Tag Archives: shawnelle gibbs

Review: The Invention of EJ Whitaker #1

The SyFy Network has had some great shows over the years, and although many did not survive long on the air, their re-watchability only increases over time. One such show is Warehouse 13 which had two government agents who worked for an agency which house powerful artifacts that had magical/supernatural elements. One of the story arcs throughout the series that stayed with me was the appearance of HG Wells. In this storyline, HG Wells was two people. One is the writer and the other is the actual adventurer, his sister. The show touched upon the idea that a woman would not be taken seriously an antiquated concept persists today.

Another similar topic, which was covered in the recent documentary Vintage Tomorrows, is the lack of persons of color in steampunk fiction. The movie highlights the major issue which extends into the world of steampunk cosplay.

Reality is that women and persons of color are both heroic and smart. Though this exists in the real world, it’s rarely reflected in fiction or even comics. In Shawnee and Shawnelle Gibbs and Mark Hernandez’s The Invention of EJ Whitaker, we meet one such heroine whose bravado and intelligence makes her a force to be reckoned with in 18th century America.

We are taken to Texas at the turn of the 20th century, as two men are being chased by the local gang for what they consider “snake oil”.  We are also taken to Tuskegee, Alabama, where a young lady, Ada Turner, is testing out her flying machine, the first of its kind, with her robot, Jesse, and has failed miserably for the third time. Then one day, a man from the corporation building a railroad comes looking for EJ Whitaker, expecting to find a man, but secretly it is Ada’s only way to patent her devices, as women could not at the time. As Ada goes about her day as a student at Tuskegee University, as she the only woman in a completely male class minus her, where they learned physics.  Eventually the two men come looking for Ada’s alter ego, as they follow her and Jessie, to where the flying machine is located. By Book’s end, Ada knew that the men would follow her, and for this she destroyed the one thing whose attention could bring more unwanted company into hers and her family’s lives.

Overall, a whimsical story which challenges gender norms and the unfair expectations society puts on women. The story by the Gibbs Sisters is fresh, exciting, and smart. The art by Hernandez is breathtaking and awe inspiring. Altogether, a hell of a ride with lots of action and intrigue that’ll excite readers.

Story: Shawnee Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs Art: Mark Hernandez
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Black Comix Returns

The world of comic books has always spoke to part of everyone who has picked up a comic or has been drawn to its characters through television or the movies. As children of color looks to the world and to media, for reflections of themselves, for my generation and ones before, this was a hopeless venture. This has changed for children born in the new millennia as the times have become increasingly progressive yet somewhat backwards at times.  As shows like Black Lightning, and The Runaways, gave viewers, a more realistic view of the world, this need to find images that looks like their audience has never gone way.

When I read the first Black Comix, back in 2010, I was excited to find all those new artists and follow their careers. Since I have been writing at Graphicpolicy.com, I have and many of fellow contributors devoted many of my reviews to finding artists who would otherwise not be seen by the mainstream media and that book embodied one of our goals, to highlight indie creators and publishers. In the sequel, Black Comix Returns, which was released this year, and Kickstarted last year, the reader gets a more comprehensive overview of the artists that have sprung since .One of the first creators, that caught my eye, Paris Alleyne, whose aesthetic has a serious Anime influence, and writes a book called Haven, one he works on with Kevin Parnell.

Enrique Carrion’s essay, Comics as Hip Hop, draws an interesting parallel between the evolution of hip hop music and how black comic book artists/writers, are injecting their aesthetics into mainstream comics. Shawnee & Shawnelle Gibbs‘ book, The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, mixes steampunk with alternate history and actual historical figures like Nikola Tesla into something pretty cool. In “The Room”, Joseph Illidge talks about breaking into what some consider success, and how important it is to have a minority voice in these places. The books also highlight one of my favorite creators of all time, one whose comic book series, Blackjack, rarely gets the love it deserves, but swash buckles with the best of them.

Overall, an excellent resource to find the independent black voices that comprise what is not only considered “black comics” but what is art of the ever-changing comics landscape. This helps the reader in where you have seen each artist before and where you can find them now. This books also gives fans a list of comic book conventions where you can find most of these creators gathered together in one place. Altogether, as both a fan and a comic beat writer, this book more than suffices my need to find new creators and creators that speaks to my experience.

Edited by Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy