Tag Archives: DC

Fear of the Black Hero


Long time comin’…

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

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

Get over it.

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

Diversity has come to heroism.

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

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

The Champ is here…

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

Luke Cage Netflix
A Hero for Hire indeed…

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

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

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

Speaking of cats…

EW Black Panther
Enter the King…

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

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

A Justice League…

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

Firestorm in full costume… Light my fire…

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

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

The ultimate outsider… Man, am I glad to see him…

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

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

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

The White man is the only model of heroism.


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

Don’t be scared.



The Complexion of Comics: Step Ya Game Up

This image by Jason Reeves may be a bit of fan fic, but the return of Milestone is very real...
This image by Jason Reeves may be a bit of fan fic, but the return of Milestone is very real…

What’s happening, fam…

I’m not gonna lie to y’all… I’m a little shook.

Just reached out to Mr. Reginald Hudlin today congratulating him for the announcement made at the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend and, hopefully, put a little bug in his ear…

“Hello, Mr. Hudlin!

As a huge fan of both your film and comic book work as well as a fan of Milestone, I would first like to congratulate you and the rest of the team in bringing Milestone back to the comic book landscape. You were sorely missed and I’m looking forward to the new adventures featuring the heroes of Earth-M.

As a comic book creator of color, Milestone was influential at beginning of my career and the inspiration for me to create my own property, The Horsemen, as well as my company, Griot Enterprises.

I would love to work with Milestone in the near future. Moreover, I would love to, at some point, have the opportunity for our characters to interact in some form or fashion. A “Fan turned Professional” wish to be sure, but this is a time for all us (Creators of Color) to make the enduring mark on the industry through a sense of unity, something that deferred the dream back in the 1990s.

In any event, I hope this message finds you well and deservedly resting from the event that was SDCC. Please take a look at my website at your earliest convenience and I look forward to the day when we would meet in person.

Jiba Molei Anderson, MFA
CEO – Griot Enterprises

We shall we what we shall see…

Milestone officially back in the game is intimidating… Extremely intimidating. People have been hoping, wishing and praying that these brothers and their properties come back in full force. For nearly 20 years since Milestone stopped regular publication, two questions have been asked on a daily basis:

“When is Milestone coming back?”

“Who is gonna be the next Milestone?”

Personally, I’m more concerned that we Indie cats don’t go all Ania and front on Milestone because they had the ability to link with DC from jump.

This is the company that inspired a great many of us creators of color to step into the arena. Milestone Media has truly iconic characters in their stable. Icon, Hardware and especially Static are household names. They have the financial, marketing and distribution power of the “Rabbit” behind them. They are the Silverbacks, the 800lb elephant in the room.

Are the rest of us going to be overshadowed by the Return of the Cool?
Are the rest of us going to be overshadowed by the Return of the Cool?

Fellow creator of color and head of Ravenhammer Entertainment Brian Mark Williams expresses the concern some of us have:

“I feel terrible about this…I like Milestone. And I don’t want to be that fiery indie guy who doesn’t like anything but his own books…but Earth-M? Geoff Johns and Jim Lee? It scares me. I have concerns. Or maybe my worst fears have come true and I am that paranoid black writer who believes nothing is what it appears to be on the surface…”

He’s got a right to be concerned about Milestone’s future developments. They are the giants whose shoulders we stand on.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me sweat a little.

I’ve been rocking Griot Enterprises since 1999. The Horsemen has been in the landscape since 2002. That’s 16 years of being in the game…

And I’m just now getting a little bit of shine.

With Milestone officially back in the game, DC once again has “Diversity” on lock. In this respect, they crushed Marvel as it comes to representation. Yeah, Marvel may have, what, 10 – 16 books featuring characters of color, but only one writer of color working on them…

DC has Milestone… A company owned by four men of color, featuring characters of differing cultures, genders and orientation. They just landed verbal agreements from rising stars/veterans Ken Lashley and David Walker. DC Co-Publisher Geoff Johns is all on their jock and going to write a Milestone project. The artistic demigod that is DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee has been slated to draw a Milestone project.

That, my brothers and sisters, is the ultimate trump card.

Is this a violation? A little bit...
Is this a violation? A little bit…

My man Al “Sugar” Cayne writes:

“There’s no reason why all the major ‘Urban’ and ‘Hip Hop’ websites shouldn’t be posting your works. But more importantly that support needs to be reciprocated. Only then can you create a real infrastructure to create the foundation for growth. In this day in age of “All Things Indie” the support can’t be one sided.”

He’s absolutely correct. Especially for creators and properties of color, trying garner attention from Comic Book Resources, Newsarama or Comics Alliance is not nearly enough; especially because of the stigma of being the other. In addition, many fans of color simply do not check for independent comics.

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but that BGSS is a real condition.

That’s why I approached sites like Afropunk to promote my work. In that respect, comic books become more of a cultural artifact, and art piece that people, who normally don’t read comics, become aware of and are attracted to. We become special. We become unique.

Concrete Park co-creator, Tony Puryear puts it all into perspective with this statement:

“I’ve said this here before and I guess I’m gonna say it again: Isn’t this a time? Isn’t this a time to be making comics that reflect our experience, our sadness, and our beauty? I think it’s a helluva time and I think it’s about time. Let’s go!”

Get it Ronald Wimberly...
Get it Ronald Wimberly…

That is the realest of talk right there.

Mr. Puryear is absolutely correct. Despite whatever “Doom and Gloom” I hear about the state of representation in the comic book industry, despite whatever reservations or insecurities I, as an independent creator of color, may feel about the return of Milestone, this truly is a new Golden Age of diversity. The Indie game is strong. It’s powerful. Fans are tired of the same old, same old and aren’t taking any shorts.

Think about this:

At SDCC, Congressman John Lewis, civil rights activist and creator of the autobiographical graphic novel trilogy March, cosplayed himself… recreating the march to Selma with young children on the convention’s floors.

Ronald Wimberly (Prince of Cats) announced not one, but two projects: Sunset Park and the highly anticipated Slave Punk: White Coal, which will be published through Image Comics.

... I said GET IT!
… I said GET IT!

Meanwhile, Mark Waid and J.G. JonesStrange Fruit published through Boom Studios, falls under an eye of scrutiny. The mini-series, which feels like the “Ultimate” version of Icon, is criticized for well-tread tropes and a lack of authenticity.

This image has earned a particular level of side-eye... Especially because of recent events in the past few weeks. Talk about timing...
This image has earned a particular level of side-eye… Especially because of recent events in the past few weeks. Talk about timing…

Interestingly, if Strange Fruit were published in, say 2000, it would be considered groundbreaking

Oh, and Marvel’s Hip Hop Variant Cover month coming in October gets fronted on as another case of Columbusing rather than seen as an earnest homage to the musical and cultural art form.

That’s why I came up with the #4Pages16Bars concept… It’s the best of the best in a “Heavy Metal” format where fans can sample the great work out there… Not to toot a horn, but if I could get half the cats that complain about representation promoting and buying a project like this, things will change.

Fact is: there are those of us in the indie game that go toe to toe with what the Corporate Two puts out. The only thing we don’t have are the funds for big marketing campaigns. What we do have is passion, drive and chutzpah. What we need are the fans who do dig us riding hard to bring awareness to those who still sip the Kool-Aid.

Don’t get me wrong; we do a lot… A whole lot. But, we need the people who keep bitching to get their heads out of the sand, put their money where their mouth is, do a little research (we’re everywhere on social media for Heaven’s sake), and spread the word.

If all y’all do is complain and don’t contribute, shut up and continue to give them your money… #VoteWithYourDollars

Ready for battle... We ain't goin' nowhere...
Ready for battle… We ain’t goin’ nowhere…

Indeed… We’re the vanguards of the Next Age!


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…


Kicking and Screaming Towards The Light

2014 was a year of great change…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 was the year of DMC.

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

2014 was the year of Shaft.

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

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

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

So, what does that mean for 2015?

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

It means that the world done changed.

Hope you got your ticket…

The train has left the station…



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

“Thunder only happens when it’s raining…”

– Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

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

And, he will be played by Jackie Robinson…

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

Wait for it…

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

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

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

Very happy.

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

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

Don’t get it twisted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hell naw!

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

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

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

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

“Y’all about that Black Panther?”

“Y’all about that Static?”

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

“We are that next shit.”

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

Let’s rock this funky joint.

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

Speaking of…

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

The ISBN is: 9781941958001.

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

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

This is how you take it to the next level.

Thunder only happens when it’s raining.


Dear Dan

I used to be an interesting character pre-52, now I'm reduced to token status??!!!??? I want revenge!
I used to be an interesting character pre-52, now I’m reduced to token status??!!!??? I want revenge!

So, while I’ve been busy this past weekend, almost wishing that I were at San Diego Comic-Con to be amongst the hordes of my fellow lovers of the medium, I happened upon this post written by Khalil Kakarot Asadullah in the Facebook group Comic Nerds of Color. He had written, basically, a “Dear John” letter to the “Corporate Two,” in general, and DC in particular. Here is that letter now in all of its heartfelt glory:

Dear Dan DiDio,

The big two, Marvel and DC Comics have for years been a cornerstone of great ideas and stories that I have loved since my childhood. Some of my favorite characters have been DC Comics characters, Nightwing and the Flash (Wally West). I personally was a little disappointed in the New 52 and the reboot of characters and altering their history. The New 52 was convoluted and seems haphazard with no true direction. In establishing the New 52 continuity, there was no continuity at all. Some stories were not even on the same time frame as some stories were five to seven years in the past while others were present, and the stories that were supposed to be in the past frequently referenced events that were supposed to have happened in the present.

Very confusing indeed.

This, however is not the main issue I have been having…


Remember me? I was in the Outsiders AND the Justice League (and yes, this look is STILL hot)!
Remember me? I was in the Outsiders AND the Justice League (and yes, this look is STILL hot)!

I applaud any true attempt at bringing diversity to comic books. The fact that Asian, Black, Hispanic and LBGT characters are under represented in comic books is a travesty in my eyes. Comics should represent the ultra diverse world that we live in, and it is about time that both Marvel and DC set the standard with this new path. There is however a way that this path should be done. Ultimately, I think it first starts with having a workplace where this diversity is celebrated. More capable female, Black, Asian and Hispanic writers and artists would be a big step in defining characters with authentic backgrounds and personalities because they have been written by people who reflect that diversity.

Ummm... Hello? Can a sista get some love up in this piece?
Ummm… Hello? Can a sista get some love up in this piece?

Currently, you have a reboot in progress for the character Wally West. This new reboot has changed Wally from a white character to a black character. I personally have a reservation with “race bending” characters, it shows a lack of originality. It doesn’t show true diversity because all you are doing is giving a character another complexion. But this is not the factor that has me to the point of not giving DC Comics another penny of my money. In four or five issues now, this new Wally West, this new black Wally West, has been in handcuffs in two of these issues. He has been arrested TWICE!

For real Dan? TWICE?

It just seems to me that all you are currently doing is reinforcing a trope about young black men- that we are criminals. I have never been arrested. My brother has never been arrested. My cousins have never been arrested. My male friends who are black have never been arrested. But this is however a statistic that is forced in the minds of young black men. It is seen in televisions shows like The Wire. It is in the news repeatedly. Now, it is in comic books.

Here's the irony: Marvel has actually brought the Captain America legacy full-circle from Isiah Bradley...
Here’s the irony: Marvel has actually brought the Captain America legacy full-circle from Isiah Bradley…

As an educated black man who is also a high school English teacher, my job is to not only educate these young men so that they are more prepared for college and beyond, but it is also to be an example of what these young men are fighting against– stereotypes. I often use comic books and graphic novels in the classroom to change up the pace and to give my students more reference material. Through characters like Batman and the Hulk I have been able to introduce students to characters like Sherlock Holmes and books like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But why on Earth would I introduce a juvenile delinquent to my students? Why would I allow a trope like what your company has created into my classroom?

I am truly disappointed in what DC Comics has done. The feign attempt at diversity is nothing more than stereotypical propaganda that consciously reinforces a racial and social paradigm that is undeserved. Maybe DC Comics (and Marvel for that matter) should study the work of Christopher Priest on The Black Panther. Use his writing as a lesson plan of how to avoid tropes and create stories about a character with dignity, honor and an unwavering moral code that not only young black men can be proud to read about, but also all races can see the goodness that dwells in the hearts of people of color.

... To Sam Wilson.
… To Sam Wilson.

To sum it up, DC Comics has failed. DC Comics has failed to create stories about characters with integrity and characters that do not negatively reflect any particular race, gender or sexual orientation. DC will make their money, and some people will still purchase this “Shazbot,” but it won’t be me. Make mine Indie Comics because I see nothing MARVELous about Marvel or DC.

Well, DC and Marvel, that’s one source of revenue gone. And trust… he’s not the only one that’s fed up. This is what happens when you short-shrift a sizeable portion of your “1000 True Fans.”

So, what are you going to do about it?


Pick a Color… Any Color You Want…

Oh, wow... A Black Superman. Yet, I'm not excited... I wonder why...
Oh, wow… A Black Superman. Yet, I’m not excited… I wonder why…

Everybody is acting like this race-bending phenomenon is new when they’ve been doing this since, at least, 1989 (Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent anyone?).

Despite current attitudes, we are all down with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. We were introduced to that eventual reality thanks to Bryan Hitch drawing the Ultimates. Actually, Nick Fury was established as being Black in Ultimate X-Men. In fact, the cinematic Marvel U is based more so on the original Ultimate Universe than good ‘ol 616.

Honestly, if at the end of Iron Man, if anyone, Black or white, other than SLJ was wearing that eye patch, the entirety of fandom would have been pissed because the “reality” of Nick Fury being Black was established in the comics so much so that Marvel had to incorporate elements of the Ultimate Universe into the 616 universe.

Oh... Right...
Oh… Right…

Yet no one, I mean, no one cared that Kerry Washington played Alicia Masters…

Why? Because Alicia Masters is one of the last characters that you worry about in FF canon (really… how many people have clamored for an Alicia Masters solo book?)…

But Jessica Alba as Sue Storm? Don’t tell me y’all weren’t fronting on that decision…

I mean really?
I mean really?

It’s an interesting contradiction. I had called shenanigans when Jessica Alba was cast as Sue Storm yet was down with Michael Clarke Duncan was cast as the Kingpin (maybe, in my opinion, the only bright spot in the otherwise abysmal Daredevil movie). Both were examples of “Colorblind casting” rather than “Race-swapping.” One worked, the other didn’t.

The BEST thing about Daredevil... You know I'm right...
The BEST thing about Daredevil… You know I’m right…

Another great example of “Colorblind casting” is Sin City. Say what you will about “Uncle Frank,” but Robert Rodriguez is the man. This is the cat that makes sure that, at the extreme least, one Hispanic or Latino actor is in a lead role. Gail and Nancy Callahan were not Latino in the books, but did that matter with the casting of Rosario Dawson and the aforementioned Jessica Alba in those respective roles?

Yes, she was...
Yes, she was…

Now, let’s look at this in the reverse, specifically, the casting of Liam Nesson as Ra’s Al-Ghul and Marion Cotillard as Talia Al-Ghul in the Nolan Dark Knight universe.

We understand Talia Al-Ghul and Ra’s Al-Ghul to be Middle Eastern solely on their last names. Was it ever established really where Ra’s came from? In fact, one story depicted that Talia’s mother was a Chinese hippie in the 60s (Birth of the Demon… Look it up, that story does exist).

Now, on the Nerds of Color blog, they made mention of how they felt that Ra’s Al Ghul was more of a title than an actual person (which made sense as they were trying to avoid the more fantastic elements of the character i.e. the Lazarus Pit). That made sense to me when seeing Ken Watanabe playing Al Ghul in the beginning of the film when he was really the Sensei of the League of Assassins.

Nobody complained about this casting choice...
Nobody complained about this casting choice…

So, with that line of thinking in the Nolan Batman universe, if the title was passed from Watanabe’s Al Ghul to Nesson’s Ducard, the casting of Cotillard makes more sense. And, in the Fanboy of Color universe, if the outrage of Nesson ultimately being cast as Al Ghul had been present at the time, the displeasure of Cotillard’s casting as Talia would make more sense as well.

In addition, Marion Cotillard had a “look” that could work for a vaguely Middle Eastern character. If Talia were a blonde or a redhead, then a situation would have been created in where one would have heard outrage from fanboys.

...And you weren't mad at this one either...
…And you weren’t mad at this one either…

In other words, we don’t know. Hell, most people call Kim Kardashian a white girl with a big ass when she is, in fact, an Armenian girl…

With a big ass.

Look, did any of us call shenanigans when Liam Nesson’s Ducard was actually Ra’s Al-Ghul? No, no we did not. And honestly, none of us cared when Cotillard was revealed to be Talia, either.

Why? It’s because every time a POC is portrayed as someone in a position of power, especially one that had been traditionally “reserved” for a white man (let’s be 100% here), it’s one more instance of reality that skin color, or gender, or sexual orientation does not automatically put you in the power position…

And, a number of white fanboys don’t like that…

Now, we have switching race for the sake of switching race as some half-hearted attempt at “diversity” when, in reality, they are just tryin’ to get as many dollars as possible with the least amount of effort. From Michael B. Jordan’s casting as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four reboot to making Wally West bi-racial in the New52 Flash comic, we are being insulted, and assaulted, left and right.

Truth be told, the “Corporate Two’s” Fans of Color don’t want Superman in Blackface.

They want Icon.

The Milestone Universe is an untapped cash-cow resource...
The Milestone Universe is an untapped cash-cow resource…

They don’t want a bi-racial Wally West.

They want Static.

...With a PROVEN track record of crossover, mutlimedia appeal... But, y'all don't hear me though...
…With a PROVEN track record of crossover, mutlimedia appeal… But, y’all don’t hear me though…

In other words, they want the characters of color that do exist and run rampant in the “Corporate Two” to be treated with the respect that they deserve.

Instead, the “Corporate Two,” DC in particular, have gone fetishistic in the comics and the films. It has gone from “Colorblind casting” to “Race swapping.” In other words, fools are lazy. Sure, there’s been a modicum of laziness in the past, but fools are straight-up sloth-like these days.

Laziness breeds apathy, apathy breeds racism.

That’s the real problem.


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!



Battle Marketing: Round Two… Fight!

Sequence from The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven
Sequence from The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven

I’m sorry… I have to say this to anyone who ever has the audacity to say that in order to be accepted by certain people that I, or any other Black creator, has to work for DC or Marvel…

That comment is the exact equivalent of: “Well, if you work for Massa at the Big House, then we’ll accept you.”

And again, I apologize for this next comment due to its brusque language:

Fuck. That. Corny. Shit.

“Colored people have said: This work must be inferior because it comes from colored people.“

“ White people have said: It is inferior because it is done by colored people.”

– W.E.B. Dubois


I’m a college professor in my secret identity and I’ve been training cats on the craft for over 10 years… A number of them work in comics, video games and animation.

When one speaks of these multicultural studios and training centers, what you’re really talking about is school… Art school. And, there are a lot of really good ones out there. In fact: there are schools like the Joe Kubert school, School of Visual Arts in New York, Savannah College of Art and Design, etc. that have degrees in sequential art. I teach animation, game design and graphic design at the International Academy of Design and Technology in Chicago using comics as the root for teaching these disciplines, as they tend to cross-pollinate.

Now, if you can’t afford those schools, there are plenty of books dealing with the subject of creating comics.

What you’re really asking from people who are established in the game is: “How can I be down?” “How can I get into the game?” And, what you have been hearing from those of us who are “in” is that the best way to get into this industry is to do for self, be independent.

You see by the numbers of African American hires (3.1%) that the Corporate Two have all but shut the door and are making funny faces, taunting us through the glass. As the natural hustlers we are, we have said that there are other ways of making bread and we don’t need you to validate us.

Real talk, every creative working in comics (if they don’t have an exclusive contract from the Corporate Two) has two or three hustles happening… Diversifying our bonds if you will. The real question is: “How do I navigate my career in this creative field?”


As said before, I am a college professor and professional that has been teaching people about the craft (Black, white, Latino, Asian, etc.) for over 10 years. It’s all about education… Especially educating the fan on what’s really going on behind closed doors.

The assumption is that Black creators don’t know or understand the craft and that is why they are not working for the “pinnacle” of comic book “perfection”… DC and Marvel…

That perception is incorrect.

For the young hopefuls entering the game, it is a question of quality as they are learning their craft. However, for us professionals in the game, who’ve been around the block truly understand the standard of what makes a good comic book (which, in reality is the entire package; not just writing and art, but coloring, lettering and package design as well), we know, from personal EXPERIENCE, what the game is at the Mouse and the Rabbit.

3.1%… Remember that.

So yes, we are here educating and yes, we are lifting the veils of misunderstanding about the reality of this business and yes we call bullshit on commentary based on minimal knowledge and yes we call bullshit on centuries of ingrained low self-esteem disguised as knowledge of a standard….

And yes, we are independent. Not because we weren’t “good enough” to get into Marvel or DC, but because we understand the business enough to know that the risk of owning your own can come with an even greater financial, emotional and spiritual reward.


So no, we ain’t trying to be slaves… We’re being bosses

That’s that real Stan Lee shit.

Speaking of, Cripples’ Deluge, the first chapter of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven drops the first week of November. Words by Jude W. Mire, everything else by yours truly… Cop the book!



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…