Tag Archives: tim smith iii

Review: Black #1 (of 6)

Black #1IT’S HERE! The comic that blazed through Kickstarter during Black History Month 2016. Out in stores September 28, 2016, I was able to get an early read of Black #1 as one of the folks who backed it on Kickstarter. There was lots of hype, and I had very high expectations, and when I got to the end, I was excited for what’s to come and immediately wanted more.

In a world that already hates and fears them – what if only Black people had superpowers. After miraculously surviving being gunned down by police, a young man learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Now he must decide whether it’s safer to keep it a secret or if the truth will set him free.

Co-created by Tim Smith 3 and Kwanza Osajyefo, the first issue feels like a quick read, but that’s primarily because I was so drawn into the action and found myself immersed in this world that starts off so close to ours. Written by Osajyefo, the issue takes very real world issues and puts them front and center, using it as a way to not just set us upon our journey but also remind us the readers that this isn’t just a comic featuring superpowers. This is a politically charged, in every way, story that has something to say on top of its goal of being entertaining.

Race, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, they’re all at the forefront of this issue. Osajyefo does something rather interesting though. Through the use of superpowers the seriousness is shifted a bit, allowing us the reader to settle into the story. Through quick scenery changes and the use of humor, the tenseness of the opening scene is difused a bit. I went from having my heart pumping and being saddened to being caught up in the fantastical elements. It’s a solid mix and one that really takes the reader along a journey, both good and bad.

The art by Jamal Igle is top notch. The characters are all unique in their style, shape, size, there’s no cheap  quick cuts. Every character we meet so far stand out on their own and are realized in their looks. It’s solid art on top of solid storytelling. And in many ways the storytelling is enhanced by the art. Quick location changes through doors for example help create the sense of the fantastical and wonder as we’re drawn into the world. What we’ve seen in live action numerous times, works here too, but more importantly it all transitions seamlessly. Each setting feels like it’s part of the same world and intelligently we’re slowly progressed from ground to fantasy the more doors we step through. There’s a sense of Alice in Wonderland in that way.

The cover by Khary Randolph absolutely needs to be given a shoutout. In its simplicity it approaches almost iconic levels. It immediately lets you know what’s inside and what you’re about to read and at the same time makes such a statement about our world today. This is easily one of the best covers of the year.

The comic delivers on its promise of a politically and socially infused comic that also features superpowers. The first issue is a whirlwind that brings you into the journey in the way a good story should. It’s a ride full of emotion that evokes today’s social ills and problems.

Make sure to get to your store to make sure you get a copy and don’t miss out. This one will absolutely be a sell-out hit.

Story: Kwanza Osajyefo Co-creator/Designer: Tim Smith 3 Art: Jamal Igle Cover: Khary Randolph
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Early Review: Black #1 (of 6)

Black #1IT’S HERE! The comic that blazed through Kickstarter during Black History Month 2016. Out in stores September 28, 2016, I was able to get an early read of Black #1 as one of the folks who backed it on Kickstarter. There was lots of hype, and I had very high expectations, and when I got to the end, I was excited for what’s to come and immediately wanted more.

In a world that already hates and fears them – what if only Black people had superpowers. After miraculously surviving being gunned down by police, a young man learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Now he must decide whether it’s safer to keep it a secret or if the truth will set him free.

Co-created by Tim Smith 3 and Kwanza Osajyefo, the first issue feels like a quick read, but that’s primarily because I was so drawn into the action and found myself immersed in this world that starts off so close to ours. Written by Osajyefo, the issue takes very real world issues and puts them front and center, using it as a way to not just set us upon our journey but also remind us the readers that this isn’t just a comic featuring superpowers. This is a politically charged, in every way, story that has something to say on top of its goal of being entertaining.

Race, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, they’re all at the forefront of this issue. Osajyefo does something rather interesting though. Through the use of superpowers the seriousness is shifted a bit, allowing us the reader to settle into the story. Through quick scenery changes and the use of humor, the tenseness of the opening scene is difused a bit. I went from having my heart pumping and being saddened to being caught up in the fantastical elements. It’s a solid mix and one that really takes the reader along a journey, both good and bad.

The art by Jamal Igle is top notch. The characters are all unique in their style, shape, size, there’s no cheap  quick cuts. Every character we meet so far stand out on their own and are realized in their looks. It’s solid art on top of solid storytelling. And in many ways the storytelling is enhanced by the art. Quick location changes through doors for example help create the sense of the fantastical and wonder as we’re drawn into the world. What we’ve seen in live action numerous times, works here too, but more importantly it all transitions seamlessly. Each setting feels like it’s part of the same world and intelligently we’re slowly progressed from ground to fantasy the more doors we step through. There’s a sense of Alice in Wonderland in that way.

The cover by Khary Randolph absolutely needs to be given a shoutout. In its simplicity it approaches almost iconic levels. It immediately lets you know what’s inside and what you’re about to read and at the same time makes such a statement about our world today. This is easily one of the best covers of the year.

The comic delivers on its promise of a politically and socially infused comic that also features superpowers. The first issue is a whirlwind that brings you into the journey in the way a good story should. It’s a ride full of emotion that evokes today’s social ills and problems.

Black #1 will be published by Black Mask Studios and finds its way to shelves in September. Make sure to get to your store to make sure you get a copy and don’t miss out. This one will absolutely be a sell-out hit.

Story: Kwanza Osajyefo Co-creator/Designer: Tim Smith 3 Art: Jamal Igle Cover: Khary Randolph
Story: 9 Art: 9 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios Announces their Class of 2016

Black Mask Studios is one of the hottest publishers out there, constantly releasing comics that are some of the most buzzed about and consistent sell-outs. Launched in 2014 by Matt Pizzolo, Brett Gurewitz, and Steve Niles, the publisher has revealed its third slate of comics, a dozen projects “principally from new creators bringing bold and unorthodox points of view to their comics.”

With an already proven success record as a publisher, plus a line-up of new creators, this could be one of the hottest launchpad for new comic talent in quite some time.

So who is in the Class of 2016? Take a look…


JADE STREET PROTECTION SERVICESJune 2016

JADE STREET PROTECTION SERVICES

writer Katy Rex
artist Fabian Lelay
colorist Mara Jayne Carpenter 
covers Annie Wu (Black Canary)

From an all-new creative team, Jade Street Protection Services is Black Mask’s first all-ages book, decribed as The Breakfast Club of Hogwarts.

Jade Street Protection Services follows a group of (bad) students at Matsdotter Academy, an elite private school for magical girls. When they all meet for the first time in a totally unfair detention, these punk rock witch delinquents cut class and discover the fates Matsdotter has in store for them are even more sinister than they suspected.

JSPS channels Black Mask’s edgy, subversive sensibility into a whipsmart all-ages adventure for delinquents young and old.


KIM & KIMJuly 2016

KIM & KIM

writer Magdalene Visaggio
artist Eva Cabrera
colorist Claudia Aguirre
covers Tess Fowler (Rat Queens), Devaki Neogi (Curb Stomp) 

Another one from an all-new creative team, Kim & Kim is a Tank Girl-esque buddy adventure about a trans woman and her best girlfriend.

Kim & Kim is a day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm and puts queer women and trans women front and center. Badass besties Kim and Kim are out to make a name for themselves in the wild world of interdimensional cowboy law enforcement – and they very quickly end up in way over their heads.

Blending the punk exuberance of Tank Girl with the buddy adventure wackiness of Superbad (if Michael Cera was a trans woman and Jonah Hill a queer girl partner in crime), Kim & Kim focuses on the power and meaning of female friendships as engines of validation. A bright, happy, punk rock sci fi adventure that is queer as shit.


BLACK2016

BLACK

writer Kwanza Osajyefo (former editor at Zuda)
co-creator/designer Tim Smith 3
artist Jamal Igle (Supergirl, Molly Danger)
covers Khary Randolph (Robin Wars)

In a world that already hates and fears them – what if only Black people had superpowers?

After miraculously surviving being gunned down by police, a young man learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Now he must decide whether it’s safer to keep it a secret or if the truth will set him free.

X-Men meets The Wire, BLACK’s Kickstarter blazed through Black History Month 2016 earning $91,973, more than three time its funding goal.


RUN FOR THE SHADOWS2016

RUN FOR THE SHADOWS

writers J.M. DeMatteis (Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt, Justice League) Matt Pizzolo (Young Terrorists, Godkiller)
artist Josh Hood (We Can Never Go Home)
cover Amancay Nahuelpan

Julie was a good girl from an elite family with her whole life ahead of her, until she got mixed up with bad boy Winston. After a decade of hard drugs and harder living, Julie is finally pulling her life back together. In rehab, she undergoes intensive therapy that unearths a deeply repressed trauma: her memory from being 16 and giving up her and Winston’s baby for adoption. She realizes it’s a lie. An implanted memory. There was something else that took the baby. Something evil. Julie tracks down Winston and forces him to tell her what truly happened, a horrifying revelation that will lead them both on a journey into darkness.

A lyrical and fantastical tale of rebellion, redemption, and hellfire, but, most of all, a story of family.

From legendary writer J.M. DeMatteis, co-written by Matt Pizzolo fresh off his smash hit Young Terrorists and illustrated by Josh Hood still on fire from We Can Never Go Home.


THE SKEPTICS2016

THE SKEPTICS

writer Tini Howard
artist Devaki Neogi (Curb Stomp)

A stylish, period, political adventure about a pair of hip, clever teens who fool the world of the 1960s into believing they have superpowers. Like X-Men: First Class meets Project Alpha.

It is the 1960s. The Russians have the A bomb, the H bomb, and now the most terrifying weapon of all: a pair of psychically superpowered young people. Terrified and desperate, the US top brass scours from coast to coast in search of psychic Americans. Enter Dr. Isobel Santaclara, an eccentric illusionist and grifter who has recruited two teenagers and trained them to trick the US government, the Russians, and the whole world into believing they are dangerous psychics. Skeptical is a pre-punk period piece, a sort of honest, unfuzzy, non-nostalgic look at the Cold War 1960s in DC.

Featuring female doctors, black female college students, and other genius “undesirables.” Like a cross between Kill Your Boyfriend and Hard Day’s Night, but about politics and ethics and how punk rock it is to be the smartest person in the room.


4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANKStreet date: April 27, 2016

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK

writer Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home)
artist Tyler Boss (VICE)

What is it?
A FUN(ISH) CRIME CAPER ABOUT CHILDREN!

11 year old Paige and her weirdo friends have a problem: a gang of ex-cons need her dad’s help on a heist… the problem is those ex-cons are morons. If Paige wants to keep her dad out of trouble, she’s going to have to pull off the heist herself.

4KWIAB is a very dark & moderately humorous story about friendship, growing up, d & d, puking, skinheads, grand larceny, & family.


THE FOREVERS2016

THE FOREVERS

writer Curt Pires (The Fiction, Mayday)
artist Eric Pfeiffer (Arcadia)

Live fast. Live forever.

Five friends struggling on the brink of stardom sacrifice everything in a black magic pact that brings them all the wealth and glamour they ever wanted. But now, years later, the glow is fading. When one of them is killed in an accident, they each feel a pulse of magic rise in them. They realize the glow is spread evenly among the group, and if one dies that power is passed along to the rest. Suddenly, they are being hunted. One of them has decided to kill the rest and harness the remaining power.

As they search for the killer, each of The Forevers will be confronted by the macabre reality of the lengths people will go to be adored, to make sure the spotlight never fades.


NO ANGEL2016

NO ANGEL

writers Eric Palicki (Guardians Of Infinity) Adrianne Palicki (actress, Mockingbird in Agents Of SHIELD)
artist Ari Syahrazad

Religious texts from The Bible to the Sumerian tablets speak of strange creatures descending from the heavens and mating with humans, their children the superhuman heroes of myth. None of this ever meant anything to Iraq War veteran Hannah Gregory, until she found herself in the crosshairs of a dangerous cult convinced that she’s a descendant of these dangerous bloodlines… bloodlines they’re determined to eradicate.

No Angel is a cosmological and conspiratorial modern western in the style of Preacher meets Justified by way of Jodorowsky.


THE DREGS2016

THE DREGS

writers Zac Thompson (VICE) Lonnie Nadler (VICE)
artist Eric Zawadzki (Last Born)

In this bloodsoaked satire of gentrification, an exclusive new restaurant called Pijin becomes the hottest spot in town by serving high-end dishes of human flesh. Where is the meat coming from? No one knows for sure, but a drug addled homeless man named Arnold Timm notices his friends disappearing and is determined to find out if they’re being fed to the rich.

A modern spin on Sweeney Todd in our world of excess where a touch of celebrity can make even cannibalism seem downright sexy.


TOMORROW'S ASHES2016

TOMORROW’S ASHES

writer Matt Pizzolo (Young Terrorists, Godkiller)
artist Anna Wieszczyk (Godkiller)

The creators of Godkiller (one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015) return for an all new saga.

In a twisted future where America has been divided into warring city states, escaped slavegirl Halfpipe and grifter Soledad roam the savage land on the fringes between civilizations. When they come upon a strange relic, they will uncover a secret history of America’s destruction.

This grimy apocalyptic fantasy manages to be simultaneously fun and horrifying, both brutal and intellectual, a unique descent into the American nightmare.


SPACE RIDERS, vol 2 GALAXY OF BRUTALITY2016

SPACE RIDERS, vol 2: GALAXY OF BRUTALITY

writer Fabian Rangel Jr (Space Riders)
artist Alexis Ziritt (Space Riders)

The Skullship Santa Muerte rides again as the creators of Space Riders (one of The Village Voice’s Outstanding Comics of 2015) return.

An ancient evil is gathering power throughout the cosmos, and it falls upon the legendary SPACE RIDERS to kick its a**! Having disbanded, the crew of CAPITAN PELIGRO, MONO, and YARA must reunite for what may be their final ride!

The cult comic that electrified comic readers in the brain RETURNS to blast your fragile human psyche into oblivion!!


WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, vol. 22016

WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, vol. 2

writers Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home, QUAKE) Patrick Kindlon (We Can Never Go Home, QUAKE)
artist Josh Hood (We Can Never Go Home)

The dream team behind 2015 breakout hit We Can Never Go Home (winner of Diamond Comics Gem Award for Best Indie Graphic Novel of 2015) are back.

17 year old misfit Morgan was lost. Unsure if she imagined the teenagers with strange abilities who were involved in the death of her boyfriend or not, Morgan was worried she was losing her mind. She fell in with a rough crowd, developed some bad habits, and did whatever she could to try and forget the things she thought she saw. But when she runs into a very lonely and disturbed girl named Dania, everything changes. Like those teenagers from her past, Dania can do things other people can’t. Dania will be Morgan’s ticket out of their small town and into a bigger world… whether she wants to be or not.

Kwanza Osajyefo Talks the Kickstarted Comic Black

black_cover01HIRES_by_Khary RandolphTimed to launch with Black History Month, BLACK is one of the hottest comics out there and is currently raising funds through Kickstarter (it already has met its goal). The original science fiction graphic novel by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith III, and Jamal Igle asks the question, “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?” BLACK follows the story of a young man, Kareem Jenkins, who, having miraculously survived being shot by police, learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Kareem must decide whether it’s safer to keep history’s secret, or if the truth will set him free.

Also contributing to the project is Khary Randolph, who will contribute covers and additional artwork, and editor Sarah Litt, formerly of Vertigo and DC Comics.

I got a chance to talk to Kwanza about the project, how it came about, why Kickstarter was the way to go, and a certain guerrilla marketing campaign at New York Comic Con.

Graphic Policy: You’re working on Black with Tim Smith III, Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph, and Sarah Litt. How did this series come about and everyone get involved?

Kwanza Osajyefo

Kwanza Osajyefo

Kwanza Osajyefo: I came up with the idea about 10 years ago, but shelved it while I pursued my editorial career at DC. Tim and I had worked together at Marvel and connected again at MoCCA, I pitched him the idea because I really like his approach to character design. We batted it around off and on for years, until I finally said, let’s just do this.

Jamal worked with me on a project at DC, I was already a fan but the speed and skill he showed during the process made me admire him all the more. I’d made up my mind back then to get him on board, but didn’t approach him until I was well out of the mainstream. Tim and I popped by his place, showed him designs and the story concept – he was in.

Khary and I bonded over being confused for each other by people in the comics industry for years – just gonna leave that there…

I love his work. So at NYCC this year, I showed him the BLACK mobile site. He glanced at the summary and said, “I’m in.” Honestly, I thought it was alcohol talking, and asked him several times after to confirm. I couldn’t believe the team we’d formed but his cover is the real thing and dope as hell.

Sarah and I worked at DC together in NY, and when I moved to LA, I invited her to come as my assistant editor. Knowing I could trust her editorial instincts, she was a natural for this project.

GP: You’re launching the comic through Kickstarter, was that always the plan? Did you approach any publishers with it?

KO: No. The permission-based publishing model would not work for BLACK. We’re open to publishing partners, but didn’t think anyone would greenlight internally. Proving that that project has appeal through Kickstarter was necessary.

Also the comics industry parallels the systematic and cultural biases that still exists in the US, and inspire this story. The comics industry remains heavily influenced by a White-male aesthetic – that has started to change very recently, but not fast enough for BLACK to come out through a traditional comics publisher.

That stated, I think many would be receptive to BLACK but don’t have the internal person who would have seen the opportunity.

Jamal Igle

Jamal Igle

GP: You’re taking a very straight on approach with the story of Black people with powers, getting rid of metaphors. While it might be a simple idea, you haven’t seen this too often. Why do you  think that’s the case?

KO: Because there aren’t enough Black people working in comics with influential positions.

I don’t think many top publishers have a bench that could or would cultivate BLACK. I grouse about that a lot because it clearly impacts content.

Comics is already a small industry, but with output that influences media – how can the content appeal to a diverse audience when internal culture is not diverse.

Marvel has made recent efforts to address that, but got dinged in the press for cadging hip-hop album covers to sell comics. It highlighted that they hadn’t hired many Black creatives. I’ll keep it 100 – in my career I made a point to know as many Black creators as possible (as well as other ethnicities and women).

I did so partially because I’m Black, and partially because it was my job to find talent that will excite various audiences. It’s not difficult.

For the record, I don’t think it is intentional either. Just the result of having a homogenous, and at times exclusionary editorial culture – I lived it for a long time. In my decade-plus career, I never met another Black “full” editor.

I think it is part of why DC struggles with diversity among their core catalog, producing tone deaf characters like Simon Baz or elevating Black characters they’ve haven’t fleshed out enough to be engaging.

I know these are critical statements, but I don’t think they are untrue.

BLACKfunded_promoart_newGP: From the release, the story kicks off with the character Kareem Jenkins surviving being shot by police. That by itself can be a story without the superhero aspect. What issues are you looking to tackle in the series?

KO: Quite a few issues arise in tackling a story like this. Police brutality is a catalyst for this story – a theme that reflects real life. Xenophobia is also drives the narrative. There is also the fear in being a minority. Trying to survive in a world where you’re immediately suspect and under the constant threat of harm.

All with a sci-fi twist, of course.

GP: You helped launch Zuda Comics which was a bit ahead of its time. Did your experience with that help guide this project? Did you consider doing it as a webcomic at all?

KO: I think Zuda was a bit ahead of DC Comics’ time. The reason I landed that role is because worked in online at Marvel, and then a number of other digital companies. Understanding how web content works helped me be a good partner among awesome colleagues in my department.

Webcomics are great but weren’t a consideration for BLACK. I think they’re reaching a similar level to print, where they need a revolution. My thought is that it is mobile, and I considered platforms like Web Toons as means of content distribution. It might still be a little early to explore mobile comics, but I admire companies like ComiXology for being at the right place and time and delivering top class digital service.

GP: In the release you also said you’re “challenging the pop culture status quo, which is dominated by a White male aesthetic.” Can you talk about that a bit?

KO: Sure. I worked between Marvel and DC over the course of a decade and never met another Black editor. Assistants yes, but never one with agency to influence the creative culture. The boys club values that pervades results in a limited and self-perpetuating view of content.

Dwayne McDuffie’s work writing Justice League cartoons DEFINED classic characters that DC continues to lean on. Yet, when they had the opportunity to have him write the comic, he was hamstrung by arbitrary decisions that superseded telling a great story.

He was public about his experience of dealing with the status quo.

BLACK goes into a territory publishers can’t touch without internalizing Black culture. Fully engaging that audience will remain out of reach because they lack Black experiences or must be cautious of producing something offensive.

I think Marvel’s efforts through Netflix may prove easier territory to tell those kinds of stories as the cinematic universe is less established and more palpable.

Black NYCCGP: There were some teasers for this series at New York Comic Con 2015 with text painted on sidewalks sending folks to a website. How long has this series been worked on and who came up with that marketing idea?

KO: Good eye. I originally intended to launch the campaign around NYCC, but after discussing it with Jamal, we thought February (Black History Month) 2016 made the most sense. We knew getting a head start on marketing would be beneficial, but wanted to be subtle in building an audience until then.

I wanted to do a little something during the convention, so I worked with a guerilla market agency to tag areas around the convention, and all the larger parties and events. Only ones I didn’t hit were Marvel’s and DC’s party locations.

GP: The launch of this has had a hell of a response. What’s your take on the reaction to it?

KO: A principle I lived by as an editor, and still do as an author: sincerity is better than pandering.

Be sincere and people will reciprocate ten-fold. I was a popular enough editor at DC because from my core I believed in the talent of people I worked with, told them the truth, and tried to help them bring forth their truths in the stories they wanted to tell.

BLACK has truth in it – that’s part of the secret sauce.

GP: Why do you think we don’t see more projects like this at comic publishers?

KO: I think we touched on that in you previous question, but to reiterate, it’s a lack of diversity among staff. BLACK was created because I have a perspective and experiences that the average comic book editor does not.

That expresses itself as content that may not even register in the mind of the mainstream editors. If it does register, the research needed to accurately tell that story may be too daunting. For example, I have ideas about stories heavily influenced by Asian culture, but I can’t do it yet because I still have a lot of reading to do to get it right.

GP: The Kickstarter is for a graphic novel in six chapters, but have you thought about continuing the world either with more graphic novels or even a monthly ongoing series?

KO: Definitely have a plan for subsequent graphic novels. I’m rather contrary to the traditional approach of serialized periodicals. They had their time and place, are still are a good source of reach and income, but as a storytelling platform they can exhaust general readers by their nature.

It’s tedious to repeat the same plots over and over, or have to fill-in an issue because of publishing schedules. I’d rather tell stories in a way that allows the characters grow. I can’t see Kareem and Juncture dealing with the same opposition every other year when the smarter option is to eliminate a threat.

Waiting every month for the next chapter is also a lot to ask of a general audience. We have so many options for content now, it’s difficult to justify $3-$5 when I can buy and full video game on my phone for less, or read equally good stories for free on Web Toons.

GP: Any other projects you’d like to plug?

KO: Not at the moment. I like to take a Pixar approach to my work rather than distract attention with a whole line of things.

I want people to read BLACK, so that’s my focus. There will be plenty of themes, characters, and places to explore in this world we’ve created.

We’ve had such an amazing reaction to the campaign, and will share some fun stretch goals we’re aiming for.

Please be on the lookout for more from BLACK!