Tag Archives: The Afrosoul Chronicles

YOU KNOW THE ANSWER

The question.

The eternal question.

It’s always asked. It never fails. It’s asked so frequently; you can set your watch to it. 

In the immortal words of Cherelle, “Let’s sing it together…”

IS THERE A BLACK COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY?

And, here is the short answer:

Yes, there is.

In just a few short years, Roye Okupe of YouNeek Studios has taken his characters from the comics to the big screen… Kudos!

How so, you may ask?

Well, let me school ya…

While this question is still being asked, many indie Black Comix creators were at NYCC supporting and big-upping each other. And, their tables were busy all weekend because people were buying their product left, right and center. On the same weekend, another group of Black Comix creators were in Algiers the same weekend sharing their talent with kids on the African continent.

From companies like Evoluzione Publishing to Webway Comics to Griot Enterprises to Stranger ComicsYouNeek Studios and others, to the larger independent companies like Image Comics publishing books like Bitter Root and Excellence, to the network of conventions that cater to fans of color like OnyxconMECCA ConECBAAC, Blerd ConBCAF and so many more, to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, to printers like 133Art, distribution systems like Peep Game Comix and stores like Amalgam Comics and CoffeehouseFirst Aid Comics and Third Coast Comics, you damn right Black Comix exists not only as an industry, but a movement as well. 

The title of the book also denotes the quality of the product…

Hell, why do you think I created an anthology like 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape?

We’ve got creators, publishers, digital distributors, a convention system, printers and brick and mortar stores…

Sounds like an industry to me. And, it looks like the reach of this industry is international.

Problem is, cats who continue to ask this question are too busy chasing the business model of the “Corporate Two” or work in a vacuum so tight that they don’t realize what’s happening around them. Flat out, these cats don’t even really interact with, or stay aware of, other creators and what they are making in a similar space…

In other words, they are either too arrogant or too scared to be a part of the community. 

…The hell did he just say?

The arrogance comes because they want to be at the top of the totem pole when it comes to what they think Black Comix are. They are looking for that ephemeral superstarstatus Wizard Magazine put into some of their heads with their Top 10 Artist and Writer lists (which were totally and arbitrarily manufactured). The fear comes into play as they know, deep down, that their product isn’t as up to snuff as someone else’s.

Yeah, I know I’m gonna catch mad flack for that last statement. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t any less true.

Now, there are many Black creators who are not asking this question. They are the ones getting recognition and finding success because their books meet the standards of the market. Why? Let me say this so the people in the back can hear:

COMIC BOOKS ARE AN EXERCISE IN GRAPHIC DESIGN

Everything needs to work in harmony (art, story, coloring, lettering, layout design and editing) in order to be considered a viable product by buying standards. Books like Bitter RootNiobe: She Is Death, Is’nana: The Were-SpiderCrescent City Monsters and others have audiences of diverse backgrounds gobbling up their books because they are good stories that are well-designed with great content from Black creators. If one’s book is lacking in any of these areas, that book is going to have problems. 

From the root to the fruit, Bitter Root hits all of the right notes…

This leads into point two of this particular rant:

COLOR IS NOT CONTENT

The aforementioned books also work because it doesn’t matter if the characters are Black…

Their creators are.

Crescent City Monsters is a great because it is a completed original package. The addition of Vodou and African American culture enhances the book, not the sole reason for its success…

Furthermore, they’re not trying to create a “Black version” of comics they’ve read before. They’re telling unique stories in different genres (because comics are more than superheroes) using their culture to enhance their stories and give unique points of view.

Here’s another point that you may or may not be aware of:

THE GAME DONE CHANGED AND BLACK WOMEN ARE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THIS CHANGE

I am not disrespecting the brothers who have paved the way at all. In fact, the brothers who haven’t been asking the question know exactly what I’m talking about. 

While some are still asking questions, C. Spike Trotman quietly redefined the industry…

In my opinion, C. Spike Trotman and Iron Circus Comics is the new publishing model one would want to follow. This woman has fundamentally changed the game building a successful publishing company with her savvy use of crowdfunding, marketing and content while cats are looking elsewhere for answers. She understands the market she’s built and has an extremely loyal fan/economic base.

The “Queen of Detroit” stays holding it down for five years and counting…

In Detroit, Maia Crown Williams has created a cultural powerhouse with her MECCA Con which brings creators from all over the country to the Motor City, sets them up with book signings and makes sure that they sample the finest cuisine my hometown has to offer. In addition, she brings top-notch Black creators to Detroit as educational ambassadors who show young brothers and sisters the craft of bringing their visions to life.

Oh, you don’t know about Niobe? Where have YOU been?

Also, Sebastian Jones’ Stranger Comics and World of Asunda brand featuring Niobe has a huge female fan base in part due to Amandla Stenburg’s involvement in the creation of the character as well as Ashley Woods being a part of the creative team. By putting the creative team front and center (something the “Corporate Two” used to do), Stranger Comics built up that fan base, in part, because the marketing of the creative team Black women gave added legitimacy to the brand.

I missed the opportunity to go to her store when I was in Philadelphia earlier this year. Next time, I won’t make the same mistake…

And, of course, not enough can be said of Ariell Johnson and her success with Amalgam Bookstore and Coffeehouse.

Black women, straight-up, buy comics. Black women, straight-up, make comics. In addition to sci-fi author, creator of Dark Horse Comics’s LaGuardia and writer of Marvel’s Shuri series Nnedi Okarafor, we’ve got Ironheart writer Eve Ewing, artist Afua Richardson, writer and creator of the Women In Comics collective Regine Sawyer, illustrator Micheline Hess, indie writer Dorphese Jean, the badasses Ashley WoodsAlithea A. Martinez and so many more putting in that work on the daily and having a large fanbase that includes Black women.

This leads me to my final point:

CHANGE YOUR DEFINITION OF SUCCESS 

People who want to get into comics nowadays don’t want floppies (though the 24-32-page pamphlet is still useful in getting people interested in your brand), they want books. They want graphic novels. These aren’t the people who go to the store every Wednesday for their X-Men or Justice League fix. They want books that represent them. They want to know that the creators of these books look like them, way more than the characters. They want the new and the creative. They want something different. They want a product that they don’t have to necessarily pick up every single month to follow the story. This is a new audience that people who keep asking the question are completely ignoring…

And, leaving money on the table.

While some people are trying to mimic the model of a corporation, books like this are racking up best-seller list accolades…

Too many cats think way too small when it comes to their subject matter and its potential reach in other markets because they’ve locked into a model that, though successful for some, makes absolutely no sense for others. It amazes me how many cats don’t look at libraries or bookstores (online and mortar) as viable markets when those markets are killing it in terms of graphic novel sales. 

it’s all about mindset. If you’re long-range goal is myopic, you’re not gonna find much traction. Straight-up, the model has changed. It’s been changed since, at the extreme least, 2010. 

If you’re just going for a success model that only benefits the “Corporate Two” (i.e. built-in fan base from over 80 years of market saturation, Diamond as distribution, etc.) YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. Simple as that.

The idea that Black Comix aren’t making an impact is bullshit. People who say that simply aren’t really checking out what’s happening in Black Comix. They’re too busy wishing for the “Corporate Two” to appease them while Milestone happened, while the whole con structure for Black Comics was built while Bitter Root and World of Asunda get picked up by Legendary and HBO respectively while Raising Dion and Cannon Busters appeared on Netflix.

But again, too many of aren’t aware of what’s happening in front of them. People really need to open their eyes to see what’s really going down. The machine has been created. More people just need to plug in by going to the cons, interacting with and being truly aware of what’s happening with other creators. That’s called being a part of the community…

And, maybe we’ll finally stop asking this question.

The anthology celebrating the true diversity in comics returns… Cover art by Julie Anderson

Speaking of community:

Dedication, Vol.05 of 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape is available now in print ($24.95) and digital ($9.95) formats. Click here to grab the print copy, here for the digital.

Witness the birth of a new creative multiverse… Cover designed by Jiba Molei Anderson

Also, 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape presents The Union is on sale in digital format ($3.99) with a print format coming at the end of October. What is The Union? The Union is an 8-bit video game that brings properties from independent Black Comix creators like Dorphise JeanRobert Garrett(RIP), Quinn McGowanWilliam SatterwhiteTerance BakerTyrell White and Jiba Molei Anderson together for the first time to battle an enemy that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse we like to call The Blaxis. You can grab that bad boy here.

This is the community I’m talking about. This is Black Comix.

Get on board.

www.griotenterprises.com

LOOK AT ALL THESE RUMORS, SURROUNDING ME EVERY DAY

Some people let the whatifferly fly when they saw this image…

Rumors.

People LOVE rumors.

People love rumors so much, they want to make them truths…

Like the Protocols of Zion, the Willie Lynch letter or that white supremacy is another term for mediocracy (well, that one is true).

Here’s the current rumor that’s gotten Black comic book fandom’s nature to rise:

https://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/denzel-washington-being-eyed-for-magneto-x-men/

Let’s get this out of the way:

Stan Lee did not create Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto of the X-Men brand as analogies for Martin Luther King Jr. and Malik El-Hajj Shabazz (Malcom X). Don’t believe me? Check out this article:

Y’all really think that the way Magneto was written in the 60s was meant to represent Brother Malcolm? Really?

https://vocal.media/geeks/actually-stan-lee-didnt-base-marvels-prof-x-and-magneto-on-malcolm-x-and-martin-luther-king-jr?fbclid=IwAR38ZsaGkl3kpZ1BqmN20hJfKcxb6-vGtD6TSI5a5aTxgY9eTDbEqm4f2UQ

Yes, y’all. Though Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men concept, they were not so forward-thinking as to make the book an allegory for Civil Rights, LGBTQ Rights, hell not even the right to wear white after Labor Day. 

You need proof? The first mutant, if not character of color, in the X-Men universe was introduced to The X-Men in 1975. Her name is Ororo Munroe AKA the Wind-Rider AKA the Goddess AKA Storm. Though in the 80s you would see another Black woman, retired dancer Stevie Hunter as a supporting character (the dance teacher of Kitty Pride who the internet has completely forgotten), the young Brazilian mutant Sunspot in the New Mutants and the introduction of First Nations mutant inventor Forge, the mutant representation of color was, and still is, few and far between. 

Stevie Hunter was “John Byrne-drawn” foine and y’all have completely forgotten about her…

It was Chris Claremont, steward of the mutants from the late 70s to the early 90s who gave The X-Men the cultural gravitas that so many are drawn to. The X/King analogy began with the release of the 1982 graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, which was illustrated by Brent Anderson who would go on to be the seminal artist of the classic Astro City.

A truly transformative story and the true beginning of the X-Men seen as an allegory for Civil Rights…

And even Chris Claremont, the man whose work created the analogy says that the analogy is incorrect. Still don’t believe me? Check out this article from 2016:

https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/x-men-wolverine-jean-grey-chris-claremont-five-key-storylines/?fbclid=IwAR0BLdRisE24AzR342KXU8NvlORVgwXn5F7rZYlIx-uz1yMkHr8z_AUaKuc

Have I sufficiently pissed some of you off, yet?

The myth that Stan Lee modelled Professor X after Dr. King and Magneto after Malcolm X is as prevalent as the myth that Sophia Stewart, a Black woman, created The Matrix. Even though these two myths have been debunked… Repeatedly… There are still way too many of us who continue to drink the Kool-Aid and will swear upon death that these stories are true. 

Oh, you think you can just throw that word around like it was nothin’, Kitty? From X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills released in 1982.

Of course, like the Stewart story, it doesn’t help that after seeing this story gain traction that Stan Lee fed into the lie as the consummate huckster he was. Lee’s greatest contribution to Marvel was his outstandingly shameless marketing skills. Here’s an example of him taking credit for the concepts Chris Claremont brought to The X-Men from an article dating back to 2000… When the first X-Men movie was released:

https://www.history.com/news/stan-lee-x-men-civil-rights-inspiration

Now, Stan Lee didn’t say this in 1963. He didn’t say this in 1975 after Giant-Size X-Men #1 dropped reviving the title and giving it some much needed diversity. He didn’t say this in 1982 when God Loves, Man Kills was released. He didn’t say this in 1992 when The X-Men cartoon debuted on Fox Television…

You see where I’m going with this?

I mean, the first Black mutant appeared in a book that was cancelled before being relaunched in 1975… And, y’all still think that Stan Lee was really thinking about Civil Rights when the X-Men first dropped in 1963?

He was P Diddy before Sean Combs was even born. But many people will rather eschew history and fact for the fantasy of white men thinking about them as an economic demographic well before they actually did start thinking about Black dollars…

Which they’re still figuring out how to get even now after Milestone Media and the beloved Static Shock, after Blade, after Luke CageBlack LightningBlack Panther, etc. 

At the end of the day, It’s not about representation. It’s about race swapping to get said representation. That type of representation is lazy at best. It gives the impression that we, as a marginalized group would take any scrap of attention the “other” gives us in order to see ourselves on screen…

And, unfortunately, there are still too many of us that will accept race swapping as progress.

Yes, this is an old argument or gripe depending on who’s reading this. But, it has to be reiterated that still too many Black consumers hunger for representation from the “Corporate Two,” complain when they don’t receive it to their satisfaction, rail against the lack of new, compelling characters of color from the “Corporate Two,” ignore those new “Corporate Two” characters that were created (RIP Mosaic and I hope you get some big love, Naomi) and dismiss those independent creators producing amazing content because they did not create said content for the “Corporate Two” to reap the financial benefits from their blood, sweat and tears.

Now, here’s an original new Black hero free of legacy or “race swapping” from DC Entertainment. Naomi is an interesting addition to the DCU. How many of y’all are checking for her?

Let me put it to you this way, spending money does not necessarily buy you respect.

IMO, my desire to be pandered to by the “Corporate Two” is nil, especially when this whole thread from jump is based on whatiffery combined with the false narrative of the original creator’s intent of the character. 

As a consumer, I don’t have to depend on, nor desire for, this threadbare attempt to take my dollars because they changed the skin of an established character to match mine.

As a creator, I’m lucky to be able to create content that properly fills the need for representation I desire.

As a fan of comics (not just the “Corporate Two”), I see more than enough content from other creators of color that satisfies my need for representation… Especially when said creators are having their projects optioned (i.e. Bitter RootWorld of Asunda, etc.).

Real talk, if this book wasn’t on your radar and you’re complaining about representation in comics, I can’t take any of your commentary seriously…

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to rain on people’s parade (not really) nor am I here telling folks what they should buy (though there is some really great work people are missing out on because of their tunnel vision). I am here to dispel myths and half-truths. I am here to give credit where credit is due…

Because The X-Men you love was the result of the work Len WeinChris ClaremontDave CockrumJohn ByrnePaul SmithTerry AustinGlynis Oliver and Tom Orzechowski put into the title from the 80s. Let’s keep it really 100.

So, while other cats get caught up in the wish fulfillment of “The Man” giving out scraps like we finally got a seat at the table, I’ma be over here celebrating the people who are out there making the work I really want to consume and continue being someone who creates the work that these cats claim they really want.

The team of Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larazz, R.B. Silva, Adriano Di Benedetto, Marte Garcia, Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller are becoming the true heirs of the 80s Claremont crew with the House of X and Powers of X mini-series

So, you sufficiently pissed off, yet?

https://www.griotenterprises.com

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

BlackComix2018(Web)
Books of the Afrofantastic that I purchased in 2018

Unapologetically Me

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it’s been a minute since my last post. What can I say? I have been extremely busy. With working on TWO Horsemen projects, teaching and giving presentations among other things, it has left very little time to post on this blog.

One of the things I’ve been busy with is writing for role-playing games. Never thought that I would become a part of that industry as a writer, but here we are.

I’ve been contributing to Onyx Path / White Wolf Publishing’s World of Darkness franchise, which includes Vampire: The Masquerade and Wraith: The Oblivion (mad shout-out to Matt McElroy of Drive Thru Comics for recommending my work to the team). I had been tasked to create characters and design worlds for these games providing me with the opportunity to add something truly different to this venerable brand. I have had the rare pleasure of complete freedom in my voice and approach to these worlds. I have been truly unapologetically Black in my language and world-building with the complete support of the Onyx Path and White Wolf organizations.   

Here is a character I created for Vampire: The Masquerade. When developing her, the spirit of my dear departed uncle Ronald Williams entered my body giving this character her voice and attitude. Visually, my cousin Q Uetta Nunnelly was the inspiration for this character’s look.

What can I say? My people have mad swagger.

If The Horsemen was created to honor my Liberian heritage, then these characters definitely pay homage to my African American clan, the Williams family.

But, enough jibber-jabber (a pun I never I thought I would use) from me. Ladies and gentlemen, the incomparable Francois Mamuwalde

Latrice Royal
Latrice “Muthertuckin'” Royale was an inspiration for Francois Mamuwade’s fashion sense…

You wanna know my story? Well, I suppose. It’s not like I have anything to hide. Have a seat while Mother gets herself ready for this show. This is gonna take a minute.

So, my government name is Clarence Sherman Wilks. If you tell anybody that, I will find you and stake you with this eyebrow pencil. My daddy, Herbert Wilks, was from Autagua County, Alabama. He moved to Harlem in 1940 looking for work like they all did. Daddy did all kinds of things. He was a porter, drove a cab and also ran numbers on the side for Ms. Stephanie St. Clair. That’s right. My daddy was rollin’ with the Madam Queen of Policy!

Madame Queen of
The Madame Queen of Policy

He met his future wife, the beautiful, the stunning, the GORGEOUS Gwendolyn Price at the Savoy in 1942. All it took was one dance and that was it. They got married six months later and they went to work. Mama popped out the twins right off the bat. Constance and Joann were born in 1943, then my brothers Herbert in ’45, Alvin in ’47, and then my sister Juanita in ’49. After pushing out five kids in six years, they promised themselves that they would have no more kids. Problem was, Mama and Daddy enjoyed fuckin’ too much.

Ok. Do not act new. You wanted me to tell you MY story. So, don’t be actin’ all shocked by the way that I tell it. This is how I talk, honey, and I changing’ that for nobody. We are all grown up in here.

Anyway, I was born on September 17, 1951. I know I look damn good for my age, honey. When they say, “Black don’t crack,” I am living proof.

I was the baby of the family. I knew it and made sure everybody else in the family knew it, too. Mama always doted on me and I got away with everything. On top of that, I had a real slick mouth. Mama would always make my brothers take me when they went out. She knew that I would give the 411 without hesitation. I was a little snitch, honey. Oooh, it would make my brothers and sisters so mad!

Sidebar: I’m trying something new tonight. I’m going for an “Olivia Pope meets Angela Davis” kind of vibe. I call it “Power to the People while running B613” realness. Yes? No? Doesn’t matter. I’m committed.

Olivia Pope
Olivia Pope’s style is impeccable…

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. I knew I was different from a very young age. My sisters would grab me and dress me up like a little girl. They had me in walking in Mama’s shoes, putting on her jewelry and wearing her wigs. Oh, those heifers pulled out all the stops. They thought they were getting me back for all the times that I got them in trouble. What they didn’t know at the time was that I loved every second of it. Playing dress up was my thing. I told you my Mama was beautiful and I wanted to look just like her.

You know how the story goes. If you know the words, feel free to sing along. Mama cried and prayed to God to get the demon out of her child. Daddy had a fit and tried to beat manhood into me. It all became too much. I ran away from home in ’68 and found myself on the streets of Greenwich Village. I was going to prove my family wrong and become a famous performer. Comedian, singer, dancer, it didn’t matter. I was going to be a star and Manhattan was the place to make it happen.

Angela Davis
And, what else can be said about Angela Davis’ “Black Power” cool?

It is extremely difficult to become a big-time celebrity when you are Black, gay and homeless. I had to fight off the bums who would try and steal my little bit of stuff when I slept on the park benches. I had to run from cops who were cracking down on the “perverts” bringing down society. I wound up selling mouth and ass on the street to the Wall Street businessmen on the “Down Low” and the soldiers in the closet going off to Vietnam for rent money and cigarettes. Those early days were rough, honey.

How’s my lipstick? Poppin’, right?

I was at the Stonewall when the riot started that Saturday night in June of ’69. That was an historical moment for me. Not because of the riots starting the whole movement and everything, but because that was the night I saw Erzulie for the first time. Now, this is a couple of years before we met for real. She was already a legend amongst the scene. There were all kinds of rumors about her. Everybody knew that she used to be a man, but some of the other stories? Some said that she had been around since the 20s.Some said that she never aged. Some said that she was a vampire and drank blood to stay young and fabulous. I didn’t pay any attention to all of the fairy tales, but when I saw her in the flesh? It was like watching sunshine in the darkness, honey.

Stonewall riots
Again, Black folks led the charge for freedom in thins country. Do not get it twisted…

After the riots though, I knew I had to get my shit together. I wasn’t gonna let anybody use me and throw me away anymore. I had a voice and I was gonna use it, cotdammit! I started telling jokes on the corner for spare change. I was out here reading people left and right working on my material. I was able to “mop” some dresses, wigs and make-up so I could put together some looks.

My first drag name was Baby Love. The whole Motown girl group thing in the early days inspired me. I started performing in bathhouses and the clubs in ’70. I wowed them sweaty young things while making sure my face didn’t melt off in the heat. I started to get a little following, child! I was making moves! Every now and then, I would catch a glimpse of who I thought was Erzulie in the crowd. But, every time I would try and find her after my set, poof! Nowhere to be found. I swear, at a certain point I thought I was making her up as motivation to keep going.

I was also a big fan of horror movies. I loved to scare myself, girl. I would sneak into movie theaters to catch the dollar show and sit in the dark wishing I had a big, strong man to grab his shoulder and bury my head into his chest so I could avoid the really scary moments.

Blacula-large
The night when everything changed…

August 25, 1972. I will never, as long as I live, forget that night. This new vampire movie called Blacula had opened. You know that film? Anyway, William Marshall was all elegant and stuff with that strong-ass voice playing a Black vampire prince in love with that fine-ass Vonetta McGee. I loved that movie! All the time I was watching, I thought to myself, “Yaaasss, Mamuwalde! Come bite me!”

You know that old line, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it?” Well, there was this white boy sitting a couple of seats over. I know, I know, but he was fine, girl. All long hair and broad shoulders, big strapping corn-fed muthafucka! I felt him staring at me while he was rubbing his crotch. I got the message loud and clear. I didn’t feel any cop vibes coming off of him and we were in a theatre outside of the usual spots where cops were harassing the bull dykes and the sissies. Plus, it had been a while since I stopped turning tricks. Mama ain’t had any in a while and did not mind ending her drought with a tall glass of milk.

The theatre was pretty filled up. We were in the back where no one could see us. I moved to the seat next to him and replaced his hand with mine on his crotch. I undid his pants and was about to get busy doing my thing when he yanked my head up and bit my neck. It happened so fast, I couldn’t even scream. I saw my life flash before my eyes as I was dying I saw my parents, my brothers and sisters. They were looking at me with judging eyes, shaking their heads, blaming me for getting into this situation and saying this was payment for going against God’s law.

Could you hand me my wig, baby? The purple one. Wha’chu mean the color is off? It’s supposed to be off! Don’t you worry about my skin tone! I know I’m dark! I have a look happening here! It’s gonna be so off, it’s on! Don’t ever question Mother’s fashion sense!

I swear, you ‘bout to get my pressure up and I don’t even have a heartbeat…

ANY WAY… I woke up under a pile of garbage in a dumpster the next evening. The muthafucka took me out back to the alley and threw me away like trash. It was worse than being raped. I was abandoned, I was thirsty, I had fangs, I couldn’t walk out in the middle of the day anymore… Child, I was a mess.

I tried to learn about my new condition as best I could, but vampire movies are not educational films. At least I could see myself in the mirror so I could fix my face. But the rest of it was a sad state of affairs. I resorted to feeding off of rats because I was scared that I was gonna turn anyone I bit into something like me, too. I was so scared; I didn’t know what I was gonna do. The stress was messing with my performance, which also meant it was messing with my money and I wasn’t making that much money to begin with. I was bombing on stage, singing sad-ass songs; people were starting to hate Baby Love.

I became so depressed that I was ready to end it all. It was New Year’s Eve and I decided that after my last show at the bathhouse, I would stand in the middle of the Village and watch the sunrise. Just burn up in the middle of the street to ring in 1973. I opened with The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack. As I looked out into the sea of bored faces, I Erzulie again. I thought it my mind was playing tricks on me. But then, she started moving closer until she got up to the front. Child, the goddess was real! I felt the spirit come back and proceeded to bring the house down… Baby Love was back!

But, that was only the beginning. After the show, Mama Erzulie came up to me, gave me a hug and told me it was gonna be alright. I found out that the stories about her were true. She was a vampire and so was I. She took me in and gave me a home. She became my mentor and my friend. She saved my life and gave me a purpose. She’s the reason why you’re sitting here, getting on my nerves while I get ready for this show.

Bob_The_Drag_Queen_at_Rupaul's_Dragcon_2017_by_dvsross
Bob, the Drag Queen was also a touchstone in the development of “Mother” Francois…

I am the first member of the legendary House of Lilith. I am the Mother of the legendary House of Mamuwalde and the fiercest bitch in all of the goddess’ creation. I am Francois Mamuwalde, but you can call me Buffy because I am here to slay all y’all muthafuckas!

Respect my name.

Chicago by Night – Vampire The Masquerade 5th Edition from Onyx Path and White Wolf Publishing will be coming soon to a tabletop near you. Peep the evolution of the Kindred universe.

Later…

http://www.griotenterprises.com

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

Comics Are Hip Hop: The Remix

Comics are Hip Hop.

I think it’s fair to make that comparison. The creators of what would become the basis of superhero mythology (i.e. Siegel & Shuster, Kane & Finger, Marston, Lee & Kirby) came from impoverished and marginalized first-generation immigrants whose hopes and dreams manifested in these new literary beings, which inspired generations… Kinda like Hip Hop…

Also, both comics and Hip Hop were, and still are to an extent, considered cheaply-produced, low-brow entertainment before they achieved economic success and cultural relevance… They both still carry that in their DNA.

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Since I’m not able to attend the BCAF events this weekend, I’m going to celebrate by digging into my Black Comix library.

Comics are an integral component to Hip Hop.

The essence of Hip Hop is dual consciousness. Darryl McDaniels famously said that DMC was his Superman persona. Tsidi Ibrahim, a daughter of South Africa, takes the name Jean Grae as her Hip Hop secret identity.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five dressed like ghetto superheroes. The Soul Sonic Force took the Afrofuturistic comic-book stylings of Parliament / Funkadelic to another dimension of peace, unity and having fun. The Wu-Tang Clan is basically the Hip Hop Avengers. The first major Hip Hop release, Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang, name-drops Superman. The Souls of Mischief name-drop Colossus and Magneto on their debut cut Let ‘Em Know. Of course, The Last Emperor’s Secret Wars is self-explanatory.

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Since I’m not able to attend the BCAF events this weekend, I’m going to celebrate by showing love to some of the artists who walk the line between Marvel, DC and the indie world.

Understanding the history of comics is critical in making new and interesting material. Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics series would be required viewing in my class, especially, the Milestone episode. That episode clearly illustrates that the emergence of Hip Hop was a direct influence on the rise of the Black Comix movement. Hip Hop created larger-than-life musical superheroes that gave hope to a generation. Hip Hop gave the oppressed a voice that would resonate across the globe, a voice that despite best efforts cannot be silenced.

The reason why the Black Comix movement is called such is because of the creator, not the creation. The creator will define the creation, no matter how inclusive in content. The fact alone that we create makes whatever we do political. So, I say lean into it not in the sense that your creation is the definition of “Blackness” (which is extremely diverse anyway), but in the sense of being proud that you, as a Black creator, are making work that, hopefully, challenges and entices whatever audience you are attempting to reach.

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Since I’m not able to attend the BCAF events this weekend, I’m going to celebrate by showing love to some of the writers, actors and MCs who crossed the media stream and brought their storytelling skills to the comic book game.

That’s the thing… The artists, writers and creations of the Black Comix are walking legends. In their own way, each of them has changed the game. They showed us that Black stories matter, and that, independently, Black folks can create dope-ass concepts on par, and in many cases, better than anything that the “Corporate Two” could come up with.

They are the reason Blade kicked off the modern superhero film. They are the reason John Stewart became the Green Lantern for a generation. They are the reason Marvel hired Christopher Priest to set the stage for Black Panther’s ascension to the probably most-anticipated movie of the year.

Best believe, DC and Marvel were checking out what was going on, what all of these creators and more brought to the table, and knew they had to step their game up.

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Since I was not able to attend the BCAF events this weekend, I’m going to celebrate by showing love to some of the creators throughout the Diaspora showing that this movement is not limited to just African American culture nor is it just happening in the United States.

Each of these titles, each of these, inspired me to create The Horsemen and start Griot Enterprises. Not the Justice League, not the X-Men, but these books. And, I’m not the only one who thinks this. You all are part of my comic book DNA, of every brother and sister making comics today, and you should be celebrated as such…

And, I’m waiting to see what y’all are going to do next…

So, as you anticipate the release of Black Panther next month and check out Black Lightning on Tuesday, support the brothers and sisters creating our heroes outside of the “Corporate Two.”

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Since I was not able to attend the BCAF events this weekend, I’m going to celebrate by showing love to some of the collectives and independent comic book companies that continue to move the needle. There is strength in numbers.

The 4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape anthology series is a celebration of where true diversity exists in this industry, a sampler for potential fans to enjoy our intellectual properties, a showcase for existing and upcoming talent as well as a source guide for those fans to purchase our books.

It’s the multicultural Heavy Metal magazine for the 21st Century.

Please support this project and more by donating to the www.gofundme.com/GriotEnterprises campaign today…

And, ya don’t stop.

www.griotenterprises.com

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

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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.”

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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.