Although to many of you it was ages ago, I can still recall becoming an Art Design major at North Carolina A&T State University, circa 1991.  I had left the restrictive world of Architectural Engineering and was looking forward finally being able to fully utilize my full creative capacity among people who really understood me.  Most credits transferred, a few didn’t.   But I still remembered how to draw and paint and I was looking forward to my studio classes.  Ironically, the place where I should have felt most comfortable was also where I would continue to feel academic alienation.

I would constantly see non-art majors expressing their joy at taking art classes because it would be an “easy A”.  Mind you, none of these people could draw flies on a hot summer’s day, but they were enraptured all the same.  And once we were all in class together, I could finally see why.  I was up nights, working my butt off, to get proper perspective, foreshortening and proportions.  And after some nit-picky critique, I might earn a B+.  Ms. Non-Major would then stroll up, and because she had added arms and eyes to her stick figure, she would be gifted with an A+, based on improvement.  So, not only was she taught not to respect our craft, but I still had to do actual work to obtain A’s in English, History or anything else.  I was an A student.  I didn’t beg anyone for anything.  And there was my own department giving away our dignity like candy corn on Halloween night.

By 1994, I had matriculated and moved on to the Savannah College of Art & Design’s Sequential Art program.  I thought that would be it . . . An art mentality from every quarter . . .  Serious dedication . . . And in many ways I was right.  But Graphic Design and Video were among several majors that don’t require drawing.  However, it’s advisable for Video majors to become familiar with storyboarding, which is akin to drawing for graphic novels.  Many of these students had zero drawing experience and even less confidence in what they were committing to paper.  So, once again, I witnessed the “grading on improvement” model that essentially left studio classes with two grading scales.  It wasn’t quite as extreme, but, considering that we were all attending an art college, it got pretty ridiculous at times.

And while I was attending SCAD, it became glaringly evident that the comic book industry would be following suit with a version of the same behavior.  Comic book companies at that time were notorious for possessing the most nit-picky, shrouded in mystery, elitist process for acquiring talent that anyone had ever seen.  You could be buying a book for months and know for a fact that the artist drawing it was nowhere near your level of talent.  And the answer you would probably get upon showing your work would be: “But they know he can meet a deadline”.  As if he were born meeting deadlines; at some point, someone gave him an opportunity and he proved himself.  That’s how they knew he could meet a deadline.  It wasn’t magic.

But the insult to injury would be when top artists from other genres (novels, movies, video games, etc.) request entry into the comic book industry, they are ushered in untested and without question.  Now don’t get me wrong, some of my favorite works have come from the minds of Brad Meltzer, Greg Rucka, J. Michael Straczynski and Joss Wheadon.  But there is nothing about being highly successful in another medium that says you’ll automatically be successful in comics.  “But they LOVE comics!” you say.  Well, so do all those highly talented writers and artists who get turned away every day, while Batman and the X-Men et al. get drawn by people who shouldn’t be allowed to sharpen pencils, let alone get paid monthly to draw with them.

And here’s the kicker . . . even the top, most elite creators in comics don’t get a free pass into other genres because of their status within their own field.   Not one traditional publisher or movie studio has ever said, “I know your skill, here’s a blank check to our world.”  There are several movies I can think of that would have been much better had that been the case.  But even with full knowledge that the concept would never have existed and no one else would ever have known where to take those characters for 100 plus issues, a studio will take control completely out of a creator’s hands and never blink. And don’t even think that the fact that the collected edition of your Vertigo series is a top seller will get you a deal for your novel.  It won’t; not by itself anyway.  I may not be enjoying the sales of any major publisher at the moment.  But as a self-publisher, I can publisher what I want, the way that I want, at my own pace.  And it’s consistently in print for whoever wants to see it. Be blessed . . .


Until Her Darkness Goes

Wow! I was thoroughly engrossed in this work.  From the first sentence to the last, I was completely invested in what happened to Rachael and Nicky.  It was like I knew them. They were close friends and I felt their losses. I was overjoyed at their successes.  I couldn’t side with one or the other when they disagreed or argued.  They were my friends and I loved them both. I could understand them both completely.  I was equally engrossed in their other relationships and their world.

This is a testament to the skill with which, author, Rana Kelly presents these characters and their world.  She is obviously a voice that deserves a much, much wider audience.  Maya Angelou once said that “easy reading is damned hard writing”.  And, if that is truly the case, Rana Kelly definitely puts in the labor to make her pages easily digestible. The dialogue is realistic, the settings are fully fleshed out and every character seems to be standing right in the room with the reader. Likewise, the business jargon doesn’t sound like someone just did research and wants to drop the proper terms onto the page. It reads as though real professionals are discussing their work under normal circumstances. I can’t say enough about the talent of this author.

Until Her Darkness Goes was presented to me as a “Rock Novel”.  But I have always felt that such labels are often limiting.  I know that they can be necessary for marketing or even to ensure sales in certain genres.  However, this book is a prime example of a work that presents characters that are fully relatable to anyone who appreciates strong characterization.  They just happen to work within a specific industry.  I personally have an interest in the music industry, but even if you don’t, you will find a lot to love about this book.  I cannot recommend it enough. I loved every page.


“I hate you. It’s not because of anything you’ve ever said or done. It’s not even because of you as a person; as I don’t really know you or anything about you. I just despise you for the pigmentation of your skin.  So, you can never do anything to fix it or make it right.  Oh . . . and I hate your parents and all of your kids too.”  No matter how tolerant or sympathetic you are . . . No matter how close you’ve been to a person . . . No matter whom you’ve dated or how long you’ve been married to someone . . . You can never truly know the full effect of these sentiments until they have been aimed directly at you by a sincerely devout individual; especially if you live that reality daily.

Of course, life isn’t that straightforward.  I actually have more respect for a person who’s honest enough to just admit what he or she is — even if their beliefs are repulsive.  But what usually happens is that school districts are designed separately but unequally; laws that negatively affect the poor and people of color get pushed through; or Presidential Cabinets are filled with men who have ties to White Nationalism (which anybody with a brain knows means White Racism).  What happens is our country elects a President who has full, open support from the Ku Klux Klan . . . and makes countless racist remarks in public . . . while campaigning . . . and we rationalize that decision.  And it wouldn’t be quite so glaringly ridiculous if we as a country had not passed over the single most qualified candidate of any sex or race to ever run for President (and no, there’s no arguing that point), for the least qualified, least knowledgeable candidate to ever run. And that person is an open and unapologetic racist, sexist, narcissistic bully.

Now, I’m not misguided enough to believe that everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a fellow racist and/ or sexist.  But it’s obvious that his racism and sexism weren’t repulsive enough to your collective sensibilities for you not to vote for him. In fact, I was online prior to the election and read a post from one individual, stating that he felt that Trump’s shortcomings “didn’t affect national security the way that Clinton’s would”.  One could easily extrapolate that statement to mean that Trump’s biases didn’t affect him or his life.  At any rate, any serious look at the inept and delusional methods of the current administration will quickly call that individual’s line of thinking immediately into question.  There obviously has been a rather large effect.  From the ban on Muslims; to the monument to racism, now referred to as “The Wall”; to his support of and part ownership in the North Dakota Access Pipeline; to America’s newly strained relations with former allies and once neutral parties; the effects are there for all to see.

Likewise, The Patriarchy in America is extremely strong.  It’s apparently strong enough that even a lot of women have grown to accept it as normal.  Long before the advent of President Trump, I witnessed Republican Party members make repulsively sexist statements in public forums; only to have prominent female party members, such as Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin, fully support their campaigns.  And female voters followed suit.  I recently read that it’s common for women to vote the way that their husbands want them to vote.  As a supporter of equal rights for all people, I would sincerely hope that we have all evolved beyond that.  However, it has always been more than obvious that many people would have voted for a trained monkey if it meant never having a woman as President; no matter her qualifications.  Soon after the airing of the infamous video, in which Donald Trump blatantly speaks about sexually assaulting women, I read a Facebook post from a Christian minister.  The post read: “It’s better that our President grabs vaginas than have one”. This from — not just a fellow Christian but a leader of people — needs no further analysis.

When Donald Trump spoke of forcing kisses on reluctant women and grabbing their vaginas, I was supposed to be okay with it.  Well . . . I was not.  Donald Trump once yelled: “Look at my African-American over there!”  He did so while referring to the sole, misguided Black man at a particular Trump Rally.  Donald Trump was pointing out this man like an anomalous beast . . . in a cage . . . at the zoo.  And I suppose I was supposed to be okay with that as well.  Well, I wasn’t.  And many others claimed to share that sentiment.  Yet, here we all are, enduring some of the most questionable decisions in modern history.  And, after Donald Trump had won the election, becoming President of the United States, many of you were acting as though he had just won a Super Bowl or a UFC title.  “Well, he’s won now. Let’s just work together and move forward.”  There was nothing in the campaign of Donald Trump that suggested unity or diversity of any kind.  And we can see the divisive nature and “alternative facts” that dominate his Presidency.  Surely, if there had ever have been a time to “work together”; it would have been in keeping him out of office, wouldn’t it?


I recently responded to a question on the Quora website that I feel is relevant to my themes here. The lady posted the following query:

Does my obsession for these superhero CW TV shows make me a ‘bad’ or a ‘fake fan’? (Although I love the comics!)

My response:

In short, no. People come into fandom from various points of entry. That’s part of the reason that properties are expanded into various media. And you have stated that you already read the comics. So you know the “base” medium and have it as a means of comparison. The reason that shows like Flash and Arrow don’t slavishly regurgitate the comics is because, while it’s cool when we see moments taken straight from our favorite stories, it would get old for those of us who read the books and/ or know the histories pretty quickly. The producers want to hold our interests as well as attracting new fans, who will watch a well-crafted series but may have never considered reading a comic. As a creative person, I don’t feel that a bad fan exists. If you were to buy and enjoy my work and keep coming back, I want to maintain my quality and keep your patronage and loyalty.



1 upvote

Well, I first got into comics and superheroes because of my dad. He collected comics since he was 7 (he had over $50,000 in comics). I used to watch the terrible 70’s superhero movies and then my dad got the 1990’s TV show: The Flash and I was immediately obsessed. And I started reading comics and watching the cartoons such as: Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, Superman: The Animated series, Batman: The Animated Series, Young Justice, Teen Titans etc… I’m a junkie for this kind of stuff 🙂

Trevor L. Wooten

1 upvote

Wow . . . I’ll bet he had quite a collection. I can’t even imagine the volume, let alone the value. And it’s awesome that the two of you could share that. My kids can watch the movies, but none of them turned into readers or collectors. My son would be closest with video games. But I followed your path with the TV shows through the years. Reruns of the 60’s Batman in the early 70’s were my first exposure to that character. Yet he became my favorite character, despite the distinct difference in presentation between the show and the tone of the comics. I just don’t see a bad way of introducing someone to the industry. If they have a genuine interest, they’ll want to see the source material. Then they’ll either stay or go, but it’s an individual choice. And nothing says they can’t still enjoy the medium that hooked them at the outset.

As was stated later in the thread, there’s a sense of tribalism among some in fandom; the actual feeling that something needs to be guarded.  These “Gatekeepers” are keeping a lot of new people away — or at the very least, a discreet distance — to preserve either a sense of superiority or purity.  Either would be misguided.  Especially in an industry as relatively small as the comic book industry, we should be embracing those who show a genuine interest.  We should be guiding them toward the highest quality creators and projects on the stands and in the bins.  We should be inviting them to the local comic book store with us every Wednesday.  As a self-publisher, I don’t currently have the tools to branch out into other media, but I see the value of Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Valiant and other companies doing so reach new audiences.  And I definitely see the how completely suicidal it would be for us as an industry to sabotage their efforts.  Just a thought . . .

Is It So Difficult?

Is it really so difficult to grasp the concept that a person can stand in total support of Law Enforcement but still ask that individual members of said group be held responsible for and receive appropriate consequences for wrongdoings? In fact, it seems illogical to even SAY that you support Law Enforcement and at the same time to condone the presence of corrupt and murderous individuals among their numbers; staining the whole with their mere existence. Having worked closely with some of the best officers this country has to offer for three years in Savannah, GA, I’m more than aware of the utter chaos that our lives would be without the presence of police officers. Likewise, when I’m not creating art or writing down what the voices in my head are saying, I’m spending 12.25 hours a day “protecting the general public” from inmates. I get it. I also understand the need to eliminate corruption and stop overshadowing the efforts of the large number of good officers with good intentions in this country. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp that the deaths of unarmed and/ or restrained African-American men at the hands of police officers were unwarranted. One simply has to try. Be blessed . . .


I’m a creative writer and a visual artist.  I’m a fan of both Marvel Comics and DC Comics.  I enjoy books, videos games, television and movies from both companies, but I don’t blindly follow either without objectivity and constructive criticism.  There has been a lot written about the brilliant strategic planning behind the implementation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  For the most part, I have to completely agree with the praise. It’s well deserved.  Almost equal amounts have been written about how DC is making “major mistakes”, while trying to “catch up” with Marvel.  Those people, I believe, may be looking at the situation from the wrong perspective.

Marvel had presented itself with the task of creating a shared cinematic universe.  Their best known and highest grossing comic book properties, Spider-Man and the X-Men, were unavailable for “home grown” films, due to licensing obligations to Sony and Fox respectively.  These are the most popular among the regular comic book audience and the most recognizable to the public at large, consistently selling the most merchandise.   I may belabor this point, but there is a reason.  They had to present characters that were less well known to the general public and, in fact, didn’t even sell as many books among regular comic buyers.

Now, if you and I could actually live in the Marvel Universe, we would see Captain America, Iron Man and especially Thor as the most powerful, most iconic heroes in the world.  They are the “Trinity” of the Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  For you and me, there would be no one more popular and no one more awe inspiring.  Spider-Man would be a popular second-stringer and the X-Men, if we even knew of their existence, would mostly be . . . scary.  However, in the real world, Spider-Man and Wolverine were added to the Avengers roster several years prior to the movie.  This was no doubt both a response to the popularity of those two characters and an admission that their addition would boost the sales of the often struggling Avengers franchise.

Therefore, when Marvel presented Iron Man in theaters, they were starting to build their Cinematic Universe with what was essentially a lesser known property.  And they were, in my opinion, taking a chance.  In the comics, Tony Stark is an egotistical, womanizing, alcoholic, genius, who cares about very little outside of his own perceptions.  It was Robert Downey, Jr., playing Stark/ Iron Man to perfection, who injected a likeable, basically good hearted person into the main character.   I seriously doubt that most people would have found Tony Stark a sympathetic character in his original state.  But Marvel had to start somewhere.

The Hulk has been on television and remains popular today, but his movie incarnation is more akin to his comic book roots and far removed from what the general public would recall or recognize.  Likewise, because Daredevil is my favorite Marvel character, I’m a major fan of the prowess and capabilities of the Black Widow outside of The Avengers comics.  And, consequently, Black Widow and Hulk alone would have been more than enough to entice me to a theater seat.  However, I fully understand how that might not have been the case for others, especially among the general public.  No.  Marvel had to start with films that introduced their characters with origin stories and build the universe slowly over time; one character at a time.  Iron Man.  The Hulk.  Captain America.  Thor. The ultimate payoff, they always knew, would be the culmination of these characters meeting as a group in The Avengers.  It would be the first time a comic book crossover was depicted on a movie screen. The buildup was well coordinated and the anticipation would be massive.  Of course, they killed it on every level.

DC Comics had a completely different set of parameters.  Their most iconic characters were also the stars of their best-selling comics.  In fact Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are among the best known characters in the world.  Even people who haven’t actually read a comic in years readily recognize the various Batman symbols, Superman’s “S” symbol and Wonder Woman’s stylized eagle and starred tiara.  Conceived in 1938, 1939 and 1941 respectively, this “Trinity” has been consistently published, been the subjects of various TV shows and movies, and appeared on numerous types of merchandise for decades.  They have grown to be as much a part of the global consciousness as Mickey Mouse or Apple Computers.

Further, I don’t recall a period when the Justice League comics ever sold as inconsistently or lagged as much in sales as The Avengers comics have at some points.  In fact, I’m sure it’s not lost on very many readers that, even after the massive success of the movie, Marvel had to set about merging the Avengers books with the X-Men books to boost sales.  But fond memories of the Super Friends animated show; the Justice League animation; and Justice League Unlimited, coupled with the usual sales of Justice League related comics should produce some sincere anticipation for that movie on their own.

Therefore, contrary to popular belief, DC Comics had no real need to follow Marvel’s cinematic example. If they so desired, DC could move directly into establishing their shared universe with a fraction of the build-up; as long as their “Big Three” were involved.  And that’s just what they did.  No, I don’t feel that Batman V. Superman was rushed or crowded.  I do feel that it was a well done movie that had a different tone and different pacing than the average Marvel movie.  And that’s okay.  DC has to be DC, not Marvel Chasers.  It seemed that there was a smear campaign before Batman V. Superman was even released; a hive-minded attempt to get people not to like it or even go to the theater.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s later discovered that money changed hands in some cases.  It was surreal to behold.  Some of the negative things I’ve read since its release have bordered on farcical.  I won’t go into them here.  It just makes me wonder, because the entire theater broke into applause at the movie’s conclusion, when my son and I went to see it on opening night.   No one had complained about a single scene throughout the movie.  And, no, I’m not saying that it was perfect.  But, neither was Captain America: Civil War, which I also loved.  The critics and fan boys were just much, much kinder.

At any rate, I can agree that Marvel has been ingenious in its machinations, but DC is most definitely not wrong.  Be blessed . . .


I hate Black History.  No, not really.  But, now that I have your attention, I can begin.  I hate the perceptions and misconceptions that the phrase “Black History” breeds.  It would appear that there is the Black History that we study during the shortest month of the year and then there’s the regular history that exits for everyone else the rest of the year.  There is a separation that simply shouldn’t be there; that should never have been there.  Even well-versed teachers don’t integrate the facts into the full picture that would simply be termed . . . history.

Garrett Morgan didn’t create traffic lights just for “Black people”.  They are used throughout America and worldwide.  There’s no way of extracting the significance of his work from history and relegating it to some pocket branch or labeling it as some perverted offshoot of reality.  This is a mainstream historical fact that has affected millions, if not billions, of people.  Likewise, no one says that George Washington was the first President of “White America”.  Regardless of your or my personal views on him, George Washington led the country as a whole and is remembered in that light.  When Crispus Attucks died, it wasn’t just for “Black America”, much of which was still composed of slaves at that time.  Regardless of his race, he was the first human being to die in the American Revolution.

African-Americans are responsible for the existence of things as diverse as air conditioning, cell phones, the space shuttle retrieval arm, the discovery of blood plasma, and the origins of various mythologies.  I don’t write that from a position of assumed superiority or embraced bigotry.  I am simply trying to point out how incomplete the picture being presented to students has consistently been. So called “Black Facts” are presented throughout Black History Month, often to the exclusion of all else.  It would be so much more effective, if the so called “Black History” were integrated into the curriculum at the very beginning of the course work.  That way, students could see how all of the events fit together and realize that there is only one tapestry . . . one tree with several diverse branches.  There is actually no such thing as Black History.  There is simply history.  And I believe that we do ourselves and, most assuredly, our children a disservice by promoting a segregated, disjointed substitute.


My favorite non-art job was taking nonemergency reports for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.  I was serving the community and assisting the sworn officers.  I enjoyed the freedom of driving around the city as I listened to the radio, awaiting calls that pertained to me.  And I was actually paid to write every day.   As a civilian employee, I was entitled to partake of a set list of scheduled holidays each year.  There, in fact, was supposedly no question about us taking this time off, but we were required, for some reason, to submit Leave Request Forms prior to each holiday.

My supervisor at this time was the Police Sargent who was in charge of the CSU (Crime Suppression Unit).  I distinctly recall one occasion in particular, when I was submitting a Leave Request to my supervisor during a shift briefing.  He looked at me from his podium and said: “Sometimes you act like you don’t like your job. Why do you always want so much time off?”  More than a little confused by his demeanor, I replied: “This is one of the holidays civilians are supposed to have. I’m just giving you the paperwork.  Why are you acting like I’m asking for something extra?”  One of the veteran officers in the room suddenly looked up from his notebook, his face appearing as though he had just swallowed a porcupine whole.  But there it was.  I had actually just sat there asking for something that already belonged to me; and quite cordially at that.

Likewise, Social Security taxes have been deducted from the various paychecks that I’ve received since my first recorded job at approximately 18 years of age.  The records would have started sooner, but, having grown up in Eastern North Carolina, my first job involved harvesting tobacco, where one is paid in cash at just below minimum wage.  Now, there are various political figures who refer to Social Security benefits for retirees as an “entitlement”.  These people tend to imply that Social Security is somehow something extra, if not completely unearned.  Okay . . . I woke up each day for 25 or more years (so far) and went to work of my own accord, never once given any choice as to whether the Social Security tax was deducted from my pay.  Undoubtedly, wherever those funds were held, they were accruing interest.  Therefore, at what point does giving my own money back to me become something extra or undeserved? And I will believe that the disbursements are due to stop, when the deductions stop occurring.

We live in a world of age old hatreds, discriminations and superficial biases.  From the Transcontinental Slave Trade to the Holocaust to the recent actions of the ISIS terror group and resulting movements of the European refugees, there are always oppressors and the oppressed.  Suffrage protests. Civil Rights marches.  There has always been someone fighting to be heard; fighting for equality; fighting for basic human rights.  It’s demeaning for someone to have to continually ask for things that should already be his/ hers; things that already intrinsically belong to them.  If we raise our children without a work ethic and a sense of perspective, they will undoubtedly grow up with a sense of entitlement.  My current day job is at a minimum security prison and I can say without a doubt that the majority of the inmates incarcerated in that facility have an illogical sense of entitlement.  Talking to some of them, you would almost get the impression that they were sitting at home watching TV, when someone from the State kicked down the door and said: “Alright you’re next. Get your innocent ass in prison.”  It doesn’t occur to them that, if they hadn’t raped or robbed or molested or burglarized or sold those drugs that they wouldn’t be in prison.  That is an unjustified sense of entitlement.  People seeking basic human rights —— asking to be treated like human beings —— are not expressing a sense of entitlement.  Let’s be for real.  Be blessed.