it should have been an “A.”

That’s not good. Especially when you have a film featuring the three most iconic superheroes of all time in one film.

batman_v_superman___dawn_of_justice___wonder_woman_by_goxiii-d9bmo30
Truly the best thing about the whole movie…

At least DOFP followed one story thread. BVS was a slapdash (yeah, I said it) Frankenstein’s Monster, but less cute, crappy mash-up of three different storylines from three different franchises. Worst mash-up of The Dark Knight Returns, Death Of Superman with shades of the New 52 Justice League reboot and a dash of the video games Arkham Knight and Injustice ever.

Zach Snyder wanted to make The Dark Knight Returns, but DC wouldn’t let him. He is not a gifted storyteller. As a visual director, his work is lovely. He is the cinematic equivalent of a top-tier, fan-favorite penciller such as John Byrne or, probably more accurate, Jim Lee. He’s fine on a remake or adaptation of a well-written work (see Dawn of the Dead, 300 or Watchmen).

Original stories a la Sucker Punch for example… Not so much. He is no, shall we say, cinematic Frank Miller in his prime. He’s the “dude-bro” type of fanboy who is dazzled by flash and style. He is not known for substantive films that stay with your psyche. His films don’t really invoke the desire to see them over again whether for entertainment or because his films carry layers of nuance that one gleans through repeat viewings.

Ant-Man_Shrinking_Textless_Poster
I don’t even really like Ant Man, but I’ll see this movie again in a second…

In other words, when Avengers: Age of Ultron or Ant-Man pops up on Starz, I’ll watch those films over and over because they are enjoyable, because the narratives and the characters are engaging. Even though these characters have been around for decades, the films make their intricate back-stories and histories accessible for the moviegoer who is not a comic book fan. The stories have singular focus, which means that they can stand on their own while tying into a larger narrative… Kind of like how comics from the “Corporate Two” used to be written.

It’s like this: Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman were fine visually. In terms of brief character development, WW was great. Zach Snyder wanted to do his version of The Dark Knight Returns so bad, the script straight up, word for word, lifted lines from that book like a Diddy sample.

The storytelling, however, was horrible. There was no gravitas, no reason to care about any of these characters. This film does not trust itself nor trusts the history and legacy of these characters. It’s inaccessible to the casual viewer and there is no joy in this film… At all.

I’m sick of seeing the snuff film that is the death of the Waynes over and over again. The only time I smiled is when I saw the Trinity together for the first time. It made its opening weekend money, but the film has no lasting power.

Legends Of Tomorrow
Now, this is a good superhero team show… BVS should have better than this…

I actually wanted more spectacle. At least, it would have been quality junk food… If they were just honest about the film and called it Dawn of Justice, I would have been fine with that. Instead, we got this convoluted thing that, again, tries to hard to play catch-up to the Marvel Cinematic Method while still not trusting the course that DC set to establish their cinematic universe.

Meanwhile at the House of Ideas…

It’s crazy that a comic book release would garner so much attention. I mean we’re not in the 80s and the 90s anymore (even though the strip-mined “story” of BVS would have you believing otherwise)…

And, it’s not like this character has been out of the limelight for any significant length of time. I mean, since 1999, my man has been in no less than 4 successful series, at least 2 of which he was the headliner. He’s had his own animated series as well as appeared in a number of Marvel animated projects.

Yet, today is a special day. With his first live-action film appearance looming, with the massive marketing push that we have never seen for a character of color before him, with pre-sale numbers comparatively equaling the biggest-selling African American comic book of all time (I see you Todd Johnson and Larry Stroman#TRIBE), the King is ready to claim his throne.

Black Panther #1 scripted by Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze drops today. This is some actual pop culture history happening today, and I guarantee you’ll be more satisfied with this $4.99 expense than the money you lost suffering through BVS…

Captain-America-Civil-War-Black-Panther-Art-Close-Up
Today is a day of kings…

And therein lies the difference. With Marvel Studios, with Marvel Comics, this company is confident in the universe it built. So confident, they didn’t compromise what makes the Marvel Universe special to bring their characters to the big and small screens. There is no confusion, no pandering to a fickle audience that does not understand the complexity and rich history of their fictional world. Instead, because of this confidence, Marvel Studios has been able to dominate the film landscape.

Cinematically and in the printed world, DC’s footing is less sure. They constantly second-guess the strength of their brand and their properties (with the exception of The Batman). They spend too much time chasing the success of Marvel, while ignoring what makes the DC brand so special, so unique.

A bigger problem is that the Powers That Be at DC/WB have no idea how to proceed. They’re too busy playing catch-up to Marvel/Disney as opposed to laying out their own path. The benefit of Marvel Studios is that the comics dictate the stories and character developments and the films follow the lead unlike DC/WB.

supergirl-the-flash-crossover-poster
This team-up is everything BVS should have been…

The DC Universe is not a “grim and gritty” one. It is not dour, nor depressing. It does not reflect the world around us. It is a fantasy world, which strives to be a utopia. Its heroes are benevolent gods that protect the populace from the forces of evil and darkness. There is a sense of legacy in this universe, the passing of the torch from one generation of heroes to another.

In other words, the DCU is kind of corny… And that’s fine. This is what makes the DCU so fun.

On television, the powers that be get it. That’s why Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl work. They are fun to watch. They put a smile on your face. The Supergirl/Flash team-up was cute and wonderful. There were moments of unbridled joy between Barry and Kara during their team-up as if you were watching two kids in kindergarten becoming best friends for life.

Watching Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was a chore… And, watching a superhero flick should never feel like a chore.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to prepare for Captain America: Civil War… Now, that’s gonna be a whole lot of fun.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dream Realized

Fumetti

an Italian word (literally “little puffs of smoke” in reference to speech balloons), which refers to all comics. In English, the term refers specifically to photonovels or photographic comics, a genre of comics illustrated with photographs rather than drawings. Italians call these fotoromanzi (photonovels). Photonovels are popular in Spain, South Africa, and Latin America, where they are called fotonovelas, and have also gained popularity in France.

What’s happening all.

With this post, I decided to put the dashiki aside and embrace my inner geek by celebrating this moment in time. When I was a young lad, I dreamed of the day that I would see all of my favorite heroes on the big and small screens. I’m talking not just the A-Listers, the obvious ones, but the secondary, more obscure (well, obscure to mainstream audiences) characters coming to life. I thought that day would never happen…

But, we started from the bottom, now we’re here.

So, in anticipation of C2E2 this weekend, in anticipation of Batman V. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, Daredevil and the rest of ’em, enjoy this fumetti love letter created for the twelve-year old that exists in all of us.
ADreamRealized(DC01)ADreamRealized(DC02)ADreamRealized(DC03)ADreamRealized(Marvel01)ADreamRealized(Marvel02)ADreamRealized(Marvel03)

See you at C2E2, March 18-20… Cheers!

 

http://www.griotenterprises.com