No, that’s not the total truth. The truth is that so many of the things have happened in the past almost-year I’ve written about before…
“But what about Hidden Figures? What about Get Out? What about the #45thRegime? What about Wonder Woman…”
Yo, there have been so many think pieces about all of that, and more, I felt that I would just be adding noise to the ether, especially when so many of those pieces touched on themes I would touch on but in, some cases, a more eloquent way.
Then, Friday happened.
Here’s my response to that. Art and words by yours truly…
I will be giving you more of what (I hope) you remember me for soon and frequently. For the New Jacks checking this out for the first time, welcome.
Straight up, this is the Black nerd’s Lemonade right now.
For the first time in history, a comic book featuring an African superhero, written and illustrated by African Americans, is the highest-selling title from the Corporate Two. Yeah, having the character steal the show in the best comic-book related movie this year and a major marketing push definitely helped, but this is what happens when you #BetOnBlack…
The Black Panther marketing plan should be taught in schools. It’s actually a pretty textbook marketing strategy. They got the right team, did the proper product placement and marketing and got a winner on their hands.
Furthermore, they respect the importance of the character that is in their stable, a character, which encapsulates the hopes and dreams of a marginalized demographic. They actually heard this fan base and gave the character its due respect, steeped this character in its culture (fictional, but based on an amalgam of existing cultures from the marginalized demographic) and gave this character the necessary agency this character, and the marginalized demographic it represents, deserves. Because of this, Marvel produced yet another profitable situation that they, and their parent company, will benefit from greatly. This bit of good will is, in fact, good business.
In short, Marvel created the climate in which the Black Panther could be Columbused. We are seeing the effects of this as I write these words.
This should be a call to arms of what happens when you produce a fantastic product and market a great property.
Too bad DC Entertainment wasn’t in class that day… If you’re in the minority that DC has kept it on point cinematically, read this article written by Verge Entertainment bigwig and former Milestone and Batman editor Joe Illidge:
This information puts to bed a lot of superfluous “explanations” of why product featuring and created by people of color doesn’t sell. Independent creators should use this fact to push our products to the forefront…
Some people want to bring up Spawn as a counter to my statements. To that I say…
I am way more excited about this development than I ever was with the introduction of Spawn in the early 90s. In fact, if you wanna be real Image about it, I will always hype Tribe way more than Spawn as it was the first comic book featuring characters, and created by people of color, Todd Johnson and Larry Stroman, that sold over a million copies, which adjusted for inflation is on par with BP’s sales.
In other words, I’d rather celebrate the whole cake rather than just the frosting…
This should be inspiring to a lot of us independent creators of color and we need to capitalize on the climate. In fact, a number of us are.
We have seen an increase in coverage concerning independent properties dealing with the discussion of diversity (i.e. Black, The Legend of the Mantamaji, Niobe: She Is Life, Watson and Holmes, Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams, Solarman, etc.) exactly because these cats had their marketing game down and went beyond the perceived market to find their audience.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these projects are expertly created (i.e. writing, art, etc.), but creating is the easy part. Marketing is where the work comes into play.
This is the kind of work we should continue to push and purchase in addition to showing love to the “Corporate Two” when they “get it right.” Way more than being a DC or Marvel fan, I’m a fan and practitioner of the art form.
Interesting times indeed.
So, let me know if you are interested in more than just enjoying this historic moment in representation. Let’s keep it going. Let this be more than just a moment. Let’s make this a fact of life.
Speaking of, I’m going to be teaching a course on this exact subject through the International School of Comics starting in July. Granted, this class will be in Chicago, but if there is enough interest, I would possibly take this bad smoker into the remote teaching realm.
P.S. Personal note to the brothers Johnson and Stroman, c’mon fellas. We need to do a Tribe trade so that people can experience the loveliness that book was and can be again. Get at me.
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.
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.
9.) According to Dwayne McDuffie’sRule 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.
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.
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…
The following is a response to a post about the lack of “minority” characters from DC and Marvel Comics. This will be the only time you’ll hear me respond to this, as I am tired of the question. No disrespect to the one that posed the question, I’m just tired of wasting any more time on the question…
Yes, DC and Marvel have both been around since nearly this medium’s inception. Yes, their stable of properties have got decades of traction in the marketplace, and yes, the marketplace see only one color: GREEN, which is their primary concern…
The people who make the money are extremely short-sighted, and a part of that short-sightedness is in the idea of what is “marketable.”
Peep game, do you want to know which property, translated into film, brought Marvel out of the doledrums of bankruptcy thereby putting them on the path to be attractive for their eventual acquistion by Disney? Not, Spider-Man, not The X-Men, but Blade. The financial success of Blade in 1997 made it possible for those other movies to happen.
Who is the most recognizable Green Lantern for a whole new generation? John Stewart. Yet, they used Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern for the film and it was not a success in part because of a younger generation not knowing or caring about Hal… And that’s just not Black folks, either.
Yes, Green Lantern was a horrible film, for many reasons, and it would have done poorly whether or not Ryan Reynolds was Hal or Common was John Stewart. However, most kids today, who don’t read comics, the only Green Lantern they know is African American.
Blade was a great film all-around… Which illustrates the fact that the argument of African American superheroes not doing well financially is false. In fact, other examples of the initial vampire craze is further proof that cultural diversity adds to the value of entertainment (i.e. Rodriguez’s From Dusk ‘Til Dawn Latin-tinged appropriation of the vampire myth to Joss Whedon’s Buffy: The Vampire Slayer’s introduction of such characters as Gunn, Principal Wood, the First Slayer, etc.).
Characters of color from the Big Two have done better in other media rather than in comics because the audience for film, television and video games is bigger and more diverse than the suburban White male demographic that the Big Two consider their core audience. In short, they are marketing to their own tribe… A “passive” bigotry, if you will, using “marketing” to justify their limited world-view. To wait for that kind of narrow-minded thinking to seriously consider female voices, GBLT readers or fans of color, is a useless exercise. Instead of waiting for “Massa” to come around, we marginalized consumer base need to be made aware of, and support, the more than viable alternatives that address our needs. When that happens, when you start taking dollars out of the Big Two’s coffers that way, that’s when they’ll stand up and pay attention.
Don’t depend on the Big Two for some kind of cultural lip-service. All of your dollars don’t have to go to DC and Marvel. That’s like eating McDonalds or Burger King every day. If you want sushi, they are not the place to get it. Instead, seek out material that is going to speak to you. If that gets you off the reservation, so be it. There’s a whole world out there to explore. Who knows? You might find what you’re looking for.
What examples to support that argument? Love and Rockets. Brotherman. T.R.I.B.E. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Nexus. Hellboy. Grendel. Men In Black. The Walking Dead. Image Comics. Milestone Media.
To have a really satisfying and unique meal, you have to go to an Italian, Latin, Asian, African or Indian restaurant…
…That’s the experience only an Indie Comic can provide.