Sunday, August 23, 2009

Warren Peace Sings the Blues: Wizard Chicago 2009: Stuff what I done bought

Warren Peace Sings the Blues: Wizard Chicago 2009: Stuff what I done bought

This is interesting. Of course I don't expect everyone to dig my book. We all know that's not going to happen, particularly a book that aspires to deliver a commercially successful black comic book superhero. But here's an initial review from a guy that I like and respect. I think his review is a fine example of what black characters are up against. His main reason for not liking my book entirely is the fact that my main character, Lucius Hammer, seems to be to perfect. In one particular passage he asserts that Lucius is super-competent and highly intelligent. Now as the writer and creator of this imaginative character, I am happy that Lucius comes across as being this way but there was nothing specific in my writings that suggested his intellect or his accomplishments`were outside the realm of human possibility given the character's obvious paranormal lifespan. There are a few panels within the book where I hint at Lucius mastering the martial arts, studying different religions and physical disciplines in India, and obtaining a bachelor's degree...but in a medium which has such notable geniuses like Bruce Wayne, Reed Richards and Tony shouldn't be too hard to accept the fact that Lucius Hammer is capable of the same lofty accomplishments in his fictional universe. Is it boring that Lucius is so well endowed, not only physically speaking but mentally as well? I don't know. I can't speak for all of you out there but it seems to me there are very few black superheroes who are known for their I.Q scores in the respected, commercial universes such as DC and Marvel. To me, just mentioning the fact that Lucius has a college degree is pretty exciting from a standpoint that it's a subject that usually is avoided with most mainstream superheroes. Does anyone know where Superman got his degree from or Captain America for that matter? In an industry where most of the black heroes are ex-cons or foreign dignitaries that exist outside The Black American Experience...I thought it would be revolutionary for all to see Lucius Hammer successfully using his mind to obtain a degree. Nuff said about that.

Another criticism levied against my twelve page rough cut of the eventual graphic novel, I Hammer, was the fact that Lucius was a pristine character possessing perfect moral judgment.
Once again, I intend for my character to be cut in the classic mold I think all superheroes should be cut from; The boy scout, the seeker of truth, justice, equality, a virtuous, modest yet courageous and confident standard bearer of America's truest and purest qualities. But that doesn't mean he won't have setbacks. Within the first three pages of Lucius' story we find him being incarcerated for his involvement in numbers rackets in Prohibition-Era Illinois. This is clearly a character flaw meant to demonstrate his early poor decision making but the reviewer seemed to miss this. His focus seemed to be trained on the good qualities of Lucius which proved to be either to overwhelmingly pure or just flat out unbelievable. I believe that we all have become victims of what we have read before. Even myself. It has taken me 15 years to write this comic book. I had been brainwashed by almost every comic I have ever read, not to mention the various forms of media I have absorbed since birth, to look at my race a certain way. Growing up as a child in the seventies...there were no black heroes. History books could scarcely recall anything we had done of note save coming here in slave ships and then excelling in sports. Now as a man of 41 years of age...I know that black people have accomplished all sorts of things and instead of worrying about why these things were omitted from my second grade teaching plan back in 1976, I must move on and do something constructive with this knowledge. Now I can believe in a black superhero that has traveled the world like Bruce Wayne and has obtained the advanced degrees like Reed Richards. I can also fantasize about what this black superhero would be like throughout the ages being that he is extremely long lived and the exploits he gets into with other black heroes...the likes we have never seen before in modern, silver or golden age comics. The reviewer made the comment that he thought the well of ideas would run dry pretty quickly with Lucius Hammer and he is certainly entitled to his opinion. I even sent him an e-mail thanking him for the review because as my thirteen year old son had to remind me...any press is good press. But to anyone out there who reads this book, I challenge you to look beyond the "Matrix" will be surprised at what you see. Also to those out there who are unsure of introducing to the public or mainstream your Black superhero, your Female superhero, your Mormon superhero...realize that it's an uphill battle but the fight must begin somewhere. It's time to create new heroes, and if you don't create them... Who will?


Blogger Matthew J. Brady said...

Thanks for the response to my review, Brian. It's good to see your thoughts laid out like this, and you make a good argument against my response to the book. It's enough to make me wonder if I had a subtle, unconscious racist response, and thanks for making me think about that. It will be something that I'll continue to consider. Ultimately, I was responding to the rough cut, so I'll have to watch for the final version of the story to see what I think.

Thanks, and keep up the good work!

August 24, 2009 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Ronald said...

Brian, I was at this year's Chicago comic con. I thought I'd checked out every table, but obviously I hadn't since I missed seeing your comic book, which I am very much looking forward to getting. I read your review of the review and I found it quite compelling. Sadly, we live in a society where people, including black people, are subtly conditioned to believe that black men are the brawn and white men, the brains.

The reality does not in any way reflect this clear cut stereotypical designation, yet the perception circulates like a strong current beneath our culture. Barack Obama is the most visible challenge to that perception. There are many other black men, less in the public eye, who are of considerable intellectual prowess. And more coming out of our most competitive institutions of higher learning yearly.

What you have done with your character is taken a slice of this reality and imprinted onto Lucius Hammer. If more enlightened black men like yourself created black characters that were not only physically dominant but exhibited prodigious intellectual talent, the latter's existence and capabilities would be taken for granted as opposed to being looked upon as anomalies.

I can't wait to get my copy of Lucius Hammer!

August 25, 2009 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Timothy Callahan said...

I didn't sense that Matthew was giving you a negative review at all. It seemed like a "hey, this book might be too one-dimensional with such a perfect hero, but it's obviously too early to tell." It's interesting that you perceived that he "didn't like" the comic when his review was so even-handed.

August 25, 2009 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger BWilliams said...

You have a point Tim. But when you are financially attempting to put a book out on the market using your own funds and a review comes in that describes your book as potentially being one dimensional...that's not a ringing endorsement. I think the art was received well but it's hard to discuss this with you if you haven't read the book. I literally packed that twelve pages with a ton of stuff that you never see black people doing in comics. It may be that because I am acutely aware of this fact and Warren Peace is not that we experienced our disconnect. You are right, his review was not a scathing rebuke at all but as the creator and writer of Lucius Hammer (especially during the book's commercial infancy) I must be protective and speak out if the book is not getting a fair shake. There's an argument that's been brewing a long time in the black comic book community (if you can call it that) and it revolves around the marketability of black superheroes. Are they marketable? To me it's a ridiculous question. Lucius Hammer is my effort to show that blacks, whites and whoever else will read my book because it's classic superhero stuff just told from another angle. But on my way to achieving this goal, whether subconsciously or deliberately there are going to be attackers, naysayers and people who are flat out not interested. That's cool with me. That's why I started this blog so we can all share some dialogue about it. Buy the book and tell me what you think.

August 27, 2009 at 5:49 AM  

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