August 17 is the day that this #MeanOlLion makes his annual solar rotation. The only thing I ask for my birthday is…
Buy a Griot Enterprises product.
Want to read some great stories but don’t know where to begin? Then enjoy this affordable sampler of titles from Griot Enterprises!Return to the black & white format that put the company on the map with the 48-page one-shot Contrast: Blackness In White! Eshu, Navigator of the Crossroads travels the 256 Paths to recruit heroes from the dimensions of Black Comix in 4 Pages 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape presents The Union! And enter the worlds of The New Mythology with Griot’s flagship title, The Horsemen!
$5.00 for Digital, $20.75 for Print… 40% off the cover price!
Obatala, The Creator. Yemaya, The Protector. Oshun, The Light. Oya, The Catalyst. Shango, The Avenger. Ogun, The Architect. Eshu, The Trickster.
The Horsemen is the story of seven ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, as the gods of ancient Africa possess them. They have been chosen 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. Read the groundbreaking Afrofuturistic saga from the very beginning and discover who controls the Eight Immortals but the number Seven!
$26.00 for Digital, $73.00 for Print… Over 40% off the cover price!
Oh, and what’s this?
The 4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape trade paperback series is a celebration of where true diversity exists in this industry, a sampler for potential fans to enjoy unique intellectual properties, a showcase for existing and upcoming talent as well as a source guide for those fans to purchase these books.
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.
“I’m hella uncomfortable at any attempt at glorifying the “sambo” image…” – Someone who hasn’t read the book
“I’m good on this. Consider a name change…” – Someone who hasn’t read the book
“And this is why people don’t take Black people seriously in the world of literature…” – Someone who hasn’t read the book
Imagine what they would say if they actually read the book?
He rose up against those who oppressed his people. Using an image meant to denigrate a race, he united a people and created a mighty nation. Now, he must rise again to save the nation he created from the corruption within.
Incendiary, triggering and revolutionary, JBD: The Devil’s Due Definitive Collection, written and created by La Morris Richmond, featuring the art of Jiba Molei Anderson, Seitu Heyden & Barton McGee is available NOW from Griot Enterprises!
$4.00 for Digital… %50 off the cover price and the full trade paperback (with extras, natch) will available in Print ($24.99) and Digital ($9.99) formats August 23!
This is Leo Season! It’s a celebration! Drink up, be merry and grab some books from Griot Enterprises to build your collection of Black Comix!
This is an article celebrating the worldwide release of Black Panther on the silver screen…
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.
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.
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 #PsychicCapitalis 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
THE HORSEMEN: DIVINE INTERVENTION (20th Anniversary Edition)
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
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.”
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.
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.
However, the Black Panther also used to frustrate the hell out of me.
Six years earlier in 1960, 17 African nations gained independence from their colonial overlords. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, two men of Euro-American Jewish descent, famously introduced The Black Panther in Fantastic Four #52 dated July 1966, three months before the revolutionary Black Nationalist organization of the same name.
I don’t know if the upheaval in the continent influenced the creation of T’Challa, but the introduction of the Black Panther was a revolutionary moment.
To have the first mainstream Black superhero in comic book history come from the continent, from a country (though fictional) that was technologically ahead of the Western world, to have that hero not only as competent as, but superior, to his white counterparts (he defeated the Fantastic Four in his first outing), was as radical as the Civil Rights Movement and as resonate as the African Independence Movements. The Black Panther was ahead of his time…
Too far ahead.
I will say that Don McGregor is a cornerstone in the development of the Black Panther’s world. McGregor would build T’Challa’s court including W’Kabi and Taku as well as creating, arguably, T’Challa’s greatest adversary in Erik Killmonger as well as his first great love, African American musician Monica Lynne.
The story was called Panther’s Rage, which ran as a 13-issue story arc in the bi-monthly Jungle Action title from 1973 – 1975. Recognized as the industry’s first “graphic novel,” Panther’s Rage was an epic tale set in Africa. Beautifully illustrated by Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, Billy Graham, Klaus Janson, P. Craig Russell and Bob McLeod, Panther’s Rage was dense, complex and sensuous.
T’Challa was depicted as a man of great passion and determination. Killmonger was more than just a standard mustache-twirling villain, but a revolutionary wanting justice for his father who died laboring in the vibranium mines (the fictional metal of the Marvel Universe and the source of Wakanda’s vast wealth). T’Challa and Killmonger’s rivalry was personal and brutal. Every victory was hard-fought and hard earned in this story. McGregor was able to infuse the world of the Black Panther with some realities of life on the continent giving the story and the character a resonance that one would think made the Black Panther a character to be reckoned with, an A-list property if you will…
Despite McGregor’s Panther vs. The Clan follow-up arc to Panther’s Rage, the Black Panther failed to gain substantial traction as an ongoing series. Oh sure, he would pop up in other titles, sometimes as a guest star, but mostly stayed in the background, the veritable “Franklin” of the Marvel Universe.
The mainstream comic book industry was, and is, dominated by white men. It’s majority-cultivated fanbase, until relatively recently, was geared towards white male power fantasy. In the late ‘60s and early 1970s, creators of color, especially writers of color, were few to none. Though this period saw the emergence of Black comic book artists the likes of Billy Graham, Arvell Jones, Trevor Von Eeden and others, the voice of Black superheroes was the voice of the other…
And, T’Challa suffered from it.
From the age of ten, I knew that I was going to be a comic book creator. I became enamored with the medium the second I opened the first comic book my father gave me. My love for the medium was beyond mere brand loyalty. DC, Marvel, Atlas, Charlton, First Comics, it didn’t matter. I was a nerd in the classic sense. In addition to comics, I was interested in science fiction and mythology. This love of mythology, coupled with the awakening of my political philosophy and Diasporatic African identity, led me to study the ancient faith systems of the continent. This largely untapped subject matter became the well from which my eventual contribution into the industry would spring forth. I was an Afrofuturist before the term was coined.
And, it was in this emergence of my creative self that my frustration with the Black Panther began.
Though the character would be the focus of various mini-series by Peter B. Gillis, Denys Cowan, Don McGregor, Gene Colan and Dwayne Turner, I felt that the character was underutilized and that the Black Panther was a treasure chest of untapped potential and untapped exploration…
The Black Panther became a promise unfulfilled.
I erroneously thought that all creators tapped into the same wellspring of creation, that we all studied the same points of interest and Marvel had dropped the ball by not making Black Panther an ongoing series thereby giving these creators the opportunity to utilize the revelation of story ideas that the exploration of African history, politics, culture and mythology had provided me.
But eventually, I realized that T’Challa’s development, as a character was, ultimately, not my concern. Though I had affection for the Black Panther, I did not own the character, he was not my “child,” so to speak. I had to use my resources and influences for my benefit, for my creative process. I had to use the elements that were “forgotten” in the Black Panther’s development for my own purposes.
I had looked to the promise of the future that would be labeled as the Black Age of Comics, or Black Comix movement, for my inspiration. Inspired by the emerging voices that Milestone Media, Brotherman, Tribe and others brought to the industry, I forged ahead with my exploration and development of my property, infusing my nascent universe, The Horsemen, with the elements I felt missing from the Black Panther.
In reality, the only thing that T’Challa needed were Black voices to tell his tale.
Christopher Priest found T’Challa’s voice in his silence. When Black Panther Vol.3 debut in 1998, Priest (along with artists Mark Texeira, Joe Jusko and Mike Manley) made T’Challa the epitome of detached cool. The Enemy of the State arc made T’Challa, and Wakanda, a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel Universe. A tale of espionage, Priest created State Department attorney K. Everett Ross to be the white reader’s entre into the Black Panther’s world. More importantly, Priest introduced the Dora Milaje, T’Challa’s personal guard of women warriors, which added a much-needed feminine strength and energy to the world of Wakanda.
Following Priest’s impressive 62-issue run, a new Black Panther series was launched in 2005, which ran for 41 issues. Scribed by Hollywood writer and producer Reginald Hudlin (Boomerang, House Party, Django Unchained) and illustrated by John Romita, Jr, Hudlin’s Who Is The Black Panther arc introduced a neo-Kirbyesque Wakanda that was never conquered, defiant and untouched by the taint of colonial influence. More so, Hudlin’s arguably greatest addition to the Black Panther’s mythos was the creation of Shuri, T’Challa’s younger sister who would become the ruler of Wakanda and a Black Panther in her own right following T’Challa’s incapacitation.
In 2016, author and journalist Ta’Nehisi Coates would create a Wakanda rooted in a less romantic, more fact-based context reflecting the reality of the African continent. Though somewhat controversial amongst long-time Black Panther fans, Coates’ A Nation Under Our Feet arc tapped into the wellspring of African mythology, philosophy, culture, politics, and social issues I thought abandoned by other creators save myself. With a sense of novelization rivaling the earlier work of Don McGregor, Coates weaves a Wakanda exclusively from Afrofuturistic cloth, fulfilling the promise of a Black Panther I thought would never be realized.
This promise will be further made good come February 2018 when the Black Panther hits the big screen. Thanks to director Ryan Coogler, lead actor Chadwick Bosemen, Danai Gurira and the rest of the cast and crew, This will be the first time that audiences worldwide will see a vision of Wakanda and the Black Panther that had always existed in my mind, but will be new and exciting for the majority of a people who have been historically denied the ability to imagine a fantasy world where they play front and center.
In 2017, I attended the annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) not as an exhibitor, but as a fan. I strolled the convention taking in the sights and visiting the creators’ tables in Artist Alley, something I rarely had the luxury of doing since I began to attend comic book conventions over 20 years ago. Brian Stelfreeze, artist of Ta’Nehsi Coates’ inaugural run on the title was in attendance. I was able to strike up a conversation only to be surprised and humbled that an artistic hero of mine followed my work.
But, the best part of our exchange?
We acknowledged that we were drawing from the same wellspring for inspiration…
T’Challa has lived up to his promise. All hail the king.
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…
Need a little assistance this month. So, I’m selling the print-ready PDF of the The Horsemen: Plant Your Feet image for only $5.00 exclusively through my Square store and PayPal (email@example.com).
“The Horsemen is the story 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’m looking to raise $1500.00 by July 31 to help with the production of not only The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven #4, but the first volume of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven trade paperback as well. As a bonus, when you purchase the poster, you’ll get a FREE PDF of The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven #1 illustrated by yours truly and written by my man and fellow Sci-Fi soldier Jude W. Mire.
Help us keep giving you what you need… Cheers, fam!
It’s interesting to be responded to, and referenced as a solution, simultaneously…
A follower of mine on Facebook had a response to my article concerning the return of Milestone. Here are a couple of excerpts:
“Its not that black people don’t want these comics or minorities in general, its the lack of authenticity in most minority creators approach to selling the books based on our needs and behavior as a group of minorities in America. As someone who substitutes at schools where I have shown minority comics with excitement, I’ve witnessed from the shining eyes of children from 5th -8th grade school I know they want it.
Too many Minority-owned companies competing in an industry where there is not enough mainstream established creators for it to have meaning. As in this industry is so dominated by Caucasians that each time a minority creator is so called competitive that they are not building more ground to establish themselves, but rather are really lessening their appeal for it’s numbers that decide who is successful and a hot commodity in an industry.
And Milestone is only repeating a common practice by most Blacks when it comes to success, that its not understood to maintain it that you have to grow it from the community you are trying to represent instead of obtaining success and not spreading it.”
That response pissed a number of my fellow creators off. Here’s an excerpt of a response from T.A.S.K. creator Damion Gonzalez:
“You called Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle and Michael Davis sellouts. You accused them of not hiring minorities. I think that Joseph Illidge, Ivan Velez, Jr., ChrissCrossX, Jason Scott Jones, Robert Washington (RIP), Eric Battle and Micheline Hess would beg to differ. Those are just the people I know. Also Michael Davis would go on to mentor and tutor scores of other including N Steven Harris! You can talk all the businesses talk you want to talk but calling those men sellouts and ignoring what they actually did to foster your lack of knowledge about what they did will not fly.”
Wildfire creator Quinn McGowan also offered this as a counter to the argument posed to the commentator:
“Perhaps doing some actual research (as has been suggested to you before) and being informed before criticizing and tagging other people in your argument based in emotion (not in fact) would behoove someone considering themselves offering suggestions to people doing the work (And clearly already offering real and workable suggestions) in this industry…”
E.P.I.C. creator Lonnie Lowe Jr. came at my man straight no chaser with his response:
“Ok, until you create or contribute something wit at least 1/16 of the importance of what Milestone did for creators of color and minority creators you need to chill.
You’re way too heavily opinionated for someone who hasn’t done one thing to push the culture forward yet you have all the answers and solutions. You lack tangibility. You have no physical evidence. You haven’t done anything creator wise other than talk and make these long-ass posts about what someone else should be doing.”
I felt what some could do is share the article on their walls to spread the word as opposed to preaching to the choir with their manifesto.
One of the points in my article is that the activation of fandom is also crucial in this equation.
Here was my response:
“For example, instead of explaining the creator’s responsibility (which as the name of this group suggests, most of us are), you could share this article on your wall in addition to other walls thereby spreading the message. Active fandom is an essential part of the cause. People do it for DC and Marvel all the time. Why not for us doing the good work as well?”
In the 20 years since Milestone ceased regular publication, this is what happened:
The Operative Network
The Glyph Awards
4 Pages 16 Bars
Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams
Legend of the Mantamaji
And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg…
The point I am making is that the solution is in practice… Right now. As stated, the widespread awareness of diversity in comics is in its infancy (in one’s estimate, only 20 years when in actuality it’s almost 30). It takes not only time, but also an active word-of-mouth audience who purchases our work and promotes it for all to succeed.
We do the promotion. We’re active on social media and have been getting exposure on mainstream and independent media outlets. We’ve got the conventions established. We’re doing our part. What we need are active, not passive, consumers.
With Print On Demand outfits like Ka-Blam, Amazon’s Createspace, IngramSpark, etc., there is no need to spend extra money to print books in all 50 states to increase awareness or availability… Anyone can buy our books, in print and digital formats, anywhere in the world. One doesn’t even have to go to the comic book store to get their books. One goes to the comic book store for a sense of community, kinda like the barbershop.
In terms of marketing, social media takes care of the wide net awareness approach (i.e. articles, posts, etc.) while conventions (if one could afford the cost of travel, housing, booth space, meals and product) handle the personal interaction and direct sales to potential fans…
In short, we as creators don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
What the consumer needs to do is click on that post, read that article, come to the cons to see cats who look like them doing this thing well and purchase the books that speak to them. Then, they need to tell their people about it and support the movement in their way.
We do it for others, but we don’t do it for ourselves. Instead of blaming the creators, why not take your fellow consumers to task? Why not shout from the rooftop about that new book you picked up that no one is hip to yet?
Why is it so hard for the consumer of color to do their part in making this grow? They do it for less… Why they scared?
With 4 Pages 16 Bars, each contributor gets access to order print copies of the book through my printers at my printing costs. In addition, they also receive a copy of the digital issue for free to sell on their websites. I’ve already implemented what you proposed… It ain’t new. That’s Cross Promotion 101.
4 Pages 16 Bars is Cross Promotion 101, a place for those who don’t know to sample what we have to offer with links to the websites of those participating so that we continue to build on the community… Emphasis on continue.
The simple fact is, everything you say Black Indie Creators should be doing, we are doing. What you, the fans, need to do is stop and take a look.