Showing posts with label black cartoonists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label black cartoonists. Show all posts

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sean Damien Hill talks about his "Black Power" exhibit

by Mike Rhode

Sean Damien Hill's drawings of African-American superheroes opened this week at the University of the District of Columbia's Gallery 42 (my cell phone pictures are here). The exhibit is open from February 13-28 and solely features Sean's drawings of notable black superheroes. I interviewed Sean just a year ago, and he graciously again answered questions about his new exhibit. (Photographs of the opening reception are by Bruce Guthrie)

Where did the idea of the show come from?

About a year ago Daniel Venne, head of the Art Dept. at UDC had the idea of doing a comic book themed show for Black History Month. We had known each other for some time and he was growing more and more familiar with my work, and he knew I did freelance comic work also.

Is this your first solo exhibit?

Yes it is. I’ve seldom done any art shows in the past. When I did, it was always with a buddy of mine, and I only had include one to three works or something like that. Doing this one was incredible but the anxiousness of it being MY SHOW was crazy. I’m an introvert by nature so I’m never craving that much attention so being the center of it for an art show was wild.

How many pieces are in the show?

About 20 pieces or so.
Sean Anderson from Route 3, courtesy of Sean Hill

How did you find or decide on the characters to draw?

A lot of these characters are some I’ve already been familiar with. All the DC and Marvel comics characters were creations I’ve enjoyed in the past and that aren’t being used to much right now. My favorite from DC Comics is of course Icon from the old Milestone Comics studio (published by DC) in the 90’s and of course Green Lantern John Stewart. Indy characters I included are Dreadlocks from Urbanstyle comics, Vigelance from creator Sean Mack. Anakulapo from Mshindo Kuumba, and of course Sean Anderson from Route 3 from Robert Jeffrey (and me).. I really wanted choose some heroes that are not too well known so it could also be an educational experience.


How did you draw them? Digitally, traditionally, or a combination?

The 20 drawings were done traditionally with Pentel brush pens, Copic fine liners on 500 series 11x17 and 16x20 Bristol board. The three colored prints are digital illustrations from the clip studio paint program I use all the time for most of my published work.

What's the difference between drawing digitally and drawing with pen and ink?

For me, it's always more comfortable drawing traditionally, as there is a certain amount fluidity to it. Drawing decisions are made a lot quicker even if I’m building on a lot of rough sketching and ground work to get things going. On paper, I have a better sense of how I’m going to use the space because it’s not something I can change with a zoom key. Overall for me, that’s the down side of drawing digitally, as paper size becomes so relative it’s hard to figure out ( at least for me who draws too many lines to begin with) where to focus more of my attention.

DC / Milestone Comics' Icon
Some of the drawings are done in blue pencil and then inked, can you discuss why you do that?

Traditionally blue pencil was used by artist to avoid the extra process of erasing pencils after inking. It save time because back then most printing was based on photography and cameras couldn’t pick up such a light blue. Now the digital age has caught up to all that, so now it’s more of a preference to better see your final line work over top the initial blue pencil sketch. It’s sort of become ingrained in the culture of comic illustration and digital comic drawing programs like Clip Studio Paint even have an option to turn your linework blue. Even traditional inkers print out pencils in blue nowadays so their line work is a lot clearer.

There are three color pieces in the show, where they done completely digitally?

Yes the color prints are completely digital. I have process videos on my YouTube channel of my digitally drawing two of them: https://youtu.be/sETbPU93TP0 and https://youtu.be/bWEtIVz3XjA


Val Zod, courtesy of Sean Hill
I noticed the art in the show is for sale. Is there a market for original art drawings? Does this affect the convenience of doing material digitally at sometimes?

Yes, there is definitely a market for traditional comic art. Sometimes a lot of artists who draw pages traditionally will sell the originals after the books published. It’s a major incentive to stick to traditional which is probably why half the artists in comics still do.

Which are your favorite pieces in the show?

I have three. One is Val Zod, an African-American Superman. It has to do with the fact I drew him as though he’s contemplating something; narrative is huge when doing any illustration and if you can portray that, it tells something about the subject. The others are Sean Anderson from Route 3. And Icon, my drawing is literally a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders.


20180213_190454
Yasuke (photo by Rhode)
Can you tell us more about your superhero character?

Yasuke is my love letter to all those Hitori Hanzo, Mifune and Highlander movies I watched as a kid. He is based on the real Yasuke who was an African slave made a samurai during Ido-period Japan. In my story he is an immortal cursed to make amends for serving an evil emperor. His journey is about moral questioning and if there is an objective right or wrong. Through that journey he discovers the reason for his curse.

Did you grow up on superhero comics? If so who are your favorite characters? Favorite creators?

I was raised around comics like Avengers, Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, with plenty of Batman and Superman too. My mom and grandpa would read them all the time. Grandpa actually introduced books like Will Eisner's the Spirit and Dick Tracy to me, and Mom loved the the Avengers and Teen Titans.

My favorite heroes have always been Batman, Icon, and Magneto (even though he was a villain).

Who or what would you like to work on from one of the major publishers?

If I had a chance, I’d love to do Luke Cage or Black Panther, and Batman of course, but even to have a shot at Superman because it would be fun drawing that giant square jaw and boy-scout smile.

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Introductory exhibit text (photo by Rhode)

What are your thoughts about African-American representation in the comic books? 

Well of course I’m all for it. Our media reflects our world and our beliefs. If we have different types of heroes in our media, it’s only because we believe different types of people can have a great potential, and even reach that potential. But if we only see one type of people in that role throughout our media, it’s then widely believed, at least on a subliminal level that only that particular kind of people have that potential. And that sends a sign that the rest shouldn’t bother.

On there other hand, I do think diversity in comics is a bit larger than what people credit, where some are just looking in the wrong place. I really believe if the audience gave more attention to Indy titles they might find the type of diverse storytelling we all need. It’s getting easier to self-publish nowadays and people have a lot of stories to tell.
Marvel's retconned first Captain America

Typically when someone says they want diversity in comics, it’s really a lot of the time just wanting the big two (DC and Marvel) to deliver it, but those companies have heroes that had been created and gained a lot of footing during a time where diversity was not on the table. Now to be fair, those companies have tried to diversify their heroes, but it’s often nothing original and usually a repackaging of something they already have. To me that’s not true diversity, because it can both hurt the fandom that loves that particular hero and also tells the audience being catered to that they aren’t worth investing in a new hero for.

Do you think the race of the writer/ artist should be under consideration when it comes to drawing an African-American character?

I won’t say who should be hired for what, but I think we have a responsibility help create a culture of diverse creators behind comics. Right now it’s still widely white males on the credits of most mainstream titles. I’m not saying a white writer couldn’t do a great Cyborg story because Marv Wolfman did and white creators are responsible for Black Panther, Luke Cage, Spawn, Misty Knight ... a lot of those characters [in this exhibit]. But we should create a culture in comics where the creators are diverse just like the world we live in.

DC Comics' Vixen
The Black Panther movie obviously has the issue of black superheroes on everyone's mind right now; are you interested in seeing the movie?

I am, and I’m very interested to see how it’s going to effect our medium afterwards. I know it won’t make book sales jump and stay steady, because none of the movies have been able to increase comic readership for the long term. But it’s definitely going to have an influence on how diverse stories can be told. Ultimately though, it;s up to us to determine what impact this really has, but so far it’s really hopeful.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Milestones: African-Americans in Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond opens at GEM





FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 20, 2013                CONTACT:    Tatiana EL-Khouri
                                                                                                Creative Force Group
                                                                                                424.645.7570/ info@milestonestheshow.com
                                                                                                Geppi's Entertainment Museum
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                410.625.7060/gem@milestonestheshow.com

           
GEPPI'S ENTERTAINMENT MUSEUM MOUNTS HISTORICAL EXHIBITION OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN POP CULTURE

MILESTONE MEDIA'S MICHAEL DAVIS CURATES A MULTIMEDIA EXHIBIT SHOWCASING HISTORIC AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES

November 18, 2013 (Baltimore, Maryland): Geppi's Entertainment Museum President Melissa Geppi-Bowersox announced the Museum's collaboration with Inkpot Award recipient Michael Davis of Milestone Media on a historical exhibit featuring numerous artistic examples of African-Americans' contribution to pop culture throughout America's cultural revolution.  

The invitation-only opening night gala has been set for Friday, December 13, 2013 from 7pm- 10pm. The exhibit will officially open to the public on December 14th and run through April 2014. "We are thrilled to be showcasing such an extraordinarily diverse collection of artistic pieces in so many different mediums within the Museum," comments Melissa Geppi-Bowersox. "There are some truly amazing comics, designs, drawings, paintings and programming that have been set for this exhibit, and Geppi's Entertainment Museum is proud to be the sole exhibitor for such a terrific group of artists." 

Milestones: African-Americans in Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond will feature not only the work of mainstream Black creators, but also the work of those who are considered outside the mainstream and even some who actively avoid the spotlight. Milestones "offers many different examples of profound contributions to the comic book medium by showcasing the vital roles that Black superheroes have played in shaping the unique narrative thread of so many ongoing narratives," comments Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso.  "The true beauty of this exhibit is the moment when race and color become obsolete, and you see the creative genius of the amazing worlds established that are mainstream." Not only will the exhibit focus on the comic and art world; it will also be dedicated to the internet market, today's newest medium. Says actor/producer Orlando Jones (currently starring on the hit FOX TV show Sleepy Hollow):

"African-Americans have made an indelible mark on the pop culture and entertainment landscape in front of the camera, behind the scenes, on the stage and in the recording booth. Although not as widely known, this is equally true in the world of comic books, where a renaissance of Black writers and artists are creating new characters and telling unique stories that are reaching larger audiences than ever before. As a lifelong comic book nerd, it's my greatest pleasure to showcase the art from my digital graphic novel Tainted Love within the Milestones exhibit at Geppi's Entertainment Museum. This labor of love has enabled me to bring together some of my favorite artists who are leading the charge in creating increased diversity within the industry."

Adds director/producer/comics writer Reggie Hudlin (Django Unchained): "If comics are modern mythology, then Black participation and representation is crucial. The Milestones exhibit will document on paper those dreams through the years and give all Americans a chance to see them up close."

The exhibit will offer patrons a full spectrum of Black historical contributions made throughout comic book and graphic novel history. "From movies to film, from music to art, from graphic novels/comic books to TV, and from politics to sports, all aspects of America's pop culture contain different aspects of the African-American viewpoint," says Exhibit Curator and Milestone Media co-founder Michael Davis.  "America has changed, and the attitudes about Black people and their limitless creativity touch, embrace, or lead all aspects of culture."

"I'm especially excited that young people of color will see themselves represented in so many different ways," added Tatiana EL-Khouri, Co-Curator. "This show may well influence future careers in comics, and perhaps even fine art. We have significantly made enormous strides to find a place within society, and I'm so excited to be in these times where we are now being nationally recognized in every field. In so many ways, African-American culture has always been a part of pop culture, and curating this exhibit will be one of the most significant things that I do in my lifetime."

Adds Museum President Melissa Geppi-Bowersox, "Honestly, this is exactly what Geppi's Entertainment Museum is all about. Our focus on American pop culture really showcases one of the youngest nations in the world and shines a light on our history as well as our contributions to the international community. Milestones: African-Americans in Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond is a very important part of the fabric which makes up our country.

"With America being a dominant force in the world, we strive to continue with our exhibits highlighting every aspect of American culture—and will continue to be the leading museum in America showcasing not only who we are, but where we came from and where we're going."

For more information visit: www.MilestonesTheShow.com

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Post on comic strip collective action

The Post has picked up on the February 10th collective protest by cartoonists of a darker shade of pale - "Cartoonists to Protest Lack of Color in the Comics," by Teresa Wiltz, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, February 6, 2008; C01. The protest is largely the idea of local cartoonist Corey Thomas who does 'Watch Your Head.'

I'm afraid I agree with the opinions that Gene Weingarten expressed in his chat update today, although I like Baldo and La Cucaracha well enough. Boondocks' McGruder's comments in the initial article are interesting too - unfortunately I don't think a lot of the college cartoonists are able to sustain their strip. I was a fan of Watch Your Head when the Post tried it out, but it's become a real one-note strip.

Chatalogical Humor by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, February 5, 2008; 12:00 PM

Gene Weingarten: Here's an interesting piece in today's Style section, about a planned protest by cartoonists-of-color.

I sympathize with these guys, and many of them produce good strips that are victims of a de facto quota system. But there's a difficult truth that undercuts their argument. In devastating economic times, newspapers are (unwisely, I believe) ruthlessly squeezing the life out of their comics pages. So there is plenty of pandering going on in all directions -- a naked, desperate effort to appeal to every possible perceived constituency -- and that has nothing to do with racism. With limited space, there are quotas for everything. Believe me, the only reason newspapers run the painfully bad Prickly City is that they feel they need to offer a conservative voice on the page, to counterbalance the lefty Doonesbury, Candorville Nonsequitur, etc. The only reason newspapers run Dennis the Menace and Beetle Bailey and Classic Peanuts is to appeal to the oldsters who they believe would feel lost without these mild, mealy things. Family Circus is for very, very young readers, and preposterously stupid adults, and lovers of camp humor. This appeal-to-all-demographics impulse leaves very little room for ANYONE to break into a newspaper.

There is another factor undercutting their argument: For some, the despicable quota system has worked splendidly. The only reason The Post runs the weak Baldo is that the pandering alternative is the weaker La Cucaracha.

It's a pretty bad situation all around.