A Review of ‘Across the Tracks’

Greenwood, Oklahoma aka “Black Wall Street,” dubbed so by Booker T. Washington, was a once thriving Black community. Thoroughly segregated from the rest of white Tulsa, nevertheless it boasted entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, entertainment venues, and markets, everything a town would need to sustain itself. To be happy and self-sufficient. That is until 1921 when a mob of deputized whites burned the town to the ground. Not only were the murderous white mob deputized to engage in the massacre, they were given weapons by officials of the city government. The even used an aerial bomb.

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‘Box of Bones,’ An Endorsement

I am a new convert to horror. I was firmly in my comics, SF, SpecFic, fantasy bag for decades until I read Tananarive Due’s My Soul to Keep. After that, I was all in… on horror literature. However, so-called ‘horror comics’ weren’t scary to me. Not even a little. And as a comic fan, it was disappointing. That was then. Now, there are tons of wonderful horror books that speak to my cultural and aesthetic specificity. There’s Image’s Killadelphia and Bitter Root, which just had a huge announcement. And Vault Comics is doing it big.

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In Praise of ‘ElfQuest’

Every single time there is a “best of” list of comics and graphic novels, it’s almost inevitable that most of these lists are going to look a little similar. You’re going to see Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns on there, Moore and Gibbons Watchmen; (very deserving of a spot in the top 20) Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. In writing this, I reviewed fifteen lists and this plays out, with some new additions like Robert Kirkman’s Invincible and Brian K. Vaughan’s Ex Machina; and the more seemingly odder choices like, say, Brian Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And at some point, we’re going to have to talk about why there are so many damn men dominating these lists.

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The Case for a Sherlock Holmes Multiverse

Here is where I make canonists angry. Boom. So, Sherlock Holmes is kind of like Michael Moorcock’s ‘Eternal Champion.’ Holmes is different than a Paladin of Balance as he isn’t there to restore/maintain balance between Law and Chaos, he’s there to ensure justice in any way it needs to manifest. His mind and prowess are wonders, but his demons stop him from reaching his full potential. As great as he is, as helpful as he is, he cannot ascend past being an excellent consulting detective. He can never ascend to shining hero status. His demons can range from addiction, to misogyny, to broken and unhealthy relationships, or a combination of them all. The constant is that he wages an intense personal/internal battle in every universe. This impedes him from being nothing more than a celestial tool for those seeking redress.

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An Endorsement: Tim Fielder’s ‘Infinitum’

Afrofuturism is having a moment. First posited by journalist Mark Dery in the early 1990s, Afrofuturism is now a full-blown social, cultural, psychological, technological, and aesthetic movement. And never has this movement, this moment, been more fully realized than in Tim Fielder’s magnum opus, Infinitum. To call it a graphic novel would be to undercut it’s value. It is an enterprise of speculative cultural cartography.

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Teen Titans Soul: De La Go!

One of the the greatest cultural tragedies of the digital era is that De La Soul’s early music isn’t streaming. An early victim of the sample-clearance wars (over 70 on their masterful debut, 3 Feet High and Rising), De La’s cultural impact — and promise — has never been allowed to be fully realized. Not only has the streaming era proved to stifle De La’s early output, their contracts only covered physical media releases as no one anticipated that streaming would become the primary way we’d all experience media.

With new modes of delivery, new contracts have to be made for those previous albums. And De La has tried to do this in good faith, but Tommy Boy Records, the label De La was originally signed to, has refused to give them a mutually equitable deal. Tommy Boy would take the lion’s share of the profits, even though all of De La’s albums have recouped (made back initial production/investment costs).

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‘After the Rain’ Graphic Novel Review

Every once in a while, there’s a stand-alone graphic novel that is an event. It’s an event because of who made it, who released it, and the artifact itself. After the Rain is one of these events. Adapted from Nnedi Okorafor’s “On the Road” from her short story collection, Kabu Kabu, it is, if I’m not mistaken, her only outright horror offering. And it is truly frightening.

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Shawn’s New Podcast

Hello NOCers. I hope all of you are surviving our new reality as best you can.

My new podcast, Surviving Creativity drops today. It’s been a complete and total labor of love. I was trying to distill all these thoughts I had around creativity, creativity as a vocation, the artist’s relationship to money, and how to get over and through the things that block us from being creative.

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From Wands to Bending

Anyone who knows me knows I love The Wizarding World. My entire family does. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the first ‘big girl book’ my daughter read. Her first serious Halloween costume was that of a Hogwarts’s student — she is a true Gryffindor. My wife loves the films — they are our Christmas tradition. We’ve been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter more than a few times. The books, the world, have been a part of my life since 1998. But like so many others, I am nursing a huge fan-wound because The Wizarding World’s creator, the TERF Who Must Not Be Named, showed their true colors. Those colors have betrayed the very values and ideals The Wizarding World extols. 

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‘Lovecraft Country’ Roundtable Interviews

Hello NOCers,

I had the pleasure of speaking with key cast members and show runner of HBO’s Lovecraft Country, Misha Green. I hope ya’ll dig it. There are multiple outlets interviewing, and I felt it would be wild unprofessional if I edited them out, so you’ll get to hear all the questions asked by various people.

Listen to the nerdy glory.

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Shawn Went to ‘Lovecraft Country’ and Came Back with this Endorsement

[This review is based on the first five episodes of Lovecraft Country. The ADR nor the VFX were complete, so I won’t comment on those.]

If you’ve been reading The Nerds of Color for any length of time, you know that I routinely eschew the traditional review format. I don’t find it terribly interesting to read and I’m not a really big fan of writing that way. As I only cover the things I enjoy, I write endorsements instead of reviews and I am endorsing Lovecraft Country, with a few caveats.

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They Are Still Killing Radio Raheem

In just over a month, Spike Lee’s masterful Do the Right Thing will be 31 years old. Me and a group of friends skipped out of our summer work program to see the film. We were budding Black and Brown cineastes who marveled at Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It and begged our caretakers and school counselors to help us apply to HBCUs after viewing School Daze (and A Different World) — well, those of us who could activate our dream machinery enough to believe we could escape the projects and could make it in university. It was the summer before our senior year and we all knew that in a year’s time, things would be different. Some of us would be off to the military. Some of us would go to either a four-year college or a junior college. Some of us would go directly into the workforce. And there was me. I had no idea what was waiting for me after high school. All I knew was that as soon as I graduated (if I graduated) I was running as far away and as fast as I could from my abusive mother. I didn’t care where. I just needed to get the hell out of that house. All this was bouncing around in my head as the lights dimmed. Continue reading “They Are Still Killing Radio Raheem”

We The Fans: How Our Powers Can Change The World

As some of you know, I spent some time with the Pop Culture Collaborative as their Senior Fellow on Fandoms and how Fandom power can be used to add to the social good.  What follows is a distillation of my research and findings. There are hundreds of pages that I’ll do something with at a later date. Also, for those who want it, there will be an audio version coming soon. Here’s the intro:

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Kickstart This: ‘Radical: The Savior Faire of French Hip-Hop’

First, I’m hoping that all you NOCers (and your loved ones) are as safe and as healthy as you can be. We are in some strange and uncharted territories, but hopefully this little slice of community can keep us connected.

I am fully aware that many of us are in dire financial straits. Many of us have lost jobs, lost other sources of income — many of us may find ourselves in new and unfamiliar caretaking roles. #LifeInTheTimeOfCOVID19

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Introducing Megascope: a Diverse Line of Graphic Novels Curated by John Jennings

There are some people who like comics. There are others who love them. Then, there are those who live and breathe comics. Not as a way to keep copyrights up-to-date for further cinematic use, but who see the comic form as important; as a worthy and necessary part of our collective artistic and cultural life. Professor, scholar, and creator, John Ira Jennings, embodies the latter.

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All Good Things…

As soon as I was exposed to it, I was a rabid fan of Star Trek. We share a birthday, September 8, and a value system that holds art and science as equals. Trek was more to me than a fandom. It was a vision of our shared future world that was achievable. Maybe not warp drive and phasers, but philosophically and materially achievable. While I loved the Original Series, it was The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine that seemed to realize R. Buckminster Fuller’s (one of my favorite thinkers) dream of universal equity.

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Will Deadshot Dead Idris Elba’s Career?

Idris Elba will replace Will Smith in the James Gunn-helmed Suicide Squad, dropping in 2021. For some reason, to me, this feels like the death knell for Elba to be the monstrous movie star we all know he deserves to be. Don’t @ me, but Elba isn’t where he should and could be. He’s made some career missteps (way more in film and music than on television), but I don’t think this is why he’s bubbled for so long, instead of popping.

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Spider-Man Enters the ‘Spider-Verse’

I can’t believe I live in a world where I was able to see both Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in the same year. Just as the warmth of the Wakandan sun was beginning to fade, I’m swinging through Brooklyn (my birthplace) with Miles Morales (Shameik Moore is Miles; an amazing performance) the Spider-Man of Earth-1610. And I couldn’t be more elated.

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