Graphic Novel Review – March: Book Two

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Graphic Novel Review: MARCH: Book One

Collecting: March: Book Two (original graphic novel)

Original Release Date: 2015

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Characters: John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luthor King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, SNCC

Writer: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin

Artist: Nate Powell

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 8
Art – 8
Captivity and Length – 7
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 9
Depth – 8
Fluidity – 8
Intrigue/Originality – 8
The Little Things – 8
Overall awesomeness – 8

Inspired by the use of comic books to send across messages that couldn’t be transcribed in the written or oral form of communication, John Lewis, with the help of Top Shelf Productions, created March: Book One, an autobiography and first-person perspective of other Civil Rights stories. After laying down much of the framework of who John Lewis was, where he came from and what he believed in, we are thrown right into the deep end as this volume takes us through the evolution of the Movement, and journeys through the history of the Freedom Riders.

march book 2 national movement

Book Two is a noticeable improvement over the first book, where all three creators really got their feet yet. Whether it has to do with Lewis’ personal growth or the nature of the Civil Rights Movement at the time of the events, there is a much more adult tone taken in Book Two. It wasn’t just the increasingly violent reactions from policemen and citizens towards the Freedom Riders, well-meaning white citizens who came to their defense, and dozens of black children.  No, there was a constant looming threat of defamation, imprisonment and often times death that each of them had to be constantly aware for. It was a movement so formidable that even Dr. Martin Luthor King, Jr. was hesitant to go on it – or so the book implies. These accounts are directly from John Lewis’ memory of first-hands, and I’ll be damned if I’m the one to tell him that he got it wrong.

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Where the books excels is that it isn’t just a collection of stories from Senator John Lewis’ mouth. No, this is a calculated story with purpose. Scenes from the book are not only pieced together to form another successful chapter in his life, and that of the Civil Rights Movement. They are done so with not just the rationalization of a fiery young man, but the clarity of a wise man reflecting on his years as a freedom fighter. It’s refreshing to arrive at the conclusion that even though the courage that it took to actually follow through as a Freedom Rider was monumental, the entire movement was sparked by the simple yet fierce desire to make the situation better.

march book 2 clothes

Technically-speaking, there are several improvements to this volume over the first installment. While the art was satisfactory in Book One, Nate Powell’s pencils are eye-catching and often shockingly-vivid. There were several scenes that convey the brutality and injustice that Lewis saw first-hand. There were other improvements, too, notably how well Powell and co-writer Aydin took advantage of the freedom granted in creating a graphic novel, really using unique ways to display onomatopoeic words and show the tone of a phrase by lettering it in a specific way. It’s a quite interesting way to communicate with readers – one I hope will catch on with other creators.

march book 2 punch

March: Book Two expertly brings the book to a close by chronicling Lewis’ attendance at Barack Obama’s inauguration in DC, the same city at which Lewis (and several other keynotes, like MLK) marched on Washington DC to give some of the most memorable speeches of the whole Movement. This scene illustrates that while progress towards equality and civil liberty has been astronomical, there is still plenty of work to do. That is why the Denver Freedom Riders have formed. The merging of goals between the generations is something that John Lewis speaks specifically about when describing his time working with senior activists. The capabilities of social media have made us all activists, but nothing really gets done unless the movement starts at the ground floor. I spoke with Hush writer Jumoke about the movement that’s gaining momentum in the Mile High City.

march book 2 stay together

 

The legacy that connects our generations is a simple one; a group of people of diverse background looked up at something going in the nation and decided that it wasn’t enough for them to simply stay at home. Some of us went as individuals (Anthony [Grimes] and myself), many of us went in later groups, but most of the core group went down to Ferguson during the height of the unrest. As we came back, we realized that there was some work that needed to be done and continued right here from Denver.

“We believe in the inherent dignity of human life. We believe no one is more aware of that inherent worth than those that society has attempted to dehumanize, marginalize and oppress.”

Those two sentences, the first two in the Denver Freedom Rider’s mission statement, could be included in almost every social justice movement creed of the last 100 years. The same fights for human dignity are being waged – only the actors and battlefields have changed. For some, that may be disheartening, but, for me, that actually gives me strength and courage. Although it seems there will always be injustice, oppression, and battles to fight, I take heart in the fact that there will also always be those who ride for freedom. 

– Jumoke Emery, community organizer and Denver Freedom Rider

For those looking to get involved in the community through the Denver Freedom Riders, here is a link to their Facebook page with more details.

I hope you enjoyed the review. I’d just like to point out that none of the pictures in this work are mine, and should all be credited to the good folks at Top Shelf Productions. You can find March: Book Two on their website, here.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

“Respect My Craft” – Michael Dorn

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

 

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles

 

Name: Michael Dorn

Profession: Actor, Voice Actor, Director

Notable WorkStar Trek: The Next Generation & Deep Space Nine, I Am Weasel, Castle

“The character didn’t have any back story. He was a name on a sheet of paper, that was it. I think the third or fourth day of shooting, I went up to Gene [Roddenberry] and asked him what he wanted from this character. He told me to make it my own. I took it and decided that the character was going to be the opposite of everybody else on the show. And the writers took it from there, and Worf became one of the best characters ever.”- Michael Dorn

 

Michael Dorn has been on TV and in our lives since around the mid-1970’s, but before that he grew up in Pasadena California although he was born in Luling, Texas. While living in California he studied radio and television production at Pasadena City College. This led him to join several bands at that time which had him traveling from San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the coming years Dorn had a recurring role of Officer Jeb Turner on CHiPs even with the typical cheesy 80’s mustache and all. He had minor roles in a bunch of TV shows along the way including Charles in Charge, and Punky Brewster, and even had a uncredited role in Rocky, as Apollo Creed’s bodyguard.

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He started to become a rather distinct and welcome face when it came to television, but his career really blew up when he joined the soap opera Days of Our Lives as Jimmy up until 1987 where he decided to quit the show because he had gained a role which would ultimately change his life forever, Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Ultimately, it was just a job and he had no idea the character he would help create or the legend he would become to others.

Any fans of Michael Dorn before, and many after the fact, would never recognize him without the Klingon forehead and epic facial hair. Sure this can cause a problem to a certain degree, as many people who love your craft don’t even know what you look like. However, it also could help him take roles outside of typecasting him in roles similar to Worf. On the other end of it, not being Worf was not a problem because it was a perennial role Michael Dorn played in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the four films made from that series, as well as a regular cast member in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine during season four of the series and this made him the actor who has played the same character the most through the entire span of Star Trek history. So as hard as it may be for some Star Trek fans to hear, Worf is better at Kirk and Picard at something.

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Dorn kept pretty busy while doing Star Trek: TNG and it showed, as he didn’t have many other roles while doing the show up until 1994. This is where Michael Dorn really grew with his voice over acting but most of it was small roles in one or two episodes including shows like Swat Kats: The Radical Squadron, Aladdin, Biker Mice From Mars, and the series Fantastic Four. This led to a major event for anybody that was a Star Trek nerd and a cartoon nerd, which was Disney’s Gargoyles. A good amount of original cast from Star Trek: TNG provided a voice at some point during Gargoyles. Michael Dorn was only a small recurring character, Coldstone, the cyborg gargoyle which made him a quite disturbing, yet awesome, character for a kids show.

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After Gargoyles was dying gown, he got other jobs including Borl and other roles in Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, and Disney’s Hercules animated show. He didn’t have another huge role until the show Cow and Chicken came along. Many people remember Cow and Chicken but he played a character in it that became so popular he got his own show, which was I Am Weasel. Although his show was not long-lived by any means, I Am Weasel and I.R. Baboon are definitely some huge pop culture figures for my generation and, along with Cow and Chicken, they soon became the next Ren and Stimpy or Rocko’s Modern Life, known primarilyfor being crude, yet still childish and funny.

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Dorn did a whole bunch of voice acting because if your voice finds its way into that community they never let you leave but that it meant in the upmost respect as it is a community I would die to get “trapped” in. This saw him working almost exclusively in video games until the early 2000’s with a run on the animated show Superman as Kalibak and John Henry Irons AKA Steel. A lot of these video games in these years were Star Trek including Invasion, Deep Space Nine- The Fallen, Klingon Academy, Away Team, Gatatog Uvenk in Mass Effect 2, Tassadar in StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, Maero in Saints Row 2 and Saints Row IV. The most current thing you can see Michael Dorn in is the current Saints Row IV and as the recurring character Dr. Carter Burke on Castle. He has a show up on idiegogo titled Swallow Your Bliss, which is a sitcom set up as a TV Cooking Show and its crew. He is also set to star in a comedic Sci-Fi film titled Unbelieveable!!!!!. This film is also set to star Nichelle Nichols, who would also be producer.

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None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (Photographer Janis Ogata, Paramount Television, Walt Disney Television Animation, Beacon Pictures, Experimental Pictures, ABC Studios, Buena Vista Television, Huffington Post Canada TV (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/06/michael-dorn-star-trek-worf-interview_n_2821205.html)). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Neal Adams, comic book artist legend.

“Respect My Craft”- LeVar Burton

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

Name: LeVar Burton

Profession: Actor

Notable WorkRoots, Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and recently raising nearly 3 million dollars to bring back Reading Rainbow in 2 days.

The “Roots” experience was one where I really was schooled on the power of the medium: television. My life was changed in two nights of television. I watched a nation be transformed around the idea of slavery and our relationship to that part of the American story. It was like ‘Wow.’ The opportunity to do “Reading Rainbow,”  to do half an hour of television in the summer when kids are spending most of their time in front of the TV and try and steer them back in the direction of literature made all the sense in the world to me. My mother was an English teacher, so it was really a no-brainer. ” -LeVar Burton in an interview with the HeroComplex at the L.A. Times

Levar Burton shares the joy of reading on Reading Rainbow.
Levar Burton shares the joy of reading on Reading Rainbow.

LeVar Burton has been a household name since the ’70’s.  However, depending on your generation, you may know him from something different than your parents.  You may know him as Kunta Kinte from Roots, or if you were born in the ’80’s, you may know him as the host of the children’s literacy show Reading Rainbow, or as Geordi La Forge in Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Burton was born on an Army Base in Germany in 1957.  His mother, an English teacher, moved to Sacramento when Burton was a child.  When he was 13, he decided to join a seminary to become a priest.  Yeah, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge was almost a priest.   After some soul-searching and reading different philosophies, Burton decided not to be a priest and enrolled in the Theater Program at University of Southern California.  Burton began his acting career when he was a sophomore in college.

Burton auditioned for Roots, his first Hollywood audition, and got the part of Kunta Kinte, a name now synonymous with slavery and race relations in America.  Roots was the first mainstream slavery story to be told through the eyes of the enslaved man.  Kunta Kinte was a man from Gambia and a slave who never forgot where he came from.  Kunta was badly abused.  At one point, after trying to escape, part of his right foot was cut off.  The visual images that came with Burton’s role as Kunta are still prevalent in American culture today.  Roots is highly regarded as a turning point in how black people and white people viewed each other.  Burton can be quoted as saying, “Roots wasn’t just art for art’s sake. It was art as a way of moving the ­culture forward” in an interview last year with Vulture.  Burton’s portrayal of Kunta in Roots earned him an Emmy nomination for Best Actor in 1977.

LeVar Burton in Roots as Kunta Kinte.
LeVar Burton in Roots as Kunta Kinte.

His groundbreaking role garnered a lot of attention.  Burton hosted the last season of the children’s show Rebop.  He starred in the TV movie One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story as Ron LeFlore, the baseball player who was recruited to the MLB out of prison.  Burton was in a myriad of other movies and had a guest spot on Fantasy Island once.  Then, in 1983, LeVar Burton became of the host of Reading Rainbow on PBS.  It was from that moment on that children across America learned to read.  Ok, ok, I am exaggerating.  I really hope (and on some level, I know) kids could read before Reading Rainbow was on the air.  The show took kids on “field trips” to different places in America and then an awesome celebrity guest would read a book to us as the pages were shown on screen.  Then kids would recommend books they liked. I can honestly say that Reading Rainbow was one of my favorite shows growing up.  I was, and still am, a bookworm, and I truly believe Reading Rainbow and LeVar Burton were major catalysts in my love of reading (my grandmother and father were huge roles, too, just in case they read this).  Reading Rainbow‘s original run was from 1983 to 2006.  Now, LeVar is bringing Reading Rainbow online to the kids of the digital age.  He famously launched a Kickstarter campaign, raising over 1 million dollars in 11 hours.  In the last day, the campaign’s goal has expanded to 5 million dollars.  The plan for Reading Rainbow is to not only be a full-fledged website, set up similarly to the television show, but a tool for teachers, particularly in underfunded schools, and to provide it all for free.  If you would like to contribute to the cause for literacy, click HERE.

LeVar Burton meets Kermit in the "Pig" aisle on Reading Rainbow.
LeVar Burton meets Kermit in the “Pig” aisle on Reading Rainbow.

In 1986, Burton was cast as Geordi La Forge, a blind pilot, in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Burton grew up watching Star Trek, so working on the show was a dream come true.  Geordi was a character who inspired many fans.  Because of his “disability”, he wore a VISOR, which gave him the ability to see things even the human eye couldn’t.  That prop wasn’t the best thing though, according to Burton.  He has stated it obscured 80 percent or more of his vision while filming, causing him to trip or lose balance often.  He also felt that without the audience being able to see his eyes, a large part of his acting skill was limited.  He has also stated that he hopes that the technology of the future would be more advanced than the VISOR for blind people to be able to see.  Since the series ended, Burton has been fairly vocal about the lack of a love life La Forge had.  He has noted that Star Trek is generally better than to stereotype people, but that La Forge was stereotyped because he was a nerd and a black man.  He says that everyone has a sexual identity, but that was denied to his character, something he would have changed.  Burton was eventually able to direct an episode of TNG, and continued to do so, even beyond the TNG franchise and on to Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.  To date, Burton has directed the most Star Trek episodes than any other actor from the show.  His career as Geordi La Forge lasted 7 television seasons and continued in 4 Star Trek movies.  You may wonder if Geordi La Forge inspired me, the way Reading Rainbow did.  I do admit to being a Trekkie when I was a kid.  I had a Geordi action figure and often walked around my house with a headband over my eyes. I was an odd child, but it has made me a pretty cool adult, and I’d like to think Burton and Star Trek had something to do with it.

LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  And the best reason for him to appear at Denver Comic Con.
LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. And the best reason for him to appear at Denver Comic Con.

Most recently, Burton has been a staple, whether on screen or not, in Community.  Burton was Troy’s idol and caused him to go catatonic at one point because of his presence.  LeVar Burton also happened to be the man who took Troy away from the study group and on Pierce’s boat the “Childish Tycoon.”  However, the boat was then taken by pirates, so who knows what happened to LeVar and Troy? He has also appeared in The Big Bang Theory as himself.  Burton is  the voice of Doc Greene in the Hub Network series Transformers: Rescue Bots.  He has said he believes it was one of the few children’s shows that portrays pro-social behavior.  Burton believes all television is educational, but wonders what we are trying to teach our children.  Currently, Burton is a regular on TNT’s Perception as Paul Haley, anthropologist best friend to Eric McCormack’s character who is a paranoid schizophrenic who helps the FBI investigate difficult cases.  In addition to all his acting endeavors, Burton has been working as the “Curator In-Chief” for the Reading Rainbow website and campaign with business parter Mark Wolfe and revolutionizing how kids learn to love reading.  I’d say, LeVar Burton is a pretty big deal.  Live long and prosper, folks.

Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) meets LeVar Burton on Community.
Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) meets LeVar Burton on Community.

After you donate to the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter, go ahead and listen to this while you think about tiny children reading all thanks to LeVar Burton.

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we spotlight author Kevin J. Anderson!

written by Adrian Puryear

“Respect My Craft” – Georges Jeanty

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

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Name: Georges Jeanty

Profession: Penciller

Notable Work: Whedonverse comics

“Every Buffy fan can cite certain scenes that they’re so passionate about. I’m the same when Joyce dies. If you had not cried in that episode, then you don’t have emotions. I don’t mean to be extreme. Or, I’ll do you one better. The first time Oz leaves Willow, I’m wrecked. Seriously, it’s not even a TV show anymore. You have moved me to the point of where I can’t even think about it.” – Georges Jeanty

Georges Jeanty has always been an artist. Born in NY and growing up in Miami, Georges graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Miami-Dade University. After careful consideration, Georges decided not to go into his first passion, acting, or fine arts, but rather to become a “commercial” artist by trying to break into the comic book industry. Luckily for comic fans, and those who obsess over the Whedonverse, he was able to do just that. As a child and teenager, Jeanty was known to frequent the local 7-Eleven and tobacco store that both carried comics. He would pick up what ever books he could find on the rack, sticking mostly to Marvel. Jeanty was inspired by his childhood heroes like Luke Cage, the Fantastic Four and legendary artists like John Byrne and George Pérez to pursue his comic career. It was Daredevil #183, written by Frank Miller and Roger McKenzie, that really changed Jeanty’s path because it was that book which made him decide that he needed to work on comics.  He credits the 70’s era as the storytelling era. He believes he was very lucky to grow up in the Frank Miller time of the medium because it defined his teen years.

Jeanty began his career in 1994 with Paradigm #1, published by Caliber Press. He also drew for London Night Studios, a now defunct underground comic company. This work led him to a lot of other underground comics. Jeanty has been known for getting work, but it hasn’t always been easy. At the start of his career, Image Comics was making it big and influencing how comics were being drawn across the board, which unfortunately wasn’t Jeanty’s style. While working on comics when still trying to “make it”, he worked several day jobs, including managing a comic shop at one point. In 1999, he was able to join Gaijin Studios in Atlanta, a collaborative of comic artists, as a resident artist. Gaijin Studios is highly regarded as the training ground for modern comic book artists.  It is also how Georges was connected to his jobs with DC and Marvel.

Jeanty Paradigm 1
The cover of Paradigm #1 by Jeanty.

Green Lantern #91 at DC was his first “big thing”.  He was given half of the book in order to give regular artist Darryl Banks a break.  Ron Marz, then the writer of Green Lantern was able to get Jeanty more work as a fill in at Superboy. From there, he did Superman #142 and some Team Superman issues.

Georges Jeanty’s big break came with his 15-issue series Bishop: The Last X-Man with Marvel.  At the time, Marvel was releasing comics about each character because they were just that big.  Excitingly enough, it is Jeanty’s interpretation of Bishop that made the new X-Men: Days of Future Past movie.  Originally, Jeanty was inspired to create Bishop’s look because of Busta Rhymes’ dreadlocks.

Jeanty Bishop
The cover of Bishop The Last X-Man #13 by Jeanty.

In 2006, Jeanty worked with John Ridley (writer of films like Red Tails and 12 Years a Slave) on a series called The American Way by publisher DC.  The story chronicled America’s first black superhero who rattled the American government.  The government had been pitting heroes vs. aliens and communism, all on American television. The series is a commentary on the 1960’s in its way.  There was even a touch of having the hero, named Jason Fisher, wearing an astronaut’s uniform and a helmet because the world in the ’60’s wasn’t ready for a black hero.  This is an issue that is often talked about in the industry because comic books have often been a reflection of how society feels about certain issues.  In the ’60’s, it would have been unlikely for a comic to sell if the hero was black.  For Ridley and Jeanty, both African-American men, to put this detail in their comic, and make Jason Fisher a masked man who is accidentally unmasked in issue #3 is a nice homage to the 1950’s comic, Weird Fantasy, in which the character pulls off their helmet in the final panel and is revealed to be black, something that was very shocking for the day, unfortunately.

Jeanty The American Way
The cover of The American Way #1 by Jeanty.

Jeanty was contacted by Dark Horse editor Scott Allie in 2006 after his run on The American Way to draw the new Buffy series, Buffy: Season 8, a continuation of the acclaimed series that ended at Season 7. Allie e-mailed Jeanty to tell him Joss Whedon had been a fan of his work since his Bishop run and had hand-picked Jeanty to work on the comic. Jeanty thought it was a joke and told Allie that if Joss wanted him, Joss could ask himself. And then he did. As Jeanty says, the rest is history. As far as his knowledge of Buffy goes, Jeanty had heard of Buffy but had not seen an episode. He ended up having to see it out of order so he could catch up quickly enough to know how to draw the books.  Today, Jeanty credits Season 6 as being his favorite.  What a weirdo.  Anyhow, Jeanty is now just about as obsessed as most Buffy fans.  And his process for drawing Buffy, Willow and Xander?  Lots of pictures.  He says Joss has told him not to draw Sarah Michelle Gellar, but rather Buffy herself, which Jeanty says he just understood.  He uses the pictures of the actors to get different angles right and to use them as his security blanket.  He worked on the acclaimed series from 2007 to 2013, winning two Eisner Awards along the way.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons 8 and 9 have been on the New York Times bestselling list, and Georges Jeanty’s art has been a great part of that, creating such a likeness to the beloved characters of the television series that the transition from screen to print almost seems flawless.  Thank you Georges Jeanty for pleasing Buffy fans so well.

Buffy by Georges
Jeanty’s Buffy

Jeanty can also be credited for penciling Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne for the popular “Dark Knight: Dark Rider” issue aka the Wild West issue.  He also pencilled the “Joker’s Daughter” one shot that was released this past February.  His art in this book was so incredibly creepy it gave me the chills.  That is when an artist knows how to get under your skin (pun intended).

Currently, Jeanty is working with Joss’ brother Zac (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) on the six issue series Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.  It is the first Serenity comic to chronicle what happens to the crew after the conclusion of the cult movie.  Oddly enough, Jeanty did watch Firefly when it was on the air.  Being a fan of the story, Jeanty jumped at the chance to draw the comic continuation.  As a fan, I am happy to see his art in this series.  Some of his scenes of space are so breathtaking, you can almost hear the silence of the universe when you look at them.  It is truly magnificent.  What is in the future for Jeanty?  Only time will tell, but with 20 years of experience under his belt and his connection to the Whedon franchise, it is unlikely Jeanty will have to go far to look for work.

Jeanty Leaves on the Wind
An amazing panel of the Serenity ship in space by Jeanty.

None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (Caliber Press, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with Fiona Staples, artist for the hit series Saga.

written by Adrian Puryear

Diggin’ Through the Crates: KRS-One “Nothing New”

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Artist: KRS-One

Song: “Nothing New”

AlbumHip Hop Lives (2007)

Lyric: “The streets won’t forgive you man, them guns go BLAM/ Have you crawlin up the wall like Spider-Man… But no, you ain’t made for this/I put my hand through your chest like Agent Smith.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

If you are even going to begin a conversation about pioneers of the Hip-Hop world, KRS-One (Knowledge Reigns Supreme) A.K.A “The conscience of Hip-Hop” A.K.A “The spokesperson for Hip-Hop” better be one of the tops of conversation. KRS-One has been deemed these nicknames by Rolling Stone, The Source and even the Wall Street Journal and the Zulu Nation. With Black History Month coming to an end, it only seemed right to have KRS-One bless “DTC.” Later on, I will speak more on how comic books and being nerdy could possibly relate to someone like KRS-One, but for now I want to take some time to focus on KRS-One – a Hip Hop god.

Above many other KRS was one of the notable Hip Hop heads in the community that used his power of music and reach to make positive progression for black culture. In 1988-89 KRS-One started the “Stop the Violence Movement” in response to the continuing violence heard throughout hip hop music and the black community. Collaborating with some of the biggest stars out of the East Coast Hip-Hop scene, KRS-One release a song called “Self Destruction,” with all the proceeds going toward the National Urban League.

KRS-One has always tried to spread positive messages to the black community, with songs such as “Sound of da Police,” which speaks on how the police treat people of color, and how their power is often abused and unjust. Another positive song that helps deem KRS-One a king of Hip-Hop is “Hip-Hop Vs. Rap.” KRS-One states in this song, “Rap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live.” You know what else he said in “Hip Hop Vs. Rap”? He said, “When these suckers don’t respect it, check it/ FLAME ON, I know the light is bright but keep on watching me.” Um, excuse me, Mr. One, but your nerdy side is beginning to show.

Beyond rap music, Hip-Hop is a way of life that the black community truly has adopted and made their own. This goes deep down into his bones, seeing that he is the founder of the Temple of Hip Hop. The Temple of Hip Hop is a: ministry, archive, school, and society (M.A.S.S.). The goal is to encourage artists and radio stations to write, and play more socially conscious music, and also to maintain and promote Hip-Hop culture, KRS-One believes that Hip-Hop is more than music, break dancing and graffiti, but rather it is a political movement, a religion, and a culture. This has gotten the United Nation to recognize Hip Hop, as a full-fledged religion. What? Hip-Hop as a religion? YES, if you do not have faith, then I encourage you to pick up at your local book store, The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument, which has been referred to as the “Hip-Hop Bible.”

I know this is all fine and dandy but I haven’t really tied in comic books at all yet, well hold on to your Underoos because coming your way is some comic related info. When KRS-One was just a 6 year-old Lawrence Parker (1971), he started collecting both comic books and toys in Harlem New York, right around the time he starts to become interested in history, religion and music.  In 1994, KRS-One and Marshall Chess combined both literature and music to inspire urban youth. This combination turned out to be a comic book accompanied by an audio cassette tape both entitled “Break the Chain” under the Marvel Comics imprint. This comic was meant to teach urban youth that they don’t have to be slaves to their past or their conditions, that we must break the chains of ignorance in order to become something positive in this world. With other name drops of comic references I believe that part of KRS-One’s heart still belongs to comics. Either way, without KRS-One hip hop would not be the inspirational movement that is has become today; so how could Hip-Hop be dead if KRS-One is still its savior? To find out more about KRS-One and the Temple of Hip Hop visit his website.

Written by Evan Lowe

“Respect My Craft” – Joseph Illidge

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Name: Joseph Illidge

Profession: Editor, writer

Notable WorkHardwareBirds of Prey (comics and TV), Batman: No Man’s LandJustice League Unlimited (TV), Ben 10 (TV)

“The ridiculous depiction of female heroes in comics is a big problem and it’s born out of the fact that there are still not enough women in editorial departments of mainstream comic book companies.” – Joseph Phillip Illidge

Writing “Respect My Craft” has been a blast for Black History Month. From out-spoken writers Dwayne McDuffie and Aaron McGruder to black comic book historian and collector William Foster, we’ve tried to give you a well-rounded view of black people in the comic book industry. To round out All Black Everything, this week we focus on editor and writer Joseph Illidge.

Illidge got his start in the industry with hard work and networking. He used, as he puts it, “the P. Diddy approach” to work his way up from an intern to become assistant to the President at Milestone Media. After learning the business part of the comic book industry for two years, Illidge moved laterally to become the sole editor of Milestone’s flagship book, Hardware, where he learned the industry under the tutelage of Dwayne McDuffie, himself. The role of editor is a highly under-appreciate one in the comic book industry, as it does not carry the same glory as the writer or penciller. A book’s editor reels in the writing and art, making sure that the product is punctual, meets the creative standard and is consistent with the larger-picture.

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After Milestone Media stopped producing new books, Illidge was asked to join their ranks as editor of Birds of Prey. As a fellow minority, he sought to help represent females in a more positive light than the sexually objectified versions previously seen. For example, as editor of Birds of Prey, Illidge altered the costume of Power Girl, who has had a ridiculously over-sexualized outfit since her creation in the mid-1970’s. When Illidge made the switch, DC executives were worried that the “licensing potential for Power Girl” was being sabotaged. Although the full-body suit was not used again after Birds of Prey, but it pointed out types of characters women are portrayed as.

power girl my face
From this…
power girl new suit
…to this, in just one Illidge

Illidge feels that this is not a slight at women, but a mis-representation of women in the genre. The logic is that he could use his unique perspective as an under-represented minority to guide along a more positive representation of women in comic books – and what better platform to do that on than the best-selling female-led book in the business?  This forward thinking made the series popular enough to spur a television show of the same name, with Illidge serving as a consultant and creative advisor for the show. He was also

All the while, Illidge was working on his own production company, Verge Entertainment. He has become an advocate for independent comic books and digitizing business, and is very honest with his views on Marvel and DC Comics and what the conglomerate takeover of the two (Marvel by Disney and DC by Times Warner) has done for the industry. In an interview with The Examiner, Illidge stated, “If you don’t capture a larger audience, erosion of the existing audience is inevitable. The only things that seem to address audience erosion, without bringing in those real-world demographics, are “events” and line-wide reboots. Band-Aids for the bleeding patient.”

Currently, Joseph Illidge is working on a graphic novel titled THE REN, which focuses on the Harlem Renaissance in the mid 1920’s with Verge Entertainment. Illidge feels that his time working under Dwayne McDuffie at Milestone Media helped to prepare him to portray black life to the world in the right way. True to his beginnings at Milestone, THE REN is a story about an important time in black history, scripted by a black writer and illustrated by a black artist. He even took a ride along with the Boardwalk Empire crew for inspiration on the times.

The REN is due out next year.
The REN is due out next year.

Joseph Illidge is a great example of how minorities can fit in the comic book industry and not compromise their beliefs. As an editor, Illidge was able to push for the improved portrayal of females and blacks in comic books, because he was the one pushing the creative direction. It wasn’t always the most popular opinion, but that’s why diversity in the industry is so important. Illidge is also an advocate for independent owners, and has done several seminars/panels about Digitizing Your Career and “Diversity in Comics: Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexual Orientation in American Comic Books.” It’s evident that Joseph Illidge is invested in progressive representation in comic books – and for that, you must respect his craft!

Checked out his bibliography and still want more? Check this out:

Joseph Illidge currently writes an article for Comic Book Resources called “The Color Barrier.” Each week for this year’s Black History Month, Illidge takes a look at various aspects of color in comic books.

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Milestone, Marvel, DC and Verge Entertainment). Thanks for all the love and support from writing All Black Everything. Look to us next week for more “Respect My Craft!,” featuring the industries most talented contributors.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib

Graphic Novel Review – Incognegro

Graphic Novel Review: Incognegro

ALL BLACK EVERYTHING

Collecting: Original graphic novel, Incognegro

Original Release Date: 2008

Publisher: Vertigo (DC) Comics

incog cracker shit

Character: Zach Pinchback, the Incognegro

Writer: Mat Johnson

Art: Warren Pleece

SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):

Storyline – 8
Art – 8
Captivity and Length – 8
Identity – 9
Use of Medium – 7
Depth – 8
Fluidity – 9
Intrigue/Originality – 8
The Little Things – 7
Overall awesomeness – 7

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I won’t lie – Incognegro has been sitting on my shelf for years now, purchased solely off the amazing pseudonym given to the main character. It wasn’t until we started #AllBlackEverything that I knew this book had to be reviewed for Hush Comics. Growing up, I found myself enthralled with the book Black Like Me – I actually wrote a book report on it for every year of High School. Black Like Me, written by John Howard Griffin in the 1960s, documented the experience of a white man who disguised himself as a black man in Texas. Incognegro is the exact opposite approach – a very light-skinned black journalist disguises himself as a white man and documents lynchings that go on in the south. Mind you, this book is set only thirty-forty years prior to Black Like Me.

incog disguise

The idea of being a light-skinned reporter infiltrating lynchings in the South is down-right terrifying, and it hooks readers right in. Incognegro follows a very linear story. Zane Pinchback is a syndicated journalist in New York who writes under the name “Incognegro.” His column is quite popular, and he has agreed to go on one last excursion before his promotion – to save his own brother from being lynched. His friend Carl has decided to tag along with him. Together, they must infiltrate the South and rescue Zane’s brother, Pinchy, from certain death. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and tells a complete story.

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Incognegro can be humorous at times, but most of this book is brutal and fast-paced. It reads like a movie plays, and the story is benefited by the entertainment factor. The graphic images speak volumes for the mistreatment and cruelty that black people endured. However, as Incognegro, Pinchback details his strategy for hiding among the lynchings, it seems as though it’s turned into a game of not getting caught. It breaks the tension at times where the shock of the photos can be hard to swallow. Mat Johnson has a lot to invest in the story, too; he is a very light-skinned black man and a self-described scholar of African-American literature. He’s actually the man on the cover of the book.

incog wife

I can’t help but feel that Incognegro was written with a huge chip on the its shoulder. Every white man in the book is vilified and the dialog is a flurry of racial slurs and stereotypes. For being a book set to these times, I feel that the guilt was laid on a bit too thick. The degree of black and white extremes of race relations in Incognegro is challenged only by its artwork. I especially enjoy how the art reflects the transition from day to night. In the end, this was a well-written piece, but I feel as though the uninformed would take away more negatives about whites than focusing on the heroics of the main characters. There are definitely lessons to be learned, and I would recommend this to not only those who like a good story, but those interested in learning more about the heroics of undercover journalists in the 1930’s.

incog new york

All media credited to Vertigo/DC Comics

Written by Sherif Elkhatib