Since 1997, Griot Enterprises has existed for one reason:
To tell great stories featuring diverse characters.
When Griot began, we had seen many great African American superheroes in comics, but we never saw an iconic African American superhero team. 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 filled that void.
In the past, we have paid for everything out of our own pockets. Because of this, our market saturation hasn’t matched our output and dedication to the company. However, despite our limited resources, Griot has made an impact on this industry. Our books have become educational tools and cultural touchstones. We have been celebrated as vanguards of the Black Comix movement and as pioneers of Afrofuturism in comics.
Our books can be found online at Amazon, Comixology, Drive Thru Comics and Peep Game Comix. And we have established distribution with Independent Publishers Group through our alliance with Cedar Grove Books, publisher of Young Adult books.
Now, we are in a moment where creators of color and their properties are beginning to receive their just due. From companies like Catalyst Prime to properties Like Niobe: She Is Life, Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams, Black and others, the call for diverse images and heroes has never been louder…
We’ve built the foundation. Now, it’s time for Griot Enterprises to take it to the next level and, we need your help.
We have planned an aggressive marketing and sales campaign to bring our books to the masses in 2018. We will be attending at least seven conventions across the U.S. throughout the year to build our fan base and promote our brand.
Here’s our proposed convention schedule:
April: C2E2 (Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo), Chicago, IL
May: ECBACC (East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention),
June: BASM (Black Speculative Arts Movement), Los Angeles, CA
August: Wizard World Chicago, Chicago, IL
September: M.E.C.C.A. Con, Detroit, MI
October: Sol-Con (Black and Brown Comics Expo), Columbus, OH
October: New York Comic-Con, New York, NY
The funds generated from this campaign will pay for convention appearances, printing books, production and shipping. It only takes a dollar to participate, but if you give a little more, we have a bunch of rewards to show our appreciation…
You could even become part owner of the entire operation.
For 20 years, Griot Enterprises has been the future or entertainment. Help us in continuing our mission. We are a village. We will become a nation…
The superhero is a mythological construct unique to American society and the backbone of the American comic book industry. The superhero is the construct of immigrants; people from different cultures coming together to form a new nation where the unique attributes of each culture contribute to the greater whole.
As, arguably, the first immigrants (other than British and French) of America, African Americans were, initially, left out of the equation when constructing the superhero myth and were relegated to supporting roles. With the Black Panther’s appearance in Fantastic Four, African Americans were introduced into the mainstream consciousness of superhero myth.
The current curator of the Black Panther myth is Ta’Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for the Atlantic and recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship…
And some people have an issue with his handling of this particular mythology.
Personally, I don’t mind Coates’ take on the Black Panther mythos. His are the kind of stories that I, to an extent, would write. It has been slow building and it is a depiction of Wakanda as if Wakanda were an actual African country dealing with real political issues. I would argue that Coates’ run on the series will be as impactful as runs from Don McGregor, Christopher Priest and Reginald Hudlin.
That being said, some people are just not feeling Coates’ work on the title. So much so, some feel as if he is deliberately trying to bring down the Black Panther in terms of relevance and trying to destroy Wakanda in a way Namor or Doctor Doom or Thanos never could.
Which… Is ridiculous.
I understand some of us want to see T’Challa infallible, invincible, with Wakanda being the Afrofuturistic utopia of our dreams. We want our Black Panther bitchslapping Steve Rogers for putting mayo on his sandwich instead of mustard. We want to see the Dora Milaje single-handedly taking down S.H.I.E.L.D. because it’s Tuesday. We want that escapist wish fulfillment that we are not getting in our daily lives, especially in today’s political and social climate.
The problem is, utopias don’t exist. Not even in comics.
For example, did Coates force misogyny and rape culture into the mythos of Wakanda, or did he use the construct of Wakanda as a vehicle for commentary to what is happening not only on the continent, but in the world right now? Wakanda is in Africa, which has been dealing with issues concerning rape culture and slavery recently.
Have we already forgotten Boko Haram? Are we oblivious to the slave trade happening in Libya right now? Anyone?
In Coates’ interpretation, despite its majesty, Wakanda is no different than the creation of other great nations: not only African, but globally…
Well, with the exception of aliens losing their land instead of other Africans.
And, that little wrinkle in the Black Panther myth has added to the ire that some Black Panther fans have for the writer.
In reality, Wakanda has never been simon-pure. Priest had Wakanda dealing with an uprising from within at the beginning of The Client, McGregor created Killmonger in Panther’s Rage as a revolutionary whose basis for overthrowing Wakanda was tribal and personal, etc.
T’Challa, from McGregor’s run onto Coates, has always been depicted as a man torn between duty and desire. In the mythology, he has always preferred being a hero to being a king much to the chagrin of the Panther god and the Black Panthers before him (see the 1988 mini-series by Gillis and Cowan, Who is the Black Panther Pt.2 by Cowan and Lashley, the Black Panther: Man Without Fear arc by Liss and Francavilla for examples).
Besides, it’s not like T’Challa hasn’t met, or worked with, despots before. When the first Illuminati became the Cabal following the events of the Secret Invasion storyline, Namor tried to get T’Challa in to balance the likes of Doctor Doom, Loki, the Hood and Emma Frost. In New Avengers, he was working alongside Namor after Atlantis attacked Wakanda in Avengers Vs. X-Men and after Namor sold out Wakanda again to Thanos’ forces in Infinity.
So, after Doomwar, AVX, Infinity and Secret Wars, I would imagine Wakandans would feel some type of way about T’Challa and the court after those back-to-back tragedies. In fact, that’s referenced in the first issue of Coates’ run.
In the Nation Under Our Feet story arc, rape culture is an issue in Wakanda. Aneka and Ayo, the rogue Dora Milaje now the Midnight Angels addresses it, which brings attention to the royal court. With the rebellion and subtle coup from the confusion happening, the Midnight Angels, along with his sister Shuri (who returns from the Djallla following the “Living Death” as a more powerful and unique character), Changamire, Hatut Zeraze and the Crew help T’Challa not only quell the rebellion, but also helps to institute a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy in order to deal with such issues in the future.
And, the problem is? Apparently for some, Coates’ work taints the fantasy of an Africa we, as African Americans, wish existed.
But, what good is showing a better world without showing the struggle it took to create it? I mean the X-Men works as a concept because a marginalized people, mutants, fight for a better world that doesn’t currently exist… right?
One doesn’t have to like every iteration of a character or gush over every interpretation. For instance, my issue with Hudlin’s run was that I thought it was too light, too “comic book.” I felt he eschewed the complexity of Priest’s work for more of the wish-fulfillment aspects of Black nerdom. It was fun, but left me feeling a little flat.
A major strength of Priest’s run was, as a writer and former editor of comics, he understood the mechanics and quirks of the medium. He was able to marry the more complex themes of the book with the action that comic book fans are used to.
I think an issue with Coates’ run is that he is too serious a writer for some fans. In addition, outside of the bit of writing he does for Marvel, he’s not known as a writer of fiction. Scriptwriting, especially comic book scriptwriting is not his forte. For me, it’s akin to Doo-Bop (Miles Davis’ last album before he passed); a Hip Hop album by one of the all-time great jazz musicians, but didn’t spend a lot of time in the realm of the new music form he was trying to emulate.
Coates does bring depth and nuance to his run as a myth curator. He just doesn’t have the seasoning of good comic book storytelling to make his run more palatable. In other words, people don’t feel joy reading his stories. They are not fun. Because of this, people complain about the weight of social issues he brings to the mythology as if the mythology of the Black Panther wasn’t steeped in social commentary from his first appearance in 1966 onward.
Not only is Coates challenging the mythology, he’s not making it an easy go for the comic book reader. He’s writing the book as if it were a fictional novel written by an academic social essayist (which, he is). There’s not enough escapist water for the casual reader when the sociological meat is too hard to swallow. If Coates had a stronger comic book writing sensibility, I feel that his critics wouldn’t be too up in arms about the subject matter he’s brought to the mythos.
At the end of the day, the core issue is whether or not Coates can write entertaining comics. Honestly, comics are not his strong suit. They are not in his wheelhouse. He was brought onto the title because his name carries weight outside of comics…
Like Reginald Hudlin.
So, do I think Coates’ run is terrible?
Do I think his run has been great?
Do I think Coates is a superlative comic book writer?
But, do I think he has an agenda to “bring down” the Black Panther as a character?
Finally, for those of you getting your pitchforks and torches ready (not the Tiki torches because these fans aren’t butter-soft alt-right scrubs), you’re not going to see more of the “problematic” elements of Coates’ run in the upcoming Black Panther film. So, Coates’ detractors should take a deep cleansing breath. The ingredients for this particular dish will probably be 2 cups of Priest’s run for story, 1-¼ cups of McGregor for world-building, 1 cup of Hudlin for attitude with a dash of Coates for social relevance.
Again, I would have incorporated a number of elements Coates introduced in his curation of the Black Panther myth if I were approached by Marvel to write the book. The difference is that I understand the mechanics of comic book writing and would have incorporated more of the wish fulfillment of the fan base. It would have been, hopefully, as complex as the work of Christopher Priest and Don McGregor. It also would have been as fun as Reginald Hudlin’s work as well.
But, I didn’t. That’s why I created The Horsemen…
Because I am in the business of creating mythology.
The people I’ve found most shocked about the outcome of Election 2016 are white people.
If I were being completely honest with myself, (and those of you who follow my wall) this backlash and increased terrorism against POC, LGBTQ and other marginalized groups, protests included, would have happened even if Hillary Clinton won the election (yes, the Electoral College).
As much as people want to claim (public figures, private figures and everyone in between) that this election wasn’t about a response to the other, some of us need to stop denying the truth of this.
I’ve been working the idea (and speaking about it) that the most-maligned “minority” in this country is the poor and working white class.
In some ways, the false construction of race has really given them the short end of the stick from fighting in the Civil War for rich plantation owners (to keep their slaves, not states rights) until now. They are ignored and ridiculed by their own. They are the neglected children of the country, and a pathology, that they love so dearly.
To further the insult, to some, those that they were taught are lesser than them because of hue or orientation or gender are celebrated, called heroes and role models, when those other people rise from the same miserable conditions they have been forced to endure due to loss of industry, environmental distress, social depression and more.
This is a very hollow victory for them… Especially as the ones who may not be racist, misogynistic, etc. are lumped into the same group of others who look like them. Now, they must hide their thoughts and beliefs, fundamental aspects of who they are, from others lest they be stereotyped and lumped in with the dysfunctional members of their tribe. They have to pass as someone else in order to get through the day…
It’s kinda like what People Of Color have been facing since the beginning on this country.
Don’t get me wrong… POC, LGBTQ and other marginalized groups are extremely frightened about what just happened.
However, we pretty much knew it was coming. In particular, African Americans, First Nation and Latinix Americans were shocked, but not surprised at what happened the night of Election 2016… At all. Literally for us, with Sandra Bland, voter suppression, NoDAPL, “Build That Wall” and so many other things we have dealt with not just this year, but from time, Tuesday night was just another day in the sense of dreams deferred and denied.
Here’s the thing: we POC always knew that stakes were high. And, that this very real danger is not surprising. The past couple years, decades, centuries of terrorism have got us activated and prepared.
Still, though I may understand, things were said in this campaign that cannot be brushed aside. History cannot be taken back nor rewritten as much as people try to. Fools keep reaching for that imaginary carrot of White Privilege (really Class Privilege) like Charlie Brown keeps trying to kick that ball only to have the football snatched from them again and again…
For that, there is no sympathy, no understanding.
Because it is the pursuit of privilege that perpetuated slavery, created Jim Crow & Segregation, destroyed Black Wall Street, invented Redlining, created COINTELPRO and started the War on Drugs to name a few of the pursuit’s outcomes. That pursuit of privilege ends the lives of Black and Brown folk without compunction far too early and blames the victim for being victimized. It has destroyed empathy and compassion.
No, this is the Come to Jesus moment, another example of a long overdue dismantling of some fundamental lies. Now, white folks need to have a discussion with each other to reconcile these issues.
This existential crisis is that community’s cross to bear. They need to own it. They shouldn’t deny the conflict that some may be wrestling with in their hearts and minds. They need to feel that pain…
…because on the other side of that pain is understanding and compassion.
People need to take a good long look in the mirror and really accept some hard truths if there’s going to be any sincere and lasting change…
Creating a totem out of something that one can find in their junk drawer is not nearly enough.
And, it is not our job as POC or any other maligned group to understand and try reach out because we already have… Repeatedly… And, we yet to be heard.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s a true one. I know people are hurting, disillusioned, frightened and angry. I know I am. But, in these times, there needs to be a moment of self-reflection and the acceptance of these ugly truths before one can truly change their state of mind in planning for future action.
BTW, for those who honestly put the work in, you know this ain’t about you so there should be no reason to get in a huff. This isn’t about blame, but about facts…
Change never comes easy. Progress never comes easy. And these things never come from the top down. Some of us have known this from jump.
This post is dedicated to the memories, family and friends of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Lorne Aherns, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa.
I need to share this with y’all… Especially those of you who still feel the need to question what I post and the veracity of what it’s like to be a Black man in America.
I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. Now, despite what some of you may think or heard about the 313, I can tell you for a fact that I felt safer in the “D” than I ever did going out to the ‘burbs. Why? Because of the color of my skin.
I remember one evening when my brother and I were heading back to the city from, I think, West Bloomfield. We’re waiting at a light when this group of white dudes in the car next to rolled up and in a brief moment of supposed bravery had the courage to yell nigger to us as the light changed and they very quickly sped off as if a car of five white dudes were afraid to catch the wrath of two Black dudes.
It’s real out here. Knock on wood, every encounter I’ve had with the police has been without incident, but that’s because my mom gave me The Talk in high school. And, best believe that in every said encounter (wasn’t that many, but all it takes is one time), I was worried because I knew that every encounter was a crapshoot. Man, I even got pulled over in Walled Lake, Michigan a few years ago when I was in a relationship with a woman whose parents lived there for little reason other than… Well, fill in the blank.
Luckily, the cops I encountered had cool heads, in part, because my mom gave me The Talk and my outwardly calm and agreeable demeanor aided in neutralizing what could have easily been a tragic situation. But best believe, I was well aware that things could always go left…
This is a small taste of what it’s like to be a brother in the U.S. I’m one of the lucky ones. Too many of us are not.
That shouldn’t be the case and I shouldn’t have to say this unfortunate truth.
This isn’t an abstract intellectual debate. Shit is real out here. No matter how many degrees you have or what you wear, in this dark skin, there is a permanent target on your back in these United States of America… Realest talk.
They call us racist because we remind them of the racism that exists every day. They call us racist because we pull the blinders away from their eyes every day. They call us racist because we force them to acknowledge that what they live are the lives of slaves trapped in mental shackles.
But, people need to know these real stories. They need to read what’s it’s truly like to be a Person Of Color in this country. They need their noses rubbed in the shit that we have to endure every day, even those of us who are not in the more concentrated areas of this oppression. We still live in this state of hyper awareness that at any moment, any wrong turn, we could become another name that people are told to remember due to this disgusting pathology.
As you can read, the past few days have been really tough. Honestly, the past few years have been extremely difficult to deal with. My spirit has been sorely tested, damn near beaten to the ground. A rage has been building inside of me, poisoning my soul and corrupting my mind. The battle that I have been fighting had almost destroyed the love that I had for myself and the love I have for others.
And then I went to the 9:30 service at Soul City Church. I was in a space where our pastor, Jarrett Stevens, addressed these trying times honestly and unabashedly, bringing another member of our church, Reverend Chris Griffin, up to the stage to give his testimony as a Black man, born in 1963, who was a young boy during the riots shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, who after nearly 50 years of that tragedy saw the same injustices against our people play out again. These men of God gave us, a truly diverse congregation (something that is, unfortunately, rare in places of worship), and a space to lament.
In this space, I did something I rarely ever do…
I let myself feel the pain of this moment in time. I looked into my own heart and faced the anger that was poisoning my mind and affecting my soul. I was able to cleanse myself of all of this toxic pain and rage…
And then, God spoke to me. And God reminded me of my mission, my gifting and my ministry.
Now, I understand that this post will take some of my readers aback as I have never spoke about my spirituality before…
Or, so it seems.
But, let me let you in on a little secret…
Comics are my ministry.
Peep game: The Horsemen is so much more than just a graphic novel series with, hopefully, a cool group of Black superheroes fighting bad guys. It’s my manifesto. It is my diatribe against the injustice I see every day (i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.). The mission statement for The Horsemen is this:
They have come to save Humanity… Whether we want them to, or not. For who controls the Eight Immortals but the number seven.
The Horsemen’s logo is an adaptation of the Andikra symbol known as the Gye Nyame, which translates to, But for the grace of God.
The Horsemen, you see, is a blessed book.
I said it before: The Horsemen would never exist at DC or Marvel. It can’t. The Horsemen exists to serve a higher purpose. The Horsemen is my space to explore and critique the miasma of bullshit we, as human beings, subject ourselves to every day that keep us separated from a deeper understanding of ourselves and others.
Finally, I saw this photo posted over the weekend of nurse and mother 28-year-old Ieshia Evans facing off against a group of police officers in Baton Rouge.
This is how I see this photo:
Notice that the sister stands tall and proud in the face of injustice.
Notice how her strength is too much for the oppressor to handle.
Notice how they are being pushed back with the power of her righteous indignation.
Notice how that Blue line stands in the distance afraid to approach her for fear of being pushed back as well…
That is what I see in this photo…
The power of the righteous dispelling fear and hate.
This is what I do, fam. I work my passion and use the gifts that the Most High gave me in order to fight for a better day for all people. Remember when I wrote that everything I make is Protest Art? Well, now you know why.
Y’all may think I’m crazy, but I need to change the narrative within myself if I am going to change the narrative within others…
“The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”
This article is dedicated to the memory of two icons in African American, and American history, who have recently transitioned: Prince Rogers Nelson and Muhammad Ali.
This article is also dedicated to those of the LGBT community who lost their lives in the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando.
Finally, this article is dedicated to the young woman who did not receive justice from the American legal system in the Brock Turner Rape Trial.
Privileged White Rage…
Privileged White Male Rage…
Privileged Male Rage…
We have not seen this level of “insurrection,” blatant and widespread calls for sedition and overthrow of the government and staggering uptick of mass shootings, until President Obama took office. I had always said that with the election of President Barack Obama, the lie of America that many hold onto his presidency had dispelled, would not mean that America was post-racial, but instead would reveal the simmering toxicity that laid soup- skin thin under the surface.
It’s only getting crazier. With Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee, the hate is simply transferring from racism to sexism. The rise of Donald Trump illustrates that perfectly. You have people, an entire political party, throwing their lot with a man that they know is completely opposite of the ideals that they purport to uphold, a man that, if by some fatally ridiculous twist of fate becomes president, would totally decimate the United States domestically and abroad, simply because he is a white man.
That’s how real this pathology is. That’s how damaging the false caste system called race is.
As someone who taught in at risk schools on the West Side of Chicago (i.e. the trenches), none of the security measures every staff member, faculty member, or student were lax. In fact, they were tighter than security at O’Hare Airport.
As a frequent club attendee in the cities of Detroit and Chicago and others, the security at a number of the clubs I went to was on point.
As someone who attended many, many movie theatres in the cities of Detroit and Chicago, I have never experienced doors being wedged open.
For all of the hypotheticals you put out there, I have had intimate experience with each one, which counters what you have stated.
Look, responsible gun owners would probably agree with me that we don’t need to be walking around with pistols on our hip like the Old West. Responsible gun owners would also probably agree that we have way too many guns in our society and that we need better, not tougher, laws on the books that make it harder for someone to purchase a gun than getting a driver’s license.
And, before you get into the argument of “who’ll stop the bad guys from getting guns,” as yourself this: whom are they buying the guns from and who are manufacturing these guns? Also, ask yourself this question: why, in the hell, do we need so many guns to feel “protected” in this country? Because, as we have seen, the amount of guns in this country have not made it any safer. In fact, the problem has again reached epidemic proportions.
Yes, violent people will do violent things. If it is in their heart to cause pain and havoc, they will do that. But, the availability of guns makes their ability to cause mayhem that much easier, that much more prolific, that much more damaging.
Realest talk, people of color did not create this mental illness. Neither did women, nor LGBT people nor those who have willingly immigrated to this country. And, until this disease is addressed, truly addressed with the cold, hard, brutal honest truth of what’s really going on, it’s only going to get worse.
I’m talking about the frequency of mass shootings and verbal calls for rising up against the government. Before Obama’s presidency, those incidents were few and far between, certainly with mass shootings, which now happen on an average of every 60 days. You know that it would be extremely easy to research those numbers to verify my point.
The problem is this: if this country truly offered equal opportunities from its inception, then the arguments concerning the perceived notion of entitlements to marginalized groups would hold water. However, that has never been the case.
From, for example, African Americans being considered 3/4 of a human being to wage disparity, voting rights, right to marry (consider interracial marriage as well as same-sex marriage), redlining, etc., this country has a long way to go before anyone could say that marginalized communities have an unfair advantage over the dominant culture.
Think about this: Brown Vs. Board Of Education happened only 18 years before I was born. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 only 7 years before I was born (and that is under extreme attack right now). Roe v. Wade? One year after I was born. Marriage equality for LGBT? 2015. And all of these advances, as incremental as have been, are under constant attack on a daily basis.
Now, compare these recent advances time wise of only 61 years ago (both of my parents are older than these advances), with the centuries of disparity in this country (and let’s only focus on the United States for this as this is the country we live in now).
So the question is, has there even been enough time for these advances to truly take root in the American psyche without pushback to the point where those who have benefitted, directly or indirectly, can complain about preferential treatment?
What we have been seeing, brothers and sisters, from the tragedy of Orlando to the rise of Trump, to the bemoaning of those who benefited, either directly or indirectly, from a system that has denigrated the other for centuries (you know exactly who has been deemed “other”), from the nerd rage, white tears, homophobic/misogynistic hoteppery and so on, is the violent reaction of impotent people who have bought into the lies of a system never designed for them in the first place, but will protect that system even as humanity takes those painful, awkward steps to (hopefully) a new and better society.
What I liked when I saw the President’s address was that it was this dude who put it all into perspective. The way he addressed and assuaged the audience into order to get the Democrats, the Hillary supporters, the Bernie Bros back on the same page while slick-talk snappin’ on Trump was… Magical. Ashamedly triumphant and hopeful simply because we, as a country, haven’t heard that kind of message in a long, long time.
Is it just me, or sometimes when you hear President Obama speak, he’s kind of spittin’ bars like one of the greatest MCs ever to rock the mic?
Hillary smelled what Barack was cookin’, and so did Bernie. If you have those three together like the Mod Squad, bringing the Democrats into one common goal: Defeat Trump…
It’s gonna be an asswhuppin’ of epic proportion.
But, that alone is not going to solve the underlying problem. This election cycle alone is not the war. It is merely a battle in an ongoing struggle that will take all of us to get into the trenches in order to defeat not a physical opponent nor a political one, but a mode of thought that has been in practice for centuries.
Those who’ve taken the red pill, keep fighting the good fight. For those who’ve taken the blue pill… Wake up…
Straight up, this is the Black nerd’s Lemonade right now.
For the first time in history, a comic book featuring an African superhero, written and illustrated by African Americans, is the highest-selling title from the Corporate Two. Yeah, having the character steal the show in the best comic-book related movie this year and a major marketing push definitely helped, but this is what happens when you #BetOnBlack…
The Black Panther marketing plan should be taught in schools. It’s actually a pretty textbook marketing strategy. They got the right team, did the proper product placement and marketing and got a winner on their hands.
Furthermore, they respect the importance of the character that is in their stable, a character, which encapsulates the hopes and dreams of a marginalized demographic. They actually heard this fan base and gave the character its due respect, steeped this character in its culture (fictional, but based on an amalgam of existing cultures from the marginalized demographic) and gave this character the necessary agency this character, and the marginalized demographic it represents, deserves. Because of this, Marvel produced yet another profitable situation that they, and their parent company, will benefit from greatly. This bit of good will is, in fact, good business.
In short, Marvel created the climate in which the Black Panther could be Columbused. We are seeing the effects of this as I write these words.
This should be a call to arms of what happens when you produce a fantastic product and market a great property.
Too bad DC Entertainment wasn’t in class that day… If you’re in the minority that DC has kept it on point cinematically, read this article written by Verge Entertainment bigwig and former Milestone and Batman editor Joe Illidge:
This information puts to bed a lot of superfluous “explanations” of why product featuring and created by people of color doesn’t sell. Independent creators should use this fact to push our products to the forefront…
Some people want to bring up Spawn as a counter to my statements. To that I say…
I am way more excited about this development than I ever was with the introduction of Spawn in the early 90s. In fact, if you wanna be real Image about it, I will always hype Tribe way more than Spawn as it was the first comic book featuring characters, and created by people of color, Todd Johnson and Larry Stroman, that sold over a million copies, which adjusted for inflation is on par with BP’s sales.
In other words, I’d rather celebrate the whole cake rather than just the frosting…
This should be inspiring to a lot of us independent creators of color and we need to capitalize on the climate. In fact, a number of us are.
We have seen an increase in coverage concerning independent properties dealing with the discussion of diversity (i.e. Black, The Legend of the Mantamaji, Niobe: She Is Life, Watson and Holmes, Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams, Solarman, etc.) exactly because these cats had their marketing game down and went beyond the perceived market to find their audience.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that these projects are expertly created (i.e. writing, art, etc.), but creating is the easy part. Marketing is where the work comes into play.
This is the kind of work we should continue to push and purchase in addition to showing love to the “Corporate Two” when they “get it right.” Way more than being a DC or Marvel fan, I’m a fan and practitioner of the art form.
Interesting times indeed.
So, let me know if you are interested in more than just enjoying this historic moment in representation. Let’s keep it going. Let this be more than just a moment. Let’s make this a fact of life.
Speaking of, I’m going to be teaching a course on this exact subject through the International School of Comics starting in July. Granted, this class will be in Chicago, but if there is enough interest, I would possibly take this bad smoker into the remote teaching realm.
P.S. Personal note to the brothers Johnson and Stroman, c’mon fellas. We need to do a Tribe trade so that people can experience the loveliness that book was and can be again. Get at me.
It is very hard… very hard for me to give this kind of assessment. I’m tighter with ratings than The Source used to be. With that being said, this is a 5-mic film. Any criticism would be some extreme nit-pickiness bull-caca. Anyone fronting on this movie is a hater, plain and simple…
I feel those fans who find criticism complain about the what-iffery of certain elements in the film, great elements that bring color to the narrative, not coming to fruition even though they weren’t supposed to. A few points (SPOILER-ALERT):
1.) I appreciate that at the end of the day, the “Civil War” was a very personal conflict that dealt with the loss of families (Zemo’s, Stark’s & T’Challa’s)
2.) That Zemo, basically Bin Laden-style, did to the Avengers that Loki, Ultron and Hydra couldn’t do… Destroy them.
3.) Because of the personal nature of the story, we didn’t need to see those other Winter Soldiers in action against our titular heroes. Then, it would have been Universal Soldier: Regeneration wasting the emotional currency, which drives the film.
4.) Storytelling was on point. Things followed through logically and I felt that all of the important elements in the film had organic conclusions. Even with Spider-Man’s inclusion at the eleventh hour didn’t feel tacked on and yes, just like Jon Bernthal made the Punisher his character, Tom Holland IS Peter Parker. And, I am a big fan of Marisa Tomei as a modern Aunt May. There were no plot holes.
5.) CW was a sequel for two movies, Captain America: Winter Soldier and the Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a fine one for both.
6.) Everything made sense. Everyone was true to character. Every character had their moment to shine. The battles were top-notch with each character’s physical language as unique as the character themselves.
7.) CW is the rare instance that the film was better than the mini-series… Yeah, I said it. Also, remember that Thor and the Hulk weren’t around during the mini-series either.
8.) Just the hint of the Dora Milaje, along with the taste of Wakanda was enough for me. I’m gonna get all that goodness in the Black Panther solo film.
9.) According to Dwayne McDuffie’sRule of Three, this is the MCU’s Blackest movie to date… And it was so on point with the diversity and agency of Black folks from Alfre Woodard’s brief, but crucial scene, to War Machine, the Falcon and, of course… This is the rare movie I would pay full price to see again in the theatre… Immediately.
10.) The secret sauce in making this delicious meal is Nate Moore as Executive Producer for the MCU. Yes, the characters would have been there eventually, but having a brother as an exec. producer helped to ensure that said characters did not come off as stereotypical ciphers, but rather fully realized people making their ethnicity natural, yet crucial in the MCU.
Realize, there is no one representation of “Blackness” in the MCU, nor do we just add color to the background. From War Machine to the Falcon to BP to Nick Fury, etc., each character is unique, each character has agency, each character is authentically Black in their own way.
Brother Moore has made sure that we haven’t been seen as a monolith, but in a rich tapestry more in line with how we really are as opposed to how the Other often portrays us.
These reasons, and more which I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is why not only is Captain America: Civil War a more satisfying film-going experience than Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but also why Marvel has all but decimated the DCCU.
Quite simply, Marvel trusts and cares about their properties, DC does not. Marvel has been playing chess in unfolding their universe, taking time to craft their cinematic universe so that it has the same resonance as the comic book universe.
DC has been playing checkers, rushing product and blowing their wad repeatedly on half-baked measures which treat their properties as cash-grab ciphers rather than respecting the history and mythology of the characters to craft tales which speak to the human condition using the superhero as an analogy to inspire and make us seek out our better selves.
Here’s something to chew on: when people start writing think pieces on your film discussing the deeper ramifications of what your heroes represent in the larger world context rather than judging success or failure of your project based on how much money it makes, you’ve made a better film. When you respect not only your hard-core fanbase, but also can make your properties resonate with the casual viewer, you’ve made a better film. When you focus on storytelling rather than spectacle, you’ve made a better film. And, said film is steadily going to make a lot of money rather than suffering a near-90% drop in viewership the second week of release.
Personal point of order… A few years ago, I got caught up in a what-iffery tread about a potential (at the time) Black Panther movie in which I broke down how I felt Wakandan self-image should be portrayed.
Then, Captain America: Civil War.
It’s like the Russo Brothers read my mind. For about 35 seconds, I thought: “Man, I may not have to do The Horsemen anymore…”
Then, I got out of my fanboy phase and became even more inspired to make more work.
Trust, that is the highest of praise.
So, I’ve never fallen into one camp when it came to the “Corporate Two.” I loved DC’s icons and Marvel’s B-list. But, after Daredevil: Season Two, Jessica Jones, Captain America: Civil War and the upcoming Luke Cage…