ALL CAPS Cover Art

Troy-Jeffrey Allen and Smack! Release ‘VILLAIN: ALL CAPS,’ a Visual Interpretation of the MF DOOM Sound

In the wake of his passing last October, the true life story of MF DOOM (real name, Daniel Dumile) has been the topic of many articles and blogs online. However, Dumile was a notoriously private person, and his MF DOOM persona underlined his need to separate the man and the myth.

The free, six-page mini webcomic titled VILLAIN: ALL CAPS intends to simultaneously honor the man behind the mask, as well as the mask itself, by emphasizing his message: modern hip hop has become too obsessed with the superficial and is not focused enough on the sound.

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Chadwick Boseman Was a Source of Light in My Understanding of a Black Hero

In the Bantu language Xhosa, Ulwimi olunye alwanelanga tu means “One language is never enough.” In the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s passing, there is an inconceivable grief rippling across language barriers and cascading through communities and countries. The letters on my keyboard look like a jumbled mess — trying to use language to communicate this loss is an act I am unfamiliar with.

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Batman May Return But Schumacher is ‘Forever’

When Dominic and I recorded the most recent episode of Hard NOC Life, I mentioned the 25th anniversary of Batman Forever (as well as the 15th and 31st anniversaries for Batman Begins and Batman ’89, respectively, but more on the latter in a second). June used to be a big month for Batman movies. I mention those anniversaries as a launching point for a broader conversation about being a different kind of fan and accepting different interpretations of our favorite characters. And for the last few weeks, I had started reconsidering how I felt about certain films, including the double feature of Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, both directed by Joel Schumacher, who died of cancer on June 22.

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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”

Mega Ran on The Soul Man

My relationship with professional wrestling is very complicated at best. I watched my first wrestling match sometime around 1983, and the larger than life characters were literal comic books that had exploded in front of me. Like most other kids in the ’80s, I wanted more. I begged my mom to buy me wrestling magazines, toys, and watched every Saturday morning.

I loved guys like Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage, but I remember my eyes widening every time there was a Black or Brown face on my screen. So naturally I had an affinity for characters like The Junkyard Dog, Koko B Ware. But what really turned me on to wrestling was a tag team called The Soul Patrol.

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An Ode to Anthony Bourdain

When I was eleven years old, I bought Kitchen Confidential from the tiny bookstore in my tiny hometown. At that moment in time, I was a picky eater, not well-traveled, and in desperate need of a Mother’s Day present. My mother had mentioned a man named Anthony Bourdain and a book he had written. So that was her gift for that year; she still has it to this day.

At some point after I bought the book, my mother and I started watching No Reservations on the Travel Channel. I always appreciated Anthony Bourdain as a storyteller, a host, and as a critic. Over the years, I grew out of my selective eating habits, I traveled extensively, and I began acting. Now, I live in New York City, I’ll eat almost anything, and I write for blogs.

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The Portrait of an Artist: Remembering Michael Turner

Little known fact. The late Michael Turner was one of my personal heroes. He was also one the catalysts who inspired me to go to art school and get my BFA in computer animation. It was on the path of getting my BFA that of course eventually led me to becoming a published author and a comic book nerd seraph that you’ve all come to know and feel morally ambivalent about.

And to think none of that might’ve happened had a chance meeting not occurred.

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DCTV Classics Remembers Dwayne McDuffie

On February 21, 2011, the world lost a legend. Dwayne McDuffie passed away at the age of 49, leaving behind a towering legacy in comics and television. McDuffie was one of the founding fathers of Milestone Media, a prominent writer for DC Comics, and the brains behind DC TV Classics like Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Static Shock. His influence on comics and superhero storytelling reverberate to this day. One writer who was inspired by McDuffie is David F. Walker, currently writing Occupy Avengers for Marvel and has previously written Cyborg for DC. David joins Keith and Desiree (Britney is out this week) to remember the life and times of Dwayne McDuffie.

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Farewell Major Tom

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Nearly a year ago today the music died.

Actor, rockstar, musician and suspected otherworldly being David Bowie passed away one year ago, three days after his birthday which is today.

As we celebrate Bowie’s life and legacy, I’m reminded of the fact that it was roughly around this time two years ago that we lost Leonard Nimoy.

Much like Nimoy, when I think back on Bowie, I realize that he was an influence on me in ways I never considered.

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One In A Million: Remembering Aaliyah

It was 15 years ago today that we lost an icon, an extraordinary young gifted artist, Aaliyah Haughton, known to fans simply as Aaliyah.

In the spirit of Prince, David Bowie, and Janelle Monae, Aaliyah possessed a larger than life persona that ironically was fueled by her mystique. Dark clothing, trademark hair over one eye, the enigmatic chaunteuse had an almost ethereal presence which also could be found in her music.

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Remembering Eugie Foster

Like many others I was saddened and heartbroken to hear about the passing of esteemed speculative fiction author Eugie Foster. In addition to being one of the most gifted writers I’ve ever encountered, Eugie was the personification of grace and class. I was honored to consider Eugie both a colleague and a friend.

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The Beautiful One

Truth be told, music has a much stronger hold on me than geek culture. While I love all things geek/nerdy/afrogeek/astroblack, music is how I experienced love. Growing up in an immediate household that was nothing but abuse and the absence of love, music was my portal to some place safer. My mom was a horrible mother, but she built upon a stellar record collection. A collection that she’d let me listen to without being beaten. After our year of frozen homelessness, we got an apartment where the previous tenant left a sizable record collection. Among the Chaka Khan and Rufus, Mandrill, Chuck Mangione, The Wailers, Miles Davis, and Santana albums were Prince’s For You and Dirty Mind. Despite the racy content, my mother and I listened to those albums until they were warped and scratched beyond all hopes of rescuing. We loved it because it sounded so different compared to anything else we listened to — which was mostly reggae and jazz. But it wasn’t until 1999 dropped in ’82 that I had to come to terms with the idea that Prince was going to be one of the foundation stones of my pop cultural biography. Continue reading “The Beautiful One”

Rest In Power to the 5 Ft Assassin

I received the text late. I’m normally a night out owl, but this CPAP machine is making sleep lovely and attractive. I heard my phone buzz and clumsily pawed for it. I pulled it close to my face, my sleepiness and the plastic bar of the CPAP face mask made it nearly impossible to make out — the combination of text size and screen brightness was too much for  me. I concentrated and the blurry screen came into focus. My heart sank. The text was from a friend: “Yo, Phife passed, B.” Continue reading “Rest In Power to the 5 Ft Assassin”

Why Dwayne McDuffie Was Better Than You

One cannot discuss black excellence (specifically in speculative fiction) without discussing one of the most gifted and progressive storytellers, ever to walk this earth, the late Dwayne McDuffie.

As expected, many discussed the amazing work he and his team did with making Milestone Comics a success, others mentioned his phenomenal work with fellow phenom Bruce Timm creating over a decade of superb animated series and films.

Of course people pointed out that McDuffie paved the way for black storytellers in a way too vanilla-centric medium that is the comic book industry.

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Farewell to the Star Man

David Bowie was one of the first white musicians ever played in my home. My aunt, who was a musician and music aficionado, argued, “All those white people steal their styles from us. Why not just listen to the originators and leave the copycats alone?” One day, I’m home early from school and I heard:

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Character Study: Barbara Gordon

Dedicated to the late Yvonne Craig who passed away yesterday.

It’s a shame how much Barbara Gordon/Batgirl is perhaps one of the most underrated characters in comics and pop culture. Not surprising that many dismiss her as little more than a “female Robin” or a lesser spinoff character of the caped crusader.

But the astute observer will note that by being tied to the Batman mythos, Barbara Gordon has arguably made more appearances in mainstream media than any other comic book super heroine, including Wonder Woman, thus perhaps making Batgirl the most publicized comic book super heroine to date.

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Remembering Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata

I had just finished teaching my fifth grade class in Japan when I heard the news that the President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, passed away due to bile duct cancer. The news was a slap to the face to me; I had just been talking about Splatoon to some of my students.  While I am not as close to Nintendo as I was when I was a child, I cannot deny to say that Mr. Iwata’s work in the company hadn’t influenced my life.

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R.I.P. Francis Tsai

Last night, the SIUniverse family was rocked when we learned we had lost one of our own. Francis Tsai, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2010, passed away after a long battle with the disease — just one week after celebrating his 46th birthday. In 2009, Francis became part of the SIUniverse by illustrating the story “Taking Back Troy” in the first Secret Identities volume. Though ALS slowly took away his ability to draw with his hands, he never let the disease stop him from creating art. First, he trained himself to draw using his feet, and when that was taken from him, he pioneered special technology using his eyes to create art.

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