This time last year I was awaiting my very first professional comics work, planning to do my first signing, anxious as hell.
Today I’m addressing news that my sixth and seventh comics might both hit in March, but should both be out before mid-year, while coordinating some of my own characters coming to market as well.
As well, I’m celebrating big gains for my family — my wife helped a group of activist minded teens become Recharge LA (whereas they could have just kept their faces in their phones). My eldest completed a 10 week (or so) run of the play The Wedding Band at the Anteus Theatre, which put her on stage alongside Lean On Me actress Karen Malina White and enjoying the direction of True Blood veteran Gregg Daniel. The youngest one was seen nationwide in a Toys R Us commercial as well as playing the niece of Damon Wayans Jr. character Coach on the sitcom New Girl.
It was a hectic, #nonstop kind of year, and I’m proud of everybody, invludinh me with five published works appearing in the public sphere. They were …
- Artifacts #35:
Where it all started from, a tale about a criminal trying to make his way in a world of magical trinkets and gunfire.
- Waso: Will To Power
A serialized fantasy prose novella about savage elves in a tropical forest land, struggling with identity. I wrote a lot more than what came out, but only the first two installments made it to market. Not so sure about why …
- New Money #1
With the deft editorial hand of Karl Bollers and N. Steven Harris giving the most faithful depiction of one of my scripts I’ve ever seen, this prurient piece of work depicts the debauchery and challenges of extraordinary wealth.
I was honored to be a part of Rob Sturma’s anthology of superhero-themed poetry. They chose a piece of mine called “The Gospel of Lex Luthor.”
- Fathom Sourcebook #1
The first part of a six book deal with the great people at Aspen Comics, this official handbook to their flagship property is a great avenue into the characters. Look for prominent character Kiani in Volume 2.
The best thing of all was finding a group of collaborators tonwork with that I really believe in. Creative partners who share my vision and drive, people … hang on, sorry. There’s a guy dressed in Palpatine robes trying to get my attention, hang on.
Oh, hey, J … don’t use your name? Okay. What’s up?
I can’t talk about that until the contracts are signed? Oh, no worries, that’s not what I was talking about I was on a whole …
No, of course, I think the same about, you know, our thing. I mean, with names like … well, you know who we have on deck. Anyway, yes, I’m hyped and honored to be a part of that. I knew not to say anything.
Okay, I should get back to this blog before someone suspects and starts asking the wrong questions. Okay, I’ll email all ten of us later on. Thanks!
Now, where was I? Oh, right … the biggest professional triumph for me in 2014 was joining together with four brothers of the same mind in an expanded, all-new, all-different Operative Network. When I found two southern bred artists and two international-minded writers that all shared my passion for storytelling, it was like a long-deferred dream come true.
Whew! So, with all that going on, what’s next? My new year’s resolution was just “more,” and that looks like it’s already on track. Soulfire Sourcebook #1 will be out in March, and there’s a hint there will be an issue of an Eisner-nominated title that month too (more when I can say more). The Operative Network is prepping an all-new, expanded version of our ashcan, Cruel Summer: The Visual Mixtape for a digital release in the first quarter of 2015 (spirit willing and the creeks don’t rise). Executive Assistant: Iris Sourcebook #1 should be on track for a summer release, with another handbook due in the fall. I’m on track to match last year’s output with stuff I am allowed to disclose already, and it’s not even February.
I say all that to say that Douglas Adams was probably right — in my 42nd year, I am living the answer to life, the universe and everything: keep going.
Thanks for being along for the ride.
Playing (Music): “This Is Gospel” by Panic! At The Disco
A new year means new opportunities, and I am very happy to embrace them when they come to me.
It is my distinctive pleasure to present my very first professional voiceover work, an informational video for L.A. Care Health Plan, the biggest public health plan in the country that serves just shy of 1.7 million Los Angeles county residents. They asked me to be the voice of “10 Questions about Obamacare 2015″ and, well …
The entire thing was done in two takes — one to record everything, and a second to re-record the questions, as they changed some verbiage during recording. My brilliant and talented wife Myshell Tabu helped coach me on line readings (so this is WAY less whimsical than I originally envisioned) which everyone there seemed to appreciate.
It’s also not bad to do something that actually helps people, in contrast to the jerk-ish stuff I normally do that often has people up in arms.
I’ve been wanting to do voiceover stuff for a long time (as one can see from my podcasts), so getting this done is a big deal to me and I’m very happy to have another weapon in my arsenal. Also, you know it wouldn’t be right unless I said this …
[Source: L.A. Care Health Plan.
Playing (Music): “Far Too Young To Die” by Panic! At The Disco
“… everybody hollerin’ save me, save yourself …”
In my latest podcast (never more than 30 minutes, I guarantee it), I did a super enjoyable team-up with my good friend, Komplicated senior credibilty correspondent Dreamkiller Jenkins (who honestly believes cache is not forever, somehow).
The point of discussion was D’Angelo’s latest album Black Messiah, the follow up from Voodoo of 14 years ago. That’s not a typo — bruh has been out of the game for three presidential administrations plus. I’m told there were some challenges with pharmaceuticals, with relationships and so on. I wasn’t there. I can only look at what’s in my headphones, and I did so.
Underneath the voices there are a series of instrumentals, and I’ll accredit those here …
- “Truth of the Matter (The Komplicated Theme)” by Hannibal Tabu (including samples from N.E.R.D.’s “She Wants To Move” remix, “The Other Side” by Bruno Mars)
- “Skyline Pool” by Large Professor
- “Peachfuzz” by KMD
- “Pharcyde” by Pharcyde
- “Mass Appeal” by Gangstarr
- “Chief Rocka” by Lords of the Underground
- “1,2″ by Kielen King
- “Moment For Life” by Nicki Minaj
- “Listen Up” by Erule
- a second time with “Truth of the Matter”
I’m quite sure when DKJ hears his voice over a Nicki Minaj instrumental, he will load up the car and head south to murder me, but I’m gonna count on my kids to fend him off. They’re quite wily, actually …
Coincidentally, we recorded this Monday, December 22nd and I read Nicholas Payton’s brilliant disassembly on the 23rd, covering very similar ground without ever knowing each other. I disagree with many of his theories about the philosophy of one thing or another, but his musical criticism is razor sharp.
There is a part two of the podcast where DKJ and I continue discussing albums that are far superlative to this and got much less attention. That discussion can be found on the Dreamkiller Radio show, also on Spreaker, after the 29th.
Happy Kwanzaa. You’re welcome.
Every year I celebrate Kwanzaa. This is a great time for me every year, grounding myself in a look at African culture. Since becoming a family man, the holiday has resonated even more for me, and watching the elements resonate in the eyes of children is a wonder every single time.
The idea behind Kwanzaa focused on hand-made gifts … but frankly, as a technophile, there’s not much I need in that regard. My girls send me to work with handmade artwork and expressions of affection throughout the year. So, my interpretation of the holiday is functional — getting tools to get things done.
So, what do I want for Kwanzaa?
ExpressCard 34mm to USB 3.0 Adapter (Dual Port)
I have an older MacBook Pro (if 2010 is now considered “older”) and I often have struggled with needing more USB ports, especially when I’m out DJing and somebody hands me a flash drive. This would solve that problem … for less than fifteen bucks. Good stuff.
Sandisk SDAD109A11 Digital Media Memory Card to Express Slot Adapter
When I’m not DJing, I’m often jealously eyeing my wife’s younger MacBook Pro with an SD card slot (until I remember the USB slot thing). I see a lot of SD cards, and being able to work with them using something easy would be easier than the weird USB cable thing I have now …
Those things aren’t so expensive, but two things I lack costs a little more …
The new software from Algoriddim provides four side by side waveform mixers, already integrates with my Vestax Spin hardware controller and would run $50. The fact I haven’t bought this already is a testament to my self-control. I kind of want to make out with it.
ION Tailgater Bluetooth Portable Speaker System with Auxiliary USB Charger
I saw one of these at a beach event and loved it. I do some … smaller events and this would save me shlepping down to the south bay to get JBL 15 inch speakers and what have you. I’m very excited about this one, but I’ll likely get this down the line.
I don’t really expect any of this stuff from anybody — I’ll likely use this blog as a reminder for myself and buy them over the course of the year. However, people often ask me about my thought process, so, here it is … and yes, it’s heavily DJ related.
Playing (Music): “Girl That You Love” by Panic! At The Disco
On December 24, 2014, I’ll be joining Aspen Comics in bringing you all a very precious gift: the present of understanding.
Fathom Sourcebook #1 will be available at retail and digitally on the aforementioned yuletide eve, and in writing it I came to a realization that may shock many.
Aspen Mathews — lithe, sleek, slight of frame — can kick Namor’s butt. Aquaman too. Mera? Hydro-Man? All of them.
Without a doubt, based on extensive research I’ve done, Aspen could handily take down any other water-based hero or villain, and many, many non-water based ones.
“Namor can go toe to toe with the Hulk!” many will argue. “Aquaman is bullet proof and has used his telepathy to shut down the primative part of people’s brains!” others will cry.
As the only living hybrid between two hydrokinetic races — the human-like Blue and the gray, decrepit looking Black — Aspen has two ridiculous advantages. First, she has the ability to turn into sentient water and retain her consciousness and abilities through even a huge explosion and dispersal of her constituent molecules. This means its very hard to take her out with any form of kinetic assault, which is most of what Aquaman and especially Namor bring to the table. It also defuses Aquaman’s telepathy, since her body doesn’t work like humans (as shown when she was examined at a Honolulu hospital and the Navy had the results shredded) and wouldn’t be vulnerable in the same way.
Don’t let the smoothe taste fool you.
Her second — and much more dangerous — ability is a level of hydrokinesis beyond anyone else in comics. Aquaman’s wife Mera can control water, yes, but not at the scale Aspen can (she’s been able to control and defuse huge hydro-bombs, oval shaped levitating bodies of watet the size of a neighborhood) nor with the same kind of precision (killing a man by flash-draining him of water in seconds).
Namor ain’t got nothing on that.
Arthur Curry? Stop the madness.
Mera’s hydrokinesis, by comparison, isn’t qualified to fetch Aspen (Ms. Matthews is ya nasty) a refeshing beverage.
The less said about Hydro-Man the better. Oh, Morrie …
Aspen is the most powerful person in the Fathom books, but even the Elite Blue (the most powerful of the younger undersea race, like Cannon or Killian) or any member of the Black (who can control the flow of water in a body enough to induce a coma with no damage or sign of it) could house the Kings of Atlantis.
A world-class, omega-level powerhouse in a thong. Who knew? Well, apparently, Fathom fans knew, but I’m collecting a Dunlap Award here …
In realizing this, it made me wonder what else was I missing? What other wonders could be hiding in these characters, like the ice wielding arctic or Atlantic blue? I found a lot of those answers … and on December 24th, so can you.
Ask your retailer for Fathom Sourcebook #1, or purchase it on digital platforms like ComiXology.
Playing (Music): “Far Too Young To Die” by Panic! At The Disco
Okay, my podcast is back for its fourth episode (you missed the previous ones? Plug in, get connected …) talking about all brands of pop culture foolishness and what have you. On deck this time …
- 4 NON BLONDES: (news) Rise of the Black Superman, Rise of the Black Comedian, Rise of the Black Comic Book Writer & Rise of the Robot Black Panther
- SIMPLY THE BEST: Comic book recommendations from the last few months
- THE DUNLAP AWARD: (get caught up on what’s happened) The grand failure of iOS 8.
- THE BLACK THOUGHT: Reading between the lines of Dear White People
Fun stuff, and done in under 30 minutes. Can’t beat that!
Lemme see if I can just plop this here … ah, perfect!
I also recognize the humor of doing my fourth episode with its first blog — y’all will have to check the prequels later, if you missed them. yes, I love how this has worked out and no, I don’t have a plan after Episode 7 … it’s just like real life.
Oh, I always forget to do this — the music credits!
- “It’s Komplicated” Theme (produced by Hannibal Tabu, featuring samples from “She Wants To Move” remix by N.E.R.D. AND “The Other Side” by Bruno Mars)
- “4 Non Blondes” Theme (produced by Hannibal Tabu, featuring a sample from “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
- “Simply The Best” theme (produced by Hannibal Tabu, featuring samples from “Simply The Best” by Tina Turner and “In The Middle, Part 1″ by James Brown)
- “The Wake Up Show Promo” (produced by DJ J. Love the Soundsmith)
- “The Black Thought” Theme (produced by Hannibal Tabu, featuring samples from “The Next Movement” by The Roots & “The Official ’10″ by Timeless Beats)
This podcast is a labor of love and I believe should be available through IHeartRadio as of this (or the next) episode. I’ll be rocking out with a Heart concert afterparty mix in the mid-December episode. Thanks for checking it out, and if you like what you hear, please let it be known!
Playing (Music): “I’m Sorry, I Didn’t Know It Was Your Mama” by Lenny Williams
According to all reports, Wednesday was the last “new comics day” for Comics Ink.
The Buy Pile grew up at Comics Ink, originally an idea from Allen Hui and Eric Stephenson (yes, that one) for the now defunct Spinnerrack.com, we had the idea that we could do comics reviews and post them online and people would care. I kept going when Spinner Rack went the way of most dot coms of that era, and I’ve been doing it for eleven years, most of which happened at Comics Ink.
To say that I felt at home in this Culver City comics shop was an understatement. The day before my youngest child was born, I went to the store in order to preside over a “case” where a trial lawyer argued against a school teacher that Namor needed his flappy ankle wings to fly. I hit that same teacher with a folding chair before going on to DJ his wedding. I loved going there and I loved the people there.
There was some … unpleasantness that led to the shop making a business decision last year, a decision to distance themselves from me. I respect that, as a businessman. I made a business decision to likewise not return. This is not due to hard feelings but due to pragmatism. I wasn’t there when they started and couldn’t be there when they ended, but still, one last farewell.
Quislet (Adam): This January was the end of the “sentence” where I would stop referring to him as a diminutive retconned Legionnaire. Despite years of virtually relentless verbal abuse (and, when I hit him with a chair, physical abuse), I actually respected this award winning educator and husband so much more than my words would imply. He was not perfect, but he generally meant well and has a genuine dedication to improving the lives of children.
Jason: Beat maker, hip hop scholar, deadpan commentator and generally all-around great guy, you were the calm steady voice in the clamor of crazy, every time. From the instrumentals you shared to the great times cracking jokes that most people missed, my changing schedule meant missing you more often than not. Truly one to be missed.
Vince: A true friend and collaborator at every level, I would work with Vince on almost any project for almost any reason. A skillful editor, a savvy retailer, a talented writer, and a true brother in arms. I am eternally grateful for Comics Ink bringing him into my life.
Steve: A smarter businessman than I could ever be, a savvy connoisseur of fine wines who taught me a lot about the comics industry that I could not have known otherwise. Without him, none of my comics career would exist, without his hard work, I’d have had a tougher road, and I appreciate that a great deal.
The new owners are changing this to the Culver City branch of The Comics Bug, a fantastic shop in the south bay run by seasoned professionals. I wish them the best with their new business and highly recommend them, as I have with Comics Ink over the decades.
All things change in time. I’m a fan, either way. I miss the shop and I’m enormously grateful for my time there.
Playing (Music): “Come And Get Your Love” by Leon Redbone
In the picture here you see a Transformer mixed in with Lego Friends characters. Eagle-eyed readers have called this Transformer Mega-Octane, due to the colors, but I grew up knowing this face and form as Onslaught and that’s how I refer to him.
Why are these toys co-mingled? Well, in the rise of Fort Awesome, I ended up playing with toys alongside my two daughters. My eldest, logically, began a battle based scenario where her Japanese helicopter robot (fascinating import we bought at a Sanrio store) wanted to bully its way into getting whatever it wanted, regardless of who needed to get shoved. I knew such a narrative could lead to rambunctiousness with my sometimes not-so-controlled youngest, leading to blankets falling down on my head.
Thinking fast, I posited a different idea: Onslaught was now a repentent Combaticon, a mechanoid that had done a lot of dirt but was trying to turn his life around. Since he was forged as a weapon, he still had guns, but one had been “remade” into an “anti-gun gun,” that would stop other weapons from functioning. He and all his “friends” (a bin full of non-display toys I had around including four Aerialbot knock offs, a lingering Combaticon space shuttle and Wreck-Gar alongside a latter day Buzzsaw wielded by the youngest) outnumbered the eldest’s helicopter and movie Arcee the eldest brought to bear, eventually sending the belligerence out of Fort Awesome in shame.
Onslaught befriended Stephanie (the blonde Lego girl on the bike), who introduced him to her teacher Miss Stephens (brown hair, glasses), so he could “learn how not to be a bad guy.” Now Onslaught has sleep overs at (outside) Stephanie’s house and they hang out, picking shapes out of clouds.
Is there a metaphor in here about me? A “bad guy” breaking good to spend time with someone smaller who adores him? Something to be learned about even how a true villain doesn’t have to be evil all the time, and has people who find them wonderful? Maybe.
What I do know is that my girls love giant robots and crawling under blanket forts on a hot Saturday afternoon as much as I do, even without learning how to make an enfilade with them, instead choosing not to fight. In my book, no matter your color scheme, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Photo by Leroy Hamilton
Saturday afternoon, after driving children to the northside to be in rehearsals for a big Hollywood play (link good until December 7, 2014) and piano practice to participate in a panel as part of Recharge, a completely teen-produced three day festival celebrating and educating the youth of south Los Angeles in conjunction with the Leimert Park Village African Art and Music Festival.
The event is for teens only — no parents, no siblings — to provide a safe space for the youth to be able to express themselves without judgement.
I was invited to speak on a panel called “Hip Hop Values: Gender and Cultural Appropriation” alongside educators Dr. Ayo Alabi and Sebastien Elkouby about … well, a lot. Like to hear it? Here it goes …
The teens were engaged, insightful, well-read, funny and fantastic. I’m doing another panel on “Police Abuse: Your Rights When Stopped.” I have to read up on that one — I knew this subject well enough to freestyle.
With two girls, every teen or kid I can help is one less person waiting in a grocery store parking lot about to shank my daughters. I’m just saying …
Playing (Music): “Sunshine” by Childish Gambino
While looking for a draft script for my podcast, I came across this. Even with Ferguson, MO heavy on my mind, this required sharing.
There’s no such thing as peace.
Rocket propelled grenades
sit next to breakfast bowl
play with 7.62 mm shell casings,
find blood splattered on street
four days out of seven.
More dead from fever and hunger,
less discriminating surge.
Baba fights the Americans,
Kalashnikov his companion
more often than mama.
Baba’s baba fought the Russians,
Americans at his side
more than his bride
whispered Pashto in his ear.
I am eleven years old.
I have never been kissed
by anyone not a blood relative.
I can make out
a passage or two of scripture,
know rustle of baba’s thick beard
and coarse clothes
when he hugs me,
taste of mama’s kahdoos.
Two years ago,
left a magazine near marketplace.
Kept it hidden for a month,
buried behind the house,
before daring to gaze upon
impossibly smooth skinned westerners.
Smiling and immodest,
shaven faced men,
like children, really
women’s bosoms in view.
They look like they’ve never known
bits of gravel in stew,
like they eat meat
less gamy than goat,
and not just on special days.
They look like relentless,
cloying smell of poppies
isn’t woven into every memory.
I don’t hate them,
fat and godless,
but I understand those who do.
I’m too hungry
to hate them.
sounds of shelling and screams
hopefully far from my pallet.
Wonder what nights are like
beyond hills of Sharobi,
where baby faced boy-men
sleep next to red lipped harlots
on endless pillows,
in safety …
Mama tells stories
about golden days of Afghanistan,
days when quiet wasn’t frightening,
times of plenty.
when she’s not around,
says we’ve always been
stop on somebody’s road
never wanting to be here,
always needing to control the way.
there’s no such thing as peace.
I don’t know about any of that.
I know sand and stone,
I know running and gunfire,
body parts and explosions,
prayer and waiting
for freedom even I don’t believe
will ever come.
“Jangi Shah: A Hymn For Afghanistan”
By Hannibal Tabu
Thanks to Myshell Tabu and KPFK
Just because you have it bad doesn’t mean somebody else doesn’t have it worse. That also doesn’t mean that what’s happening to you is all right. All things in perspective.
Playing (Music): “Black Hole Sun” cover by Paul Anka