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The 2021 Hugo Awards Nominees Announced Including Comics!

The Hugo Awards have announced the finalists for 2021. A 28-minute video announced the list who were nominated by the WorldCon 2020 and 2021 membership which was 1,249 ballots.

The full list is below. Congrats to all of the nominees. The winners will be announced at DisCon III, which takes place December 15-19 2021 in Washington, DC (if COVID allows).


Best Novel

  • Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery / Saga Press)
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • Harrow The Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com)
  • Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
  • Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
  • The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books)

Best Novella

  • Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com)
  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (Tor.com)
  • Finna, Nino Cipri (Tor.com)
  • Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)
  • Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi (Tor.com)
  • Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

Best Novelette

  • Burn, or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine, May/June 2020)
  • Helicopter Story”, Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
  • The Inaccessibility of Heaven”, Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine, July/August 2020)
  • Monster”, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
  • The Pill”, Meg Elison (from Big Girl, (PM Press))
  • Two Truths and a Lie, Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com)

Best Short Story

  • Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, Rae Carson (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2020)
  • A Guide for Working Breeds”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, ed. Jonathan Strahan (Solaris))
  • Little Free Library, Naomi Kritzer (Tor.com)
  • The Mermaid Astronaut”, Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2020)
  • Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
  • “Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots – 2020, ed. David Steffen)

Best Series

  • The Daevabad Trilogy, S.A. Chakraborty (Harper Voyager)
  • The Interdependency, John Scalzi (Tor Books)
  • The Lady Astronaut Universe, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books/Audible/Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells (Tor.com)
  • October Daye, Seanan McGuire (DAW)
  • The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager)

Best Related Work

  • Beowulf: A New Translation, Maria Dahvana Headley (FSG)
  • CoNZealand Fringe, Claire Rousseau, C, Cassie Hart, Adri Joy, Marguerite Kenner, Cheryl Morgan, Alasdair Stuart.
  • FIYAHCON, L.D. Lewis–Director, Brent Lambert–Senior Programming Coordinator, Iori Kusano–FIYAHCON Fringe Co-Director, Vida Cruz–FIYAHCON Fringe Co-Director, and the Incredible FIYAHCON team
  • “George R.R. Martin Can Fuck Off Into the Sun, Or: The 2020 Hugo Awards Ceremony (Rageblog Edition)”, Natalie Luhrs (Pretty Terrible, August 2020)
  • A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia E. Butler, Lynell George (Angel City Press)
  • The Last Bronycon: a fandom autopsy, Jenny Nicholson (YouTube)

Best Graphic Story or Comic

  • DIE, Volume 2: Split the Party, written by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans, letters by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
  • Ghost-Spider Vol. 1: Dog Days Are Over, Author: Seanan McGuire, Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa and Rosie Kämpe (Marvel)
  • Invisible Kingdom, Vol 2: Edge of Everything, Author: G. Willow Wilson, Artist: Christian Ward (Dark Horse Comics)
  • Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild, Author: Marjorie Liu, Artist: Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
  • Once & Future Vol. 1: The King Is Undead, written by Kieron Gillen, iIllustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Tamra Bonvillain, lettered by Ed Dukeshire (BOOM! Studios)
  • Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, written by Octavia Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings (Harry N. Abrams)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), written by Christina Hodson, directed by Cathy Yan (Warner Bros.)
  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, written by Will Ferrell, Andrew Steele, directed by David Dobkin (European Broadcasting Union/Netflix)
  • The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Netflix / Skydance Media)
  • Palm Springs, written by Andy Siara, directed by Max Barbakow (Limelight / Sun Entertainment Culture / The Lonely Island / Culmination Productions / Neon / Hulu / Amazon Prime)
  • Soul, screenplay by Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers, directed by Pete Docter, co-directed by Kemp Powers, produced by Dana Murray (Pixar Animation Studios/ Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Tenet, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner Bros./Syncopy)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Doctor Who: Fugitive of the Judoon, written by Vinay Patel and Chris Chibnall, directed by Nida Manzoor (BBC)
  • The Expanse: Gaugamela, written by Dan Nowak, directed by Nick Gomez (Alcon Entertainment / Alcon Television Group / Amazon Studios / Hivemind / Just So)
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Heart (parts 1 and 2), written by Josie Campbell and Noelle Stevenson, directed by Jen Bennett and Kiki Manrique (DreamWorks Animation Television / Netflix)
  • The Mandalorian: Chapter 13: The Jedi, written and directed by Dave Filoni (Golem Creations / Lucasfilm / Disney+)
  • The Mandalorian: Chapter 16: The Rescue, written by Jon Favreau, directed by Peyton Reed (Golem Creations / Lucasfilm / Disney+)
  • The Good Place: Whenever You’re Ready, written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group)

Best Editor, Short Form

  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • C.C. Finlay
  • Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form

  • Nivia Evans
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Sarah Guan
  • Brit Hvide
  • Diana M. Pho
  • Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

  • Tommy Arnold
  • Rovina Cai
  • Galen Dara
  • Maurizio Manzieri
  • John Picacio
  • Alyssa Winans

Best Semiprozine

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, ed. Scott H. Andrews
  • Escape Pod, editors Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya, assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney, hosts Tina Connolly and Alasdair Stuart, audio producers Summer Brooks and Adam Pracht and the entire Escape Pod team.
  • FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, publisher Troy L. Wiggins, executive editor DaVaun Sanders, managing editor Eboni Dunbar, poetry editor Brandon O’Brien, reviews and social media Brent Lambert, art director L. D. Lewis, and the FIYAH Team.
  • PodCastle, editors, C.L. Clark and Jen R. Albert, assistant editor and host, Setsu Uzumé, producer Peter Adrian Behravesh, and the entire PodCastle team.
  • Uncanny Magazine, editors in chief: Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, managing editor: Chimedum Ohaegbu, non-fiction editor: Elsa Sjunneson, podcast producers: Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky
    Strange Horizons, Vanessa Aguirre, Joseph Aitken, Rachel Ayers, M H Ayinde, Tierney Bailey, Scott Beggs, Drew Matthew Beyer, Gautam Bhatia, S. K. Campbell, Zhui Ning Chang, Rita Chen, Tania Chen, Joyce Chng, Liz Christman, Linda H. Codega, Kristian Wilson Colyard, Yelena Crane, Bruhad Dave, Sarah Davidson, Tahlia Day, Arinn Dembo, Nathaniel Eakman, Belen Edwards, George Tom Elavathingal, Rebecca Evans, Ciro Faienza, Courtney Floyd, Lila Garrott, Colette Grecco, Guananí Gómez-Van Cortright, Julia Gunnison, Dan Hartland, Sydney Hilton, Angela Hinck, Stephen Ira, Amanda Jean, Ai Jiang, Sean Joyce-Farley, Erika Kanda, Anna Krepinsky, Kat Kourbeti, Clayton Kroh, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Catherine Krahe, Natasha Leullier, A.Z. Louise, Dante Luiz, Gui Machiavelli, Cameron Mack, Samantha Manaktola, Marisa Manuel, Jean McConnell, Heather McDougal, Maria Morabe, Amelia Moriarty, Emory Noakes, Sarah Noakes, Aidan Oatway, AJ Odasso, Joel Oliver-Cormier, Kristina Palmer, Karintha Parker, Anjali Patel, Vanessa Rose Phin, Nicasio Reed, Belicia Rhea, Endria Richardson, Natalie Ritter, Abbey Schlanz, Clark Seanor, Elijah Rain Smith, Hebe Stanton, Melody Steiner, Romie Stott, Yejin Suh, Kwan-Ann Tan, Luke Tolvaj, Ben Tyrrell, Renee Van Siclen, Kathryn Weaver, Liza Wemakor, Aigner Loren Wilson, E.M. Wright, Vicki Xu, Fred G. Yost, staff members who prefer not to be named, and guest editor Libia Brenda with guest first reader Raquel González-Franco Alva for the Mexicanx special issue

Best Fanzine

  • The Full Lid, written by Alasdair Stuart, edited by Marguerite Kenner
  • Journey Planet, edited by Michael Carroll, John Coxon, Sara Felix, Ann Gry, Sarah Gulde, Alissa McKersie, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, Steven H. Silver, Paul Trimble, Erin Underwood, James Bacon, and Chris Garcia.
  • Lady Business, editors. Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan.
    nerds of a feather, flock together, ed. Adri Joy, Joe Sherry, The G, and Vance Kotrla
  • Quick Sip Reviews, editor, Charles Payseur
  • Unofficial Hugo Book Club Blog, ed. Amanda Wakaruk and Olav Rokne

Best Fancast

  • Be The Serpent, presented by Alexandra Rowland, Freya Marske and Jennifer Mace
  • Claire Rousseau’s YouTube channel, produced by Claire Rousseau
  • The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe, Jonathan Strahan, producer
    Kalanadi, produced and presented by Rachel
  • The Skiffy and Fanty show, produced by Shaun Duke and Jen Zink, presented by Shaun Duke, Jen Zink, Alex Acks, Paul Weimer, and David Annandale.
  • Worldbuilding for Masochists, presented by Rowenna Miller, Marshall Ryan Maresca and Cass Morris

Best Fan Writer

  • Cora Buhlert
  • Charles Payseur
  • Jason Sanford
  • Elsa Sjunneson
  • Alasdair Stuart
  • Paul Weimer

Best Fan Artist

  • Iain J. Clark
  • Cyan Daly
  • Sara Felix
  • Grace P. Fong
  • Maya Hahto
  • Laya Rose

Best Video Game [One-time Special Hugo Award Category]

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Publisher and Developer: Nintendo)
  • Blaseball (Publisher and Developer: The Game Band)
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake (Publisher Square Enix)
  • Hades (Publisher and Developer: Supergiant Games)
  • The Last of Us: Part II (Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment / Developer: Naughty Dog)
  • Spiritfarer (Publisher and Developer: Thunder Lotus)

Review: Box of Bones Book One

Box of Bones Book One follows young grad student Lyndsey Ford as she explores the various tales of the Box of Bones for her college thesis.

Story: John Jennings, Ayize Jama Everett
Writer: Ayize Jama Everett
Art: John Jennings, Sole Rebel, Tommy Nguyen, Bryan Christopher Moss, Frances Olivia Liddell-Rodgriguez, Jamal Williams, Jarmel Williams
Color: Anthony Moncada, Alex Batchelor
Letterer: Damian Duffy, Jeremy Marshall
Color Production: Stanford Carpenter, Alex Batchelor

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology

Rosarium Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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DC Announced as an Official sponsor of Virtuous Con

Virtous Con

Virtuous Con has announced that international comic book publisher DC is an official sponsor and virtual vendor of the virtual convention launching live worldwide on February 20 and 21 along with several new special guests. Including Eisner Award-winning artist Alitha Martinez (World of Wakanda, Immortal Wonder Woman)​ and Robyn Smith (Wash Day, NUBIA: Real One)​ , who will both join previously announced guest, award-winning writer L. L. McKinney (A Blade So Black, Immortal Wonder Woman, NUBIA: Real One)​ on the panel “Nubia is Back! The DC Storytellers who reintroduced Wonder Woman’s Sister”. ​ Live host and culture journalist ​Karama Horne (SYFYWIRE, theblerdgurlLIVE, NERDIST)​ will moderate the panel.

Founded by award-winning science fiction writer Cerece Rennie Murphy, Virtuous Con: Black History Month will feature indie artists and exhibitors in a live interactive virtual space dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, comic books,
anime and more.

Martinez, Smith and Horne will join previously announced guests YA author Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper Cypher, Star Wars: The High Republic​), artist, editor and founder of Megascope imprint John Jennings (Black Comix Returns, Kindred: A Graphic Novel), writer and H1 imprint co-founder Kwanza Osajyefo (BLACK, Ignited) and Nigerian comic creator and founder of YouNeek Studios Roye Okupe (E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika).

February will not be Virtuous Con’s premier convention. Murphy successfully beta-tested the event in October 2020 with a small group of attendees and vendors on the Remo platform, customized to support the convention. Virtuous Con still has a few tables left for vendors, but programming space is limited. For details about vending, panels, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit https://virtuouscon.com/.

Founded by Cerece Rennie Murphy, Virtuous Con: Black History Month Launches in February!

Virtuous Con

Virtuous Con, a brand new virtual comic book convention series, announced several special guests today for Virtuous Con: Black History Month going live February 20 and 21, 2021. The announcement featured on the Virtuous Con
website included several award-winning artists and writers, including YA author Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper Cypher, Star Wars: The High Republic​), artist, editor and founder of Megascope imprint John Jennings (Black Comix Returns, Kindred: A Graphic Novel), author and activist L.L. McKinney (A Blade So Black, NUBIA: Real One), writer and H1 imprint co-founder Kwanza Osajyefo (BLACK, Ignited) and Nigerian comic creator and founder of YouNeek Studios Roye Okupe (E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams, Malika).

The virtual venue will feature Indie artists and exhibitors in a live interactive virtual space dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, comic books, anime and more. Complete with virtual “booths” for vendors to interact live with attendees about their products and interactive panels. Also, live programming, where the audience can watch and interact in real-time discussions, as opposed to pre-recorded Youtube or Zoom links.

Virtuous Con also happens to be founded by an African-American woman. Cerece Rennie Murphy, a science fiction author (The Order of the Seers ​ and The Wolf Queen), entrepreneur, is no stranger to conventions. An avid comic con attendee herself, she was already immersed in the speculative lit space with her indie scifi website Narazu. Murphy created Virtuous Con out of a need to help many of her creative colleagues and friends whose businesses were adversely affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns. Especially BIPOC creatives.

February will not be Virtuous Con’s maiden voyage. Murphy successfully Beta tested the event in October 2020 with a small group of attendees and vendors on the Remo platform, which she customized to support the convention. Currently, Virtuous Con is offering an early bird discount to vendors who sign up by 1/22/2021. For details about vending, special guests, and sponsorship opportunities, visit the convention website.

Eisner Award-Winning Artist John Jennings Joins AfroComicCon

John Jennings

AfroComicCon welcomes Eisner Award-winner and illustrator John Jennings as a Special Guests for the virtual convention!

John Jennings is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside. Jennings is co-editor of the Eisner Award-winning collection The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of the Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art. Jennings is also a 2016 Nasir Jones Hip Hop Studies Fellow with the Hutchins Center at Harvard University. John Jennings offers a fresh perspective on Black imagination and challenges our notions of Black expression in popular culture. As a cultural activist and creator, he creates stories and characters that are truly subjective and flexible and have myriad representations and modes of existence.

Jennings’ current projects include the horror anthology Box of Bones, the coffee table book Black Comix Returns (with Damian Duffy), and the Eisner-winning, Bram Stoker Award-winning, New York Times best-selling graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s classic dark fantasy novel Kindred. Jennings is also founder and curator of the ABRAMS Megascope line of graphic novels.


AfroComicCon​‘s 1st virtual convention will be held on October 24, 2020. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the annual event started in 2017 by the ​Oakland Technology & Education Center (OTEC), ​will be held virtually and free through a portal on the organization’s website. Sponsored by the NNPA, the ​Oakland A’s, and Pixar Entertainment, AfroComicCon promises to be a day full of exciting panels, screenings, entertainment, gaming, cosplay and special guests. The 12-hour event is currently slated to be live-streamed across multiple platforms including YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook. You can register now.

Review: Marvel’s Voices #1

Marvel's Voices #1

Marvel’s Voices is an Experience, capital E. It’s the first comic I know about that adapts the concept of a podcast into a comics anthology collecting stories from black creators giving their take on the Marvel universe.

The book’s title carries over from the podcast it’s based on, which is hosted by Angélique Roché. The list of creators includes Vita Ayala, Damion Scott, Kyle Baker, Brian Stelfreeze, Roxane Gay, Method Man, Alitha Martínez, among other notable industry names. What’s interesting about the project, though, is that it embraces its multimedia roots by featuring essays from other creators accessible via Marvel’s Voices online page.

Two particular essays grabbed my attention: Regine L. Sawyer’s “Growing Up Marvel” and Karama Horne’s “The Legacy of Isaiah Bradley: The First Black Captain America.” (Disclosure: Karama and Regine have both contributed to our site – ed.)

Sawyer’s essay is about her origin story into comics through a less conventional avenue than most other stories of the kind: X-Men trading cards. I don’t want to spoil the essay because it is a fascinating and well-written story, but it is wonderful to get this look at how comics allow for multiple entry points given it’s an entire cultural package. It made me remember my card collecting days growing up, both the same X-Men cards Sawyer collected and the classic Pepsi Cards I religiously hunted down back when they came out in Puerto Rico. I still have them with me and they also helped me embrace comics.

Horne’s essay is about two comics: Truth and The Crew. Each one stands as some of Marvel’s best comic book offerings. They were subversive and hard-hitting, daring enough to give Marvel a black Captain America (in Truth), complete with an exploration of the tragic treatment black heroes get using real-life black history as the basis for the problems each character faces (which is expanded upon in The Crew).

The essay is a great and concise history of these comics, but it also serves as a lesson on visibility. That Marvel hasn’t reprinted these stories or released newer editions of the paperbacks brings up more questions than it should. I think Horne’s essay makes a strong argument as to why we need these comics back on the stands.

On the comic’s side of Marvel’s Voices, we get a strong if a bit uneven set of short stories that are personal, celebratory, and thoughtful as to why Marvel characters mean so much in the struggle for more diverse voices in the industry. Kyle Baker, for instance, produced a one-pager Ant-Man and Nick Fury story titled “Perspective,” about Fury’s problem with depth perception. It’s a quick hit but the art on display here is impressive enough to make anyone want to see Baker do more Marvel work.

Geoffrey Thorne, Khary Randolph, and Emilio López’s “Top of the Key,” on the other hand, is a one-pager on Mosaic story (a character Marvel has severely underused, in my opinion) that would’ve benefited from an additional page or two. It feels more like a setup for a larger story and we only really just get a taste of it.

Rob Markman, Damion Scott, and Dono Sánchez-Almara’s “What a Wonderful World” stands as one of the most impressive stories in the anthology as it offers a well-rounded look at a Marvel character with outstanding art and a clear message to boot. It centers on a troubled Silver Surfer, comparing Marvel’s biggest villains with humanity’s own villainy when it comes to protecting the environment. No panel was spared, no color was misplaced, and no bit of text hung without intent. Just a really good two-page story.

The best story in the book is without question “Inspiration,” by James Monroe Iglehart, Ray-Anthony Height, and Emilio López. This 4-page tale gives the radioactive spider that gave Peter Parker his powers a much-deserved platform to contemplate his role in the grand scheme of things. The script showcases an interesting play on what a superpowered spider is supposed to be and how much of its natural instincts define its actions. It’s simply unforgettable and truly worthy of getting its own comic book series.

Marvel Voices #1 is the type of book Marvel needs to invest more on. It shows just how important it is to bring in other perspectives into this superhero universe and just how different it can all turn out to be. It speaks to the power of voices hungry for diversity in storytelling. And that, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

Writers: John Jennings, Anthony Piper, Luciano Vecchio, David Betancourt, James Monroe Iglehart, Evan Narcisse, Vita Ayala, Regine L. Sawyer, Brian Stelfreeze, Brandon Montclare, Tatiana King Jones, Karama Horne, Kyle Baker, Roxane Gay, Yona Harvey, Don McGregor, Geoffrey Thorne, Rob Markman, Method Man, Daniel Dominguez, Charlamagne The God, David F. Walker, Chuck Brown
Art: Anthony Piper, Luciano Vecchio, Ray-Anthony Height, Jahnoy Lindsay, Bernard Chang, Brian Stelfreeze, Natacha Bustos, Kyle Baker, Brittney L. Williams, Khary Randolph, Damion Scott, Alitha E. Martinez, JJ Kirby, Sanford Greene
Color: Anthony Piper, Luciano Vecchio, Emilio Lopez, Marcelo Maiolo, Brian Stelfreeze, Tamra Bonvillain, Kyle Baker, Rachelle Rosenberg, Dono Sánchez-Almara, JJ Kirby, Matt Herms
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Writing: 9 Essays: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10
Recommendation: Buy and make sure to bag and board it.

Review: I Am Alfonso Jones

I Am Alfonso Jones

The separation in the current geopolitical climate is wider than most people care to recognize. Many people don’t understand why there’s outrage over concepts that are now considered racially insensitive but were just common jokes not too long ago. “Political correctness” applies to all aspects of the human kaleidoscope, to include disability and gender as well as race. Much of it is more than reasonably justified.

The Black Lives Movement sought to shed light on the hate and disregard that Black lives have endured including police killings. Those who don’t understand usually are offended or confused by the message of BL. They fail to inject empathy and connection to those who they don’t understand or are normally around. The them, the “other.” It’s always easier to talk to or associate with those people who agree with you but it requires courage and fortitude to extend an olive branch to those who don’t. In Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson, and John JenningsI Am Alfonso Jones, we find a protagonist whose life is cut short but his love for those around him marches on.

We meet Alfonso, a young Black and Puerto Rican kid, whose part time job as a bike messenger, allows him to travel all throughout New York City.  He just got a part in his school’s hip hop rendition of Hamlet, while he harbors feeling for his best friend, Danetta. His life changes when an off-duty police officer mistakes Alfonso pulling out a weapon, when he actually pulled out a clothes hanger. He ends up being shot dead, while his spirit ends up on a ghost metro train, where other NYC dwellers who happen to be ghosts also reside, as he awakens to no recollection of what happened. Alfonso soon finds out that each rider had an unjust death. Each of them tell their story to him as their unrest becomes the fuel for the protesters fighting the injustice that leads to these murders.

Overall, an affecting story that feels very close to home. Medina discusses these very relevant issues while remembering to stimulate the reader. The story by Medina, is powerful, well developed, and relatable. The art by Robinson and Jennings is vivid and heartfelt. Altogether, a story that leaves an imprint on your consciousness while enlightening your mind for the road ahead.

Story: Tony Medina Art: Stacey Robinson and John Jennings
Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.7 Recommendation: Buy

Review: The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art

In today’s political climate it feels like we rarely see each other as humans. It is mostly what political megalomaniacs tend to spin is what we each other as, labels and often lies.

This is even more distressing in communities of color, as the disparity in conviction rates has perpetuated a false narrative of black on black crime and that myth that people who grow up in these communities, have a choice.

Growing up in these communities myself, I know this not true, as the lack of choices is what leads many to the choices they make. Many of these choices are rarely ever ideal.

It is a lifetime of indiscernibility as Ralph Ellison wrote in the Invisible Man:

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

This is what was wrong with Matt Groening’s argument surrounding South Asians’ issue with the Apu character, is that he refused to see the problem. His privilege gave him blinders that would otherwise come full on a creator of color.  This void all people of color carry, is something we barely show to our non POC acquaintances, but it is there. Even more difficult is the burden as well as journey most creators of color face, how their work is most often misunderstood, how they rarely receive the same accolades as their white counterparts. This is why Dr. Francis Gateward and John Jennings chose to illuminate those creators in The Blacker The Ink about those stories that made the comics world what it is, but rarely gets told, when it comes to creators of a more sepia tone.

In “The Introduction” the editors recount how it was for them to grow up as children, being interested in comics and not seeing themselves reflected in the comics they enjoyed. In the chapter entitled “No Sweat”, Daniel Yezbick dissects how the Comics Code changed a well-intentioned progressive story because of unfair targeting at EC Comics. In “Sex in Yop City”, Sally McWilliams talks about the first attempt to produce a graphic novel about modern Africa, and how the politics of racial fragility prevented the book from reaching the masses it intended to. In “A Post colony in Pieces”, the reader is treated to how the lessons in Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks can be seen throughout Joshua Dysart’s run In Unknown Soldier. In “Fashion in Funny Papers”, Nancy Goldstein attempts to give prolific Jackie Ormes, the justice she richly deserved. In “Graphic Remix”, Coleman and Youmans chronicle the stratospheric rise of the Boondocks as not only as comic strip and cartoon but also as a cultural touchstone. In “American Truths”, Conseula Francis examines the 2002 comic, “Truth: Red, White & Black”, which tells the story of the first men to get the Captain America’s powers before him. In “Drawn into Dialogue”, Andre Carrington, uncovers the story behind Milestone’s Icon and one of its most controversial stories, which is considered relevant today but revolutionary at the time. In “Critical Afrofuturism”, Reynaldo Anderson tells about some fo the first comics to feature” Afrofuturism”, as one of the first books was Ramzez: Prince of Panet Heru. In “Bare Chests, Silver Tiaras and Removable Afros”, Blair Davis, uncovers the evolving look of black superheroes through the whole history of comic books. In “Daddy Cool”, Kinohi Nishikawa tells the story of how Donald Goines gave the world, he first graphic novel about street life from a black perspective. In “The Tragic Bluescomic”, Qianna Whitted talks about Stager Lee, and its long hard road to publication. In “Provocation Through Polyphony”, Craig Fischer gives a behind the scenes look of how Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner came to be. In “Performance Geography”, Hershini  Bhana Young, they dissect Jeremy Love’s Bayou. In “A Secret History of Miscegenation”, James Ziegler, gives readers a look at Jimmy Corrigan and how the main character’s adoption of a black child, gave readers pause. In the final story, “It’s A Hero?”, Rebecca Wanzo, examines society’s lack of empathy and refusal to see a hero of color, has led to generations of children of color struggling with identity and self-empowerment.

Overall, a groundbreaking work that neither preaches or purely entertains but educates and stokes the fire of readers everywhere to dig into these comic books.  Each essay/story gives readers much needed insight into these pioneers and under read classics. The rose of each story is both intriguing and illuminating. Altogether, a much-needed book which tells a part of the story, but does it very well, as the story continues to today.

Essayists: Daniel Yezbick, Sally McWilliams, Patrick F Walter, Nancy Goldstein, Robin R.Means Coleman, William Lafi Youmans, Conseula Francis, Andre Carrington, Reynaldo Anderson, Blair Davis, Kinohi Nishikawa, Qianna Whitted, Crag Fischer, Hershini  Bhana Young, James Ziegler, and Rebecca Wanzo
Editors: John Jennings and Professor Frances Gateward
Essay: 10 Prose: 9.0 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Box of Bones Chapter One The Troubles I’ve Seen

When I was a teenager in high school I delved into “knowledge of self.” I wanted to learn more than what I learned in school. One of my uncles stoked that fire in me, when he gifted me a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X for my birthday. Before I read that book, I only knew of Malcolm X from what the media said about him decades after his death. They always portrayed his ideals as incendiary compared to Martin Luther King Jr.

This lead to my reading even more books and my being exposed to the evils of colonialism, the marginalization of indigenous peoples, and misleading values of assimilation. Which is also why when I watched Haile Gerima’s Sankofa, it made me look at how if we don’t know our own history we are doomed to repeat it.

In Ayize Jama-Everett and John JenningsBox Of Bones, a young graduate student discovers a box that is more trouble than she expected.

We meet Lyndsey, a grad student who is getting her degree in African American Studies. She does her dissertation on the Night Doctors, a set of demonic creatures from Afrika folklore. They’ve been seen in certain key moments in history and through a mysterious box. As she begins her research, the people she interviews are distraught with the memories the box brings with. Strange things start occurring everywhere. The first one being her grandfather who tells her about when a gang raped his sister and beat him half dead which prompted them to use the box of bones on the people who attacked them. But as is expected in this type of stroy, the use of the box comes with a cost, more than they could have bargained for. It’s a story that shows the evils of racism in the Antebellum South mixed with a tinge of the supernatural.

The story by Jama-Everett is smart, captivating, and unnerving. The art by Jennings is alluring. It is both scary and intriguing. The comic is a frighteningly penetrating story that gets the reader at their core leaving you in pieces.

Story: Ayize Jama-Everett Art: John Jennings
Story: 10 Art: 9.6 Overall: 9.4 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Octavia Butler’s Kindred

kindredgraphiccoverTime Travel has always been an interesting way to look at characters. This the reason why Back To The Future, is so relatable, as one decision in that story has repercussions and thereby making the right one is paramount to everything. Then there is HG Wells The Time Machine, which is a character study at its most base, where you realize man is and will always be the same good and bad. The last example, that most reverberates, is probably Dickens A Christmas Carol, whereby time travel is accomplished through paranormal means.

The one thing that threads all these examples together, is the fact that they barely have characters which possess melanin. When they do like it in Back to the Future, is they are mostly background characters, or plot devices, like  Mayor Goldy, to illustrate what certain choices yield. Rarely, has time travel been ideal for people of color, in science fiction, as one could only believe that they may have not existed during those times, which history refutes time and time again. One example in science fiction, that comes to mind, is a 1993 movie by Haile Gerima, called Sankofa, where a model times travels to slavery times.

Enter Octavia Butler, whose is an iconoclast in the science fiction world, and though she passed in 2006, her words live on and more so, in works like these. In Kindred, as the synopsis sums up:

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is abruptly snatched from her home in California and transported to the ante-bellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, has summoned her across time to save him from drowning. After this first summons, she is drawn back, again and again, to protect Rufus and ensure he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana’s ancestor. Each time she arrives in the past, Dana’s sojourns will become more and more dangerous because of Rufus’ obsessive need for her. The reader never knows whether she will survive one journey or the next. It’s only when she finally must save herself from rape by killing Rufus that she is finally freed from the pull of the past.

As I remember reading this book when I was 13, and had not picked it up since, but this adaptation, brought all those goosebumps, back all at once. By story’s end, the reader has been taken on a ride, realizing things about themselves as well as the need for empathy in the human race.

Overall, when it comes to adaptations, this more than captures the spirit, pushes it to new heights. Damian Duffy deftly gets every message Butler was conveying and gets why this book has been a cornerstone, to every Octavia Butler fan. John Jennings‘ illustrations leap off the page, tugging at the reader’s heartstrings, at the right beats and not flinching when most artists would. Altogether, a strong adaptation, which not only met expectations but makes one fall in love with story all over again.

Story: Damian Duffy Art: John Jennings
Story:10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy NOW!!!!!!

Almost American
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