Tag Archives: The Blaxis

Fear of the Black Hero Pt. 2 – The New Universe

BlackPantherYellow
The mantra for the year…

Hello, 2016.

You definitely started off with a bang. You have come out of the gate with events that have shaken this world up. You have called some of our most influential elders back to the celestial plane. You have also put the comic book world on notice. You have literally changed a universe:

The Marvel Universe.

Secret Wars #9 was finally released, the climax to an event that has set the tone and direction of this venerable creative playground for the foreseeable future.

Actually, Secret Wars is the culmination of Jonathan Hickman’s vision of the Marvel Universe, which began with New Avengers #1. To see this extremely ambitious meta-story unfold, in hindsight, is pretty amazing, especially when you consider the ever-increasing corporate nature of DC and Marvel coming to the fore. What’s truly interesting, if you really think about it, was that the hero of this meta-tale, which truly changed the Marvel Universe, is not Doctor Doom nor is it Reed Richards.

You see, while this mini-series signaled the end of the old world and its symbolic parents the Fantastic Four (much like Crisis On Infinite Earths put to bed the Silver Age of the DCU with the death of Barry Allen), the architect of the new world was another Jack Kirby creation; perhaps his most important creation depending on who you’re speaking to:

The Black Panther.

BlackInfinityGauntlet
Creator of a new universe…

Yes, T’Challa is the real hero of Secret Wars. I would argue that for the past few years, we were seeing what the Marvel Universe had become through T’Challa’s lens. Understand I know that I am reaching here. There is nothing to back-up my thoughts. However, what is unmistakable is that the King of Wakanda was instrumental in creating the new Marvel Universe. Thanks to the Infinity Gauntlet, T’Challa dismantled Doom’s Battleworld and created something that merged universes as opposed to having them tear each other apart. He created something more inclusive, more “colorful,” something better than what was before. Here is an article that promotes a very ballsy theory, but quite valid: http://graphicpolicy.com/2016/01/15/the-new-marvel-universe-born-out-of-africa-and-afrofuturism/

Now, don’t get it twisted. I don’t think that Hickman created a more diverse, more inclusive Marvel Universe out of some notion of social responsibility. I don’t think that Marvel signed off on this direction out of any sense of social justice or any dedication to representation. This was a smart business move, pure and simple.

46.7% of comic readers are women. One in five comic book readers are Black or Latino. Diversity was the buzzword in 2015 and it’s only getting louder as we begin 2016. In other words, the world outside of the fantasy world of comics has changed. And, Marvel wants to get as much of that money as possible.

So, of course in the new Marvel Universe that T’Challa created, you are going to see more characters that reflect the real world the reader lives in. That has always been the strength of Marvel. That’s what makes Marvel different from DC. That’s what makes Marvel more accessible than DC. They have played to the strength of their creative business model’s core philosophy, and it’s paid off handsomely.

Black-Comic-Book-Festival-2016
BCAF in full effect…

On the flip side, this weekend marked the 4th annual Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomberg Center in Harlem. From everything that I saw posted, it was and extremely successful affair which showcased the diversity and evolution of the African American presence in the independent and mainstream comic book industry. All of the attendants, professional and fan, remarked how amazing the festival was. Lines were around the corner. Creators were selling work left and right. I, of course, was very disappointed that I couldn’t attend this year. It is my goal for 2017 to be at this event. In case you missed it, here are some of the panels that occurred thanks to our comrade Karama Horne AKA The Blerd Gurl:http://theblerdgurl.com/media/panel-replay-from-black-comic-book-fest/#more-6703

Simultaneously, the 2016 Black Comix Arts Festival is happening on the West Coast of our nation in San Francisco. I guarantee that this event will be just as successful as the BCBF.

BLACKCOMIXARTSFESTIVAL
The Brotherman makes his official return at BCAF…

In the first two weeks of this New Year, the presence of the Black Hero is being felt throughout the country. And, it’s going to just get Blacker as the year moves forward. From Firestorm and Hawkgirl’s appearance in Legends of Tomorrow to the continued presence of… Oh hell, let’s just call Diggle Spartan in Arrow (thanks, Felicity) and J’onn Jonzz in Supergirl, to Falcon and War Machine in Captain America: Civil War with the cinematic introduction of the aforementioned Black Panther, to the Luke Cage series which will bring Misty Knight to the world of Netflix, the Black hero (as well as the Brown hero) is going to play front and center in this brave new world.

TuskegeeHeirs
The Heirs of a grand tradition are coming…

What’s even more important and celebratory is that we are going to see more work from creators of color in this landscape. Again, with Marvel leading the charge in the mainstream, we are going to have the pleasure of enjoying David Walker and Sanford Greene’s Power Man and Iron Fist as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brain Stelfreeze’s Black Panther alongside the minority dominant Ultimates, Squadron Supreme, Avengers, Ms. Marvel, Red Wolf, Spider Man, Captain Marvel and more. We’re going to see Afua Richardson and Ashley A. Woods get down and become trailblazers for women of color… Black women… Working for the Corporate Two. Of course, the Corporate Two need to do much more in this regard to their hiring practices, but this is a small step in the right direction.

Is'nanaTheWereSpider
A truly All-new, All-different Spider Man…

Most important, we are going to see the continued growth of creators of color in the independent scene rising up to the challenge and creating fascinating, interesting and financially successful concepts. From Marcus WilliamsTuskegee Heirs to Greg Anderson-Elysse’s Is’nana The Were-Spider and Jason Pearson’s return to Body Bags (all successfully funded via Kickstarter), the landscape has truly changed.

We have our own convention network now, and it covers the major areas in these United States. From the BCBF to BCAF, from ONYXCON to ECBACC, from SOL-CON to M.E.C.C.A. CON, our network is solid and it’s expanding…

And don’t get me going on Social Media… We got that joint on lock.

The world has changed. They are no longer the standard. They are no longer the example to follow. We no longer want to be like them. Their fantasy world is no longer theirs and they are afraid. They are desperately trying to turn back the clock, to impede progress. They tried to halt evolution. Because of that, they now face revolution. If you are offended by this paragraph, you are They and I apologize that I am not here to comfort you in your time of fear and grief.

BodyBagsKickstarter
Welcome back, Clownface and Panda… It’s about to get bloody…

Representation matters and here we are representing to the fullest.

So, no more talk of whether or not independent comics by creators of color are viable. No more questioning whether there is an audience for this kind of work by this type of creator. No more asking, “Where is the next Milestone.” No more asking, “Why doesn’t DC or Marvel have more Black characters.” As we have seen, and will continue to see, this aspect of the industry is here in full force, firmly entrenched. Our heels are dug in. We have built the foundation on which this new nation has, and will continue, to emerge.

David Bowie famously sang, “We can be heroes.” Well, here we are, on the page and behind the scenes… We are the real Black Heroes…

Fear us… Better than that, celebrate us. We were a village. We have become a nation. Ubuntu.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

 

The Complexion of Comics: The Business of Representation

This has been an interesting past couple of weeks…

On a personal level, I have been doing a lot of interviews, some in print, some for online radio, and the topic has been the same…

The Complexion of Comics.

MECCA Con 2015
MECCA Con 2015

Now, this phrase came about as I was speaking with MECCA Con founder Maia “Crown” Williams and I were working to title a panel I was going to moderate at the event. We didn’t want the panel to be the same old “bitch session” concerning the state of representation on the printed page and behind the scenes of the two largest publishers in the comic book sphere. Rather, we wanted to steer the conversation towards independent publishers and creators of color working on the fringe, navigating this space and creating new streams of access that DC or Marvel don’t care, or are too large of an entity, to navigate.

No more complaining. No more hoping, wishing and praying. This panel was to be about celebrating and forming alliances. You know how I get down.

It was a great panel, a true cross-section of publishers, artists and distribution with Bill Campbell, publisher of Rosarium Publishing, Daniel Zarazua, publisher of Pochino Press, Imani Lateef, owner of online distributor of comics by African American creators Peep Game Comix and Anthony Piper, creator of Trill League. We broke it down, we came correct, chopped it up and learned from each other…

Oh, yeah… The audience dug it as well. You can check out the panel right here:

I also had the extreme pleasure of meeting Sheena C. Howard and swapped a copy of ‪#‎4Pages16Bars‬ for her award-winning book, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation. It’s a meaty read and an extremely necessary discourse concerning the history of Black comics and their creators. If you want to get your academia concerning comics on, this is the book to read… It won the Eisner for a reason…

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

Oh, and Ms. Howard will be contributing to 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape… That’s how you build…

So, all in all, it was a great experience for everyone involved and something that I hope more of us, creators and fans can and will experience.

Coates... Stelfreeze... T'Challa... Indeed...
Coates… Stelfreeze… T’Challa… Indeed…

Now, coming back from MECCA Con, I was pleasantly greeted with this news:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/books/ta-nehisi-coates-to-write-black-panther-comic-for-marvel.html?_r=4

Huzzah…

I am excited by this news not because T’Challa is heading a solo book again (I called that when they announced that the Black Panther movie was green lighted; just good business), not because Ta-Nehisi Coates, a crucial voice in racial discourse, a voice who I listen to is writing the book, but also because Brian Stelfreeze, one of the greatest artists in the game, an influence on my work and an African American is drawing the book as well.

Peep game: A major African character from the “Corporate Two” has a writer/artist team that is representative of that character’s ethnic background.

Now, you may be saying: “Well, we’ve seen this before, haven’t we?” And, I would say yes… Almost 20 years ago. I can cite Steel towards the end of its run when Christopher Priest handled the writing duties and Denys Cowan handled the art circa 1997. Before then, Marcus McLaurin and Dwayne Turner working on the Cage book in the early 90s…

Since then? Nope… Until the recent news development.

A family of African descent with extraordinary abilities at Marvel... Somebody might have read The Horsemen...
A family of African descent with extraordinary abilities at Marvel… Somebody might have read The Horsemen…

On the flip side, this article popped up yesterday in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ebonycom/the-black-family-in-comic_b_8196644.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000047

Now, I posted this and called it a revolutionary story and I stand behind those words. Never in comics coming from the “Corporate Two” have you seen a story focused around a family with extraordinary abilities of African descent… Never. Steel doesn’t count because John Henry and Natasha Irons never wore their respective armors at the same time. Black Lightning, pre-New52, never shared a book with his super powered daughters Thunder and Lightning. This is the first time, though only a mini-series, that you have seen this type of dynamic on the comic book page. It is revolutionary… Marvel should be patting its back on this book…

However, neither the writer nor artist of Infinity Gauntlet is of African descent. So, revolutionary in the sense we haven’t seen this from the “Corporate Two.” However, still problematic as there are no people of color writing nor drawing the book…

And, unfortunately, since Infinity Gauntlet is a mini-series, which is part of the Secret Wars event with no signs of becoming an ongoing title, by this time next year folks will complain about proper representation at the “Corporate Two”.

That’s the ongoing problem. People are so content with representation on the printed page, but aren’t nearly as concerned about the voice writing it. When that happens, things tend to get disingenuous. That’s why the upcoming Black Panther is so important. With the team of Coates and Stelfreeze, those are two brothers guiding the King of Wakanda. The only thing that would make that book more authentic is if one of the creators hailed directly from the continent.

C'mon with it, Ms. Richardson...
C’mon with it, Ms. Richardson…

So, Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Panther is coming along with Brian Stefreeze drawing the book. They also just signed my girl Ashley Woods along with ally Afua Richardson as the first African American women working as an artists at Marvel as well as Sanford Greene finishing Runaways, Jason Pearson, Olivier Copiel, and more doing those Hip-Hop variant covers. I have to admit, this is kind of cool. It seems as if the “Corporate Two,” in some form, is paying attention to their buying audience and making some inroads to representation behind the printed page…

But, you know how I roll in this business and, you know I am one of the biggest critics when it comes to the “Corporate Two’s” practices. My side-eye is permanent.

Sol-Con: The Brown + Black Comix Expo
Sol-Con: The Brown + Black Comix Expo

This coming weekend is the inaugural Sol-Con: The Brown + Black Comix Expo held at Ohio State University’s Hale Hall from October 2-4. I hope that some of you will be able to attend and experience the true Complexion of Comics… Cheers.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Lean Into It

So, I recently had a birthday.

Birthdays always find me in an introspective state of mind. I think about the past year of my life, which gets me thinking about other memories and events that shaped me, that created the man who writes these words on a laptop today.

Leo Season came to an end... And the warrior still stands (art by Michael Rechlin)...
Leo Season came to an end… And the warrior still stands (art by Michael Rechlin)…

As an artist, I’m sure that I am not unique in this position. As a human being of a certain age, I am sure that I am in like company when it comes to this acknowledgement concerning the passage of time.

So, during this rumination, I’m also thinking about my next post for the blog when I came across this article from the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/magazine/can-black-art-ever-escape-the-politics-of-race.html?_r=0

Thank you, universe, for sparking my impetus.

My “click bait” headline when I posted this article through my various platforms was:

“Not only will my work not escape it, I lean into it…”

The fact is that as a creator of color, your work is already political. The nature of America made it political. Even the attempt to be apolitical is a political stance. Unfortunately, it can’t be avoided. So, why try and placate an audience that already views you through a certain lens? Be unapologetic and authentic in your creation. The nature of art is to be provocative, to elicit a feeling, an emotion. Don’t avoid it. Lean into it. That’s my philosophy…

Cover art for Octavia Butler's Wildseed... A major influence on my work...
Cover art for Octavia Butler’s Wildseed… A major influence on my work…

I’m not saying that there is a specific vision of what “Black” writing is. Not only is that an extremely myopic vision, and completely arrogant to assume, but that also plays into viewing yourself through the “other’s” lens.

What I am saying is that the color of our skin makes everything we do political. We can’t escape that. What we can, and must do, is simply be artists. Our skin color and culture do not limit us… It enhances us. So, why try to hide? Why be ashamed? Be diverse! Write or draw whatever you want! But, also be proud and unapologetic of whom you are as a creator. Every example of Creators of Color, from Richard Wright to Zora Neale Hurston to Donald Goines to Kevin Grevioux to N. K. Jemisin to David Durham figured that out. All of them diverse in their thinking and subject matter. All of them Black. And, because they are Black, the other will always think there is an underlying agenda to their work, which makes their work political.

Donald Goines portrayed the dark side of the Black experience with a disturbingly seductive elegance...
Donald Goines portrayed the dark side of the Black experience with a disturbingly seductive elegance…

What part of my saying “be diverse” is confusing to you?

Ultimately, I don’t create for anyone’s approval but my own. Richard Wright didn’t create for anyone else’s approval but his own. I create to celebrate my culture and my people. Comic books are my medium. Because of this, and because of the color of my skin, my work will always be perceived as political… And, I don’t care. In fact, if my work changes a point of view, then I’ve succeeded as a creator.

That’s why we have diverse voices.

I am a fan of Richard Wright’s work as well as Octavia Butler as well as Donald Goines as well as Wole Soyinka as well as Christopher Priest. In short, I read different Black writers with different points of view and diverse voices depicting their unique observation of the human condition. Each one, because they are Black, these authors are considered political writers simply because of their skin color. My voice is unique from theirs, but my skin color is not. Therefore, I am a political artist as well, not because I write about slavery or the ghetto (because I don’t), but because of who I am. I am simply not ashamed of being considered a political artist. In fact, I use my platform, my culture and my voice to inform my craft. The first rule of writing is “Write what you know.” That is simply what I do…

So, I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again…

Everything I make is Protest Art.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Help a Brotha Out Pt. 2: The Real Hip Hop

4 Pages 16 Bars ain't nothin' to f$%k with...
4 Pages 16 Bars ain’t nothin’ to f$%k with…

What’s happening, fam!

While you’re waiting for those Hip Hop variant covers from that other company, grab the 4 Pages 16 Bars Boxset today!

4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape is a celebration of where true diversity exists in this industry, a showcase for existing and upcoming talent as well as a source guide for those fans to purchase these books.

He's the EP...
He’s the EP…

Sequential Graffiti is the EP, a 64-page poster book featuring some of the finest Visual MCs and Literary DJs working in the independent scene today.

I'm the LP...
I’m the LP…

Volume One: The Symphony is the meat; 126 pages of the flavor that you savor up in here, neighbor!

The contributors for this first volume include Quinn McGowan (Wildfire), Micheline Hess (The Anansi Kid’s Club), Roosevelt Pitt (Purge), John Jennings (Kid Code, Black Comix) and many more!

We also got them beats for you to read to!
We also got them beats for you to read to!

Also included in this package is an actual mixtape! The Posse Cut is over an hour of some of the greatest collaborations in Hip Hop history… You can’t get any more authentic than that!

Each of the artists and writers in this series bring a unique, but shared viewpoint, in the creation of their work. The comic book industry is more than DC or Marvel. The scene is more diverse than Image or Dark Horse. This is visual Jazz, Rock, Funk, Hip Hop and electronic music. This is art for the people.

Both books and the Posse Cut can be yours for the low price of $15.00 and can purchased through our Square store and PayPal (jazintellect@hotmail.com)

Come check out the Complexion of Comics today!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

There Is A Season

I must admit, I'll be picking up this book when it drops...
I must admit, I’ll be picking up this book when it drops…

“To every thing (turn, turn, turn)…
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)…”

– The Byrds

Marvel is working hard to get your dollars…

I recently picked up their free Previews magazine and I saw not one, not two, but ten books with characters of color in its upcoming roster of releases post their current Secret Wars event.

However, only two of their books have characters of color as the lead, those being the upcoming Spider Man featuring Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel featuring Kamala Khan.

Fine and good, right? I’m sure some of you and definitely Marvel is breaking its metaphysical arm patting itself on the back as it celebrates its latest stab at diversity.

Well, let me throw this out there: I looked at the creative teams on the books and do you know how many writers of color are going to be on these books?

One.

Yes, yes y’all… It’s about that time.

I’ve noticed that every 20 years or so, the mainstream comic book industry all of a sudden becomes diverse… Really diverse… As in, they lean into diversity like a corrupt police officer leans into a defenseless “suspect” of color.

In a way, the Avengers line-up of the comics will emulate the Avengers in the upcoming Civil War film...
In a way, the Avengers line-up of the comics will emulate the Avengers in the upcoming Civil War film…

Granted, the seeds are planted a couple of years before the crop fully matures. For instance, Marvel planted a seed when the Black Panther first debuted in 1966. They planted another seed with the Falcon in 1969. But, we didn’t get the full crop of Black superheroes until the 70s with characters like Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo, Misty Knight, Storm, Blade, Black Goliath (later, the Black Giant Man) and more. Of course, that crop coincided with the escalation of the Civil Rights Movement, but more so came to pass because of the proliferation of African-American themed action films (commonly known as “Blaxploitation).

DC, which by the way has always played catch-up to the change of society, followed with the first of the “race-bent” characters. John Stewart inherited the mantle of Green Lantern in 1971, a full five years after T’Challa’s debut. Tyroc (the Angry Black Man with the voice of an angel) joined the Legion of Super Heroes in 1976 and Black Lightning didn’t appear on the scene until 1977.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…

“Jib, we know this. You’re just repeating the same old thing…”

And, you’re right. But, bear with me… I’ma take this to another level. I just need to put what I’m about to explore in an historical context.

Here’s the thing: Diversity came into the mainstream comic book industry purely because of profit, not because of any underlying social responsibility these companies felt. Indeed, once the books failed to yield any lasting sales (i.e. Black Lightning’s initial run only lasted 12 issues, Brother Voodoo only lasted 5 issues as the headliner in Strange Tales, etc.), many of the initial crop of Black superheroes were either folded into larger superhero teams or teamed-up with other characters (i.e. Black Panther and Falcon joining the Avengers, Luke Cage teaming up with Danny Rand aka Iron Fist, Storm always being and X-Man, etc.), or, more commonly, sent to the minor leagues to fade into relative obscurity…

In other words, the explosion imploded.

They don't Ultimately feel that three of the characters can carry a book of their own...
They don’t Ultimately feel that three of the characters can carry a book of their own…

Now, that’s not to say that we didn’t have African American characters created during the 80s. Indeed, the 80s saw the debut of Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel (initially a “legacy” character that would later claim her own identity as Spectrum), Cyborg, Vixen and others. However, none of these characters would be the lead in their own title. Captain Marvel was a member of the Avengers, Cyborg was in the New Teen Titans and Vixen was a part of the oft fronted upon Detroit Justice League.

While Hip Hop was emerging as the dominant cultural force in the United States, while the Cosby Show was the most popular television show of the decade, We wouldn’t see an African American lead a comic book in the larger comic book community until the 90s…

Until Brotherman… An independent comic book created by creators of color.

Then, the floodgates opened again. After Brotherman, the next big African American superhero was Spawn. Once again, emerging from the independent sphere.

However, when Milestone Media came along (and best believe, DC never owned Milestone), the game done changed. All of a sudden, we were seeing Black characters popping up left and right, and the independent scene led the charge. From Tribe becoming the biggest selling comic book from creators of color in history to the start of Ania to Blackjack, Prophecy of the Soul Sorcerer and more, brothers and sisters were creating some exciting IP…

And getting paid.

You say you want a revolution...
You say you want a revolution…

DC and Marvel took notice. They had to. New characters like Steel were carrying their own books, Black Lightning got another shot at being a headliner, the first Blade movie would become the template for the eventual domination of the cinematic Marvel Universe, the list goes on and on.

More importantly, we saw more people of color creating product at the “Corporate Two.” Writers like Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Priest, Alex Simmons and others were getting the opportunities to shine, creating innovative and provocative concepts. Artists like Ken Lashley, Darryl Banks, the late Steven Hughes, Eddy Newell, ChrisCross and many more emerged as the visual caretakers of the American mythology. For a time, it was all good…

Then, the implosion happened… again.

This time, the implosion happened behind the scenes.

To be clear, we still had characters of color shining. Black Panther had two successful titles in the new millennium. Luke Cage became a major player in the Marvel Universe. Nick Fury became Samuel L. Jackson. DC kept on race bending and creating “legacy” versions of Mr. Terrific, the Crimson Avenger, and others. John Stewart, thanks to Justice League Unlimited, became the Green Lantern of a generation. Vixen went from a footnote to a strong character that will be getting her own animated series at DC. And, of course, Miles Morales and Kamala Khan would enter the scene.

However, fewer and fewer writers of color would be hired to chronicle their exploits, so much so that we would have to celebrate one Black writer getting hired at Marvel since 2009 and one Black writer getting hired at DC since 2011. To be fair, artists of color working for the “Corporate Two” are still getting love. And, some would argue that we’ve got brothers and sisters in other positions at the “Corporate Two,” but there are no Black editors. It seems that we are only good enough to draw the characters, not write them. It’s as if our images matter, but not our voices.

A real superhero...
A real superhero…

Our voice is important, now more than ever. With the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and too many others painful to name at the hands of corrupt police practices and systemic racism, with the too-recent atrocities of Ferguson and Charleston, with the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, from Boko Haram and #BringBackOurGirls, to the bravery of our real-life superhero Bree Newsome and the new leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we cannot be silenced. We must not be co-opted.

We should not and cannot be satisfied with the status quo. The scraps of representation others give us should not placate us, especially when the creators of said representation do not look like us nor care about the issues that continue to plague our community. The “Corporate Two” has been pulling a Rachel Dolezal on a large, and growing, part of their audience for far too long. And, don’t get it twisted, as soon as sales drop or don’t even achieve the break-even point, these books will fade into obscurity, once again to be mused upon until the next cycle of diversity comes around.

Yet, there is a bright light amongst the despair. And, once again, it’s coming from the independent sphere. From projects like Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams to the satirical Trill League, from webcomics like Project: Wildfire, Hunter Black, Kamikaze, Bounce, Diskordia, Matty’s Rocket and many others, from books like One Nation, Midnight Tiger, The Horsemen, Kid Code, Molly Danger, Concrete Park, Dziva Jones, Juda Fist and so much more, creators of color are coming on strong, taking no shorts, providing true representation, and giving voice to the voiceless. We’re saying it loud and we’re saying it proud.

The question is: Are you listening?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not gonna wait another 20 years for the “Corporate Two” to get around to some half-assed stab at diversity if it doesn’t work this time.

Vote with your dollars, support those who speak with your voice and #PlantYourFeet.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Get On The Mic For The Symphony

The Revoltion is here!
The Revoltion is here!

It’s that time of year again. The weather’s getting warmer (in theory), which means that the temperature is rising.

I’m not talking about cookouts and beach time; I’m talking about the ongoing discussion of Characters of Color and the people who create them in the entertainment industry.

As I continue my marketing and analysis of representation of diversity in comics, once again the discussion breaks down into tried and true tropes:

“We need more characters of color!”

“We need to start our own companies!”

“We need to support our own!”

“If any Black artists or writers come out with decent stuff, I’ll support it.”

“We need a huge investment of capital in order to put out quality product.”

“What happened to Milestone? We need a new Milestone, but ‘The Man’ would never allow that to happen!”

“Where the comics created by POC at?”

Did you taste the flavor that we savor up in here, neighbor?
Did you taste the flavor that we savor up in here, neighbor?

In April, a mixtape dropped, Sequential Graffiti. It was a taste of something on the horizon, a little treat to get you ready for the LP.

The revolution is here.

4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape Vol. 1 – The Symphony is the shot fired across the starboard bow. It is the dream realized and the face of the true diversity that exists in the entertainment landscape today. It is where you will find us, the creators, the Hard Riders, the Visual MCs, Literary DJs and Crowd Controllers who have been holding this scene down, changing the color of the industry one innovative concept at a time.

Peep the line-up:

We've got straight-up Silverbacks on our squad!
We’ve got straight-up Silverbacks on our squad!

Purge created by Roosevelt Pitt, illustrated by Rob Haynes, Krishna AndBalram Banerjee, Gus Vasquez & Jay Reed

Tales of whimsy for all ages!
Tales of whimsy for all ages!

The Anansi Kid’s Club created by Micheline Hess

Heroes redefined!
Heroes redefined!

Project Wildfire created by Quinn McGowan

Slice-of-Life comedy... This is what they really think about you!
Slice-of-Life comedy… This is what they really think about you!

Bounce created by Chuck Collins

Supeheroes and Politics... Like Peanut Butter and Jelly!
Supeheroes and Politics… Like Peanut Butter and Jelly!

One Nation created by Jason Reeves, Alverne Ball and Luis Guerrero

Hard-hitting Western action!
Hard-hitting Western action!

Purge: Black, Red & Deadly created by LaMorris Richmond, illustrated by Roberto Goiriz

Afrofuturistic Funk!
Afrofuturistic Funk!

Juda Fist created by Mark C Dudley

Tense Urban drama and intrigue!
Tense Urban drama and intrigue!

Dziva Jones created by Aminah Armour, illustrated by Ashley A. Woods

Afrocentric Fantasy!
Afrocentric Fantasy!

Dreadlocks created by Andre Batts

There’s also a gallery featuring the work of John Jennings as well as articles from Maia Crown Williams, Damon Alums & Jiba Molei Anderson.

4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape is the answer to all of those questions, all of those complaints, all of that wishing, hoping and praying. A four-volume quarterly trade paperback series has been created to focus on comics, webcomics, animation and prose featuring creators of color. It is a resource that celebrates the past, present and future, the evolution of this movement that has been in full effect for well over 20 years.

Where the comics created by POC at? We’re right here. Cop 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape Vol. 1 in print and digital formats at Barnes & Noble and Amazon June 3.

This is the Blaxis
This is the Blaxis

The Blaxis ain’t coming… The Blaxis is HERE!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Taken to T.A.S.K.

T.A.S.K. is coming...
T.A.S.K. is coming…

In today’s social media climate, people are wont to complain, especially self-proclaimed geeks. Now granted, a good deal of the griping is warranted, particularly when it comes to diverse images in visual and literary media.

The problem is when alternate images are presented; not from the “mainstream,” but from the independent sphere and those who make the biggest complaints concerning misrepresentation ignore them.

Well, they would be fools to ignore this…

Created by Damion Gonzales, T.A.S.K. (Tactical Allied Superhuman Kommand) is an intergovernmental organization enabling international police cooperation and action in meta-human matters. It was established in 1963 and is the fourth leading intergovernmental organization by member states. T.A.S.K.’s headquarters is in New York City near the U.N. building but it maintains eight regional bureaus and several smaller satellite offices throughout the world. Its current Executive Director is John Henry, who co-founded the organization and has been its leader since its inception. As Executive Director of T.A.S.K. John Henry has a seat on the U.N. Security Council.

A brand new world...
A brand new world…

In matters where meta-human involvement has escalated a particular incident beyond the capabilities of a nation’s law enforcement agencies to combat effectively, T.A.S.K. facilitates international police collaboration and meta-human countermeasures. Any action taken by its operatives is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. T.A.S.K. operatives receive training in police procedure and most have an extensive knowledge of international laws/treaties.

T.A.S.K. is an animated superhero series set in our truly global reality. What’s it all about? Engaging characters thrown into incredible situations. Young super-humans learning what it means to be heroes in the midst of learning how to just … be.

Big fights. Big wins. Crushing losses. Throw in a dash of teen angst. Season with heinous villainy…

T.A.S.K. is coming!

... That represents our own...
… That represents our own…

Shoot, T.A.S.K. is here!

Gonzales and Echo Bridge Pictures have just released a proof of concept trailer for the T.A.S.K. animated series. The trailer does everything that a good trailer should. The world of T.A.S.K., heroes and villains are truly diverse, the world is extremely engaging and, man, it’s a whole lot of fun. The animation hearkens back to the style of Saturday Morning cartoons, taking one back to a time when you would wake up, Saturday morning at 7am, fix a bowl of cereal, and plop yourself in front of the television for 4 hours of pure escapism and imagination.

Check out the trailer here:

Damion Gonzales just took y’all to T.A.S.K.… Step ya game up.

http://www.griotenterprises.com