Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ra'Chaun Rogers Interviews Hannibal Tabu

Q: You’re a man who has his hand in a few things with in the sphere of the comic book medium. You write for Comic book Resources, what are the challenges and constraints of the job? Was journalism your first choice of vocation as it relates to the comic book industry?

A: The job now has almost no constraints.  I write pretty much whatever I want. I don't overdo the hyping of my own stuff. I review what I want. That was part of my agreement when I brought the column over from

Challenges are mostly time related -- flying twenty miles from my day gig, standing up for three or four hours in the shop as I read and trade bon mots with the usual suspects, reading until almost 1AM sometimes, and then writing reviews until almost sunrise. Wednesday my family gets less of me, so that's a challenge.
I'd been working professionally as a journalist since 1993, so comics were just another entertainment medium to cover, despite the fact I'd been reading them since first grade or so.  

Q: What can you tell us about the Good Man Project and your role in it?

A: It's a website. It has an audience. My business associate Thaddeus Howze Introduced me to the head honcho just as my Komplicated deal with was coming to a natural and amicable conclusion. Bing bam boom, I've got a Black geek channel on the Good Men Project where I can, again, do pretty much whatever I want.  
Q: You also have a piece in MV Media’s Steam Funk Anthology, which is a black perspective on the steam punk genre. Did the company approach you or did you approach them about putting a short story in the book? Was steampunk a genre you’ve always wanted to work in?

A:  As I noted in my blog on the subject...

... I didn't get the appeal of steampunk. I kind of get it now, but it's not my main area of focus. 

Also as noted there, I saw a request-for-submissions on Facebook, I remembered my old creed as an emcee -- be able to rhyme on any beat -- and followed that as I go with my writing. Website blurbs, steamfunk stories, poetry, songs -- it's all writing, and I'm a writer, so I took on the challenge and I think it went fairly well. 
Q: Recently you won the Top Cow talent hunt for a story about Michael “Finn” Finnegan the Winter King, are you a fan of the character? Do you read Top Cow comics? What did you feel you could bring to the character of Finn that the character needed?
A: As part of my decade-long reviews column at CBR, I read fifty to seventy comics a week, so yes, there's Top Cow books in there. I wasn't a fan of Finn, but I quickly became one. He's a scoundrel in the Han Solo tradition, a reluctant hero and a hedonistic anti-hero. That's fun to read and fun to write. I looked at what was happening and thought I could tell a scoundrel story that would entertain, that would engage, and -- spirit willing -- would win. 

Q: Tell us a little about your experience as a journalist, have you worked in other journalistic outlets that didn’t have to deal with “nerd culture?” How was it different from what you’re doing now?

A: Heh. Well, as noted, I've worked as a professional journalist since 1993. Interviews, hard news, reviews of many stripes, columns, I've done it all. I have edited two national magazines. I ran a community newspaper in LA for six years. I have been a part of a staff that won two Eisners. Black Enterprise, MTV, AOL, Vibe (the original) ... I try to stay in circulation.  There's no real difference. The fundamentals of journalism -- fact checking, not using first person perspectives, clarity, et cetera -- don't change based on what the story is about. Rare cases call for variances -- playing chess with the GZA from Wu-Tang for a story leaps to mind -- but it's mostly basic stuff from journalism school and most writing programs.

Q: Have you experienced any racism with in the industry whether intentional or accidental? How do you view the industry’s treatment of underrepresented characters? How do you think this should be dealt with?

Ha! Well ... I said a lot of what needed to be said on the topic of racism in the arena of writing for mainstream comics here...

... In that, the raw statistics are pretty racist. I can't name a single openly racist individual I've ever met in comics, but stuff has happened. The disasters in Wakanda. The tedium of Batwing. The fact that only 20 Black people have ever written more than one issue for, essentially, 70% of the audience, with Dwayne McDuffie and Christopher Priest accounting for most of those issues. DC hasn't had a Black writer since early 2011. Marvel hasn't had a Black writer since 2009. Racist facts and a possibly racist system, despite my not having any empirical evidence of identifiably racist people.  

I can't say how Massa should run his house. I can build the best house I can with the materials on hand, in the traditions of hip hop, jazz and our diasporic forebears, making a way out of no way. I have two comics due before 2014 that will reach some of the remaining 30% of the audience, as will geniuses like Geoffrey Thorne or Dani Dixon or Marc Bernardin. I do the best work I can while never forgetting how the facts lay down. Raised a southerner, I grew up knowing I had to work three times as hard for half the credit. As reality is currently configured, that's just the way it is. 

 What are your goals a writer and Journalist? Do you have any advice for budding journalists or comic creators of color?
Goals? Well, ideally I'd like to grow an empire so vast that calling me the Black George Lucas would be fair, but realistically, if I end up as the Black John Scalzi, I'd say I beat the bank. I still aim my wars at the stars.

As for advice...

- Shut up and write
- Seriously, shut up and write
- Doing the work and selling the work are two wholly different jobs -- deal with it
- Nobody owes you anything
- Nobody cares about your story until you make them care
- Follow the words of Yasiin Bey, "... burn through your arguments with action."
- Did I say shut up and write?
- It’s better to choose than be chosen
- Learn as much as you can about as much as you can, it makes your writing better
- Brevity is the sister of talent
- There’s always somebody better, faster, hired more often, paid more, et cetera. They don't matter. As Dilated People said, "pace yourself so you can face yourself/run hard, you really only race yourself."
- Future you thinks present day you was incompetent. Prove them right. Improve the craft.
-In all seriousness, shut up and write 

Do you have any new projects other than the Top Cow story in the works? If so tell people where they might be able to find them and find you?


For Stranger Comics, I'm writing the fantasy prose serial Waso: Will To Power about a shattered tribe of wild elves fighting to have a place in an unforgiving world. That's out in July,

On Saturday, it was announced I'm writing an issue of Watson & Holmes, an urban take on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic detective, alongside Steven Grant (2 Guns). Also slated to write issues: Larry Hama, Brandon Easton and Chuck Dixon. They're doing this via their fully funded Kickstarter, I think that's out this fall.

My third novel, the sci-fi political thriller Rogue Nation should be out ... maybe this fall (just got it back from editors), following my first two, The Crown: Ascension and Faraway (both available digitally pretty much everywhere). I also believe Komplicated will have A. Darryl Moton's brilliant book of music essays, tentatively called The Perfect Chord, out by Malcolm X's birthday (I'm editing that). That data will be on

Oh, I am writing the Egyptian superhero story Menthu: The Anger of Angels with art by Robert Roach and some others, but that street date isn't concrete. 

Of course, there are weekly reviews at Comic Book Resources and whatever may come at Komplicated on the Good Men Project. 

The Top Cow issue, I think, should be December or January, maybe in time for my birthday. 

I think that's all I can talk about in public right now. I tweet all my news @hannibaltabu & update my website ( whenever I can. I just try to keep in circulation as best as I can.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Black Comic History Series 1: The First Coming of the Black Superhero

Black Comic History Series 1: The First Coming of the Black Superhero

The year was 1966 and between civil rights and the brewing Vietnam War, America was a hotbed of social change. Every headline was a grim reminder of the intensely racially charged atmosphere of the time.  Under the leadership of sociopolitical and religious icons like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, the majority of the black community was in lockstep toward the goal of rising from beneath the boot of oppression. The echoing cry for a new breed of black hero was in the air and just as the cry reached a pitch Marvel Comics would answer with the introduction of the Black Panther, the first black superhero to appear in a mainstream comic book.
Up until that time, there had never been a black superhero in mainstream American comics. Although Lobo, a black character that appeared in (1950) is considered the first black man to have his own comic book and Gabriel Jones had a well-established in the popular Sgt. Fury title, Black Panther represented inclusion in the mainstream popular media of that time. The historical record makes it clear that the creators of Black Panther saw opportunity in the fervent racially-charged and war-torn emotional state of the country and capitalized on the absence of color in both the Marvel and DC universes.
By 1969 the Falcon, would appear alongside Marvel’s Captain America in issue #117, which marked the second appearance of a black superhero in mainstream comics and the first African American super hero to do so as panther was a native African.  Still, the floodgates were open and a litany of male and female black superhero characters would be introduced into the comic mainstream throughout the 1970s including:  The Guardian in 1970 and Nu Bia in 1973 from DC and Power Man (Luke Cage) in 1972 and Misty Knight by 1975. At least a dozen more black comic heroes would be introduced throughout the rest of the 70s, which represented the largest influx of black comic characters to date; what many would call the first coming of black superheroes.

To many historians and black superhero fans, this influx of blackness into the comic mainstream was the bi product of the previous decade’s racial and political tensions when considering the real life events that transpired in the previous decade: 
  • Assassination Johns Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1963
  • Signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Onset of the Vietnam War, 1965
  • Desegregation of public schools in the US, 1965
  • Assassination of Malcolm X, 1965
  • Black Panther Party Founded in Oakland, 1966
  • Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1968
  • Assassination Robert Kennedy, 1968
As it were, the black community’s appetite for heroes after the brutal assassinations of the 1960s, would be partially addressed in the pages of comic books (as it was with Captain America’s pre WWII story lines) but in real life the burgeoning blaxploitation movement would also rise from the emotional and political ashes of the previous decade. Now, with the rise of black comics paralleled by 1970s blaxploitation cinema, the step-n-fetch it, “sambo-style” “shuckin and jiving” stereotype previously displayed in newspaper comic strips and movies was replaced with the new super bad, afro wearing, butt kicking, “bad mother fu – watch yo mouth” characters that became permanently endeared to the hearts and minds of black America. With such a close correlation between current events of the 60s and early 70s and their use in comic book lore, many ponder the true purpose and timing of the introduction of black super hero characters. Many believe that black comics were merely an extension of the same pre WWII propaganda pioneered in the Captain America comics first released in 1941 while others regard comics as nothing more than harmless entertainment for children. Propaganda or not, a historical view of black comics and the culture surrounding them reveals some interesting facts, correlations and coincidences that would raise even the most ardent fan’s eyebrow.
Visit again soon and read our second installment in Black Comic History Series where we examine black comic book propaganda.

Welcome to the official blog!

Welcome to the official blog! 

Welcome to the, blog where you’ll find an experience reminiscent of first opening an issue of The Falcon and anxiously flipping through the pages to see him fly or ogling over Storm's awesome beauty when she first graced the pages of the Giant Sized X-Men #1. Each time you visit our site we’ll fuel the black comic fanatic within you as we continuously delve ever deeper into black superheroes, black anime and sci-fi universes. We are more than just an online portal because we also supply our visitor with information from every aspect of the black comic book, anime and black sci-fi genres.

Historically speaking, black superheroes have been few along with the numbers of comic book titles as well as featured black anime and film characters. From the appearance of Black Panther the first comic book title starring an black super hero, in 1966 there have been several black superheroes that have made appearances in various mainstream comic books but far less have spawned into titles of their own that specifically featured black heroes.

Racism has come into the debate followed closely by “black exploitation” and outright propaganda most often. However, there are fans that would attribute low representation to lack of access to quality, distribution, ownership and investment opportunities available in the industry. Either way there is no denying the impact of black superheroes and their growth in terms of comics, black cartoons, anime and sci-fi. Whether it’s Blade going from assisting Spiderman to the character’s rise to star in a trilogy of blockbuster films or Luke Cage emerging from Hero for Hire to comic book legend, wants to examine all angles to bring you uncommon perspectives and an uncommonly high quality experience.

With being the web’s largest online portal for black comics, anime, and sci-fi, it is our duty to bring you more than the other guys and represent like the true fans we are!
Here is a preview of what you can expect over the coming weeks and months:

  • The Black Super Heroes First Coming: 1970 – 1980 The Golden Age of Black Comics
The 1970’s witnessed the biggest surge in the creation and introduction of black comic book characters in the history of comics and examines the introduction of the first black superheroes to infiltrate the DV and Marvel Universe.

  • Are black comics propaganda directed at black people?
Could this idea be true? One would wonder partly because the release of several black superhero characters coincides with the receding tide of the civil rights movement and incoming wave of the black power movement. will look deeper at the correlations and into the notion of black comic book propaganda and another form of black exploitation.

  • What makes a good black comic book character: Back-story, social significance or novelty? 
Take Black Panther, leader of the only unconquered African nation on earth; check out Blade born half-vampire after his pregnant mother was bitten; then there’s Spawn double crossed government weapon turned devil’s soldier fighting for good. We want to know what makes the most popular black heroes’ stories so compelling and endearing for fans and if there could be more to a character than meets the eye.

  • Black Comic Creators, Masters and “Newbies”: Whos who in the new black comic universe?
The black comic industry has changed over the years and many have paved the way for others to maintain and continuously create black heroes. At we believe in supporting every aspect of the black comic genre along with everyone and everything involved in it. will offer profiles on the hottest new artists, titles and up and coming players in the black comic industry today.  This will include: exclusive video and interviews, artist features and reviews of some of the hottest new titles, films, and black animation available on the web today.
  • Gimme my black fantasy fix!
We’re and we’re the largest online portal for all of your black superheroes whether they are in anime, comic books or your favorite black science fiction. But, just because we’re based online doesn’t mean we don’t hit the streets. We’ll bring you exclusive previews and coverage of upcoming events, and black comic conventions like Onyxcon coming up in August 2012. We’ll also cue you in to how you can get the most out of your experience with upcoming release dates, online resources and information.
Add us to your favorites, like us on facebook and visit often to stay up on your current news and events related to black comics, anime and sci-fi.