Tag Archives: The Horsemen

I’m On A Mission (Do What I Gotta)

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…

The Talk
Two very different versions of “The Talk”

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 wept.

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.

HorsemenOlorunMeme
My purpose on this planet…

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.

PowerInTheHourOfChaos
Power in the hour of chaos…

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

They gon’ wake up one day…

Peace

http://www.griotenterprises.com

 

 

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Help a Brotha Out

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

OK, y’all… This is a “Help A Brotha Out” message…

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 (jazintellect@hotmail.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.

The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven is that next shit...
The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven is that next shit…

Help us keep giving you what you need… Cheers, fam!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Mind Your Surroundings

Words of wisdom from Ra's Al Ghul...
Words of wisdom from Ra’s Al Ghul…

“The only weapon the uninformed has in a debate against an informed opponent is the circular argument “…

– Jib Tzu – The Art of Verbal War

Wow. My last post sparked some real conversation.

If you haven’t read my last post, you can check out The Complexion of Comics.

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.”

In the immortal words of Morris Day, "Oh, lawd..."
In the immortal words of Morris Day, “Oh, lawd…”

Wow…

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.”

Damion Gonzalez took the commentary to... Well, you know...
Damion Gonzalez took the commentary to… Well, you know…

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…”

Quinn McGowan lit that... You see where I'm going...
Quinn McGowan lit that… You see where I’m going…

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.”

Lonnie Lowe's response was... Now, I'm just being ridiculous...
Lonnie Lowe’s response was… Now, I’m just being ridiculous…

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:

Griot Enterprises
Rosaruim Publishing
Gettosake Entertainment
Ravenhammer Entertainment
133Art
The Operative Network
Black Comix
ONYXCON
The Glyph Awards
MECCA Con
Genius
Concrete Park
Blackjack
Wildfire
4 Pages 16 Bars
T.A.S.K.
Exo: The Legend of Wale Williams
Trill League
Cannon Busters
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.

Yeah... I said it...
Yeah… I said it…

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?

You keep talking about solutions when the solution is staring at you... Right in yo' face...
You keep talking about solutions when the solution is staring at you… Right in yo’ face…

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.

One.

http://www.griotenterprises.com

A Week in the Life of a Social Instigator

Been stepping up my meme game...
Been stepping up my meme game…

Hey, y’all.

Allow me to share a week of my life with you.

So, while strolling through the garden of social media, I came across this flower of an article…

http://heroicuniverse.com/why-the-new-approach-to-diversity-in-comics-sucks/

Sigh…

Cue up representation in comic books subroutine:

“When you only focus on DC and Marvel for diversity, you will always be disappointed…”

Hold up, hold up… In addition, the research of this article is mad faulty. Black Panther under utilized? My man has been a B+/A- list character since the Marvel Knights launch, Bradley was the recipient of the first version of the Super Soldier serum, no mention of DC’s roster or Milestone?

Nope. Couldn’t take the article seriously at all…

The core conceit of race and gender bending to create “diversity” was on point, but the sheer sloppiness in terms of research and myopic thinking concerning the “solutions” to the “problem” in this post destroys whatever credibility the writer is trying to establish.

For real, I’m tried of the bitching for bitching’s sake when it comes to a lot of this “reporting.” If you don’t acknowledge what has come before and really investigate what is happening currently (it ain’t hard… it’s called research), you’re just wasting energy flapping your gums…

On the flip side…

This paper written by JD Boucher is quite possibly one of the most informed and nuanced pieces I’ve ever read concerning the presence of race in comics. Insightful, provocative and engaging, this is a must read… A must read… For anyone who calls themselves a fan of comics and social issues. At 80 pages, it’s a quick-ish read, but it will change your perception, and conversation, of comics and issues of identity… Perhaps forever. Download it for free.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/r2j8q…/FearofaBlackSpider-Man.pdf

Next, we have The Strange Case of Rachel Dolezal.

Life imitates art... Ain't that a bitch...
Life imitates art… Ain’t that a bitch…

The way social media is used to assassinate character nowadays is insidious. I was wondering why this was brought to the fore now as opposed to years ago. Hearing about the court case puts everything into perspective…

I imagine that your response to Ms. Dolezal’s outing is similar to some whites when they discovered that those that they thought were white were actually passing as well. If we want to link it to entertainment, that was a key plot line to such books, and films, like Devil In A Blue Dress, An Imitation of Life, Pinky, Trick Baby, etc.

What makes her story so problematic is her extreme appropriation of “race,” culture and color in order to prove herself an ally to the cause. In fact, she benefitted from this “transformation” in ways people of African descent never could to the point of trying to check people who were born into the social strata based on skin color on their level of “Blackness” or whatever. The lack of authenticity that she perpetuated is the problem, when it was completely unnecessary…

I feel that the greater issue/problem is the question of why, in order to be an ally for social justice, Ms. Dolezal felt that she had to alter her appearance and deny her family in order to operate in that space when it was totally unnecessary to do so…

I don’t feel it’s a non-issue to discuss considering the ongoing discussions of race and representation. If anything, this could be looked at as Stockholm Syndrome in reverse, with Ms. Dolezal identifying with the oppressed (her adopted siblings in this case) as opposed to the oppressor (i.e. respectability pundits, etc.)…

Transgender and transracial are two completely different things. In fact, the use of the term transracial when it comes to Ms. Dolezal is incorrect as well since it actually refers to children of one “race” adopted by families of a different “race,” which is true of her siblings, but not Ms. Dolezal herself.

Think of it more akin to the situation when, say for instance, White parents adopt Chinese infants. More often than not, those children are never taught nor exposed to the culture they were born in, but rather raised completely in white culture. That lack of self-awareness can lead to a great deal of feelings of exclusion and lack of belonging… To any culture…

We come together, we fight for right...
We come together, we fight for right…

Now when it comes to Ms. Dolezal, that level of appropriation could border on some sort of disorder. We’ve got to look at her family as to understand why she felt the need to take it that far…

We all know that notions of identity begins at an early age with the family being critical in that development…

The issue is not what has gone before pre-colonialism. No one is saying that every thing was hunky-dory before then. In addition, the empires stated (Aztec, Incan, Chinese, Egyptian, etc.) weren’t established by outside forces, which did not look like them, placing the way they look as the ideal. All of these empires, and more, were created well before the construct of “race.”

What we don’t address is the conflict of those who bought into the underlying construct of “race” and realizing that construct was a lie, especially when encountering the negative ramifications of that construct, and how some have dealt with that realization.

And then, Charleston happened. A hate crime occurred… In a church… Please people… Please…

This is the rage we feel...
This is the rage we feel…

Did you see the president’s eyes though in his public statements? He has to walk that extreme bleeding edge. There was so much that he wanted to say, but deals with a pressure that none of us will ever know unless being in that position. I definitely would not want his job…

His words blame gun violence… But, his eyes let you know he wants to go off on the real problem…

Meanwhile, Jon Stewart (who I will truly miss when he steps down from the Daily Show even though I am looking forward to his replacement Trevor Noah) used his platform to eloquently and truly gives honest, real commentary as to the root of this tragedy.

Musician Sunn m’Cheaux appreciated what Stewart had done, but did not want to share it on his wall. His reasons were as such:

“Ideally, it should be the content of the message, not the color of the messenger that matters, but in the case of representing the Black experience, the deep seated aversion of Whites (and many conditioned persons of color) to accepting the intellectual and/or emotional testimony of Black intelligentsia and everyday people is more harmful than helpful towards the cause of anti-racism.

And this would be an obvious point if it took men to parrot the points of women for people to accept feminism. We could easily identify that pattern as misogynist. How then is waiting for Whites to parrot the points of Black people before accepting the points not racist? If you genuinely believe that #BlackLivesMatter, you should also believe that Black Voices Matter… and uplift them. #dontBSyourself”

I shared Stewart’s commentary on my wall. I agree with Brother Sunn’s statements. At the same time, as a teacher, I know that sometimes a student needs another student who grasps the concept taught to explain it to them… Because they sure as hell didn’t listen to the teacher…

Don’t get me wrong. I wish Obama went ham on this one, especially since this is his last year in office… True “no fudge” stage. But, damn if being the first African American president isn’t riding the bleeding edge of all this. I do not envy his position at all in this moment.

Still, if I had that type of platform, I would be a little less subtle in my condemnation of the real issue…

But, I don’t have that platform. I have another. I have this blog. I make these books. My purpose is to bring people together and get them talking (hopefully, in a positive and productive way), get them moving in a more collaborative, more compassionate way. That’s what I’m here to do.

#PlantYourFeet

HorsemenOlorunMeme

http://www.griotenterprises.com

Booth 212… Boom…

See you at C2E2!
See you at C2E2!

It’s that time of year again…

Once again, yours truly and Griot Enterprises will be at C2E2 in Chicago April 24-26. We’ll be at Booth 212, shaking hands, kissing babies, saving the world… You know… The usual…

While you’re at the booth, come cop these goodies:

DivineIntervention(small)
THE HORSEMEN: DIVINE INTERVENTION
The beginning of The New Mythology! 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.

C2E2 TRADE COVER(frontWeb)
THE HORSEMEN: MARK OF THE CLOVEN
The New Mythology continues! Africa is now the new frontier and a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.However, controlling the world has always been a “Family” business…

And, the bastard children of the Deitis want in…

chroniclecoverweb
CHRONICLE: THE ART OF JIBA MOLEI ANDERSON
The creator of The Horsemen returns showcasing the work and philosophy of a new master of the medium. More than just the average “sketchbook,” Anderson also includes two tutorials on the creation of comics… A must have for any fan of the medium!

OutworldDeluxeFrontCover
OUTWORLD: RETURN OF THE MASTER TEACHERS
The Annexation is at hand. After years of conflict, the Utopia is finally on the brink of bringing the Outworld back into the Collective’s fold, The Master Teachers are all but a fading memory…

… And in the celestial wilderness, the Second Revolution is about to begin.

They have been outlawed and hunted to the brink of extinction. The Diaspora,
once devoted to peace and diversity, has become the Utopia, dedicated to war,
subjugation and destruction. However, a rag tag band of rebels holds the key to the Diaspora’s liberation and will ignite a revolution that will bring justice to a galaxy.

4 PAGES SequentialGrafittiCover
4 PAGES | 16 BARS: A VISUAL MIXTAPE PRESENTS SEQUENTIAL GRAFFITI
Comics are Hip Hop! In 2015, diversity has become the buzzword in the comic book industry with companies like DC and Marvel claiming to lead the charge, but merely scratching the surface of the complexity and intersection of race, culture and gender.

4 Pages | 16 Bars: A Visual Mixtape presents Sequential Graffiti is a sampler for potential fans to enjoy our intellectual properties, a showcase for existing and upcoming talent as well as a source guide for those fans to purchase our books.

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.

In addition, we’ll have EXCLUSIVE prints for The Horsemen and 4 Pages | 16 Bars as well as the animated The Song of Lionogo: An Indian Ocean Mythological Remix created for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. This con is gonna be one for the ages… Hope to see you this weekend!

http://www.griotenterprises.com

I Don’t Need You… I Want You…

Mad congrats to my man David Walker for landing the writing gig for DC's Cyborg... Well deserved!
Mad congrats to my man David Walker for landing the writing gig for DC’s Cyborg… Well deserved!

This is a public service announcement for all of those working to get into the game.

I have, officially, been a working artist since 1994.

I’ve actually been getting paid for making art since I was a teenager. I was getting paid for my craft since I was, about, 13 years old. For real, my parents were among my first clients, paying for my services because they understood that this was going to be my profession, not a past time.

But, as a professional, I’ve been making money off of my talent since I received my bachelor’s degree lo those many moons ago.

I’m not saying this to brag. This is just a simple fact. Indeed, my fellow creatives will tell you that making a living in this business is hard work… Extremely hard work. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, money and time went into getting to this point in my career. The fact that I can live a lower-middle class lifestyle off of this art game is a success in itself.

With that being said, if you want to guarantee that I will never work with you on a project, say these two words:

Let’s build.

I've wanted to work with Ken Lashley for years, but I need to get my coins up!
I’ve wanted to work with Ken Lashley for years, but I need to get my coins up!

If I had a dollar for every time someone uttered those words to me for a possible collaboration, I would be a rich man.

Let’s build comes from a cat that had an idea for a comic book after smoking the finest while watching Meteor Man or Steel and said to himself, “I could make some coin off of comics, son (swupp, swupp). I’ma make a comic book the first comic book with a real Black superhero and get paid, yo.”

Let’s build comes from that dude who I meet at parties, finds out what I do, and says “Yo, I got a dope idea for a comic book. I don’t wanna tell you my idea, ‘cuz I’m worried someone will steal it like ‘ol girl who wrote The Matrix. But, you could help me make it, yo, and then we’ll both come up.”

Let’s build comes from my man who one of my boys told him about me, showed them my work and says that they should get in touch with me to get advice on how to get into the business and they approach me like we shared Pampers back in the day.

Yeah… Good luck with that, fam…

Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander... We'll work together in the near future... Watch...
Tony Puryear and Erika Alexander… We’ll work together in the near future… Watch…

Let’s build is probably the most unprofessional phrase in this business. It’s downright insulting. It’s the assumption that I am just a dupe waiting for someone of “brilliance” to come and bless me by exploiting my talent to make his half-assed, half-baked dreams come true.

I learned to avoid the hook up because 9.5 times out of 10, those cats were not as serious as I was about the game.

Notice how I kept my examples male-specific, because no woman has ever come to me with this phrase. They understand the need to get paid.

I’ma let my comrade Damon Alums throw some dimes into the conversation.

“The folks that didn’t give you the time of day made the shift to the professional lane, and it paid off for them. Going back to the ‘lemme see if I can get the hook-up’ lane would be a step backward, and that’s not what life is about. Not that they forgot where they came from, not that they’re crabs in the bucket, trying to stop your shine, it’s just they’re at that higher level, and looking to work with folks who are at that same level. A reflection of being at that level is having cash up front. That’s just business talking. Not personal. Whether that money comes from street corner hustling, a bank loan, or quarters saved from movie theater floors is immaterial. That much I also know.”

Thank you, Brother Alums. We now return to our regularly scheduled program…

Such a fan of Afua Richardson's work... To have her working on a Griot project is a goal...
Such a fan of Afua Richardson’s work… To have her working on a Griot project is a goal…

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’ve never collaborated with another creative or creatives. Indeed, some of the best work I’ve ever done has been in collaboration with others. Shoot, my advertising days were nothing but collaborations. Griot Enterprises started as a collective of artists and writers trying to put themselves on in the comic book industry. The Horsemen: Mark of the Cloven is in collaboration with my comrade Jude W. Mire. I’m currently involved in collaborating on an anthology, Artists Against Police Brutality, created in part by my brother-in-arms John Jennings.

The fact is this: I don’t need to collaborate with them. They don’t need to collaborate with me. Neither one of us is dependent upon the other to build our repertoire. We have all had some success, built some notoriety because of our own merits. All of us have developed our craft on our own and we recognize the talent, drive and dedication in each other. We’re like-minded in focus. Because of this, we want to work with each other, thereby building collectively on the foundations that we individually established.

It also doesn’t hurt that we consider each other not just friends, but professionals.

True collaboration comes when all parties equally bring something to the table. I can’t ask someone to do something that I can’t do myself.

Looking forward to working with fellow Visual MC and comic book "little sister" Ashley A Woods again...
Looking forward to working with fellow Visual MC and comic book “little sister” Ashley A Woods again…

It’s not predatory when an artist or a writer asks for compensation for their time and their talent. It’s actually more predatory to talk collaboration than to hire an artist. Illustration is incredibly time-consuming and creating work on faith with no compensation just doesn’t make fiscal sense especially when drawing is how you put food on the table.

As a businessman, which professional artists are, you’ve got to make sure that you’re gonna eat and that the people you work with are on the same page, the same level as it were.

You know how many times those artists got burned in their career? You know how many empty promises cats have had to swallow like horse pills with no water to wash it down? Trust, if you had to deal with that level of janky hustlin’, you would be mad cagey as well.

It’s not about being greedy; it’s about protecting your talent and making sure that you keep a roof over your head.

Peep game: I’m in the process of finding funding for a Horsemen project, Lumumba Funk, that will include the talents of Arvell Jones, Larry Stroman and a few of my fellow Blaxis agents like Hannibal Tabu, Damion Gonzales, Quinn McGowan, Jason Reeves, Ashley Woods and many more.

Quinn McGowan: master of the "One Finger Technique" and fellow member of #DemIndieDudes...
Quinn McGowan: master of the “One Finger Technique” and fellow member of #DemIndieDudes…

Now, though they made the verbal agreement to be down for the cause (and, I truly appreciate the love), I’m not gonna ask them to draw, or write, page one until I have that funding in hand to pay my brothers and sisters.

Trust, they’re as impatient to get started, as I am to get them paid. But I know when I’m ready, they’re ready. And, they know that I’ll keep my word as a professional to get them squared away…

That’s beyond hustle… That’s gangster… And with gangster shit, we all eat.

That’s how you build. Keep grindin’ my friends.

http://www.griotenterprises.com