Monday, April 13, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
_ is not the new black and other thoughts from Holly at Feministe
By the way, the good news about name changes is due to the hard work of the excellent Sylvia Rivera Law Project, in case you're looking for worthy causes for year-end donations.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Toon: The Blame Game
Click to enlarge
I'll have more thoughts on Proposition 8 and all of this divide-and-conquer bullshit later.
In the meantime, Barry has three excellent roundups of links/posts/articles about the awful "blame black folks" meme and the nasty "black people are all homophobes" meme or the ridiculous "there's a black vs. gay war" meme: "If you call me a faggot, I will call you a...", "Two more posts on blaming the brown," and "Prop 8: The Rush To Blame The Brown People."
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Extreme Makeover: Conservative Pundit Edition
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Awesome Matt Bors cartoon...
Friday, November 07, 2008
Toon: The Dream and the Nightmare
Click to enlarge
Yes, I cried during Obama's speech. I actually also got up and danced around the room at 11 when CNN called the election. I'm sure I'll be jaded and cynical about the whole thing in no time, but I was definitely pinching myself in thrilled disbelief that night, and I even wore a sparkly sequined blue skirt and red sweater the next day (for real).
By the way, this is of course the same couple I drew reacting to Obama's likely nomination back in June. They were pretty psyched at the time about the possibility of marriage equality in California, but that dream is now deferred (hell, STOLEN), thanks to the efforts of some well-funded bigots.
P.S. No, Obama's election does NOT prove that racism is dead. And I'm kinda annoyed with the editorial cartoonists who never draw anyone of color in their cartoons EVER unless the cartoon is about race who are suddenly drawing touchy-feely multicultural cartoons where black parents tell their kids that they too can grow up to be president, etc. Seriously--if you only ever draw white people as the "everyday" Americans reacting to the news, you're just part of the freakin' problem. Also, I just don't want to see a single other editorial cartoon involving the goddamn Lincoln memorial.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Toon: McCain's Remaining Supporters
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Clinton equates "white" with "hard-working"
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Toon: Again. And Again. And Again... (Sean Bell)
Click to enlarge
This is a followup to my post about the families of the victims of police brutality killings forming a sad fraternity. The New York Times reported that at Sean Bell's wake, the mother of Patrick Dorismond was heard crying out: “Again? Again? Again?”
There were some protests throughout the city today, but the detectives are still off the hook. And it's hard to believe the story will ever change.
My previous cartoon about the Sean Bell case (with a very similar theme) is here.
R.I.P., Mildred Loving
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
On Sympathizing With the Killers
They say it is SUCH a hard job to be a police officer. It is just so SCARY. They were just SCARED, and DISORGANIZED. The implication is: wouldn't ANYONE be SCARED of an (innocent unarmed) black man?
We always hear this after incidents of police brutality. dNa sums it up at Racialicious ("On Sean Bell: fear is cause for slaughter only when victim is black"):
The Bell verdict will only cement the NYPD’s indifference to wasting black life. They simply aren’t held accountable. All they have to do is say they’re “scared”, and the media sympathizes, because they’re scared of us too.
You know, if being a cop is such a hard job, why not take one of those nice easy jobs?
Like the EASY job of being the mother or father of a (murdered innocent unarmed) black man?
Like the EASY job of being the fiancée or daughter of a (murdered innocent unarmed) black man? (see above photo)
Or the EASY job of being a little black boy who will someday grow up to be an innocent unarmed black man?
Doing a search on some of the history of police brutality cases in NYC, I came upon a moving NYTimes piece ("Police Shooting Reunites Circle of Common Loss") about the way that the families of the victims have formed a friendship network based in shared pain, and the Sean Bell funeral was cause for a painful reunion:
“I don’t know what I would have done without them,” Mrs. Dorismond, a Haitian immigrant who came to New York at 18 to study nursing, said of the relatives of Amadou Diallo and others who died in encounters with the police. “Nobody can understand that pain but me, Mrs. Diallo and the others. When it was my turn, everybody came.”
They had come and been there for her, rushing to her side to introduce themselves — at her son’s wake, at his funeral, at the protests on the streets. Amadou Diallo’s mother, Malcolm Ferguson’s mother, Nicholas Heyward Jr.’s father, Abner Louima himself.
Save your sympathy for the real victims, please.
Friday, April 25, 2008
50 Shots and an Outrageous Verdict
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Kevin Moore has "Snappy Answers to Stephanopoulos Questions"
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Cartoonists of Color Sit-In
Cartoonists of Color Unite for February 10 comic strip demonstrationThat link seems to be down right now, but I'm sure it'll recover once everyone stops trying to visit. There's also a video about the protest on the CBS website. CBS notes that only 25 percent of newspapers in this country have even one strip by a black creator.
On February 10, 2008, about a dozen cartoonists of color (and a few who are not) united to help bring attention to the lack of diversity on newspaper comic pages. In order to show the world that our comics are not all interchangable, we all did our own version of a strip that was originally done by Cory Thomas. Unless you have ever been in our shoes, it may be very difficult to see the uniqueness and frustration of our predicament. And when you see the responses to our "protest" (and you will), I'm sure you'll hear things like "Black cartoonists are given the same shot as everyone else" and " we pick strips based on quality, not race."
To see all the cartoons in one place, please visit:
And you can read a spirited pre-discussion of the protest by many well-known cartoonists in the comments here.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Bigot Responds to Personal Border Wall Cartoon
Do you have one for uninsured drunk illegals crashing and killing innocent Americans?(Bolding added by yours truly).
Or how about one of a drophouse packed full of endentured slaves?
Or of an illegal killing a police officer in a sanctuary city?
How about the fragile desert environment full of trash?
BTW: I love Mexican food. Just hope an illegal with a contagious disease that wasn't screened at the border doesn't work at my favorite restaurant. Kinda challenging to draw a cartoon of that.
Seen by searching 'illegal immigrant'.
- What we can learn from this little racist rant:
- This just makes me all the more convinced that we need to encourage manufacturers to actually produce personal anti-immigration walls for xenophobes like this guy. He'll be so encumbered behind his wall and sunglasses and headphones that we won't have to listen to his racist rants. Maybe we can even pipe in a little Lou Dobbs to keep them sated.
- Anyone who claims that the huge rise in anti-immigrant sentiment has nothing to do with racism or bigotry is crazy.
Oh please. Sounds like you could really use one of these walls yourself, it would protect you from all that "scary" Mexican food and protect us from your racist rants. Lay off the Lou Dobbs and get a life.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Pam debunks all that "Post-Racial Election" nonsense the media has been drinking
Friday, June 29, 2007
Conservative commenter claims Martin Luther King Jr. supported segregation
For more on why this is so ridiculous, see Brownfemipower.:
This is the wonderful and self explanatory logic of racism. MLK didn’t die because a racist white man shot his ass, and the racist white man didn’t shoot MLK’s ass because he was advocating for FUCKING DESEGREGATION–MLK died because he didn’t want white folks to lose their place at the top of the food chain!! He didn’t want black folk to be JUDGING on white folk!
And lordy lord, MLK didn’t get thrown in Birmingham jail (or any of the other jails he was thrown into) because his black ass was protesting SEGREGATION (note from MLK: Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.) he was thrown in jail because he was upset beyond all reason at how black folks were hating on white folks with their reverse racist calls for desegregation. HE WAS PROTESTING BLACK FOLKS!! Didn’t you KNOW???
I stand corrected! I must have been watching Eyes on the Prize backwards.
Brown v. Board lawyers: Roberts twisted our words
In an unusual effort to cement his interpretation of Brown, [Roberts] quoted from the transcript of the 1952 argument in the case.Oh yeah? Too bad for Roberts that Carter, now 90, is still alive to call bullshit:
“We have one fundamental contention,” a lawyer for the schoolchildren, Robert L. Carter, had told the court more than a half-century ago. “No state has any authority under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities among its citizens.”
Chief Justice Roberts added yesterday, “There is no ambiguity in that statement.”
“All that race was used for at that point in time was to deny equal opportunity to black people,” Judge Carter said of the 1950s. “It’s to stand that argument on its head to use race the way they use is now.”
Jack Greenberg, who worked on the Brown case for the plaintiffs and is now a law professor at Columbia, called the chief justice’s interpretation “preposterous.”
“The plaintiffs in Brown were concerned with the marginalization and subjugation of black people,” Professor Greenberg said. “They said you can’t consider race, but that’s how race was being used.”
William T. Coleman Jr., another lawyer who worked on Brown, said, “The majority opinion is 100 percent wrong.”
New Toon: Resegregation Nation, or Goodbye Brown vs. Board of Education
All you closet Klansmen out there, you would-be Bull O'Connors and George Wallaces, listen up: it is officially time to party! Get out your balloons and confetti, and iron your best white robes, because the Bush Supreme Court has officially declared that racial integration and diversity DON'T MATTER AT ALL. The Bush court says that not only is segregation totally cool (as long as it's the "natural" result of segregated housing areas), it's actively RACIST to oppose segregation. Why? Because racial diversity is AGAINST the spirit of Brown vs. Board of Education.
Yes, that's right--it's against the spirit of the decision that made it possible for children of all colors to go to school together to encourage children of all colors to go to school together. The only way to avoid racism is to DENY it and ignore it and NOT DO ANYTHING TO STOP IT. That's what being "colorblind" is all about!
[Souter] said the chief justice’s invocation of Brown vs. Board of Education was “a cruel irony” when the opinion in fact “rewrites the history of one of this court’s most important decisions” by ignoring the context in which it was issued and the Supreme Court’s subsequent understanding of it to permit voluntary programs of the sort that were now invalidated.
I was particularly horrified by the anti-integration argument that many parents "don't want this" ("this", presumably, being the horror of their children going to school with black kids). For example, here's Roger Clegg, president of the deceptively named "Center for Equal Opportunity" (his group filed an amicus brief in the case) celebrating the anti-integration decision on the NewsHour:
I think that school boards are also going to be sensitive to the fact that most parents don't like it when they are told that where they can send their children to school depends on what color they are.And...
I think the question is whether anyone believes that a politically correct racial and ethnic mix, that kind of diversity, is worth the price of racial discrimination. And I think that most Americans would say that, no, it is not.
Sure, lots of Americans--bigoted and ignorant ones--protested school integration back in the day because they didn't want it, either. That didn't make them RIGHT. That was the whole POINT of Brown vs. Board! As the NAACP's Shaw put it:
This [integration] is not about school districts telling people that they can't go to school on the basis of their skin color. This is about school districts trying to continue to fulfill the promise of Brown and to avoid segregation. In no way is this comparable to the kind of regime of segregation and discrimination that existed under Jim Crow.
Finally, while we're on the topic of Brown vs. Board of Education, this is particularly bad timing, because I just did a dystopian cartoon for Lambda Legal wondering "What would life be like without integrated schools?":
Prepare to find out. And God Bless Our Colorblind America, where the playing field is level, everyone has an equal chance, and white kids can just learn about colored folks on their Tee-Vees!
Next up: in a landmark victory for Americans who don't like sharing water fountains, the Supreme Court rules that allowing black people and white people to drink from the same water fountains violates the Constitution.
P.S. I would have called this cartoon "Separate But Equal: The Sequel", but I already drew a cartoon with that title. Oh well.
P.P.S. Just so it's clear--in the cartoon, the kids of color are locked up in a "Jim Crow Max Security Educational Facility" not because they're troublemakers or deserve to be there, but because they live under racist segregation.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Cheryl Lynn on "Black Hair, Comics and You"
If you have been sent here, the likelihood is that someone asked you to draw a black woman at one point and you completely screwed it up. I kid! I kid! Seriously though, I'm here to help. Together, you and I will go through some of the most popular hairstyles for black women. Never again will you have leagues of black women giving you the side-eye and bitching you out in blogs. Ready? Let's go!
Hopefully some of the mainstream comic book artists who have been annoying her lately will read her tutorial and wise up.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
New Toon: Alberto Gonzales's Civil Rights Lite: Taking the "Justice" Out of Justice Department!
Taste the new "Justice" Department's Civil Rights Division Lite! Now with 99% less: hate crimes prosecution, voting rights enforcement and police brutality investigations! Super-Action-Packed with Loyal Bushies, Wiretapping and Religious Extremists! It's a Yum-Tastic Justice Department makeover!
The Bush administration has laid waste to the Justice Department on a large scale, as the scandals over the replacement of high-performing federal prosecutors with "loyal Bushies" and that whole warrantless wiretapping nastiness have shown.
The Bush makeover of the Civil Rights Division is similarly extreme. The pre-Bush Justice Department Civil Rights Division was founded in 1957. The Division protected voting rights and enforced anti-discrimination laws, with a particular focus on discrimination based on race and national origin. From the Division website:
The Division enforces the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1968; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended through 1992; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act; and additional civil rights provisions contained in other laws and regulations. These laws prohibit discrimination in education, employment, credit, housing, public accommodations and facilities, voting, and certain federally funded and conducted programs.
Or do they? Under Bush and Gonzales, Justice has shifting funding, focus and resources to more Dubyafied priorities. As the New York Times reported this week ("Justice Dept. Reshapes Its Civil Rights Mission"):
In recent years, the Bush administration has recast the federal government’s role in civil rights by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.
Read the whole article, but here are some particular horrors:
The old Civil Rights Division (Civil Rights Clasic, if you will) fought discrimination in hiring. The Civil Rights Lite Division defends the right of religious groups like the Salvation Army to discriminate (see "Charity Cites Bush Help in Fight Against Hiring Gays" and "Court OKs Religious Hiring Bias by Federally Backed Charities").
Civil Rights Classic lent federal enforcement weight to the prosecution of hate crimes cases: KKK attacks, lynchings, and more. Civil Rights Lite has diverted that funding to a pet cause of the Christian Right. Again from the NYT, the Civil Rites Lite Division is...
Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone’s civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.
Certainly trafficking cases deserve funding--but not at the expense of victims of racism, hate crimes and police brutality. Trafficking cases used to and should be handled elsewhere.
Civil Rights Classic defended the voting rights of people of color. Civil Rites Lite suppresses the voting rights people of color through new voter ID requirements and baseless "voter fraud" case--and has even pursued its first claim of voter intimidation against white people. As John Nichols writes in The Nation ("Curing the Rot at Justice"):
The Brennan Center for Justice and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have uncovered evidence of what they describe as "a much broader strategy on the part of the Administration to use federal agencies charged with protecting voting rights to promote voter suppression and influence election rules so as to gain partisan advantage in battleground states." There is now a compelling case that the White House used the Justice Department's Civil Rights and Criminal divisions and the Election Assistance Commission to create a false perception of widespread voter fraud to justify initiatives--stringent voter identification laws, crackdowns on voter registration drives and pre-election purges of eligible voters from the rolls--designed to disenfranchise the poor, minorities, students and seniors.
The New York Times reports on this as well. Civil Rights Lite is:
Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration.
Trouble is, only the federal government has the resources to deal with these voting dilution cases. Oh well--it's not like black voters get disenfranchised anymore, right? Too bad, but they've got a new kind of case to focus on:
The civil rights division also brought the first case ever on behalf of white voters, alleging in 2005 that a black political leader in Noxubee County, Miss., was intimidating whites at the polls.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TRUMPS ALL OTHER FREEDOMS
But back to the Salvation Army. If you visit the Justice Department website, you'll read very little about racist discrimination and the ongoing disenfranchisement of voters of color. Instead, you read about this exciting "special initiative" from Alberto "Geneva Conventions Are Quaint" Gonzales, "The First Freedom Project":
Religious liberty is often referred to as the "First Freedom" because the Framers placed it first in the Bill of Rights. Yet it is not merely first in order: it is a fundamental freedom on which so many of our other freedoms rest.
Forget freedom of speech, forget freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, and most especially freedom from unreasonable search and seizure: the first and most important freedom is the freedom of religious organizations to receive government funding for firing gay people.
Some of the other evidence of Civil Rights Lite cited by the New York Times:
Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.
Conservative religious groups who love the taste of Civil Rights Lite say that the weight of the federal government is no longer needed to combat racism and discrimination--silly stuff like that can be left up to local authorities. Of course, local authorities often lack the resources, will or perspective to fight racism. Historically, local authorities in the South often deliberately turned their backs on racist attacks and civil rights violations, and I'm not so sure those days are totally behind us. And that whole federal ignoring of civil rights and the issues of black people worked out great during Katrina, didn't it?
HIRING LOYAL BUSHIES
Oh, and then there's the hiring thing. We all remember sweet little Monica "I crossed the line" Goodling, trying so hard to make everything harmonious at Justice by hiring only "loyal Bushies". The NYT analyzed department statistics and found that Civil Rights Classic hired lawyers with impressive backgrounds and qualifications. Civil Rights Lite hires lawyers from religious law schools (like Pat Robertson's academically questionable Regent Law) who play up their conservative and religious credentials as much as possible.
Cross-posted at Search and Destroy.
P.S. Have you bought Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela! Cartoons by Mikhaela B. Reid (with foreword by Ted Rall) yet? Why not?
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Legacies, or Some Day, They're Really Going to Feel Like Fools
Marriage equality: yet another arena in which the Democrats are missing a spine.
40 years ago yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Loving vs. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. The Loving decision invalidated the "Racial Integrity Act" that allowed Virginia cops to bust into the bedroom of Richard and Mildred Loving, arrest them for "illegal cohabitation" and sentence them to a year in jail.
Can you imagine the leading Democratic candidates getting up at a campaign stop today and hemming and hawing out the following nonsense?
I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out...From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in interracial civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment.or
It's a jump for me to get to interracial marriage. I haven't yet got across that bridge.or how about
I would not support the Defense of Racial Integrity Act today, if there were a vote today. But the part I agree with is the states should not be required to recognize interracial marriages from other states.
Those are all paraphrases of actual statements on gay marriage from Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Obama has similar views. (found via Pam's House Blend, an excellent LGBT issues blog that regularly checks in on all the candidate's positions on marriage equality).
Some folks say the Democrats have no choice but to tone down their support of gay rights to appeal to religious voters or values voters. But is that the kind of visionary progressive leadership we want to promote?
Decades from now, the people who were too afraid to support full equality for gay Americans are going to look like spineless sheep, and rightly so. I can see the history books now "The Democrats bravely passed non-binding resolutions, courageously voted to fund an illicit war they claimed to oppose, did nothing of any note to remove an Attorney General with a serious torture fetish and tentatively supported domestic partnership benefits while opposing real marriage equality." Now that's a legacy we can all be proud of! As Susan Ryan-Vollmar wrote in her Bay Windows editorial last week (regarding a possible constitutional ban on gay marriage in Massachusetts):
Twenty years from now, when their time in office has long since ended, those lawmakers who back the anti-gay amendment June 14 will still be asked about their vote by their grandchildren, their neighbors and even reporters writing anniversary pieces. Trying to explain that they supported marriage equality but believed the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples should be decided by popular vote will sound even more disingenuous several decades from now than it does today.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Loving v. Virginia toon for Lambda Legal + Vote in Illustration Contest
Finally, there's a cool Life Without Fair Courts illustration contest going on that needs your vote! Check out the awesome entries by the five finalists (Greg Fox, Matt Bors, Jennifer Cruté, Ted Rall and Astrid Lydia Johanssen) and cast your vote today!
Friday, May 25, 2007
East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention, Pt. 3: "Having Our Say: Black Women Discuss Imagery"
Cheryl Lynn Eaton (Digital Femme, The Ormes Society) and L.A. Banks (Vampire Huntress)
Moderator Stephanie Brandford and Cheryl Lynn Eaton; Rashida Lewis "Sand Storm") talks about the cover of her book
In February of this year, comics writer Cheryl Lynn Eaton founded The Ormes Society to celebrate and promote the work of black women comics creators and professionals and to reach out to black women comics readers. The Society is named for pioneer Zelda "Jackie" Ormes, currently considered to be the first syndicated African-American woman cartoonist. The Society started with about 13 members but is now 20 strong and growing. As Cheryl Lynn explained in her blog:
Black women are out there creating, but unlike our peers, we have the tendency to create in a vacuum... . How can I have the nerve to be irritated by how sites devoted to black creators are dominated by men and books with superhero themes (and on occasion, "hot" black model threads) if I never add my own contributions? How can I be irked by the fact that none of the members of the sites devoted to women in comics commented on the dearth of brown-skinned girls as characters in the MINX line if I never registered on those boards to make a post about that topic in the first place?
The Ormes Society would be a bit of a stepping stone or gateway. It'd be a place where black female comic creators and fans could (1) find each other (2) share our creations (3) talk about topics that are important to us and (4) gain the courage needed to bring those thoughts and creations to the larger comic reading/creating audience. It would also be a place for editors, fans and fellow creators to find us and share their thoughts about our work and about topics that pertain to black women in comics (both in the pages and behind the scenes).
The above photos are from a May 19 panel at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention in Philly, "Having Our Say: Black Women Discuss Imagery." The discussion was steered by the fantastic Stephanie Brandford, who also moderates the Dwayne McDuffie VHive comics forum under the name mutate20. (Also note Stephanie's awesome "Invisible Universe" T-shirt). The below are some key quotes from my hand-scribbled notes on the panel:
1. So what's the problem?
Stephanie Brandford began the panel by showing a 8-minute series of video clips she had compiled of depictions of black women characters in speculative fiction movies, including Storm (X-Men), Gail (Sin City), Joy (Children of Men), Niobe (Matrix movies), Akasha (Queen of the Damned) and various others. Most of the characters were in minor or supporting roles, with a few exceptions.
Brandford then prefaced her first question by explaining that as someone with an engineering background, she would take a problem-solving approach in her role as moderator. She then asked the panelists to describe what they saw as the problem (with both the relative lack of substantial roles given to black women in both film and comics.):
- Rashida Lewis said that black women characters were "too few, and too one-dimensional", adding "We can always use a few more sisters holding things down in comic books.
- L.A. Banks referred to the film clips, saying that for the most part "either we died in the first 30 seconds of the flick, or we were in roles that were powerless." Said Banks: "I wanted to have some young heroes that look like my daughter."
- Cheryl Lynn Eaton agreed: "It's black women as perpetual sidekick. We need to hear from more women's voices. And it would be nice to see some books geared toward us."
- RL: "Write to the publishers!"
- LAB: Banks strongly agreed. "One letter is considered to be like 100 responses." She emphasized that the bottoms line for publishers and the film industry is money. "You need to understand how this works economically... . The late great Octavia Butler never made the New York Times bestseller list. Vote at the box office!"
- CLE: "Speak up with your pen, with your wallet. Write to the messageboards."
3. Root Cause?
- SB: "How can creator be encouraged to improve the portrayals of black women?"
- RL: "I think I see a movement, our own little Renaissance." She added that "There should be good characters on both ends of the spectrum" (Note: I believe she meant the spectrum of mainstream to independent comics publishing).
- LAB: Banks emphasized economics again. She said racism was obviously a huge problem in the industry, but "the economics moves a lot of that stuff out of the way." She also encouraged readers who wanted to support black women creators and characters to buy across genres, from horror and science fiction to comics and mainstream literature, and not just to stick with their favorite genres. "If you don't buy across the board, you won't have [black] mysteries, [black] science fiction. Just urban lit and 'women's fiction.'"
- CLE: Eaton addressed creators of all backgrounds with her answer. "When you create, think that no child want to pick up a book and feel that they are less than any other group, no child wants to feel left out." She also commented on the small but significant attempts at diversity being made by mainstream comics publishers. "The comics companies are scared so you see them making little tentative changes... They don't put the effort into them."
She added that when a small attempt at adding characters of color failed to have huge success, publishers often used that as an excuse not to try again. ("Oh, we already tried that.") What was really needed was "characters of all races, all backgrounds. They really have to make the effort and the commitment."
- LAB: Banks changed the topic slightly and talked about some of the tactics she has used to make her series of Vampire Huntress novels so successful. She mentioned that while she puts out a new book every six months, she also posts 10-20 page unique "in-between" stories for free on her website and MySpace to keep readers coming back. Her readers send the stories around and tell all their friends, which builds sales for the books when they eventually come out.
4. What would an ideal state look like?
- RL: "There should be a gazillion small companies putting out what needs to be said, however they need to get the truth out. When you tell your own truth, people follow."
- LAB: In an ideal world "every major publishing house would be giving Anne Rice dollars to people writing speculative fiction." She said that 60% of all paperback sales are romance novels, and that publishers tend to put all the money and promotions and good distribution deals into a few big authors. "They're all putting Danielle Steele in her Rolls Royce. There's a huge pay disparity."
- CLE: "Utopia? I'm so used to just fighting for the most minute recognition. Just to walk into a comic book store and see a diverse range."
- RL: Talked about how there is often a defensive backlash against comic book creators of color: "When you do start bringing things to the light, people get upset." She said she had gotten a lot of negative reactions to making the main characters in her Sand Storm comic books, which are set in ancient Egypt, black instead of fititng into the "Elizabeth Taylor" white Cleopatra that so many people are comfortable with.
5. Question from the audience: "What can you do as an artist to reverse stereotypes of black women as either video hos or asexual "mama" or "mammy" caricatures?"
- RL and LAB both talked about how they had dealt with the sexuality of their characters, trying to avoid stereotypes and create a balance between their characters beauty, intelligence and sexuality--powerful women with moral codes who nonetheless owned their own sexuality.
- CLE felt that black women aren't necessarily seen as very sexual in mainstream comics, and that they were often background characters while all kinds of male superheroes fought over white women characters. "You have to fight and say black women ARE desirable, black women are beautiful. [In the mainstream comics] We're like handmaidens to Kitty Pryde and Jean Grey, backdrops to Wonder Woman."
5. Question from the audience: "Who is your favorite character and why?"
- RL "White Tiger." [Note: a Latina character in Marvel comics] She also mentioned how much she loved Sigourney Weaver in Aliens.
- LAB Sin City's Gail, played by Rosario Dawson.
- CLE "Misty Knight." [Note: Knight was one of the first substantial black women characters in mainstream comics. A few days after the panel, Eaton writes in her blog that she was horrified to see the latest cover of the comics series starring Misty Knight, which shows Knight and her friends drawn in a ridiculous porn style and being molested by tentacles. See PW Beat for more.]
6. Question from the audience from a white man who wanted to know if there were any special rules or guidelines for a white person depicting characters of color.
- The panelists basically agreed that everyone in comics should be encouraged to create smart, sensitive and substantial characters of color, and that while there were no special rules or guidelines it was important to approach such characters respectfully and try to do proper research.
- CLE Eaton added: "Fans are going to complain regardless. As long as you've done your research, don't worry about what they say."
7. Question from the audience from a librarian who works with a lot of young black women in the Bronx and wanted to know if there were any particular books she should try to acquire for her library.
- The panelists had trouble coming up with books with black women characters appropriate for young girls, basically lamenting the serious lack of such books in comics. CLE suggested that one good choice might be Aya by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie, a graphic novel based on Abouet's experience as a teenage girl growing up in the Ivory Coast in the 1970s.
That's all, folks. Don't forget to visit The Ormes Society and Digital Femme for more on this topic.
See "East Coast Black Age of Comics, Part 1: The Glyph Awards" and "ECBACC Photo Outtake" and Part 2: The Conventionfor more extensive commentary, photos and notes on ECBACC.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
New Toon: The Afterlife Adventures of Jerry Falwell
Anyway, everything in this cartoon is true. Yes, Falwell is primarily known as a gay-hater and anti-feminist, but he got his start in pro-segregationist racism (see The Southern Poverty Law Center):
Falwell was plain enough about his views; in 1964, he told a local paper that the Civil Rights Act had been misnamed: "It should be considered civil wrongs rather than civil rights."
Falwell was later forced to change his stance on segregation, but if anything, he became more virulently anti-gay as time went on. One of his main goals was to completely replace the U.S. public school system with private Christian schools. And he did indeed blame 9/11 on feminists, gays, "secularists", and the ACLU (for which he technically apologized, but it hardly seemed sincere).
East Coast Black Age of Comics, Part 2: Convention Photos
Keith Knight ("The K Chronicles"), Masheka Wood ("Not Just Knee Deep"), Mikhaela Reid ("The Boiling Point") and Ayo ("Little Garden")
Joseph Wheeler III ("New Art Order"); Masheka Wood with underground comics pioneer Larry Fuller (Larry had just purchased Masheka's awesome new book, Deep Doodle); the cover of the excellent book "How to Draw Afrakan Superheroes"
Stylish ECBACC apparel; Dwayne McDuffie ("Static Shock")
On May 19, Masheka and I made our second comics-fun-filled trip to the annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. Above are some more of the photos (click on any one for caption info and a slideshow). I'm embarrassed to say that Keith was the only one of us to remember his Cartoonists With Attitude T-shirt. Oops!
I already name-checked and reminisced about most of the fantastic cartoonists we got to hang out with, but I'd like to take a moment to spotlight one you're probably not familiar with, our table buddy, Brooklyn-based cartoonist Ayo (see top photo), who draws the mini-comic "Little Garden." I could try to describe his beautiful linework and wonderfully drawn characters (who tend to be adorable girls with lizard tails and extra eyes and Medusa snake hair) and excellent use of mood and setting and blah de blah, but instead I'm just going to show you:
Please check out Ayo's awesome art and leave some praise.
See "East Coast Black Age of Comics, Part 1: The Glyph Awards" and "ECBACC Photo Outtake" for more extensive commentary and notes on attendees. Also see: Part 3, photos and commentary from the panel "Having Our Say: Black Women Discuss Imagery."
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
More proof Lou Dobbs is a crazy racist and a bully
East Coast Black Age of Comics, Part 1: The Glyph Awards
(Click any of the above images or view the whole set for my coverage and commentary).
Photos from the Glyph Comics Award Ceremony on May 18, 2007 at Philadelphia's African-American Museum, the kickoff for the 6th Annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. Check out Glyph Awards founder Rich Watson's blog for a full list of nominees and winners and extensive Glyphs coverage. Keith Knight, Kyle Baker and Larry Fuller accepted their awards in person, but one of the highlights was Stagger Lee writer Derek McCulloch accepting one of several awards via speakerphone cellphone (with the help of Prof. William Foster). McCulloch gave a moving speech and joked that he was speaking to us from a bathroom.
My fiancé Masheka Wood was a nominee for Rising Star, and although he didn't win, it "was an honor to be nominated" (and the award went to the amazing Spike, for her strip Templar, Arizona, so hard to be too bummed about it).
Plus we got to present the award for Best Comic Strip to amazing fellow Cartoonist With Attitude Keith Knight, for his strip The K Chronicles (a second-time winner!). Keith took photos of his own butt on the way up to the podium and remarked that it was nice to be at a convention where no one mistook him for Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder. He also later noted that the food at ECBACC (BBQ, meatballs, rice, jerk chicken, fried chicken, and other delights) was far superior to the usual comics convention concessions (typically suspiciously gray hot dogs and burgers).
Masheka and I also got to meet and/or hang out with:
- Host Jamar Nicholas ("The Jamar Chronicles," "Detective Boogaloo"), who instructed the mostly-non-Philly audience on proper cheese-steak-ordering etiquette.
- Kyle Baker, accepting the award for Best Artist, said it was nice to be at a convention where he didn't have people asking "Who's Nat Turner?" He also donned sunglasses as a way, he said, of distinguishing himself from all the other guys with dreadlocks--not typically necessary at your average 95% white comic convention.
- Eye Trauma's John Jennings and Damian Duffy (the curators of Other Heroes and Out of Sequence. They're currently working on their stunning science fiction horror graphic novel about racism and consumer culture, The Hole:
- Joseph Wheeler III & Iyabo Shabazz.
- Cheryl Lynn, of Digital Femme (and founder of the rapidly expanding Ormes Society for black women cartoonists), who spoke on a fantastic panel called "Having Our Say: Black Women Discuss Imagery." More on that panel when I post the pictures. For now, here's a recent quote from her blog:
What do women want from comics?That sums up a large part of ECBACC's mission, as does the work of...
The answer isn't important. Here's all you need to know:
No reader wants to be made to feel that he or she is inherently less than a member of another group when he or she picks up a book to enjoy.
- Professor William H. Foster III, whose current exhibit at MOCCA NYC is called "Looking for a Face Like Mine." From MOCCA:
Blacks were deliberately left out of comics and American society for many years,” Foster noted. “On those rare occasions when we were included, we were misrepresented as savages, cannibals, simpletons, and worse. My research documents this important history both fair and foul, for all time, while there are still traces of it left.”
- The tireless Rich Watson, Glyph Comics Awards founder and editor of the excellent new Urban Voice of Comics magazine (which describes itself as "Wizard meets Vibe.")
- Underground comics legend Larry Fuller, who accepted the Glyphs Pioneer Award.
- Our table buddy, Ayo (more on him in the Saturday post). Ayo was a bit bummed out by his ECBACC sales, but I think that had more to do with our poor choice of table location than anything else--we got there really early and thought it'd be great to be right by the door, but folks walked right past the door to get to the main convention. Oops.
- Syndicated cartoonist Jerry Craft (Mama's Boyz), who was the only presenter to open his envelope with a dagger.
- Dwayne McDuffie, of Static Shock fame, and Dwayne McDuffie forum moderator Stephanie Brandford (mutate20).
- Omar Bilal, of the Museum of Black Superheroes.
- Vampire Huntress author L.A. Banks.
- And many more awesome comics artists and writers and fans, some of whom I will mention tomorrow.
For more ECBACC coverage, see The Heroic Times (which has some Larry Fuller images), Eye Trauma, Cheryl Lynn's Publishers Weekly report, Keith Knight's blog and Glyphs. Also, Joseph Wheeler III has some great photos (including one of me & Masheka up at the podium presenting).
Coming up: photos from the convention itself (including one of me asleep with a Keith-Knight-penned "please buy my comics" sign pinned to me), and photos and coverage of the panel "Having Our Say: Black Women Discuss Imagery."
Update: See "Part 2: Convention Photos."
P.S. Buy Masheka's book, Deep Doodle!