Archive for August, 2018

AFROFUTURISM FRIDAYS: DELVING INTO COMICS RECAP

I. READING SALON

*Black

*Miles

*Kindred

*Cyborg

*Strange Fruit

*Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

*Victor LaValle’s Destroyer

II. LISTENING SALON

Music Lab – Flying Lotus

[from Wikipedia] Flying Lotus was born Steven Ellison, the grand-nephew of the late jazz pianist Alice Coltrane, whose husband was saxophonist John Coltrane. His third studio album, Cosmogramma, was released in 2010. It was a hard-hitting afrofuturistic shrine to soul, hip-hop, and jazz, and featured Stephen Bruner, aka Thundercat.

[The album was accompanied by live instrumentation (Thundercat on bass, Miguel Atwood Ferguson on strings, Rebekah Raff on harp) and live vocalists (Thom Yorke, Laura Darlington) – all picked to help communicate the spiritual musical lineage of Ellison’s family (Ravi Coltrane, himself, played tenor sax)]

His fifth studio album, You’re Dead! was released in 2014. It features guest appearances by Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Herbie Hancock. Flying Lotus then appeared alongside Thundercat on Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly and received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year for his credits as producer.

 

III. CALL TO ORDER: An intro to the history of black comics

 

All-Negro Comics: published in June 1947. It was the first independent comic and was also the first comic to feature black characters by black creators. Superheroes, detectives, kid characters.

Milestone Media/Milestone Comics (from Wikipedia)

Milestone Media was a company best known for creating Milestone Comics, which were published and distributed by DC Comics, and the Static Shock cartoon series. It was founded in 1993 by a coalition of African-American artists and writers, consisting of Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis, and Derek T. Dingle. (Christopher J. Priest participated in the early planning stages of Milestone Media, and was originally slated to become the editor-in-chief of the new company, but bowed out for personal reasons before any of Milestone’s titles were published).

 

Although Milestone comics were published through DC Comics, they did not fall under DC Comics’ editorial control; DC retained only the right not to publish any material they objected to. Milestone Media retained the copyright of their properties and had the final say on all merchandising and licensing deals pertaining to them. In essence, DC licensed the characters, editorial services, and creative content of the Milestone books for an annual fee and a share of the profits. Dwayne McDuffie said that DC held up this agreement even though some of Milestone’s storylines made them “very uncomfortable” as they were from perspectives that DC weren’t used to.

 

All Milestone Media titles were set in a continuity dubbed the “Dakotaverse”, referring to the fictional midwestern city of Dakota in which most of the early Milestone stories were set. The first batch of titles included: Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate and Static.

 

UNFORTUNATELY: The comics market was experiencing a glut of “new universes” as several other publishers launched superhero lines around the same time (a slump would start in 1993 and a market crash in 1994), a significant number of retailers and readers perceived the Milestone books to be “comics for blacks” and assumed they would not interest non-African-American readers.

 

By 1997, the line folded (only the Static Shock cartoon remained). In 2008, the characters were merged into the regular DC universe. In 2016, DC Comics announced the creation of “Earth-M” within their multiverse. 2018 saw the release of five titles, including Milestone (featuring Icon and Rocket), a new Static series, Duo (based on the character Xombi), and two other new titles: Earth-M and Love Army.

 

[Literally, Milestone began with two brothers in a basement talking comics and possibilities]

 

IV. CHOPPING IT UP WITH LOCAL CREATIVES

Introductions: Nick Perry, Arric Thomas, Jamahl Crouch

 

-What got you into comics books/art?

 

-How would you describe your art?

 

-What is the guiding philosophy behind your art?

 

-What is the relationship between your art and community work?

 

-What would you like to do moving forward?

 

RESOURCES OF INTEREST:

The Unacknowledged History of Black Creators and Black Characters in Comic Books

 

All-Negro Comics

https://www.digitalcomicmuseum.com/?dlid=22625

 

The Real Reasons for Marvel Comics’ Woes

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/05/the-real-reasons-for-marvel-comics-woes/527127/

 

Why Milestone Comics’ Revival Matters

https://medium.com/@nerdypoc/why-milestone-comics-revival-matters-2a9ff59e05dd

 

Intern Bella and GenCon: A Summer Recap

[My GenCon report by way of how I spent my summer vacation aka a long post]

“Mr. Broaddus, do you have any interning opportunities?”

Thus enters Bella, one of my (former) 8th graders who went through my creative writing club at the middle school who wrote me a week after graduation. I said “no,” but wanted to hear her thinking. When I met with her and her mom, her mom told me that though she tried to talk her out of it, her daughter was determined to be a writer. If that was the case, she needed to start networking now. Between her boldness in asking and her clear goals, I said yes.

We’ve had a whirlwind summer involving a reading list (Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Nick Mamatas’ Starve Better), a dialogue seminar, writing through the lens of social activism (a project I am doing with the Kheprw Institute),

She shadowed me through project development, generating income streams, and learning the business side of a writing career (granted, I had to explain that calling up a publisher and hurling insults at one another is only the special submission guidelines between me and Jason Sizemore). We’re also writing a story together which is an easy way for me to teach the finer points of character development, plotting, deepening themes, conflict, and revision. Which means she’ll end up with a pro credit, too.

One of the things about my writing career is that I certainly didn’t get here by myself as I think of the folks who mentored me along the way and became friends (Kelly Link, Gary A. BraunbeckByron Kane, and so many more) and those who introduced me around at my first con (Wayne Allen Sallee). Since she wanted to network, her intern “graduation” was doing GenCon with me.

Intern Bella (about my red outfit): “Mr. Broaddus, it’s hard to take you seriously when you look like you should top a sundae.”

With one joke, she stole all my friends at GenCon. There’s a great community of folks who go into making the Writers Symposium such a wonderful experience (Kelly SwailsJerry GordonLucien SoulbanMonica ValentinelliMax GladstoneScott LynchTanya DePass, and so many more). But I wanted to highlight a few who made me look like a genius in retrospect by surrounding Bella with role models of powerful women:

Alethea Kontis – who basically took Bella under her wing and displayed the finer aspects of authorial badassery (Bella, like most young people, isn’t on Facebook, so I can say badass).

Melanie Meadors – who fielded all of her questions about being a publisher and editor.

Sarah Wishnevsky Lynch – who gave such a wonderful talk about the importance of resilience that I wanted to bottle it up and spray myself with it every morning.

Elizabeth Vaughan – who besides being a wonderful example of generosity, gave Bella the opportunity to see how a trusted community of peers can speak into each others’ lives with advice (even it if’s uncomfortable truths), support, and accountability.

Jaym Gates – who is not only the editor for the story Bella and I are working on, but spent time answering all of her questions and offering long term career advice.

Toiya K. Finley – whose expertise in gaming basically LEFT A (SOON TO BE) HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN SPEECHLESS.

Me: We’re like Batman and (very insecure) Robin.
Bella the Intern: It’s okay, Mr. Broaddus. One day you’ll be Batman. #shesgotjokes

I’m kind of spoiled by my experience with interns. And while Bella has already declared that any future intern of mine works for her, I remind each of them that we’re always in relationship (which is why Rodney Carlstrom is Intern Emeritus). As for her thoughts on me, I overheard her say this to another writer friend of mine: “He never stops teaching.” And that’s what made my summer.

[And I would have posted this yesterday, but Bella wanted approval. Something about one of my lessons about controlling your narrative.]