Sons of Nowhere: Remembering Nicholas Almand

With June being #LGBTQPrideMonth, I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to my brother and comrade, fellow gay Wakandan speculative fiction author, Nicholas Almand.

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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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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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R.I.P. Yuri Kochiyama: For All The Free by Jef Castro

Last night, news broke across social media that legendary human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama had passed away. Official news sources were slow to confirm, but sadly, it was true. The world had lost another titan of history — less than a week from the day Maya Angelou was taken from us, no less. The universe can be cruel sometimes.

As part of the digital comic I edited in conjunction with the Smithsonian‘s touring “I Want the Wide American Earth” Asian American history exhibit last September, I commissioned my fellow SIUniverse alum Jef Castro to create bookend pieces for the book that were inspired by the Carlos Bulosan poem from which the exhibit drew its name.

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R.I.P. Maya Angelou

We are all saddened by the loss of Maya Angelou, who has passed away at the age of 86. Upon hearing about Angelou’s passing, I immediately thought about Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, a book published in the mid-1990s that paired her poetry with the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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NOC Poetry: R.I.P. Amiri Baraka

The world lost a titan of the Black Arts Movement when the poet Amiri Baraka passed away today in Newark, New Jersey after several weeks of hospitalization. Baraka was 79 years old.

On twitter, honorary NOC Saladin Ahmed wondered if Baraka was the first poet to reference superheroes in his work.

The poem Ahmed was referring to, “In Memory of Radio,” comes from Baraka’s first collection of poetry, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, which has been reprinted below. In it, Baraka — then still known as Leroi Jones — uses The Shadow to bookend the poem:

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Remembering Lee Thompson Young

This afternoon, actor Lee Thompson Young was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his Los Angeles home after he failed to report to the set of the TNT show Rizzoli & Isles. For most millennials and post-millenials, Young will forever be known as “The Famous Jett Jackson,” the titular star of the late-90s/early-Aughts Disney Channel phenomenon of the same name. For me, though, Young will always represent the first and only live action incarnation of DC Comics’ iconic Teen Titan, Victor Stone, a.k.a. Cyborg, the character he portrayed in several recurring episodes of the long-running Superman series for the WB and the CW, Smallville.

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