Wednesday, January 28, 2009
"the more you see us in a different light, the more doors that open up for African-Americans," says Jerry Craft, the award-winning creator of the Mama's Boyz comic strip, which chronicles the life of an African-American woman raising two teenage sons. The strip has been syndicated by King Features since 1995.
Craft is one of three black comic-strip artists who offered FOXNews.com exclusive drawings of what they would like a black superhero to look like.
Hopefully seeing us as more positive members of the community, and not just the people you see on the news or 'Cops,' will get them to expand their horizons to include us," said Craft, who has worked for Marvel and Harvey Comics and was editorial director at Sports Illustrated for Kids.
The first black superhero was Marvel's Black Panther, who showed up in a 1966 Fantastic Four story and has gained some popularity. Another Marvel character, Blade, earned big-market attention when Wesley Snipes personified him in a film version of the comic. Some characters have vacillated between races — both Spawn and Catwoman were black in certain iterations, white in others. And characters like Storm, Luke Cage, Static, and Bishop have enjoyed a certain level of celebrity, but not the kind that has netted others their own big-budget Hollywood films.
But with Obama establishing a new role model for blacks in America, traditional depictions of blacks in popular culture could get a makeover, said culture critic David Horowitz.
"I think having a black president will have a positive impact on black images in the popular culture and will move that culture away from some of its politically correct absurdities," he said.
Comic book creators, authors and artists have many explanations for the historical absence of black superheroes in mainstream pop culture.
Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen, a former Spider-Man author for Marvel, says, "I think part of that is that there hasn't been a breakout character that transcends race the way actors Will Smith and Eddie Murphy have, or the 'Cosby Show' did, or, frankly, Barack Obama has.
"The characters in comics are often too ethnic for a white audience and too embarrassing for a black one."Adds Craft: "I don't think that the black superheroes of the past were all that interesting. Since most of the creators were white, they based their characters on their perception of black men and women. They definitely were not built to stand the test of time." Political correctness has also been an impediment. "I think that their creators tried hard not to offend blacks and made many of them too perfect," Craft said. "Many were army heroes or Olympic athletes who were fighting a noble cause. They had no character deficiencies or internal conflicts that are usually needed to make a story interesting."
Before Obama won the presidency, blacks were largely implausible as superheroes, Craft said. "I think that there is a perception of black people that America is comfortable with, and I'm not sure the hero role was it," he said. "We can be athletes and rappers, but not Superman. Thor saved the universe, Captain America saved the country, Spider-Man saved the city, but Luke Cage saved 125th Street (in Harlem) between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevards." P.S. Jerry Craft and I have been friends for 28 years, he is the illustrator of my newly released children's book, "Looking to the Clouds for Daddy" and my poetry book entitled "Take me to the Water" Kudos to you Jerry, you're my HERO!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Eleven years ago I sat at my computer feverishly typing out rhyme, with a mission to express the importance of waiting for the "Right" mate. A lot of the fantasy mates were created during my Mary Shelley think tanks. Through all the finger wagging and testosterone slinging, I discovered that we want the world, but choose what we know. My book of poetry, "Take me to the Water" had life's blood poured upon its pages, from the creation of an "Ideal Mate" to the expiration of "A Dream." Hook loaded with aromatic bait, I cast my line into the Atlantic Ocean of publishing. Reeling in new terminology like NO, poetry doesn't sell, Chap book, & Self Publishing. I joined the writers groups and associations, I attended dinners and award ceremonies. I booked signings, wrote press releases, loaded and unloaded boxes of books, sharing space with other self publishers, lined up row by row in auditoriums, gymnasiums and hotel lobbies. I told myself that this was better than having a publisher because all profits went directly to me, but the marketing got in the way of my creativity. The tour zapped my desire to write for fear of the sales pitch. Eleven years in the present, my children's book "Looking to the Clouds for Daddy" has reeled in Karen Hunter Publishing, teamed with Simon & Schuster distribution, what a catch! Self publishing served me well, like apples and oranges they're both great, but I have a preference.
Monday, January 12, 2009
In my last blog I talked about the upcoming art reception at the University of Connecticut, but today I'm excited about the February 2009 release of my children's book entitled, "Looking to the Clouds for Daddy." My friend of 28 years Author/Illustrator Jerry Craft, has put pen to paper, brilliantly breathing life through illustration, into the characters who remarkably resemble my children:) I wrote the book 11 years ago, shopped a few publishers, and received several rejections. Put the book down and shelved the project for my visual art and thicker skin. The book resurfaced last year, minus the illustrations. Jerry agreed to work on the project and here we are, a finished work of art. It is my dream to help children of all ages cope with the loss of a parent through the lives of my children. As a family we have weathered the storm! The girls have worked hard as a unit to overcome many "isms" Single family-ism, Medicaid-ism, Free school lunch-ism,and all the other Isms incurred through death. The book initiates dialog about pleasant memories and events through actual family photographs. If you happen to know a child who is suffering through the loss of a parent please share the book with them. Its available through Karen Hunter Media.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
The 3rd Eye finally opens, February 7, 2009 at the University of Connecticut Art Gallery. Long awaited, full of anticipation, growing pains and DRAMA! The Artist Reception is on the 12th, a Thursday evening after work, when eyes are worn from staring at monotonous computer screens. Receptions can be tricky events, filled with family, supporting friends, critics, collectors, bargain hunters, lookie-loos, lovers and HATERS of art. That's why I'm bringing an arsenal with me, my children. Soldiers born into the world of "Art Shows" they know the savvy language, accompanied by, the gallery stroll, and "the couple huddle"which can make or break a sale. A smile and gentle tug on the left sleeve, is code for, admirer in the green dress has found something that moves her into submission! I've also learned over the years to keep a fluid pace, because the minute you break stride the ears inadvertently pick up background noises that aren't always symphonic. For some artist, creating is having a conversation with self. Every now and then its nice to invite others to the think tank, it makes for great subject matter.