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 youngesy, 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
Why does your Astro City 14 review completely diss the issue but still put it in the Buy Pile? That makes no sense.
I responded …
Thank you for reading my column and for writing in.
When a series has three “jump” issues in a row, it gets what’s called “buy on sight” status. I pick it up first when I get to the store and buy it without even opening it, reading it when I get home later on. Astro City hit that status … spirit, years ago. Before Dark Ages, probably, maybe around the Beautie special issue.
Once a title hits that status, it has to have three “bad” or “off” issues in a row before it gets dropped back down into the “striving for a shot” stack.
Astro City has had, in its current 14 or so issue run, three less-than-stellar issues, none of which were in a row. Therefore, it would be two more bad issues in a row before this would be dropped from an automatic berth in the “buy” pile.
Good question and totally fair. Thanks again for reading and for writing in, have a great day!
I may not have followed what I believe was Stan Lee’s rule on new readers: everyone is picking up the work for the very first time, so allowances have to be made for that. Maybe an alteration in my opening documentation. We’ll see.
Playing (Music): “Only When You’re Close” by Zendaya
Oy, all right then.
What an interesting time it is. I’ve spent months preparing for this July, and now, “finally we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. Finally, we will have our revenge.”
First up, the prelude to it all was the Brave New Souls roundtable on KFI 640 AM with my good friend Mr. Mo’Kelly. I found myself in Burbank sitting across from Tony Puryear (screnwriter for the movie Eraser), Erika Alexander (the legendary “Cousin Pam” from The Cosby Show and Maxine Shaw on the equally influential Living Single), Geoffrey Thorne (whose career spans acting from In The Still Of The Night to writing and producing shows like Leverage and The Librarians), storyboarding instructor and inaugural Glyph Awards winner Robert Roach, CV Nation producer DeWayne Copeland, television and comics writer Dani Dixon and my esteemed friend, the Eisner-nominated Brandon Easton.
For an hour we discussed issues of representation and content, making jokes but taking things seriously. It was enormously entertaining and we should really, really do that sort of thing more often.
That was a Saturday, and two days later I launched It’s Komplicated: The Operative Word, a new podcast. I plan for it to be a monthly instance, and I have plans already for guests and new installments.
Monday also noticed the heralding of the all-new, all-different Operative Network, now a creative studio featuring not just myself but the Glyph Award-winning team of Jason Reeves and Alverne Ball, Legends Press owner Quinn McGowan and animation writer Damion Gonzales. Together we pool resources, collaborate, quality check each other and generally step the game up, which is fantastic.
All just preamble. At San Diego Comic-Con there were three more surprises.
The first ashcan from the Operative Network, Cruel Summer: The Visual Mixtape was available in limited quantities as a printed artifact. After the convention, available as a free PDF download. The first hit’s free, everything else you have to pay. Featuring pages from Project: Wildfire and the Glyph Award-winning comic One Nation, character profiles from the animated series T.A.S.K. as well as an exclusive preview of the new series slated for 2015, The Foundation.
The day before SDCC, New Money was released on ComiXology. Imagine Entourage with everybody being rich, not just one guy. It’s a hoot, and it’s only a buck. Can’t beat that.
At the Insights for Independent Creators panel, Alverne, Jason and I passed out ashcans and showcased an animatic sizzle reel for T.A.S.K.. Let’s roll that clip …
Oh, and one more thing …
I was named the writer of the the Aspen Sourcebook, an official handbook for the Aspen universe. I am working on Fathom and Soulfire first, but the line will expand into the Executive Assistant line and so on. It’s quite a committment, but I’m very happy about it.
This blog isn’t just an ad for myself. Largely, but not completely. I have learned a lot, working with a lot of talented people in developing the numerous projects I am bringing to market.
So, with Jason Reeves …
… Quinn McGowan …
… Damion Gonzales (with Sean Isaakse) …
… and Alverne Ball …
… it’s time to come out of the shadows. It’s almost midnight.
UPDATE: Interviewed on The Huffington Post …
I’ve had a busy time, promoting my very first comic book, which was released internationally on February 26th with a signing at Hi De Ho Comics. So many good friends came through (including the incredibly talented Leroy Hamilton, who took this great video) and I met new friends (and hopefully fans) who bought the book, got it signed and had a chat. I have never had a signing before, so it was a new experience but I believe things went really well.
First, I’m enormously grateful to my good friend Mr. Mo’Kelly who brought me on his wonderful radio show (KFI AM 640) on March 1st to discuss various and nerdy issues, which was a very enjoyable evening that had far more discussion of animal abuse than I expected.
Second, I got a wonderful invitation from Vito Lapiccola to appear on the extraordinarily entertaining (and slightly more profane) Comics on Comics podcast from Sideshow Networks. I was a guest alongside Jessica the Comic Book Girl as Vito and his partner Juan discussed a wide variety of topics. I think our Star Wars discussion alone is worth the price of admission, but I enjoyed so much of the talk that most of us were reluctant to shut it down.
Lastly, I’m very grateful for all these opportunities (and the tireless efforts of my wife to help promote with her johnny-on-the-spot web flyers) and I look forward to announcing more, like the release date for my four issues of Project: Wildfire and my three issue story, Menthu: The Anger of Angels.
Playing (Music): “Everything Is Awesome” by Tegan & Sara feat. The Lonely Island
I am very, very pleased to report that on March 19, 2014, Stranger Comics will be releasing Waso: Will To Power, Episode 1, a fantasy novella set in the fictional world of Asunda written by myself and featuring a cover illustration by Hyoung Taek Nam.
Following in the footsteps of the comic series Dusu: Path of the Ancient by Sebastian A. Jones, Christopher Garner and James Cory Webster, the impetuous son of the chief is forced to take the reins of controlling the tribe after the dramatic events in the Dusu series. The book follows his struggle to help rebuild the tribe in the face of enormous odds in a tale set against the lush junglescape of Asunda’s untamed Ugoma region.
As a writer, it was a wonderful challenge workong inside the fictional framework of Asunda’s rich culture, with its striking linguistic differences and exotic flora and fauna (some of which I got to help create). Working with my editor Josh Cozine and Asunda’s creator Sebastian Jones has been a delight, a thorough education in world building and narrative experimentation.
Waso: Will To Power is a novella divided into six parts (most of which is already written) and will be released at the middle of each month for an affordable price of … wait, what? This can’t be right. Let’s read that again …
… nope, that’s correct. The first of six installments will be FREE, and will be available through online resources like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I hope you’ll check it out and I hope you enjoy it! I’ll have flyers to promote it next week at 6PM when I’m signing copies of Artifacts #35 at Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica.