Friday, April 16, 2010

Comics in the Black Age

The Importance of buying Black Age Comics.
Some folks have asked me ...
Why... Why... Why... should we support Black Age comics?
Because if we don't , who will?
Buy a book for yourself or for our youth who need some brand new ways to think about life and problem solving....
Buy a book for graduations, birthdays, Kwanzaa and any celebrations...
What's with the Black Age of Comics?
Why not just keep purchasing the already established brands that promote the same o same o in superheroes?
Well for one... Visual Imagery is so important in how one relates to the world.
Visual imagery creates cultural values and can be a large part of how we view ourselves.
When our Superheroes all look one way and that way is not what we see when we look in the mirror... a devaluation can take place in our inner selves.
As a child, I saw all the mainstream superheroines in books, tv and eventually at the movies.....
but I never wanted to buy a weave or a wig or to bleach my face to look like them 'cause I was happy to look like I looked.
And...... happy that the real Wonder Woman in my life (my mom) was an artist and she drew beautiful images of Black folks being strong. She also showed me so many images of African folk across the world from Australia to Africa which helped me to grow up to be happy 2 be nappy... happy 2 be free..happy to be nappy and happy 2 be me.

For another....All the same old heroes don't fit today's market.
Let's see... for me it's simple. I realized a long time ago that in my music collection I wanted some SOUL...
In my radio diet.... got 2 have that FUNK!!. That FUTURE FUNK!!
In dance... the same....I need Ritmo!! RYHTHM. Yes! I'm a slave 2 the Rhythm!
That's why I love the Onli's rhythmistic illustration of NOG , Protector of the Pyramids... the gritty Funky drawings of Brotherman... the tats on St G's buffed body...please!!! and the "du" (haircut) on Malcom 10?'s flowing like James Brown in the future...uummph!

In the theatre, I wanted to check out some playrights and stories of color.
In my movies I wanted some plots about things that happened with people of color.
In all these mediums the Revolution came...looooooong time ago.

But with comic superheroes, we are still reading and watching movies about mainstream characters who came out way back in the day.. All cool heroes.... but they don't get down for me like Malcolm 10... Brotherman... St G... Sustahgirl... U feel me?

As for villians, even the mainstream comic villians... is not as diabolical to me as the hordes of thugs that I see on the corners slanging drugs and thuggin out all around the country. Where's the Superheroes who are going to deal with the villians in my world?

I've had to suffer through years and years of stodgy old images.
And then when the mainstream publishers pop out with Euro-brown characters...
These characters are like Brown Barbies on paper telling stories that don't reflect my world or lifestyle up in Bronzeville.
To see Spiderman duking it out with the Sandman is totally different than Malcom 10 sending villians to the Rhythmic Zone..
The same with Anime...'cause frankly I'm a bit ninjaed out.
I need to see some fine a.... brothers flying through the air with dreadlocks opening up a can whup ass on somebody...!!

Buying Black Comics Builds Economic Power
To me.... the Comics industry feels like music industry before Berry Gordy and MOWTOWN.
Or...the movies before..Black actors and actresses could play real roles in real stories about who we are.
So let's talk about artist-publisher, Turtel Onli, the creator of the Black Age of Comics.....
You could compare ONLI to Berry Gordy. If you take the vision that Gordy had for Black music to have a place, a marketshare and a cultural value in the world, Onli has that vision for Black Age titles and merchandise.
When ONLI coined the title the Black Age of Comics, he gave birth to a genre in comics that opened a door for a collective of artists, writers and publishers to create independent and authentic images. that encouraged us to stop imitating and start creating new imagery for us to dream on.
He encourages us to pratice that good old Kwanzaa principle, Kujichagulia.....
Self-determination. To define ourselves and to create our own images....

Onli started the first Black Age of Comics conventions in 1993 in Chicago in Bronzeville at the South Side Community Art Center. It was a convention of artist, writers and publishers which came together to celebrate and to sell their works to the public.
Onli's vision was that we must become entreprenureal and began to create an economy for ourselves and our youth.
Sad to say... but let's keep it real......12 annual conventions later, in 2010, the Black Age of Comics will convene for year XIII and many of us are still showing up at the large Comic Cons with no knowledge that we have our own conventions that are now popping up nationally in Atlanta, Detroit and on the East Coast.

Too many of our youth don't know about the Black Age of Comics or the heroes that many Black Age artists have created.
WE need to correct that by buying Black Age titles. We need to go the Comic book stores and request Black Age titles and product. We need to bring our children to the Black Age Comics cons and teach them to collect images that reflect their lives....

A vision and a goal for ONLI is to give our youth not only new and positive super-heroes of color to think about but other businesses to work for in this economy.
That happens when we STOP BOYCOTTING OUR OWN PRODUCTS and BEGAN TO SUPPORT THE BLACK AGE by buying our own products.

Simple answers that we learned in the 60's... Economic power is important. And we need to wake up.... Manga and Anime represent major major dollars going to another community at the end of the day. Our youth have embraced their games, graphic novels, merchandising and the imagery.

There's nothing wrong with being involved in a global mindset and exploring multicultural entertainment but....every time we buy books and games from other communities, we need to STOP the Black Boycott of our own products and support our own artists and writers and publishers so that we can began to create wealth in our community.

So here are some of MY questions..
What's with the boycott and complacency regarding having our own heroes and having authentic looking heroes and heroines?

What's with the debate on a popular website about Black Super-heroes amongst African-American illustrators about who's the baddest vanilla super-hero instead of figuring out how WE can gain more market share and support each other by BUYING each other's product?
We are too old to be drawing Batman over and over....and talking about who can draw him the best! You best believe that's not the focus of Manga illustrators. They created their own genre to GROW their own ECONOMY in entertaiment.

Why are we so quick to buy mainstream comics idea of princess and all the merchandise to go with it instead creating some Queens and Kings of our own for our young girls and boys to dream about?

Where are the Black Age super-heroes to give our male youth someone to want to grow up to be? And I'm not talking about a wine-head.. or a vampire or a thug!
In entertainment, I'm also thugged out ..... Change is good in 2010.
Change is good.
It's time for some nu entertainment that encourages our youth not to embrace prison culture or weaves that promote low self-esteem instead of celebrating our own hair, or misogynistic songs and images that demean and project our women as sexual objects and goldiggers... or our males as infamous drug-dealers selling to crack-heads, or as pimps, thugs and prison fodder. Time for some nu images that tells our history...and tell the positive stories....of us being educated, working, entrprenreal, Black folks living well, healthy and free.

Where are the images that we have created to excite our youth about loving how we really look...?
With our beautiful, colorful...selves. Not imitators of the status quo but enjoying our Africaness... our lips... our hips... our braids..... our shades...
To excite our youth about how we can use our multi-intelligences and super powers for good.. for global change to create a better future.

To encourage our youth to embrace life and wealth building and to enjoy who we are naturally... We have our own kind of swagger and our own kind of cool...

Here are some clear cut answers:
For many years, as an artist, publisher and educator, Onli has spoke to illustrators, publishers, art students, comics fans, parents about the quest for market share now and in the future.
"There's a cultural war out here. Who's going to dominate market share and cultural iconic imagery in the world of comics, graphic novels, movies, animation and games?
Where do we see ourselves in this industry? As participators, innovators or as spectators or as consumers? We have choices we can make.
Our stories must need be told and purchased.... Each one buy a book!"
Don't talk....the talk... Buy a book for yourself or for our youth who need some brand new ways to think about life and problem solving....
Buy a book for graduations, birthdays, Kwanzaa and any celebrations...
" Team BLANGA is the most important graphic novel in the Black Age Movement.
It is exciting hard hitting and full of cultural intent. Indie today: Black Age Forever!!"
Punkin X Circa Now.
For more information about the Black Age of Comics and where to buy Black Age titles go to....

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