Sow the Whirlwind, Reap the Whirlwind.
Hello….? Anybody out there?
Damn. I know it’s been a minute and I haven’t been here for a while. It’s almost insulting to tell people you’ve been busy. No one wants to hear it because in this life we are all busier than we’d like. My brand of busy is intense but no more significant than yours. So if you’re reading this and you’ve patronized me or just followed what I get on about, thank you for your grace and patience.
My brand of busy has had me setting up shop in a small community oriented arts and activism hub in Roxbury. The Patroen-age helps to subsidize this effort.
For that I am eternally grateful. I have been trying to purge my spaces of old art stuff; paintings, drawings, etc. by posting and giving the work to folks who appreciate it. Much of it was experimental or exercises. Some were spontaneous pieces painted live at events. My new goal is to start fresh and make this tiny studio space work for doing comic book stuff. It’s hard because at heart I am more of an artistic experimentalist. I pick the medium to fit the purpose and not the other way around. I get myself into all sorts of gigs because of it like “Bridge Lightings” and set paintings etc. It’s all very stimulating.
That said I have been focusing on learning more about the world of independent comics and the black comic scene more specifically. My friend and artistic collegue Cagen Luse and I recently took a road trip out to the Schomburg Center in Harlem NY for John Jennings’ “Black Comix Festival”. There we communed with all types of black nerds and geeks around comics that reflected our specific imaginations and realities in them. We heard from panels on minorities in comics and on Afrofuturism. In that short trip we were inspired to continue to churn out work and to connect with an audience and network that could support our efforts. It was like breathing pure oxygen for the first time in years.
The week before I sat on a panel at Northeastern University for a conference called “Why Comix?” where I shared my point of view as a local artist working in comics. It was great to have the conversations I had with so many interesting people at an event that felt so respectful and productive. Hats off to John Jennings Stacy Robinson and the brilliant folks at Northeastern for coordinating this and inviting me.
The panel on Afrofuturism with my good friend Dr. Nettrice Gaskins among others was energizing and optimistic. Dan Mazur and Dr. Heide Solbrig were there representing my peeps from the Boston Comics Roundtable.
Hearing Marjorie Liu, author of the new hit comic series “Monstress” speak so passionately about equity for women and people of color in popular culture and genre based work had the amen corner responding in harmony.
At “Why Comix?” I ran into an old friend and a literary idol of mine Junot Diaz. His literary work’s brilliance and poignancy is only matched by his everyday vocal approach to justice in the world. I was excited that he took a copy of my graphic novel, “The Legend of Dr Yakoob”. He saw the title and immediately got excited. That was worth every ounce of frustration that went into that project.
The good people of Northeastern University had me back the following week teaching a comics workshop to over forty high schoolers from Boston Public Schools. We had so much fun and made such cool work inspired by John Jennings artwork and the comics I brought for them that we all wanted to do much more. It was great to see a local institution commit to working with communities they are a part of as they expand.
In the studio and in stolen moments I have been fastidiously and slowly inking, scanning, flat toning comics pages and illustrations for several projects so I can get back to work on the plan for getting two to three pages of “A Come Up” on the web a week in addition to developing my design and layout skills through producing small format mini-comics. Hopefully in a few months I will have enough material to print a new volume of “A Come Up” and an anthology of mini-comics for convention season.
I’m working on concept art for Dr. Nettrice Gaskins and John Oluwole ADEKoje’s nonlinear, interactive project called “Home”. That promises to be exciting.
Dr. Gaskins also invited me to submit work for her new article in Art 21. She’s writing on topics such as graffuturism, transtextuality, and of course afrofuturism.
I’m giving her African robots.
There’s another graphic novel project in the mix. I’m collaborating with another brilliant friend, brother and colleague Dr. Abdi Ali on a secret project to undermine the dominant paradigm.
I submitted “A Come Up” for a GLYPH Award from the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. You gotta try, right? If I can work the budget I’ll be going to Philly for that convention in May.
I’m planning to edit the footage from “The Effigy Beast Project” together to distribute and package as a traveling talk. I see it as a live action improvised comic. The experience was too valuable to let it die. The repercussions of this new age of police brutality is echoing and vibrating inside many of us. The polarized nature of our world is now front and center. If this is all I can do to keep the conversation alive I’ll do it.
As I said before I have several T-shirt designs ready to give away as gifts. My “No Bones About It” fiancé Cassandra told me not to wait for you to respond so I will reach out to Patreon subscribers through email to get addresses. I owe you a lot at this point.
I’m still looking for students for private lessons or portfolio help. If you know anyone needing that kind of help I have time available. I should be meeting with my first new student tomorrow!
Wow. After reading all of this it makes sense why I don’t sleep much. I’m kinda intense. There is always so much to do. So many possibilities. The only way to be happy and stay happy is to find a way to do what you love no matter the cost. If you can do a little today and more tomorrow you’re ahead of the game. Thanks for being out here with me.