Category: Michael Davis

Buddy Saunders: DC COMICS HAS LEFT COMIC STORES OUT

Buddy Saunders: DC Comics Has Left Comic Stores Out

Buddy Saunders is a giant among retailers. I’m honored to give him the first-ever guest spot at my column.

Michael Davis

DC’s planned limited release of titles beginning April 28th leaves too many comic stores out in the cold

by Buddy Saunders

I’ll tell you this up front. In mid-to-late May, a time more in line with when most stores can reopen, Diamond Comics, our longtime distributor, will resume shipping comics from all publishers based on fair-to-all release dates. Were Diamond to begin shipping earlier, many of our fellow comic retailers would be left out in the cold. We very much respect Diamond for making the good-for-everyone decision they’ve made. We are all in this together, fans, creators, publishers, retailers and Diamond.

I want two things. I want to stand with and support my longtime distributor. And I don’t want to receive and sell comics that many, maybe most, of my fellow retailers can’t get because their stores are shuttered through no fault of their own.

Diamond Comics has been our distributor for decades. I know Diamond’s owner, Steve Geppi, well. We first met many years ago, ironically at a DC brain-storming retreat at a Montauk resort on the tip of Long Island. Steve and I were there to help DC editors and creators figure out how to deal with the growing market threat posed by Marvel. Steve was then just another comic store owner like me with no thought of becoming a distributor. But some years later, when my then Texas distributor proved unreliable, Steve, along with Carol Kalish of Marvel, made my transition to Diamond silk smooth. There’s a neat story in that, but now’s not the time to tell it. Bigger fish to fry at the moment.

DC’s decision to begin releasing comics through two newly-minted “distributors” beginning April 28th is ill-conceived.

First, there is the matter of timing. Too many comic stores will still be prohibited from being open on April 28th, the first DC release date.

Second, DC’s new distributors, Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, are in reality two of the nation’s largest new comic discounters, Discount Comics and Midtown Comics. No comic retailer should be involved in comic distribution due to obvious conflicts of interest. The only exception to that rule would be a stopgap measure undertaken if the current distributor were failing. That is NOT the case with Diamond. Diamond is solid and as reliable as ever.

Third, these two new comic online discounters have no experience as distributors. Even a vastly experienced distributor like Diamond isn’t perfect, but they are very good at correcting errors. Will the new guys do as well? The answer will come the first time retailers try to get support services such as damage replacements.

Fourth, why are these two new distributors necessary? Creating new distributors for a short-term fix doesn’t make sense. It makes more sense as part of a larger long-term plan. But were Diamond eventually taken out by this process, mid-to-small publishers would be up a creek, a circumstance that would very much benefit DC. Marvel tried something similar—becoming their own distributor—years ago. It didn’t work out for Marvel. Nor will it work for DC if that indeed is their thought.

Any such move, for whatever motive, is unnecessary given that very soon Diamond Comics will return to full distribution mode when the majority of comic stores can resume sales—most likely mid-to-late May.

Every comic store owner has to decide what is best for their store regarding distribution and release times, but greater consideration should be given to long term health rather than to short term gain.

Lone Star Comics and MyComicShop will wait for Diamond, a distributor that has earned our loyalty many times over. And we will wait until as may stores as possible can join us in resuming weekly comic sales. And when that time comes, we’ll have plenty of stock from every publisher, including all DC releases.

This from Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco:

DC is asking us to ABANDON Diamond. Diamond and Steve Geppi specifically have acted as the “bank” of the Direct Market, saving and protecting the great mass of retailers again and again and again. Do I have some problems with DCD’s operation? Sure: I’d be an idiot not to—but on the balance they’ve done more to preserve DM retailers than ANYONE EVER, so “walking away” from them in this time of challenge is completely entirely a non-starter for me.

Brian Hibbs, Comix Experience

Last word from Buddy. Thus far I’ve spoken to only a few comic retailers, but those retailers are well established and significant. They favor staying the course with Diamond. I know a lot of retailers read my weekly Lone Star Comics email. Guys, gals, email me at buddy@mycomicshop.com and share your thoughts on this issue. Let me know if you are going to go with the DC plan or stay with Diamond. I’ll print some of your feedback, but omit names and addresses to ensure your ability to speak freely.

Oh, and you the comic fan, this affects you as much as any comics retailer, publisher or creator. Your two cents’ worth is equally welcome. Just understand, my plate is mighty full already, so it may be impossible for me to reply to every comment received—our weekly email goes out to many thousands of people!

—Buddy Saunders

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

Writer’s notes: All DC Comics references imply past events. They do not indicate any criticism or suggest answerability from current management.

I’ve built my career around what I call my Studio 54 philosophy. It’s that philosophy that I’ll use to explain how those dancing on Dan Didio’s grave do so at considerable risk.

If you have not read last week’s article, please do so. If you don’t, this is gonna read strangely.

There’s no way to say this without sounding a bit full of myself, so here goes… I’m the Master Of The Universe. Yep, call me Motu if you like, but I am indeed the Master, etc. etc.

To be the Master of anything requires intelligence, the ability to reason, and self-confidence. Believe it or not, reason and self-esteem are more critical than being smart. If I had to pick one overall, it would be confidence.

Another way to put it is a force of will.

Studio 54 was a fantasy, a wish, a dream to me. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be able to roll in there at will.

Well, rejection is a great motivator.

I was NEVER rejected from 54. My most painful rejection was from the most excellent high school known to mankind the universe (of which I am Master) and all of creation (that’s not me) the High School of Art & Design.

WHAT? But we’ve read dozens of articles where you tell of the love for that high school because you went there. The fans of Michael Davis (both of them) are saying.

I did go there— but was rejected my first try. I tried in the ninth grade for admittance to the tenth grade. DENIED! I’ve wanted to go to that school since I found out it existed in the fourth grade. At that age, waiting six minutes is agony— imagine waiting six years.

I could try again, but there was a catch.

The odds of getting into A&D for admittance to the 9th and 10th grade were four people admitted out of every ten that applied. The 9th and 10th were foundation years where you learn the principals of art. Anyone hoping to get into the 11th grade, the odds were 1 out of 25.

The odds were that low because you’re skipping the foundation years. You major immediately. I was told this by my guidance counselor, no doubt hoping to spare me the pain of rejection for the second time.

“An artist is wishful thinking for one in your position Michael.” Translation: “Nigger*, PLEASE. There’s always work at the Post Office.”

I got in.

That was the moment I realized what my boy Lee calls; THE POWER OF DAVIS.

It wasn’t too long after that I was getting into 54. Because I began to look at things differently.

It wasn’t a Black and White world; there are plenty of shades; this underaged Black kid was now made aware of. My friend Earl and later Lee would hop (not pay) the train from Far Rockaway to Manhattan just to stare at what we thought we would never take part in, life like white people lived.

We would stand outside of Broadway plays, hoping to see whatever TV stars we heard were appearing in the play come out. Stand outside movie theaters showing blockbuster movies. One night we noticed the usher tearing ticket stubs dropping his half. One of us would pretend to trip while walking by, grab the discarded stubs go to the back of the line, and MOVIE NIGHT was born. The highlight of our Manhattan nights was always Studio 54. The street was packed with people all trying to get in; we stood there for hours just happy to be near a place we saw on television.

No such ‘stub’ opportunity at Studio 54, but watching the news one night gave me an idea. There was a story about this woman who gifted Steve Rubell a Studio 54 sculpture. I did a drawing and went down to 54 during the day.

I knocked on the door, a lady answered, said with a smile, “No.” When I asked for Mr. Rubell. That ‘no’ caused me to refine my plan. I knew I’d get in eventually Why? One out of twenty-five is why.

There were photos of all the top doorman from the top clubs in a magazine story that for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of. I did caricatures of all of them. Then I talked to an editor of a pennysaver circular. I’d met her at my cousin’s house, she gave me her number. I was studying illustration at the world’s most fabulous high school, and she told me to come to see her when I graduated.

She ran the art.

The “magazine” came out, my intention; give the originals to the doormen.

I set about dropping the artwork off at the clubs. The first club I got into was Xenon, the only real competition 54 ever had. Funny thing the doorman, Charles, had not seen the drawing just undid the velvet rope for me and my girlfriend Renee. An hour or so later, I caught him by the bar and told him about the drawings.

Valerie Perrine dances with Disco stars The Village People at Xenon.

He sent someone to the office to look for them. Turns out Roger, the other head door guy at Xenon, was recruited by 54 and took all the art with him. Charles was so moved by the gesture he told me to come down anytime then introduced me to Brian, Roger’s replacement. From that moment on, I was VIP at the 2nd biggest nightclub in NYC.

This was the night that started to shape my Studio 54 philosophy.

My Studio 54 philosophy:

Get to the decision-maker.

One night I showed up at Xenon, and neither Brian or Charles were at the door. The guy there was someone I’d seen before from his swagger I knew he was the boss. I rolled up to the rope and dropped a “Charles always lets me in” all I got was a look and a view of his back when he turned around on me. I was heartbroken, so I started to leave when I hear—

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” The voice belonged to a stunning Black woman who was always at the club.

She was standing next to the guy who turned his back on me. Now I was being waved in by the same guy. Turns out, I was right; the guy was the owner Howard Stein and the woman was his girlfriend Tawn Christian. I’d happen upon some guys crowding her once and told them to step off (white folk, that means “leave her alone” ). I’d forgotten all about that. She hadn’t.

Now not only was I getting into Xenon, but I was also getting in free.

It’s not easy getting to the guy on top, but once you do that makes it much more manageable. Put another way, if you know Jay-Z you now have access to his infrastructure. Work your relationship with Jay first. If you’re interested in just milking connections for whatever you can get, you will quickly be found out.

Once that happens, you’re DEAD. Jay makes a call telling people you’re a dick, you are done done done.

Safeguard your relationships.

I learned the hard way to guard your relationships like its water, and you’re in the desert. At one point, I’m riding high thinking my shit don’t stink (white folk y’all got that I assume), so I bring my boy Lee who invites his boy Lenny who invites his girl Ghetto to Studio 54. I don’t remember her name, but Ghetto fits. While working through the crowded dance floor, Ghetto steps on the foot of a Princess. A real honest to Jesus Allah Jehovah Buddha Kirby Princess.

That was bad enough, but Ghetto acted her name. I’m still surprised the Princess’ bodyguards didn’t shoot Ms. G. That’s kinda what saved me. I quickly owned up to bringing the group that almost caused an international incident. What else could I do? It’s a fair bet we were the only Black people from the hood there. Ghetto’s “YEAH, WHAT? That’s what you get for BE IN IN MY WAY!” Made it more visible.

When wrong, apologize.

If possible, bring up the wrong and take responsibility before you’re summoned to explain yourself. Trust me, seldom will that not get you points.

My apology featured:

  • A promise never to bring thugs with me again.
  • A plea to continue coming to Studio 54, the highlight of my life.
  • A plan: “If you want to bust a cap in the back of her head, I’m ok with it.”

That I said to the bodyguards a laugh from those guys and a hug from the Princess saved my Studio 54 privileges. Roger slapped me on the back, then whispered, “Michael, well done, but if it happens again, you’re gone.”

Consider who brought you in.

No one can control how someone you don’ t know will act. If the Princess wasn’t even-tempered if Roger was in a bad mood, if any of those were in play—I’m dead at 54. Roger then makes a call, I’m gone at Xenon, I’m gone everywhere.

Never again would I make the mistake of hooking someone up with people I don’t know. Roger may have been fired if the incident had turned into a critical issue why? Because of his relationship with me. He was the reason I was there, and in business, if you bring someone in, they are your responsibility at the start of their involvement.

Remember, most likely, YOUR contact has a boss.

Don’t sever a relationship when someone is fired.

This may be the most crucial part of my Studio 54 philosophy.

Roger going to 54 worked out great for me. He was truly touched when he was gifted with the original artwork.

Xenon was my favorite club; however, this was Studio 54.

I was getting into the most famous nightclub in the world and for free.

Talented People always end up somewhere else.

ALWAYS.

Charles went to a new club ‘X’ Roger went back to Xenon, and Mark from 54 ended up in LA, where he was on the door at a few clubs.

Wherever those guys went, I had carte blanche.


A lot of people are dancing a gig on Dan Didio’s grave. Dan isn’t dead. Far from it.

He’s got almost two decades of insider information from one of the two top comic book publishers on Earth. Dan possesses relationships with world-class talent, and there is no-one except idiots who won’t take his call.

Dan did great things at DC that non-competes he no doubt signed don’t mean shit in reality. All it does is buy DC time to change some internal workings. It also stops Dan from writing DC COMICS: THE UNBELIEVABLE STORY OF SUPERMAN’S METH HABIT.

That’s a joke title, everyone knows Superman does not do meth. The hardest thing he does is drink coke he tried snorting it but sneezed and blew his dealer’s head off.

Yeah, that was uncalled for. I’m going to remove it. But if I do that, you won’t see I did such a noble thing. That means its YOUR fault that silliness is here.

Wow. GROW UP, will ya?

If Dan’s non-compete is one or even two years, during that time, he’ll be working on what his next act is anyway. When my year-long non-compete with Motown expired, my next project with Simon and Schuster was announced a day after it ended. By the end of the month, the project was in the market place.

Dan will not have any problem maintaining his boss’s status because he’s a smart, talented, capable executive.

The dumbest— I mean DUMBEST— thing a creator without the influence of a significant playa could do is go online and bath in a glowing victory they had nothing to do with.

Figure out what real power is.

Roger, Charles, Brian, and Mark, actual power wasn’t because they were the doormen at elite clubs. Their power is WHY they were the doormen.

The doormen at clubs like 54 and Xenon were not just some lucky guy who filled out an application. Anyone could recognize Mick Jagger or Andy Warhol.

Doormen at 5-star clubs were put in that position to spot CEO’s, Senators, royalty, and the like.

Could you spot those people?

Many doormen from the Studio 54 era came from an Ivy League school, an influential, wealthy family, or both.

Don’t take it personally.

Dan was once a friend. I did a giant solid for him, and he never returned the gesture. How could he? His boss tried to destroy me, and Dan would have been an idiot to cross that line.

I’m gonna do exactly what I did when Disney canned him. I’m going to call and offer him a hand. If he needs anything and I can be of some help, I will.

It’s never a good thing to rejoice when someone is suffering a setback.

Once Frank Sinatra was the biggest star in the world. He fell hard from that and was back playing very small singing gigs. Also, an actor his acting career was all but dead. He had to beg to audition for a part in the movie; From Here To Eternity.

He won the Academy Award for his role.

Just like that, he was a headliner again. Within a year, he was the biggest star on the planet again.

Remember if a person screwed you once they may do it again. They may not, but why chance it?

Sinatra never forgot those who were there when he was on top but deserted him when he hit bottom.

Keep the true nature of all your relationships on the down-low.

What many young people don’t understand about influence is this; let’s say you said nothing about Dan’s dismissal. If buddies with someone who did that puts you at risk.

It works another way also.

DC Comics has relationships with many of my Bad Boy Studio Mentor program alumni. Although DC wants nothing to do with me.

Almost to a person I’ve heard this from my former students; “Michael, would you mind if I did x for DC? “Or “Say the word Mike and I’m done with them.”

The ability to remove a revenue source from a company is real power. Why haven’t I done that?

I did.

Twice I killed a project that directly affected my house. It wasn’t revenge; it was business.

When I was a kid, I read The Fountainhead. I loved that book. Then I grew up. Now the book and its writer, in my opinion, are jokes.

I will admit the characters in the book are excellent as examples. Everyone wants to be Howard Roark, the novel’s hero, a brilliant architect of absolute integrity.

Not me.

I’m Ellsworth Toohey. Like Toohey, I’ve built an influential brand command a large part of (Black) content talent and distribution.

UPS Hilton Hotels and DC learned I’m a dangerous opponent AKA the wrong nigga* too fuck with.

As is Dan Didio.


*Writer’s notes yet again: The use of ‘nigga’ in this narrative means imposing dangerous and formidable. It’s a hip-hop term used in this manner, not a racial one.

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR:  Dan DiDio, Andrew Rev, & Studio 54 Philosophy

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Dan DiDio, Andrew Rev, & Studio 54 Philosophy

“NO Bridge or Tunnel people.”

Steve Rubell, owner, Studio 54

That meant if you were not from Manhattan, you had little chance of ever getting into what is now known as the world’s most famous nightclub.

Studio 54.

Back then and even now, only the very rich or very poor live on the isle of Manhattan. I’m neither, although I’ve been poor and have had a bit of wealth.

Wealth, in this case, being able to afford a Manhattan residence. That by no means is a declaration of endless Benjamin’s. The thing about being from no money when you get some, you either blow it (done that) lose it (done that) or finally learn to make it work for you.

If you’re wondering what the difference between losing it and blowing it is, you’re blowing it.

(more…)

Michael Davis: What Happened, Part 2

In part one of this article, I asked what happened to that fun-loving silly bastard who lost his mind when he met Mickey Mouse at Disneyland?

This happened…

Sadness happened.

Sadness killed that pain in the ass lovable (YEAH LOVABLE) bastard. The grief felt over the loss of my mother, the end of my marriage, and friendship with Denys Cowan. Sadness over my inability to shield people I care about from my (then) undiagnosed bipolar behavior. Sadness helped along by my (then) undiagnosed severe depression.

Anger happened.

Anger over the constant ridicule from the friends of my ex-wife who’s elitist posture pissed me off to no end. Yet, for the most part, I let it go, which made me angrier. The insult from Milestone.

The criminal (YES criminal) treatment from DC Comics. The two false racist arrests by LAPD. The seemingly purposeful attempts to distance me from my contributions as the lead creator of Static Shock.

“If you think Michael is the creator of Static just because his mom’s name is Jean. You should meet Dwayne’s cousin.”

Matt Wayne.

“Matt, if you think Dwayne is the sole creator of Static, you should meet my mother, Jean, my sister, Sharon, my father Robert, my childhood friends Wade and Richie, my cousin (yep cousin) Dee Dee…I could go on and on and on….”

Me

OR you could just peek at the creative bible Dwayne edited, BUT I WROTE.

Wait, I misspoke.

You can’t meet any of those people I named as characters I created.

They are all dead.

In the case of Sharon and Dee Dee murdered.

So I’m a wee bit ticked when people talk shit about the family who was the real-life models for those characters. I did that so my family would live on in some way.

NO ONE gets to rewrite that history.

Anger at a boldface horrible lie put on social media. A woman claiming I threatened her and felt she had to be escorted out of Comic-Con by her friends. She was preparing to write an in-depth ‘tell-all’ expose of my crimes against Gays and Black women, aka Me Too. She then recruited others to tell their ‘truth to power’ story.

There might be more, but all you need are two for a criminal conspiracy.

The unfortunate thing for those involved is you don’t have to commit the crime to be convicted of it. All you have to do is plan it and be stupid enough to put it on Twitter.

Here’s a tip for those who try to set me up. It can’t be done. I ALWAYS HAVE PROOF of where I am and what I’m doing and, most importantly, who I happen to be with.

Usually, I’d spend a few paragraphs examining the juicy piece of bullshit like this. Not this time. The rest of the article has a declaration that will NOT include those damning claims.

I’ll just say this: the claims made by that woman is laughable although not funny. I have proof she’s lying so strong that the VIDEO proof is the weakest of the evidence.


Sadness and anger, I brought on myself.

 

Yeah-I did. Even the failed attempts by DC’s former boss to discredit me sabotage my business. The stupid plot to cast me in the role of sexual predator hater of Gays and Black women, even those lies I’m responsible for.

I could have sought help earlier. I make no excuses, but I’m from a generation of Black men unless bleeding from a severe injury (sometimes not even then) don’t go to the doctor. I wrote article after article describing some of my I now know as systems and never gave it thought there was an issue.

Why am I responsible for those who hate my swagger so much they feel they have the right to try and destroy me? Lacking that, they hack my Facebook and tell the world I committed suicide. Why is that my responsibility?

My mother is why.

My mother was a remarkable woman. I’m sure most sons would say that about their mom, so I’ll tell you a bit about mine so you know I’m not whistling Dixie.

She took a horrible beating as punishment for me drawing (with a permanent black magic marker) all over the only TV set at the boarding house we were staying in.

I was 6 or 7, my sister, and I witnessed the entire thing. I knew it was my fault. We moved out of the boarding house, packing nothing going back to my grandmother’s house. We lived there when my mom broke up with my step-father. My step-father came over under the guise of reconciling. That subject was tabled when my mother was choked.

My step-father had beaten my mother there and promised to do it again. Putting herself back in harm’s way so her kids would be safe is standard procedure for any mother.

What makes my mom remarkable is what she did the day after the beating. I was a wreck, crying uncontrollably each time I thought about my mother trying to shield herself from her attacker. My mother came home after work, smiling through a swollen jaw, and presented me with an art set.

She knew. She knew the pain and anguish from the guilt I suffered. She knew how high the cost would be to my life if she didn’t act. But most of all, this remarkable soul knew her big mouth silly child found something he loved.

She knew I loved to draw. She gave me back my love with that art set because I’m sure I never would have drawn again.

That and about a zillion other reasons is why my mom is remarkable.


“Don’t back down when right do not let people dim your glow, Mike. Be yourself above all.”

My mother told me that in fourth grade, when bullied again in ninth grade when rejected by the High School of Art and Design and on what turned out to be her death bed.

Each time she said that to me, she was wiping tears from my eyes.

I am who I am. I don’t back down when I am right, and I’m always right.

That’s not bravado its truth. Every wrong done to me is retaliation against me, justly standing firm speaking truth to power. I can and have proved it.

No one cares.

Thus the anger bitterness and constant bitching.

Now, I see Micky Mouse as a guy in a suit when once I saw Mickey as another opportunity for a bit of fun.

I have to stop.

I gotta let it all go, or it will destroy me. It already consumes me at times my anger driving my blood pressure to deadly numbers

So I am letting it go after I state for the record a few things.

DC Comics TWICE under the leadership of Paul…nope.

That would defeat the entire purpose. Everything I would write here I’ve written before. My fans (both of them) have seen that narrative from me many times.

I wish DC well, yes that includes Paul. No, there is no joke coming. I respect what he’s done in comics. How could I not? I defended him when he was called a racist. Paul’s not a racist. No Paul, no Milestone, PERIOD. I did something that soured him against me personally, and he reacted. That’s not racism that’s good old unethical  American resentment.

He has little or no respect for me.

That’s ok. I am no longer losing any sleep over him.

He’s welcome to think anything he wants.

Everyone can conceive whatever hated view of me they want.  However, if it comes to my attention, I’m being slandered, and my business is affected to paraphrase Bruno Mars; “I’m a dangerous man with some lawyers in my pocket.”

I’ve already let the Milestone slight go. A few months ago, I had an hour-long conversation with Reggie Hudlin, who offered me the lead in his next movie. It’s called ‘Missing.’

JOKE! I did have an hour plus call with Reggie and still consider him a friend. Hung out with Mr. Denys Tesla Cowan over Thanksgiving. The only person I haven’t reconnected with is Derek Dingle. That’s on him.

Like the old south, I am officially letting all the pain, and righteous anger go.

Also, like the old south, I will occasionally react badly. Unlike the old south, I’m only human.

JOKE!I’m told there are many humans in the south!

Everyone gets a pass, EXCEPT those who with malice and forethought tried to harm me in some way. That’s out of my hands. They will hear from me through legal channels. They get no more of my time on-line.

For better or worse, as long as my new meds and outlook are working for me, I’m back to being a lovable bastard.

It’s hard letting pain and anger go. I can now because I realize that it will kill me. I’ll be dead soon enough; I don’t need any more help. I miss the person I once was. I owe it to my beloved Jean and all those who love me to bring that guy back.

Besides, comics need the true Master Of The Universe.  He-Man? Close but no. I’m talking about me, man. Damn! I’m so witty!


NEXT WEEK: I dismantle an Entertainment Weekly opinion piece claim of what the greatest Romantic Comedy is and school them on their comics ‘coverage.’

Michael Davis: What Happened…?

I own a rare Japanese GI Joe figure which I was lucky enough to have signed by Don Levine GI Joes’s main creator. No idea what it’s worth but I know it’s pretty pricey— but I’d never sell it. Nor would I sell my prized Captain Action or any of the toys action figures or dolls I once collected.

I say once because the thrill of tracking down something I once had as a kid has left me.

That sucks.

There’s a huge TV in almost every room of my home and my studio. Each room has a gaming system hooked up in it. I have not played a video game in perhaps four years.

That really sucks.

It’s been twenty years or so since I went into the dealers area at Comic-Con. There was a time when I’d drop a ton of cash at SDCC and not think about it twice. Suffering from insomnia, I’d often make late evening runs to Target. I’d come back with all sort of stuff, mostly superhero related, and spend the wee hours of the night setting them up.

I mentioned dolls earlier and I meant dolls. I have a sizable collection of Barbie’s. Yeah, I’m a six foot two inch Black man from the hood and I once collected Barbie. I no longer do that either.

That may be the biggest suck of all. Laugh if you will but, “Hey, would you like to come to my home and see my Barbie collection” beats wanna play Call of Duty with the ladies each and every time fanboy.

What happened? Why have I stopped playing with toys?

  1. One day I looked at my Barbie’s and realized I’m not Gay so I stopped.
  2. My girlfriend and my wife sat me down for an intervention. They convinced this was not a good look for a middle aged Black man.
  3. I grew up.
  4. All of the above.
  5. None of the above

The answer is E none of those things are the reason.

The answer is that fun-loving silly bastard who lost his mind when he met Mickey Mouse at Disneyland is gone. “IT’S MICKEY MOUSE! F*******K!!!” I screamed like a little girl when I saw Mickey walking towards me during my first visit to Disneyland. I was there with Denys Cowan who had invited me along. This was a trip for Denys’ young son Miles he told me to come along because I’d love Disneyland.

I didn’t.

I was NOT impressed. The Happiest Place on Earth my ass. I was bored out of my mind until Mickey rolled up.

Mickey looked with disbelief. This was something new to Mr. Mouse: a grown man so freaking out over him. I was acting like a kid and could care less who saw me. THIS was Cloud 9.

YEAH I know it’s a man in a freakin suit I didn’t care.

It was nighttime and Mickey was on his way to clock out. A few kids had come over once gone he turned to me and I felt so special.

Suit man I know.

“Hey can I tell you a joke?” Mickey said. WTF?? Mickey doesn’t talk at Disneyland or anywhere he only speaks on film not in person. This freaking RAT just RUINED my good time.

NAH! Just kidding! I felt even more special!!!

Suit I KNOW

“YES! Tell me a joke, Mickey!”

I swear this is true and you can ask Denys Cowan. First Mickey pleaded PLEASE don’t tell anyone because he could get fired. When he heard my F bomb he figured I’d appreciate this joke:

Mickey Mouse is in divorce court and the judge is shaking his head.

“Mr. Mouse, you cannot use insanity as a plea in a divorce case.”

Mickey looked at the judge and said; “I didn’t say she was insane, I SAID SHE WAS F**K**G GOOFY!”

Mickey Mouse told me that joke at Disneyland, I cried I was laughing so hard.

I’m still crying but not because of any joke.

This article started as a rant. Gucci is selling Mickey Mouse tee shirts for $650. You can find a much better designed one for $14.99 at Macys. To be fair, Gucci’s logo is on their shirt so that easily justifies the $635.01 extra. To be even fairer, Gucci has Mickey Mouse tees WITH the Gucci logo that goes for $20 bucks.

What the difference? The only difference I see is the $20 dollar shirts feature a dumb as dirt looking Mickey. I’m not kidding. But fear not; for $650.00 you can have a cool looking Mickey.

That lighthearted description is far from my original fire and brimstone class warfare damn those elitist bastards who make poor kids think they need $200 sneakers to be cool article I wrote.

That article has been done for a while. I hope I never run it. It’s bitter cold and utterly depressing.

Like its author.

Once my writing was upbeat comical and downright silly. “How To Meet Girls” was a tongue in cheek fanboy guide to getting a girlfriend. I listed ways fanboys could improve their zero chances to 1 or perhaps 2 out of 100. It was a standard article running a few hundred words. The next week my follow up article for fangirls, “How To Meet Guys,” was exactly one sentence. “Be a girl.”

That may not be the sentence that printed in Comics Buyers Guide where it printed. I reread a bunch of different drafts and I’m unsure which one ran.

Boy, did I like myself back then. I cracked myself up daily, not caring if anyone else got the joke. I thought it was funny so I was satisfied. One column was “Is You Stupid?” The first sentence stated it was slang used in the Black Community but I was confident some knucklehead would comment on my grammar regardless if they read that I’d written “Is You Stupid?” on purpose.

Much to my surprise no one commented.

LIKE HELL THEY DID-ANT. Yep, there was someone that stupid. Yes, DID-ANT is how I meant to write that and you’re supposed to channel a Black girl from the hood when you read it.

“OH NO YOU DID-ANT!”

Yep. It’s like that…and that’s the way it is.

I once wrote an entire article using Dragon Dictate. The damn near $200 version that I paid for. So, I guess I is stupid two. I didn’t correct one misspelling I’d spent hours “teaching” that piece of crap program how to interpret my voice and was done correcting it. I’d say; “My name is Michael Davis, I’m the Master Of The Universe.” Dragon Dictate would write; “My nanny is Michael Avis I masturbate first.” That may or may not be true but it’s not what I dictated.

I’d write silly “what ifs?” Like what if Marvel Superheroes existed in the real world and did real world dumb stuff that’s so popular today? Like Speed Dating? The following is from Brokeback Marvel:

Johnny Storm is seated across from a pretty blond with short hair.

“Hi, I’m Johnny Storm.”

“Hello, I’m Paris Hilton. So Johnny, what do you do?’

“I’m a member of the Fantastic Four.”

“That a rock group? Oh wow! Do you have a CD out?? Do you know Justin Timberlake?”

”It’s not a rock group. We fight crime.”

“You a cop?”

“No.”

“Oh God, you’re a security guard??”

“No. I’m a super hero.”

“That a kind of sandwich?”

“No, we defend the earth from super villains.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes. Really.”

“That pays a lot?”

“No, I do it for free. Hey where you going?”

“I don’t date men without a job. You have a trust fund or something?”

“No.”

“Your daddy rich?”

“No.”

“Then why on earth should I go out with you?”

“Flame on!”

“Wow…that’s hot.”

I said it was silly, didn’t I? That article got me a very nice letter from a very big star.

Fun Fact: There are some who think I drop names for one or two reasons.

  1. I’m Bragging, or,
  2. I’m full of shit.

I’m neither but remember those points.

The following is an excerpt from: “What about me? What about my needs?”

There is a TV show called Me or the Dog. I think it’s on Animal Planet. This show is about how dogs run the lives of people. There was a woman on one of these shows who actually said she preferred her dogs to her husband and son. She said if given a choice between her family and the dogs she would put the family out of the home before the dogs. I think she thinks she’s a dog. Well if she thinks she’s a dog then I will address this in a way she would understand.

That bitch is crazy.

 

See? Silly but fun! I once wrote funny stuff almost every week. That didn’t stop me from writing about serious subjects many of which touched a nerve in some. Two articles got me death threats. Yep, Death threats.

But enough about my fans! I was going to list one more excerpt from my absolute favorite silly article but I couldn’t decide what to pull from it so here:

https://www.comicmix.com/2008/01/24/the-worst-tv-show-ever-part-1-by-michael-davis/

All that merriment begs the question; what happened to that fun-loving silly bastard who lost his mind when he met Micky Mouse at Disneyland?

This happened…

End Part 1

Michael Davis: Mr. Anderson…

Cue Scooby-Doo flashback…

I was attending Comic-Con in San Diego; it was the early 90’s, and I was a much different person than I am today. I was as they say Happy Go Lucky and Gay.  Always upbeat and ready for whatever adventure awaited me.

Now?

The only word that still applies from Happy Go Lucky and Gay is gay. I’m still gay and Black. I’m a lesbian— I like women.

I’d just finished a panel when I was approached by this young white kid. And I do mean white. Without saying a word, this kid screamed baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. When he reached me, I said: “Look without a blood test, you’ll never be able to prove I’m your father.” I didn’t say that, but it’s true.

I actually  said, “What’s up, Opie?” He just looked at me. “You’re a long way from Mayberry, what can I do for you?” A nervous smile crossed his face, but when he spoke, it was the voice of a distinguished confident young man.

Nah, the kid sounded like a nervous Opie Taylor. He hesitated for a moment but finally got it together. “Can I get you to sign this?” He subsequently got out.

Great, just my luck. Another darn Denys Cowan fan.

I was always being mistaken for Denys, and it was starting to really piss me off. Earlier that day, a guy refused to believe I wasn’t Denys. He stalked me for so long I finally had had enough. I’d told this guy at least ten times, “I am not Denys Cowan.”

“Yeah, ya are.” He said every single time accompanied by this creepy smile.  Fed up, I said,” OK, OK, give me the book.” “I knew it.” He damn near yelled. So I took his treasured copy of Deathlok #1 and signed it.

I signed it, ‘I’m NOT Denys Cowan.’

Now, Opie, no doubt, wanted me to sign a copy of The Question or Black Panther or whatever.

As happens every 100 years or so, I was wrong.

He handed me copies of ETC, the book I illustrated for DC.’s Piranha Press.  Oh my goodness, here was my first real FAN!

I quickly looked at his wrist to see if there was a plastic band around it. Nope, he wasn’t fresh out of a psych ward.

This was indeed a treat— I have a fan!

Upon a second look,  the kid looked nothing like Opie from The Andy Griffith Show.  He looked like a young Brad Pitt — Leonardo DiCaprio combined IF those two actors were better looking.

His name was Scott Anderson, and he loved ETC. At the time, I wasn’t at all crazy about my art on the series; that, as they say, is another story.

He said he wanted to be an illustrator. That struck me because most young people at comic conventions that seek advice say they want to draw comics or be a comic book artist or cartoonist. I think Scott was the first to ever use the word ‘illustrator.’

The kid was as well mannered as you can get. Try as I might with silly references to a T.V. show he’d never heard of, the kid stayed on course. He asked if I’d look at his work, and although I had a couple of supermodels waiting for me to bring lunch back to my suite, the wedge of lettuce they were to split between them could wait, so I agreed.

The kid had some skills but needed some advice. Illustration isn’t fine art’s crack addict cousin, it’s an utterly different animal. There are rules that you must learn before you think you can break them. First and foremost, illustrators are telling a story. The best there ever was at doing that was Norman Rockwell.

When I mention Norman Rockwell to young artists, the reactions vary. Often it’s they don’t know who Rockwell is or ‘yuk.’ I attended the High School of Art & Design and hated Rockwell’s stuff. I learned that I was WAY WRONG about his work, but that’s when I was older and working professionally.

“I like his stuff. ” Scott’s answered when I mentioned Rockwell.

That blew my mind. This kid all of 14 or 15 at a comic convention not only knew who Norman Rockwell was he respected the work. That’s a big deal.

This kid was the real deal. I could see from his manner he had an excellent support system, so yeah, I’d be happy to make him a satellite member of my Bad Boy Studio Mentor program.

Scott was a great learner, but I could not sustain the level of commitment needed to be a proper mentor and felt terrible about that. I didn’t want the kid to think I wasn’t serious about him, so I gifted him an ETC cover, so he knew he was loved despite having to pull back from mentoring.

Truth is, its young people like Scott that make mentoring the joy it is. This young man wasn’t just about himself. I could tell he had a purpose that included something bigger.

I used to mentor quite a few young people long distance at some point; all would tell me they would come and see me in L.A. or N.Y. depending on where I was at the time.

Scott actually did that.

Scott came to my studio in L.A. At one point, I took him over to my garage and showed him my sports car SUV and motorcycle. My intent was to give him my ‘its just ‘stuff’  speech. That’s the speech that I give kids that want to be artists, but parents think they will starve pursuing that goal.

“How is my kid going to make a living?”

That’s a fear that still resonates with parents today. Midway into the speech, I caught a glimpse at Scott’s face this young man had a look on his face that said, “Stuff is the last thing I’m concerned about” that may not seem like a big deal, but I’d never before or since known anyone who’s demeanor conveyed a purpose so clearly.

I’ve kept detailed journals since the ninth grade rereading the tale of Scott’s visit does not make it less amazing to me, although I wrote it the day Scott came to see me.

Whatever Scott’s purpose was, it wasn’t narrow or frivolous.

Fast forward to now. I’m proud to say Scott Anderson is one of the hottest illustrators working today. His work is original and diverse. The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and New York have acknowledged his work.

Scott was awarded the 2019 Society of Illustrators Bronze Medal in Editorial. A tremendous honor.

I’m sure his career is essential, but that look on his face all those years ago said something other than occupation.

I think Scott’s purpose was more significant than work.  One look at his family, and I know I’m right. Although his choice of friends leaves room for improvement, he’s hanging around with this guy Bill Sienkiewicz who’s been trying to break into comics but has NO shot.

Scott has come a long way since his Opie days.

Well done, Mr. Anderson, well done indeed.

Love: A Comic Book Story

Love: A Comic Book Story

Ask 20 people to define “Love”, you’ll get 20 definitions.

Here’s mine.

I feel love is measured in how you’re treated when things go wrong, not when everything is okay. It’s one thing to say something in a joyous ceremony yet another when faced with real life. People tend to balk the moment it gets real. “It’s you and me forever” converts to, “It’s not you; it’s me.”

People leave.

Some can stick it out for years. Some go the first time things get stormy. Whatever vows spoken to whatever God is forgotten when one person has reached their limit.

Movies books and music make love seem like ‘happily ever after’ is assured. Pop Culture emphasizes the easily overcome struggle to stay with someone who has fallen on hard times or is stricken with a debilitating or fatal illness.

People do it, but it is far from easy. Trust me, I know.

I wrote about such a love affair in IF & HOPE.

The love affair of Roz Alexander-Kasparik and David Rector was the stuff of movies and books, but as we all know, ‘happily ever after’ isn’t as easy as Hollywood makes it look like.

David suffered an aortic dissection a tear in a major blood vessel and various complications left him unable to speak or walk.

Roz stayed.

Long years of struggle is an common complaint.

The years couldn’t have been long enough for Roz. She was in love in the truest sense of the word. She vowed to stay until the end. What end?

The end of days, the end of the world, the end of time. Whatever end would take her away from David. She just knew it would not be her that would end the relationship.

The end came for David earlier this month. His death leaving a hole in Roz’s world she thinks may be impossible to fill.

Roz called David her “heart.” You cannot live without your heart. So it’s good that David’s presence will endure his legacy one of strength and persistence, giving Roz hope.

Hope isn’t something one wants to hear about when faced with the kind of pain Roz is feeling now. I know that and the following isn’t about hope its about truth.

Roz, there are no words I can write that can convey the impact both David and yourself had on me. I will miss David’s unique “melody” at the Black Panel and the intense look he gave me communicating with his eyes what he couldn’t with voice. I will miss talking with you by phone and feeling like David was part of the discussion when you translated his sounds.

Few things impress me, fewer I envy. Your relationship with David did both.

You’re one of the strongest people I know. I hope your pain is tempered, knowing the impression David made on many. With David by your side you  fought for the rights of those burdened with disadvantages. Without David it will be hard but I know that will continue.

I don’t need to hope there is no if-this I know.

Just like I know the comic you created with David, Recall & Given will become a reality.

It’s also a given.

Dear AT&T: Static on the line is a GOOD thing

Dear AT&T: Static on the line is a GOOD thing

TO: Randall L. Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer, AT&T
CC: John Stankey, Chief Executive Officer, Warner Media

Dear Mr. Stephenson,

My name is Michael Davis. I’m sure you know me as I have been a loyal AT&T phone customer for many years.

I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m a bit off my rocker. How ON EARTH could you know me just because I’m an AT&T phone customer?

That’s just silly.

You know me because I have my home, cell phone as well as my Internet and cable with AT&T.

I’m told you have a sense of humor and I hope my opening gave you a chuckle. What the remainder of this letter holds is far from funny.

I’m sure you’re aware when AT&T purchased Time Warner, it became the owner of DC Comics. DC Comics holds some media rights to Static a.k.a. Static Shock through an arrangement with the copyright owner and content creator Milestone Media a company I co-founded.

Full disclosure: DC Comics and I have history. Once I was a welcomed creator; however, the last two decades have seen me banned, literally blacklisted. Long story short; I said the right thing to the wrong person. Please don’t take my word for any of this— the paperwork is readily available at DC. However, this narrative isn’t about me. This article is about property now under your control— the aforementioned Static Shock.

I am no longer a part of Milestone, and they have nothing to do with this letter. I am representing myself and the millions of fans of Static Shock waiting for his return.

Simply Googling Static Shock will enlighten you to the sheer power and reach of the much-beloved character. There are thousands of fan clubs and fan films. Static is a favorite choice of new and seasoned cosplayers from child to adult.

Here’s the kicker—the vast majority of the fans of Static were born after the series had run its course both on television and the comics.  In other words, its sheer word of mouth behind the enormous appeal of Virgil Hawkins, aka Static.

AT&T is the nation’s second-largest advertiser— imagine spending no advertising dollars but seeing the demand for your product grow year after year.

That, in a nutshell, is the essence of Static Shock.

“AT&T gives you more for your thing, More entertainment, Internet, and unlimited plans. More for your thing. Yeah, that’s our thing.”

The Your Thing national campaign from AT&T and BBDO focused on the uniqueness of its customers’ request for things that mattered not just words spoken in support of a product.  How significant AT&T’s support of the Black community is evident to me by your doings with Believe Chicago.

I don’t point out AT&T’s investment in the African American community, both financial and social, to suck up. I’m not that guy— if I was, I believe I’d still have a home at DC. No, I point out your involvement because I feel there’s a chance, albeit a slim one my plea and the pleas of millions of fans will not be lost in the abundance of requests received by a corporation the size and scope of yours.

Put bluntly, Static is a national treasure among millions of fans, both black and white. However, among black kids, he’s more much much more. As a black man who grew up with so little black representation in media and almost none in the superhero space, so few I had to create my own— it saddens me beyond measure that today is just as bleak as yesterday.

Ignoring the impact of Static makes little sense financially. However, ignoring Static‘s prominence in the black community is corporate callousness at its highest level, in my opinion.

History aside, I nevertheless consider DC’s universe the best in the industry, and the vast majority of those employed there are among the elite in comics.

Dan Didio and Jim Lee are remarkable people who are real fans of the medium. Before they joined DC, I was in business with Dan at ABC-TV and Jim at Image Comics. Nothing but good came from those creative arrangements.

There are companies on the net as I write this selling Static Shock merchandise as if they had licensed them legally from DC and Milestone and they have not. They do so openly with no worry of being caught, let alone punished by one of the world’s most powerful corporations.

If that doesn’t underscore the banking power of Static, then nothing will. 

Static Shock generates millions of bootleg dollars while black kids continue to make their own Static Shock content because Warner Bros. and DC Comics will not.

Sir, I’m thoroughly and painfully aware of legal agreements that supposedly make impossible resolutions to what seems a simple fix.

My response is— so what?

Static‘s impact can do wonders with boys and girls of color who see little to strengthen identity put much to weaken it. A president who often speaks of the first black president as unintelligent and lazy. A country returning to a time when if black merely waiting for a friend at Starbucks can get you arrested.

An America where a black man simply saying ‘lower Alabama’ can get you thrown out of a Hilton Hotel and threatened with arrest. Protesting to the police the Hilton’s prejudicial actions can get you killed. So, the thing to do was leave the hotel humiliated rather than face that possibility.

That happened to a guy I know.

Static is more important than a contract, and more significant than any agreement meant for commerce and revenue. A beloved black character not just kept alive by word of mouth but flourishing alone is a goldmine for AT&T if it makes a billion dollars or not a dime.

Agreements are vital; I’m just saying exceptions made for the greater good I would argue keep us dare I say civilized. I’m currently breaking an agreement preventing me from discussing the very matters this article covers, doing so for the greater good.

That “agreement” is a damning smoking gun evidence of a decision made with malice. What did I do to justify a sustained policy of exclusion?

My contributions to the company were never in question; they are stellar. So stellar are my doings at DC it begs the question: is Static Shock being held back because of a personal dislike of Michael Davis?

I’ve been labeled troublemaker, among other things. That’s true—I’m trouble when approached like I’m a child talked to like I’m stupid.

I’m far from stupid. Can’t say the same for the person who sent a fraudulent letter with false information in a bid to stop me from becoming President & CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks.

That’s stupid.

Having two employees lie to try and frame you?

That’s criminal.

I said Milestone is capable of exploiting Static with or without DC’s involvement, but I hope it is with DC that the next stage of Static happens. DC does the best books in the industry, and the power of AT&T and Time Warner’s reach is awe-inspiring.

The knock, on black content, is diversity doesn’t sell. That usually comes from those who don’t sell diversity because they can’t. 

Milestone’s Reggie Hudlin Derek Dingle and Milestone’s inventor Denys Cowan can sell diversity. They have done so all their professional lives.

Static has a worldwide following ignored by DC and Warner Bros. With help from AT&T Warner Bros. and DC Comics I believe Static will do the kind of numbers as a movie to rival or even surpass Black Panther.

Lastly, I leave you with this.

I have history with AT&T also. Your company are sponsors of my forum the Black Panel. I’ve also been invited to participate in various AT&T art shows at AT&T corporate in New Jersey.

Speaking of art, AT&T has one of the most celebrated art collections in the world.

Among the acquisitions are paintings by William T. Williams, underscoring AT&T’s dedication to Black America. Mr. Williams was the first Black artist inducted into Janson’s History of Art.

When that moment happened, he refused. He refused because he felt Janson should acknowledge other black artists that came before him.

Janson did just that; they included other notable African American artists.

The Janson History of Art did that regardless of the time and money it took to accomplish this. Janson is the world leader in art history publications, and to do so was a massive undertaking.

However, it was the right thing to do.

There’s a DC Comics connection to Mr. Williams. The painting used to represent his work is called Batman. Just so happens, Batman is my favorite superhero, I was obsessed with the 60’s TV show.

So much so it drove me to love drawing Batman, which kept me inside and helped keep me alive. My sister and grandmother both died violent deaths that could have easily been me and almost was.

My love of drawing Batman turned into loving art that led to working at Mr. Williams studio. I was working in the studio of a world-renowned artist at a very young age.

I was ten.

He had me ‘work’ in his studio to keep me safe.

William T. Williams is my mentor, my hero, and my cousin. Batman was named with me in mind. So, a DC Comics character is featured in the most influential art history book in the world because of me.

I needed heroes to help me stay alive and when real ones were not available, I found them in comics. I’d like to work with DC again but if it will help get Static to the next level, I’ll sign an agreement stating I won’t use the letters D or C for the rest of my life.

That’s ridiculous, I know.

Not as ridiculous as ignoring the almost 800,000 views David Kirkman’s Static Fan Film has in only weeks on YouTube fueled by just word of mouth. Now think about that number with the power of AT&T Warner Bros. DC Comics and Milestone all operating in concert.

Please consider taking a moment and examine what may be possible.

“AT&T gives you more for your thing, More entertainment, Internet, and unlimited plans. More for your thing. Yeah, that’s our thing.”

All the millions of Static Shock fans ask is for you to do your thing.

—Michael Davis, PhD
Los Angeles, CA
July 2019

Batton Lash: The Best of Us

I have a long running tradition of giving my readers a gift on my birthday. That gift was usually a piece about an amazing person. Yesterday was my birthday— this was to run then, though I wish it would have never run.

It did not post yesterday because I was killed on my birthday and that noise would have cheapened a very rich legacy. 

Batton Lash was among the best the comic book industry had to offer.

As an artist or writer, he could hold his own against anyone and outclassed most. His masterwork Supernatural Law is a rarity in any media, an original concept which maintained its originality from its early beginning as Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre in 1979 until its transition to a web comic in the early 2000s.

In 2019 there are still few ideas as original as Batton’s series about the law practice of Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd, whose focus is defending monsters and other supernatural beings in court.

That was a brilliant idea, and almost 40 years since its creation it’s still just as excellent. Batton’s career featured many unique ideas I won’t go into here just know his body of work would be sufficient enough reason to say Batton Lash was among the best the comic book industry had to offer.

Impressive as his work is it is not the first reason, I think Batton Lash was a shining light in the industry.

That reason is the kind of man Batton Lash was, a brilliant kind and genuine soul.  That’s rare and hard to believe nowadays even rarer to a man who believes less and less about the milk of human kindness.

Batton passed away last January it’s now the last days of April; regrettably, I didn’t notice until a few days ago when I tried to call his wife, Jackie Estrada before I could I had to make another call first.

Long story short: for well over a year a hacker has disrupted most of my organization with a vicious personal assault. Yeah, someone really hates me that much. As Prince said in his song “Let’s Go Crazy”, there’s something else… and the hacker isn’t even a close second of things I worry about. I’d often thought about people who unplug from the world with envy; therefore, I did what some may consider a nuclear option, wiping or replacing all computers cell phones tablets, and no social networking.

I left it up to a tech company to make sure vital files and contacts was purged, that meant I no longer have my contact info readily available; moreover, no one has my new information, not even my management.

A smart BRILLIANT move…for an idiot.

Batton helped me realize just what an idiot I was, and that’s not the first time. The first time was 2 decades ago during a ‘elevate the industry’ discussion at Pro Con.

The audience of creators, publishers, and vendors were debating ways to elevate the comic business to bring in more women readers. To some that meant less superpowered plotlines, women characters drawn and written without the mandatory T&A 15-year-old boys crave. Lastly the curtailing of needless violence.

I agreed with all that.

In fact, I stood and agreed with a short but elegant (so I thought) speech.

That way the entire audience would know what a forward-thinking man about town I was. “We need less superpowered plotlines, women characters drawn and written without the mandatory T&A 15-year-old boys crave and a curtailing of needless violence.”

When I sat down, Batton got up turned towards me (no doubt to co-sign my greatness) and said, something like “Michael, with all due respect your new line of books are filled with superpowered plotlines, women characters drawn and written with T&A 15-year-old boys crave and plenty of needless violence!”

Yeah. I’d forgotten about that tiny bit of truth.

I’d met Batton, but we were far from friends at the time and lightyears from “let me school you in front of everybody” terms. I was pissed and knew I’d stay pissed forever.

Took about 10 minutes for my fury to flutter away.

I caved because Batton came over after the panel with that copyrighted Lash grin, that smile was so sincere I could not stay mad, and I knew when he spoke to me “with all due respect” wasn’t just lip service. Batton defended his point of view without insult while respecting mine which he knew differed in my work at the time. In short, he was a throwback to a time when integrity was commonplace.

Years ago, I received a call from an African American website asking me to comment on a “racist” cartoon on a far-right website featuring our last President and his wife.

I’d take a bullet for the Obama’s faster than the Secret Service could yell “gun”, so I was ready to get my “OH NO THEY DID-ANT” on. After looking at the cartoon, my quote for the website was; “The cartoon was silly satire, not racist” because that’s what it was.

The website didn’t use my quote.

Batton co-created the cartoon. I’m Black and there was a better chance of me becoming Grand Wizard of the KKK than of Batton Lash being racist.

I’ve been in no hurry to reconnect with the world so instead of re-joining my network if I needed a contact, I’d call my manager when I called to get Jackie’s number my rep told me Batton was gone.

To show my appreciation for people who have shown me kindness I often gift them a painting. It’s the greatest show of love and respect I can give a person. I’ve lost all my immediate family learning the hard way to let people know you care as soon as possible. A few years ago, to celebrate Batton’s and Jackie’s anniversary I did a painting for them.

Fed-Ex delivered to the wrong address and took months to find it.  Once found it was sent back to me damaged. I’d just finished reworking it thus the call to Jackie to get the correct address.

Batton’s death and the amount of time passed before I was aware was an agonizing ordeal for me. So determined was my desire to avoid any life occurrences I purposely made it impossible to reach me.

Batton made me realize what a self-centered thing I did.

Batton Lash was significant, he mattered I should have known and paid my respect to his memory and condolences to Jackie long before this.

I really liked and admired Batton for sure as a creator but suffering from depression, my focus was his humanity.

In my opinion, Batton Lash was the best of us.

Jackie, I don’t have the words to convey how sorry I am for your loss. Please know I will honor Batton’s memory and value the friendship of you both for the rest of my life.

Black Lightning Gets It Right

As high-ranking executives at the most famous record company in the world, it was essential for us to project the utmost professionalism at all times. We talked in hushed tones nodding politely at staff whom, when we approached lowered their heads once pass the whispered comments began.

Denys Cowan and I were walking the halls of Motown Records. Denys had just joined me at Motown Animation and Filmworks as Senior Vice President. I was giving him the ten-cent tour of Motown’s brand spanking new offices as we discussed plans to take over the world.

“My god, they nodded at us.”

“We’re so blessed.”

“Long live the saviors of Motown.”

“Nay, saviors of the entertainment industry!”

“NAY NAY THE WORLD!!”

“WHY Y’ALL KEEP SAYING MY NAME?” Said, Nay Nay.

Nay Nay commented that we “Looked like GQ cover models.”  Denys was in Armani, I wore Boss— we both got a bit of a chuckle out of that.

When we were out of earshot, Denys stated; “GQ cover models? Yeah, right.”

“As if we would stoop that low,” I answered. “GQ would bow down before us, “he stated. “Damn Skippy.” was my reply. “Who do we bow down to, my good man?” That I said in my best English accent. Denys responded in kind, “Us? Why no one my good sir.”

A few moments later we were both on our knees before royalty chanting in unison. ” WE’RE NOT WORTHY.”

That is a true story.

Mostly.

All of the above happened except for the bowed heads savior talk whispered comments GQ model reference English accent etc. Denys was in Armani, I did wear Boss. I was giving him a tour of the new Motown offices he was starting work at Motown.

Who among you believe the part about being on our knees before royalty chanting in unison? WE’RE NOT WORTHY?

Really?

Y’all think Denys Cowan perhaps the most underrated yet still influential person to ever grace comics and Michael Davis may be the most undervalued personality in comics would bow down to anyone?

Y’all tripping. 

The rest of this narrative I assure you is all true…

Denys and I settled outside the executive suite studying some Al Hirschfeld originals. Motown has fantastic work from renowned visual as well as recording artists on their walls.

After a moment, we decided to say hello to our bosses— Jherl Busby, then Motown’s President and CEO and Clarence Avant, Motown’s Chairman at the time. Their offices were next to each other, and if we were lucky, we’d be granted an audience.

This is the real world, you don’t just walk into the offices of two of the most powerful men in entertainment no matter what you see on TV. We were met by Charisse Browner and Tomica Woods— guardians of the gate so to speak.

“Clarence isn’t in, and Jherl is with somebody,” Charisse said.  Jherl’s door was open, and we could see the back of someone talking to him but couldn’t make out who.

Tomica chimed in with, “I’ll check back with you later after I put you on their schedules” That was that. Denys and I were leaving when I happen to glance again in Jherl’s office, the man talking to Jherl’s had turned I could see him clearly now.

Royalty.

I tapped Denys on the shoulder and nodded towards the figure. When Denys saw who it was, he both looked at each other and knew what we must do, in doing so we would risk our lives.

Trying to get past one BLACK WOMAN you risk bodily injury we had to get past two. This was over 20 years ago— today Charise runs a serious media business, and Tomica runs Ruthless Records.

Y’all get that? RUTHLESS RECORDS.

The ladies sensed something was up by the stupid way Denys and I were eyeing Jherl’s guest. Before they could act, we bolted from our spot just beating Tomica into the office.

“WE’RE NOT WORTHY.”  “WE’RE NOT WORTHY.”  We shouted kneeling in front of one of the greatest filmmakers who ever yelled “CUT!”

The Duke.

Mr. BILL DUKE.

I did write “Y’all tripping” when I asked who believed Denys and I would do that, I NEVER said we didn’t. Hell yeah, we did. We did because we knew then just how badass Mr. Duke is. 

Most know Mr. Duke as a powerful actor, and he is that.

Starting with Car Wash where he portrayed fierce young Black Muslim revolutionary Abdullah Mohammed Akbar (formerly known as Duane). His acting work has graced American Gigolo, Commando, Predator, followed by Action Jackson, The Limey, Exit Wounds, Menace II Society, Bird on a Wire, Payback, X-Men: The Last Stand, National Security, Get Rich or Die Trying, Bad Country, and Mandy.

Many know the films he’s directed— The Killing Floor, A Rage in Harlem, Deep Cover, Hoodlum, The Cemetery Club, and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Those are just off the top of my head, there’s many more, among them his A&E Network original film, The Golden Spiders: A Nero Wolfe Mystery. In 2007 he directed the reenactments in the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Prince Among Slaves produced by Unity Productions Foundation.

Mr. Duke is a serious part of Pop Culture— I’m glad to say even if the general public isn’t aware of that, comic book fans are. Mr. Duke is the only person the Black Panel (TBP) at San Diego Comic-Con International has ever devoted an entire segment too.

That’s a big deal not as big as being nominated for the Palme d’Or France’s film honor, but a big deal nevertheless.

Ask the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/jul/28/comic-con-black-panel-african-american-culture

There was quite a buzz at Comic-Con when Bill, (who couldn’t walk 6 feet before a fan stopped him) appeared on TBP. Comic book and fans of pop culture have great respect for Mr. Duke and know all his work well.

Most can’t name another well-known actor who’s acting work is as well-known as his directing effort. That’s part of why I love comic fans. We know our stuff.

If you want to know the influence of Mr. Duke among comic fans, ask any fan who delivered the line “You done f***d up, you know that don’t you?” They will know who. The general public may not know the man, but they know the line.

In my opinion, Mr. Duke’s pop culture star is brightest when you watch his groundbreaking films Dark Girls and Deep Cover and read his remarkable book Bill Duke: My 40-Year Career on Screen and behind the Camera.

This makes the casting of Mr. Duke as Agent Percy Odell in Black Lightning a genius move by the CW. That shows respect for Tony Isabella’s creation, respect for comic books and most importantly respect for fans of comics.

I’m often critical of how Hollywood treats comic book content, and its creators. Perhaps I should amend that to say Hollywood movie studios treat comics like crap because TV studios seem to do it right. That awareness makes me believe only the sheer stupidly of DC Comics keeps Static (Shock) off the air.

DC Comics: “You done f***d up, you know that don’t you?”

Note: Those of you who follow my writing know I don’t edit swearing, although I face a constant roar of those, who say I should clean up my act. I tried to defend it by pointing to writers who also use profanity and why it’s relevant in their work and mine still, the chants endure. Now I tell those who seek to PC my work to kiss my Simon and Schuster imprint.

No doubt you’ve noticed the *** instead of the word.  Before anyone gets very happy (or sad), I edited my words on the off-chance Mr. Duke will read this. He doesn’t much care for profanity unless the conversation story or narrative clearly calls for it.

I can’t debate that because like I said: when it comes to Mr. Duke, I’m still not worthy.