[Ed. note: This essay first appeared as a series of tweets on Marc’s twitter account and is being re-presented with his permission.]
The six years between the Genius Pilot Season issue release and the miniseries dropping [last week] felt like an eternity. But now, it feels like the world was making us wait for just the right time. When the hunger for female leads would reach a tipping point. When the hunger for diversity on and behind the comics pages would reach a tipping point. And, sadly, when the devaluation of black youth would reach a tipping point.
I wanted the opportunity to voice the reasons for the design of the cover for a comic book by Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman entitled Genius. Before the book’s release, it has already been the subject of many heated conversations. Some feel offended that a black character being celebrated for her tactical Genius, is displayed nearly nude on a floor with caution tape loosely bound around her. They think the cover is over sexualized and offensive. Some feel it’s a poor representation of the book and black women as a whole, without ever having read it.
Others have their burdens of color on their shoulders because of the past suffering of blacks, its subsequent plots and the negative portrayal in mainstream media being so prevalent, that anything slightly resembling that, is tarred and feathered in the digital town square. Where I can understand why this may be the case, I’d like the opportunity to explain who I am and why I’ve made this. If you then feel I should be hung on the proverbial cross for doing this, c’est la vie. I have spoken my mind and created something without apology or retraction. Not everyone will like my work. But I won’t have it misrepresented by people who don’t understand it.
I warn you, there are spoilers in this. So if you prefer not to know the twists and turns, I’d wait until the end of the month after the book has reached its completion. Otherwise, journey forth, brave soul.
As you know, Image/Top Cow releases the hotly anticipated weekly series Genius today. Before you head out to your local comic shop, make sure you check out Shawn’s very nuanced endorsement of the series.
The co-creator of the book and friend of the blog, Marc Bernardin, was a guest on Hard NOC Life recently and talked briefly about the series.
He was also asked by Wired to “write a piece charting his childhood voyage through the nerd-culture landscape — a landscape that rarely felt like a place he belonged.”
After reading this book, I was hesitant to review it. It is one of those rare books that transcended the four-color realm and hit me in my real life. I was also unsure if my endorsement of the book was an endorsement of some of the messages in the book. Artist Afua Richardson and co-writers Marc Bernadin and Adam Freeman’s Genius is a book that I am still digesting. First introduced in 2008 by Top Cow via “Pilot Season,” Genius is a book that challenges me in a way that I haven’t felt in a while.
Comics are my escape from a stressful job. I want to read snikt and see folks teleport, and leap off buildings — it is a great way to decompress after days of seeing people in pain. Hell, even the more serious fare can act as 22-page escape pods — escaping into the fantastic from the sad and mundane. But this book read more like a possibility than a fantasy. In light of the killings of Eric Garner, Pearlie “Miss Sully” Golden, and Kathryn Johnston at the hands of the police, Genius is almost prescient. And it is a little foreboding.
As we continue Bat Week here at the NOC, Keith (@the_real_chow) brings on William (@williambwest), Raymond, and special guest Marc Bernardin (@marcbernardin) — senior editor at The Hollywood Reporter who is also a comic book and television writer, as well as a frequent guest on Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast. Together the four of them reflect on the legacy of Tim Burton’s Batman on Hard N.O.C. Life.