Category: Michael Davis

Michael Davis: Denys Fucking Cowan

Davis Art 133112Mike Gold is going to kill me. Again, It’s pushing 9pm PST and this article is just now being put together. This time I did wait until the last minute.

No excuses. I had a horrible falling out with a loved one that and a recent rash of random negative bullshit has totally thrown me completely off my game.

And yes, I’m about to have a pity party. I’m due. I haven’t had one since…never.

I personally sent out invitations to 30 people in advance of the VIP invite list. These were those I felt I must share what I knew would be one of the greatest events in my life the opening of Milestones: African Americans In Comics, Pop Culture & Beyond.

My invites reached zero people for whatever reason, so 10 days or so before I’m sending them out again and for all 30 I write a personal note apologizing for the late notice and pleading for them to attend. The longest and most heartfelt was written to my 10th grade art teacher Ms. Renee Darvin.

Less than five minutes after I sent that note I find out she died. I’m a wreck for a few days, but I carry on.

No. No I don’t.

Tatiana El Khouri, my co-curator for the show, saveed my ass. I was useless. Every major decision made over the next few days was all Tatiana. I was just looking to put my fist in a wall or someone’s face.

So there was that.

Speaking of which, I’m currently doing 300 hours of community service for (almost) putting my fist in someone face.

Now about those 300 hours…I was twice given the wrong information from the genius that work for the court so it’s impossible to complete the hours by my due date.

So there was that.

The Milestones show was always to feature the art of Denys Cowan as the centerpiece. Yeah, he’s my best friend but he’s also Denys Fucking Cowan. Without whom Milestone Media would never have happened and as such the Milestones show would have never been.

Denys

Fucking

Cowan.

If for some reason that does not impress you consider this; a month or so ago Jay Leno had Quinton Tarantino as his guest and Jay held up the Django Unchained hardcover opened to Deny’s work. There were a number of artists in the volume but Quinton choose Denys’.

Not impressed?

Well, when your fan boy ass sits down to Martin Scorsese’s latest masterpiece; The Wolf Of Wall Street, ask yourself why you are not impressed when Denys’ face appears right smack in the middle of the film by way of an magazine ad he was featured in back in 1989.

Leno, Tarantino, Scorsese.

People at their level do nothing by chance. You don’t show 20 million television viewers a random page in a graphic novel nor do you display a random magazine ad in a 100 million dollar movie.

Leno, Tarantino, Scorsese.

Denys Fucking Cowan.

Denys’ work was always to be the centerpiece of the huge Milestones exhibit. The exhibit that was two years in the making, the exhibit that was to be the crowning cherry on top of the 20th year anniversary of Milestone cake.

All 28 pieces of his work were lost (bullshit, stolen…in my opinion) by UPS.

There was that.

I’ve been dealing with that for the last three weeks. Then a few days ago I had a horrible falling out with one of the loves of my life and said some horrible things and even if I was right to say them I shouldn’t have.

Now I feel like shit.

There was that.

Then a dog that wasn’t even one of my dogs (my dogs know better) pissed on my X-Box. It still works, hence the dogs still lives.

There was that.

Then the ultimate blow.

Everyone knows Christmas is my favorite time of year.

This year, no Christmas spirit and on Christmas day I was alone. I made it a point to whine like a little bitch to my dear beloved Lucy who tried her best to bring me out of my funk.

Like I said, I’ve never had a pity party but it’s my gift to myself and I was feeling pretty good about my pity party when I thought of the Christmas Eve gift I received in the form of a call from three of my former students, Felix Serrano, John Giuffo and Jean Segarra.

Man, that was great. But I figured I could still manage a pretty good pity party with that wonderful present but then I thought of the following…

Not a word. Not a fucking word.

Denys knew days before the opening his most prized work was gone, perhaps forever. He was heartbroken. I’ve seen him like that only twice in our 30 plus year friendship. Once was when the woman who raised him died, his grandmother and again when his grandfather died.

This was just like that. It was like a death in his family. Yeah, I knew. His family knew, but the hundred plus people who were the selected few invited to the opening of Milestones? Some of which were lifelong friends? Some of the most important sure to be sympathetic people in the industry?

Not a word.

Denys said not a word to anyone about the massive pain he was feeling in so doing he ruined my perfectly good pity party with his class and dignity.

All I can do now is make good on my promise I made the second after I told Denys his work was missing; “Trust me, you will get your work back. Every single page. I can’t say exactly when or under what circumstance but every single page will be back in your hands. Some UPS motherfucker is about to realize they opened the wrong box and when asked why UPS sends their packages Fed-Ex his great grandson will answer Denys Fucking Cowan.”

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Tweeks

 

Michael Davis: Late? I’ll Give You Late!

Davis Art 131224December 7th 2013, a date that will live in infamy, the United Parcel Service was suddenly and deliberately attacked by its own ground and air forces and soon beat themselves into a very dark place a place made of their own stupidity.

It’s Christmas. The time of love, peace and goodwill towards men.

Mike Gold is going to kill me.

I’m sending this in on Monday night, which for me on the west coast is 9 pm (ish) but for him it’s after midnight on his east coast. No, I did not wait until the last minute because I forgot or had nothing to write.

I waited for the last minute hoping to hear good news from my boy, Denys Cowan. UPS had promised good news regarding the disappearance of his most cherished pieces of art.

None came.

Imagine, if you will, being in love with the one person you have dreamt of all your life.

Imagine the love of your life leaving you for someone else. Imagine the hurt and pain you will have to endure knowing that he or she is lost to you forever. You tell yourself you will get over it and there will be other loves, other moments indeed other milestones but the love you lost was the love of your life.

Gone. Forever. But…

One day you get a call. It’s the love of your life. They have a glorious surprise for you. No, another is no longer keeping them away from you, they won’t say why or how but they will say when they will see you again and it’s tomorrow!

Tomorrow comes and it’s today!

No lover, nothing.

It’s Christmas and you want to believe the non-committal message you received (not from the love of your life but a third party) saying they are still coming just wait.

Then you think…wait for what?

All you have been told is to expect a glorious surprise. That does not mean they are coming back to you. It could mean any of a million different things.

It could mean that of the 29 pieces of irreplaceable art they are sending nine totally fucked up pieces and expect you to be grateful.

It’s Christmas, Denys his son and I started a sort of tradition of going to the mall for last minute before Christmas shopping.

That didn’t happen this year.

No. Instead UPS continues to think they are dealing with someone and something they can “handle.”

Pity.

I bare UPS no ill will. They are a global zillion-dollar mega company. Denys and I want nothing but the return of his art.

But we have been told all sorts of things (after they got served by a well thought out and predicted outrage from thousands), which, like today just, have not rung true.

UPS is moving mountains (now) to make this right. Problem is I think, they think right is something they decide.

It’s not.

Right, the only right is the return of every single piece of Denys Cowan art in the same condition it left.

Anything less is an attempt to replace the love of his artistic life with some skank gold digging bitch that’s keeps asking what Brown can do for her.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: Does @UPS Care About Missing Denys Cowan Art?

DenysCowan UPS_Page_1

Brown Can Act Like They Give A Shit.

That’s what Brown can do for me.

“What can brown do for you?” Was the once massively successful slogan for United Parcel Service (UPS) that’s been replaced by “We Love Logistics.”

If you ask me both slogans suck.

“Who can Brown screw for you?” Now that’s truth in advertising.

Instead of writing about the fantastic opening of Milestones: African Americans In Comics Pop Culture & Beyond last Friday the 13th at The Geppi Entertainment Museum I’m writing about a devastating lost to superstar artist and my best friend Denys Cowan.

Thursday the 5th of December 2013 Denys Cowan and I sent, via UPS, our artwork for the Milestones show. The work was to be shipped for overnight delivery.  That was the plan but Brown screwed that up. When called the UPS location where the work was sent from gave the wrong cut off time for east coast overnight shipments. So the art was scheduled to arrive on Saturday instead of Friday the following day.

There was an omen if ever there was. It was two packages but one shipment. My assistant James was smart enough to request two different airbills to make any tracking easier.

Bad stormy weather on the east coast was headline news much of the week so the art was wrapped in plastic, sealed with tape, then placed in size related cardboard boxes and that was sealed with at least 3 layers of packing tape. Professional artists KNOW how to ship their art.

Denys sent 28 original pieces of not just art but history. Included were irreplaceable work from original Milestone concept drawings to Batman #400 pages other works from both before and after those career highlights.

My work (some of it) arrived at the Geppi on Saturday. Denys’ did not. On Monday UPS says it tried to deliver Denys’s package but the Geppi was closed because of a snowstorm.

On Tuesday Denys’ box arrived. In that box was some damn fine art. Problem was 27 pieces of Denys’ 28 pieces of art were NOT in the box.

Gone. Perhaps, forever.

For some reason that has yet to be explained to me Denys’ package sat for two days in the UPS Kentucky hub. BOTH boxes left and arrived at the UPS location in Kentucky at the same time. My box was scanned and arrived in Baltimore on Saturday.

I’ve placed numerous calls to UPS and have made it crystal clear what was missing was the art of the man whose idea it was and from which the Milestones show sprung. I made it extremely clear that if this was a show on cubism they had ‘lost’ Picasso’s art.

The woman I said that to didn’t get it. “The Jackson Five exhibit without Michael.”

THAT she got.

Didn’t matter.

I spoke to 11 different people during the week.  All were extremely nice; all were as useless as a condom worn on an ear.

What was made clear to me was the repeated UPS reason why 27 of 28 works of art were not in the box. The package was somehow sealed wrong and the art, ‘fell out.’

Really?

So, the packing tape (used by professional MOVERS among others to keep boxes SEALED-hence the name PACKING TAPE) somehow came loose, every layer simply came apart the plastic sealed art then fell out, the plastic opened 27 pieces of art with it but one somehow crawled back in the box and was able to make the trip from Kentucky to Baltimore.

BULLSHIT.

When arriving at the Geppi the box was sealed (badly) when opened both the art and the plastic around it was gone, say ONE.

HOW can that be? How can 28 pieces of art wrapped in plastic become ONE piece of art?

The art was either stolen or ‘fell out.’  I’m sure it was stolen, someone opened the box, opened the plastic took the art except for one, resealed the box, badly and sent it along it’s merry way.

I can’t say that for a fact because I was not there when it went missing. I also can’t say for fact slavery is bad as I’ve never been a slave but I’m pretty sure it is.


As of today, Monday Dec. 16th nothing has been done to find the artwork of Denys Cowan.

The last thing I was told was NOTHING could be done to expedite the ‘process’ because UPS treats every single ‘lost’ package the same they are all of equal importance.

REALLY?

UPS is Johnny on the spot when someone shoves a TV camera in their faces.

Every package is the same my ass. You mean to tell me UPS would not move any faster if the Academy Awards were to be broadcasted on a Friday and the Oscars statures ‘fell out’ of a box Tuesday?

BULLSHIT.

The artwork of Denys Cowan deserves a lot more respect than a ‘tablet’ and to that end UPS is about to get a lot more than a TV camera shoved in their faces.

Michael Davis: The Teacher Who Changed My Life

Renee-Darvin_0002

12/10/2009

Hello,

If by some chance you are Ms. Darvin from Beach Channel High, my name is Michael Davis and I was at Beach Channel the VERY first year, I transferred to The High School Of Art & Design at the end of that year.

I was in your art class, I was black (still am) wickedly funny ( still am) and had a running rivalry with another student named Robert Stein.

Long story short-I’m now a huge success on so many levels ( and modest) and I’m reaching out to you because today I was being interviewed (told you I was a success) by CNN and they asked me who was the most influential teacher in my life.

I said Renee Darvin.

So, if you are that Renee Darvin please contact me so we can catch up. You told me once you would never forget me and I said the same to you…see I kept my promise.

If you are not THAT Renee Darvin…never mind.

Nah– I kid, I joke! if you are not THAT Renee Darvin I wish you well and please know that Columbia is one of the few schools (and I’m REAL picky) I respect.

Have a wonderful new year!

12/13/2009

Michael,

I am indeed THAT Renee Darvin, who remembers you fondly and very well for all your sass and talent. How bittersweet that your email came on the heels of the news that the city is closing Beach Channel as a failing school! It was my Camelot, in so many ways.

I am delighted that you are a success on many levels, and even more so that the success has not affected your modesty. I would love to catch up with you. Shall we plan coffee/lunch/dinner/telephone/hugs???? Its your call…..and thank you for remembering me in your personal art history. It warms an old teacher’s heart.

Let me know when the CNN interview airs …. I hope I havent missed it. I look forward to hearing from you.

Renee

12/5/2013

Ms. Darvin,

I’m sorry if this is reaching you late or if you are receiveing it twice. Hard copies were to go out some time ago it seems some did most did not. I’m not taking any chances, not with the single greatest teacher I’ve ever known.

I know it’s a trek if this is short notice but you played an VERY important part in my life and perhaps in a very real way if not for you my career and this show would simply not be.

“Michael, if you go to (the high school of) Art & Design, you may become a very different artist, just don’t forget what makes you, you.”

I never forgot that and never forgot you.

information about the show can be found here: http://milestonestheshow.com

If you have a moment please go the following link and look under ‘D’: http://www.comic-con.org/awards/inkpot

Ms. Darvin, I beg of you from the bottom of my heart if there is ANY way you can join me please, please do.

Lastly-yes I’m still an artist. I’ve attached two works of mine, hope you approve. Take care and I hope to see you soon…like in a week. ;-)

Attached to the last email, along with the two pieces of art, an invitation to the opening gala of Milestones: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture And Beyond. That’s the show I’m curating for the Geppi Entertainment Museum. The opening is this coming Friday the 13th.

The email bounced back, no big deal I thought. It’s been a while since she and I reconnected so I just figured she moved on from Columbia’s teachers college. I was too lazy to look up her personal email she had given me when we spoke so I figured I’d look her up on Facebook since it was already open.

No luck there, so I Google her name and with a quickness realized it was more than a while since we talked.

It was a lifetime.

Published in The New York Times on May 21, 2010

DARVIN–Renee, 80, passed away on May 19, 2010. Beloved wife of Jerry, loving mother of Debbie, Michael and Peter, mother-in-law to Mark, Linda, Marisol, grandmother to Michael, Liza, Emily, Theo, Henry, Mariana and Julia, sister of Marcia and Barbara, sister-in-law of Neil. Devoted over 60 years of her life to teaching Art and Art Education, most recently at Teachers College at Columbia University. Former Director of Art for the Department of Education of NYC.

Former Chair of Art Department at Beach Channel High School. Former Art Teacher at Tilden High School. President of the Student Art and League.

As her former students and colleagues would attest, teaching was a joy and a privilege she cherished. She leaves behind a family, large circle of friends and colleagues and students who will forever be graced by her legacy.

 We will always love and miss you. Funeral services May 21st at 10 am Riverside Memorial Chapel.

I read the first few lines and had to stand up. Then I couldn’t stand and fell back into my chair, hit by a wave of sadness so intense I didn’t just start to cry I wailed like a wounded animal.

Even now, days later as I write this tears just won’t stop pouring from my eyes.

I’ve mentioned my love for the High School Of Art & Design on many occasions. Ms. Darvin was the only thing that gave me pause to apply and if admitted not go.

She taught me a lot more than art, she taught me to always be who I was.

Beach-Channel-High-SchoolMy hood, Edgemere Projects, my address 434 Beach 58th, Far Rockaway, Queens was as far away from my school located at 100-00 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Park.

Another city. Another world. Another place.

The distance between the upper middle class white people of Rockaway Park and the poor Black people of Far Rockaway was great. The distance may have been great but travel time was around five minutes.

It’s a straight shot right up Beach 58th until around Beach 90th street. Magically Beach Street changes to Beach Channel Drive!

Just like that? Just like that. Why the change in the names?

No poor Black people could afford to live pass Beach 75th so I guess 90th street was a good a place any to let you clearly know you were no longer in Kansas, welcome to OZ.

Far Rockaway, far away where the poor black people were. Rockaway Park, a park where the rich white people were.

No idea if it’s still liked that but was when I lived there.

The grass was not just greener there it was ONLY there.

Grass in the projects was brown dirt with small pockets of dandelions that every kid in the hood thought was beautiful.

Beauty in Far Rockaway was atypical at best, yet in Rockaway Park they had splendor to spare. So much so our beautiful dandelion if seen was killed for fear it would overrun and destroy the entire garden.

Sound familiar?

Hopefully not.

But that’s exactly what I thought and felt as a black teenager now going to school in Rockaway Park. Then I met and fell in love with the one and only Renee Darvin.

I will always remember the day Ms. Darvin helped make me who I am. I was asked to open my locker by the school cop. No reason. None. He simply came into the class selected me (one of 6 Black kids not in the class but in the school) and had me open my locker. I did-he found nothing so I walked back into Ms. Darvin’s class pissed but said nothing-what was the point? I was a Black kid in a Rockaway Park High School.

He came in told me he was not done with me and for me to come with him.

I was done, screw him. I let loose with a relentless series of ‘your mother so ugly’ jokes and ended with a ‘fuck you I’m not going anywhere.’ I was freaking hilarious. The only person not laughing was the cop.

He came for me.

Didn’t get within a dozen feet of me.  Ms. Darvin blocked his path and told I was NOT leaving with him. PERIOD.

From the front of the room, the cop’s path still blocked by her small frame she said in a loud PROUD voice so everyone especially the cop could hear; ” Michael if you go to (the high school of) Art & Design, you may become a very different artist, just don’t forget what makes you, you.”

I never did.

I’d just made a fool of and screamed at a policeman two words, which could STILL get you shot TODAY and because of the injustice of his actions my teacher who at the very moment became my life long friend validated who and what you see today of that I have NO doubt.

As a teacher there is no doubt I’ve done good work but compared to my 10th grade art teacher and lifelong friend Renee Darvin?

I’m not the Master Of The Universe, I’m not a badass teacher, I’m humbled and proud, very, very proud to have been and will forever be, a student of hers.

Renee-Darvin


To Ms. Darvin’s Family my deepest LONG over due sympathies. I guess I thought Ms. Darvin would always be around because I’d always need her to be. She was everything I ever needed in a teacher a mentor and a friend.

Milestones: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture and beyond is as much Renee Darvin’s show as it is mine. She guided me, she saved me, she taught me and she helped make me.  I dedicate the show to her and pity the fool who has a problem with that.

There you go, Ms. Darvin, there’s that ‘sass’ you loved so much. I hope (I KNOW) I still make you laugh.

When we reconnected you asked me to do something and I said ‘one day’ I would. It just felt funny to me (still does) regardless today is that day.

Never for as long as I live will I ever forget you and will always love you, Renee.

Emails can be viewed @ http://mdwp.malibulist.com/2013/12/are-you-the-renee-darvin-from-beach-channel-high-by-michael-davis-straight-no-chaser-333-mdworld/

Michael Davis: An Open Letter To Debbie Allen

Michael Davis: An Open Letter To Debbie Allen

Next week, Milestones: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond opens at the Geppi Entertainment Museum. The show features unbelievable art from amazing artists and have been in the works for almost two years.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to curate a show on African American pop art by Missy Geppi, the president of the museum. I was and still am humbled to be chosen for such an honor. I immediately reached out to Tatiana EL-Khouri and John Jennings. Tatiana as co-curator John as adviser. I’ve known both Tatiana and John since the start of their careers. I was a mentor to Tatiana and I’ve advised John over the years and now he’s advising me.

Every now and then Tatiana or John will, out of nowhere, thank me for something or other I’ve frankly forgotten about. It’s always nice to hear and although I may have forgotten exactly what I did or said they are referring to they always remember me.

I’ve been in L.A. since 1994 and it seems I’ve been reminding myself since then to look up and thank Debbie Allen. Debbie’s former husband Win Wilford, then head of publicly at CBS Records, gave me my third professional job. I designed and illustrated an invitation for a Luther Vandross after party. The party followed Luther’s first performance as a solo act opening for Chaka Kahn.

Debbie Allen is an actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer, and a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

She’s done remarkable work from choreographing the Academy Awards for ten years, six of which were consecutive to developing and producing Amistad directed by Steven Spielberg.

Below is an edited version for ComicMix of a letter I sent to Debbie. I’ve taken out all my career highlights so as to focus not on what I’ve done but why I was able to do it and that was because of words of encouragement from people like her.

Dear Debbie,

I’m sure many in emails, letters, and social media have told you how much of an inspiration you have been.

Although you may not have met them you have reached them as you reached me. In fact I can remember the very moment when you did. I was in your Mount Vernon home for a New Year’s Eve Party (81? 82?) sitting by myself in your kitchen.

I was a young artist at the start of my career attending a party filled with all sorts of successful people. An artist, (a broke ass one at that) was not, I felt a worthy enough occupation to roll with those I’d seen on TV or who’s music I’d heard on the radio.

You came into the kitchen, saw me sitting there and asked me why that was. I’d like to say I spent at least some time trying to avoid sharing my self-pity…nope.

I started to tell you how I was feeling but after a few (if that many) sentences you stopped me and said what to this day I’ve never forgotten; “Michael, Win and I invited you because you are a talented artist, we like you and know you will be a success. You belong here and would not be here if we thought otherwise.”

What you said next is what I hope will make you remember me. “I didn’t drive all the way to Queens to pick you up so you can sit in the kitchen.”

Yep.

You and a driver who’s name I don’t remember drove to my apartment in Queens on New Year’s Eve to pick me up.

Your former husband Win, commissioned a number of paintings from me. One, a large watercolor of a proud 1930’s black man was the centerpiece in your Harlem brownstone even before the renovation was done.

I had no idea it was framed and displayed such as it was until I came to your new home to show Win sketches for a new commission. I was blown away.

“Debbie choose that spot.”

Yep. ;-)

I’ve been blessed in my career thanks in no small part to you, Win and a handful of others.

I’ve wanted to reach out to you for years. Something always came up. Well, I’ve never been as busy as I am now. It’s Thanksgiving Debbie and I’m thankful for your part in my life and career. So, yes I’m busy but this thank you is just as important and long overdue.

I’d love to sit and catch up and if you like I’ll pick you up. I owe you a ride ;-)

From the very bottom my my long winded heart,

Thank you.

Win Wiford took an interest in me and because of that he and Debbie were my first and only patrons. One year, the sale of art to them was my only income.

Without that income who knows what decision I would have made as to my career choice? If Debbie had not spoken those words to me maybe my self-pity would have gotten the best of me and the next day I’m applying for some job I didn’t want doing something I didn’t love.

That didn’t happen and what did happen Debbie was a part of and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: Hey Kids! Comics!

Davis Art 131126I received the following email last week:

Michael,

Thanks so much for responding to me! Action Files seems like a great program for schools. I’ll be sure to look into it more. With the new Common Core Standards, I’ve noticed that there isn’t really any standards related to the content of what needs to be taught in an English course and that it mostly revolves around “can students read and write?” 

With that in mind, I created a Donors Choose to teach Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman to my high school seniors. I was given four months to raise the money and I did it in 13 hours. As long as curriculum revolves around analyzing literature and understanding tone and purpose, the state doesn’t really seem to care what they’re being taught. In a way, that’s great because it opens up content, but in another way it’s strange because the field is wide open.

If there is anything I can do to help from the perspective of an educator please let me know. I confess that I don’t know how much help I can be given how much research you’ve done already on your end, but anything I can do, I’d be happy to.

Thanks again for your articles on Bleeding Cool. They’re exceptionally fascinating and insightful. And (though I know you don’t need my advice or insight on this either) ignore all the haters. They’re jackasses anyway. You’re all kinds of awesome.

Cody Walker

Wow.

I’ve received cool letters over the years but this is one of if not the coolest letter I’ve ever gotten. It’s funny I just realized the fan mail I get comes from an eclectic group of people.

Over the years people have written me about things I’ve done in comics or some other media but I do so little published work in the comics creative space I still marvel when someone says they like my work.

Denys Cowan in his career I’m sure has thousands of letters of fan letters. How do I know this? I was in his studio once when he got one. “What’s that?” I asked.

“Fan letter. I get them all the time.”

“Define all the time.

“All the time as in all the time.”

I let the matter drop knowing he was clearly setting me up when he opened up a file draw thick with documents and placed the new letter in. I wasn’t taking the bait.

I on the other hand have hundreds, maybe a bit over a thousand fan letters but I’m counting every singe letter I’ve gotten that praised me for something or the other.

Just wanted to let you know you rocked my world last night. That was the best three minutes I’ve ever had in my life!

Susan

Yep. That counts.

From all my fan letters I can tell you exactly how many were comic book art related.

One hundred seventy-one, of which one hundred fifty-eight were from France and no I’m not kidding.

It seems the French really loved the series I illustrated for the DC mature reader imprint, Piranha Press. I couple of people liked Shado (Stevie Wonder was one) and I got a really nice letter for a painted Green Hornet cover done for Now Comics as well as another painting I did for Now based on the book ‘The Time Machine.’

Most of the fan letters I get are from grade school kids I’ve spoken to, high schools, universities or organizations I’ve lectured at, young artists, educators, parents and some partridges in pear trees.

My absolute favorite letters to get are from young artist I’ve reached (just got a wonderful one from Allison Leung a major talent you will be seeing more from) and educators.

Oh. Did you perhaps think I was going to say grade school kids was my favorite?

Really? Don’t you know by now I’m not one to play to the crowd?

Darn.I am talking about kids here and people lose their minds when they think you are somehow anti-kid when you tell the truth about way receiving letters from grade school kids is not your favorite thing in the whole wide world. You think those haters will give nary a thought to all the good work I’ve for kids?

No. Those simians will lose their minds and call Chris Hanson! The backlash will be terrible…

OK. I know what to do. I’m so glad I like to write my thoughts down then erase them. Can you imagine what the fallout would be if those hairless monkeys saw this?

My absolute favorite letters to get are from young artists I’ve reached (just got a wonderful one from Allison Leung, a major talent you will be seeing more from) and grade school kids!

It’s so great when a 4th grader writes me a letter telling me how wonderful my visit was and it’s just amazing that 30 kids had the same idea at the same time and all 30 letters came in one envelope!

Wow. If kids were not just the most precious things in all creation I’d think that someone put them up to writing those letters. Not that it would lessen the intent, mind you.

I guess if I had to choose (way way way behind) the second most favorite letter I like receiving would be from educators.

Teachers take a no nonsense approach to what’s right for their students. The letter I received from Cody Walker warmed my kid loving heart in many reasons.

Chief among those reasons is this. Cody is teacher who had the guts to create a high school reading program from comic books.

High School!

Comics!

High School!

Think about that for a hot sec. It’s very likely his idea was not met with universal love from all his educational peers. Some may even have voiced opposition or even worse not voiced support.

I have no doubt in my mind if faced with a parent teacher revolt against comics in the classroom so fierce all the major networks would have 24/7 news coverage (except Fox News – they would continue their 24/7 reporting of Obama and the allegations he shot Lincoln) Cody would fight the good fight and win.

I know this because Cody took the time and effort to create and find funding for the program (in record time), which he did not have to do.

Teachers like Cody are not rare. They are plentiful. Most teachers labor countless hours not paid for to come up with other ways to engage their students.

Like I said: teachers like Cody are not rare, what’s rare is recognition for great work done on behalf our young people.

On the sporadic occasion when recognition is granted to a well deserving teacher that acknowledgment is slow in coming.

Well, I was so impressed with what Cody wrote me after he read my article in Bleeding Cool I wanted to recognize him as fast as possible, hence he writes me a fan letter through Bleeding Cool and I write him a fan letter through ComicMix.

Cody, I’m a fan of yours, my friend. Many (but not nearly enough) thanks for doing what you do.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: Haters Gotta Hate!

Davis Art 131119From the very second we announced Milestone in 1992 to today, there have been those who simply hate us.

Chief among our haters are a small but vocal group of black comic book creators. Back in the good old days we were just called house niggers and we were hated because DC Comics owned us.

The fact that Milestone was never, not 20 years ago and not today, owned by DC Comics is irrelevant. It’s simply ignored by those who want to say we have somehow sold out the black race by any association with any white company.

I never got that.

Most successful black entertainment companies have some association with or are flat out owned by white companies. If the product is a good one and is focused on the African-American consumer I don’t see the problem.

Now, white backed black companies that market to poor urban black consumers products such as spinning rims, $200.00 sneakers and 40oz beers, promoting these and other items as lifestyle must haves to young black kids… now that I can see black people having a issue with.

I can see calling a white owned black company a bunch of house niggers if they were producing products that underscore a thug lifestyle as desirable.

But if a white owned black company was producing worthwhile products for the black community why would anyone call them house niggers? Why would any black person call them house niggers?

Milestone isn’t owned by a white company.

We produce positive comics and television animation featuring African-Americans role models not seen enough in pop culture. They are good stories well told and considered among some of the best comics ever produced by some.

Yet some just consider us house niggers because they think (wrongly) a white company owns us.

Forget the stories we are telling. Forget the excellence in the work. We are house niggers because a white company owns us.

Except we aren’t owned by a white company, but even if were why call the work we do the labor of house niggers?

I just don’t get that.

We’re an independent black owned company that has produced work that 20 years after our debut and 16 years after we ceased monthly publishing is still held in the highest of regard.

Our television show Static Shock has been on the air somewhere non-stop since 2000. Milestone has a worldwide audience and a dedicated fan base like no other.

The biggest pop culture event in the world just honored us with a celebration and bestowed on us one of the most significant awards in comics.

But to some black comic book creators we will always be house niggers.

OK. I get that. Haters got to hate. Hate us, hate whitey, and hate anything and everything they are not or can be.

In the 20 years since Milestone came to be we have never, and I’ll say it again, never attacked any black creator or company. But for all of our two decades we were and still are the target of countless attacks and outright lies.

I just don’t get it.

We never attacked anyone we rarely responded and when we did our response was; ‘there’s room for everybody.’ That was not just Milestone’s company line we believed it then we believe it now.

Recently a black creator of some renown wrote that he believed Milestone may have been given his companies’ business plan and used that to create the plan for Milestone.

That did not happen. It couldn’t have happened. It was impossible.

Milestone was already in the stores months before the date he assumed we stole his plan.

He has since acknowledged he was wrong in that regard. His creation and talent and are both still considered brilliant not just by me but every surviving member of Milestone. Our partner who did not survive loved his work as much if not more than the rest of us.

I’m not mentioning the work or creator because that sad chapter between his camp and Milestone is closed and I don’t want to give the impression they are the reason I’m writing this.

They are not.

Some other black creators are now saying Milestone not only stole the business plan but Milestone itself was “inspired” by and only came to be because of the idea and hard work of another black publisher.

So Denys Cowan’s idea wasn’t his idea and our business plan wasn’t our plan.

So now we are house niggers, lairs and thieves.

OK. I’ll be your house nigger if that’s how you define house niggers in your world. In your world I’ll be that. Since I don’t live in said world, what the do I care?

However, in no one’s world will Milestone be anyone’s lairs or thieves.

So, haters, think what you will. Say what you will. Believe what you will.

That’s on you.

I’ve no idea why you hate us the way you do but have at it. Continue to voice your hate in your forums, your on-line chats, your next hate Milestone meeting, any and all public and private social media.

But listen to this very carefully. Whatever you say, just be prepared to prove it. I’ll say that again, whatever you say, be prepared to prove it.

Be prepared to prove we are lairs. Be prepared to prove we are thieves.

Because sure as shit you continue to slander us you will be asked to prove it. Stick with calling us house niggers that you won’t have to prove. It’s laughable to us anyhow so feel free.

Slandering me and my Milestone partners as lairs and thieves, that’s no laughing matter to me. We are neither and continuing to say we are you will be asked to prove it. That question will come in a targeted legitimate onslaught. So unforgiving will the correspondence asking for your proof be, I shudder to think about it.

Shut up, put up, or pay up.

I’m fed up.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: C.P. Time

Davis Art 131112Nobody talks more smack about black people than other black people.

There are about a zillion different ways black people describe another black person screwing up. Many of these definitions are stereotypes that would get a non-black person pimp slapped if spoken.

Not being black and telling someone who is that their watch is set to C.P. time or that Obama is the H.N.I.C will surly produce at least a “you looking to get your ass kicked” stare but more than likely a pimp or a bitch slap.

No.

No, I’m not going to tell you what C.P. time is nor what H.N.I.C means or the difference between a pimp and a bitch slap. The “you looking to get your ass kicked” stare is unmistakable, so much so, Helen Keller would get it.

If you don’t know these things, you’re clearly not black. I’m thinking that most non-black comic fans, at least those here at ComicMix, are pretty informed as to what means what and who and who not to say it to.

That’s here at ComicMix. Over at Bleeding Cool where I write another column it’s another story.

I’m convinced that the vast majority of those readers are, well cool. Some however, a small but very vocal group, would read up to the word “time” in my title and with a quickness The Flash would envy, post a comment explaining to me that Captain Planet is not a time traveler. After reading the first sentence the comment would continue with “nor is he black.”

Now, remember, I said the vast majority of Bleeding Cool readers are cool.

I fully expect somewhere on some “I’ll never get any pussy” comic book forum to see a raging discussion about how Michael Davis said all Bleeding Cool readers were…hell I don’t know what they will say I called them. I didn’t word that paragraph like a Dick & Jane book so I’ll get dozens of different takes on how I offended them.

But I digress (sorry Peter). If you want to know the 411 of any or all of the above have someone else ask a black person. Preferably someone you’d like to see get pimp slapped… one of those Bleeding Cool clueless haters would be my choice.

“Hey my main man, you’re black right?”

“Excuse me?” said the man whose skin color makes Wesley Snipes look like Edger Winter.

“Yo Holmes, you H.N.I.C on C.P. time? And if so what does that mea…”

PIMP SLAP!

No. That phrase was just wrong.

BITCH SLAP!

Better.

Shit.

I just realized I couldn’t really get my point across without divulging what C.P. time is. Well, I could but I’d have to be a lot wittier than I am up to. I just flew across the Pacific Ocean and boy is my penis tired!

What, were you expecting the punch line to that old ass joke to be…and boy are my arms tired?

Nope. Don’t get the penis joke? Black guys do. But you can find out without putting anyone at risk for a beat down. Ask a fat white girl. They get it.

Because I’m just exhausted from lack of sleep, jet lag and fat white girls I’ll tell you what C.P. Time means.

It means Colored People Time, a none to subtle insinuation that black people are always late. It’s a silly outdated stereotype and within the black community we use it mostly in jest.

Mostly.

There’s always an exception to every rule. In the case of the massive show I’m curating for the Geppi Entertainment Museum, Milestones: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture & Beyond, that exception numbers three.

So far.

That’s three artists whom I reached out to months and in one case over a year ago with the show info. They all accepted and they all have… lets just say been late.

The amount of work submitted on the call for entries website was staggering so I didn’t have to call a soul. Big names submitted, new talent submitted, new stars established journeymen, you name it we saw it on the website.

So like I said, I didn’t have to call one mofo (ask).

Out of respect I contacted a few select artists because quite frankly these people are just so fantastic they were invited by me to show without having to submit and be juried.

Most of those people are TCB (ask) and all is good in the world.

But, oh, those three…

Those three are working my last nerve. Look, I’m 100% positive that I’ve overlooked someone whose work deserves the exaltation this show will bring him or her. It’s bound to happen. I’ve seen hundreds of artists work but I may just have missed someone who should be an obvious choice. The people I called were on a very short list and I have not heard a peep from these people in months.

OK. I’m sure (really) they won’t let me down after I extended my personal invite so I’m sure all will be right in the world…

But if it isn’t…

They will kick themselves when the show opens and becomes an international phenomenal success.

If it doesn’t it’s all John Jennings fault. “I don’t want any artist in the show whose skin is darker than a paper bag.” I can’t believe he said that either. But Tatiana El-Khouri (who will surely be as responsible as John) said “I don’t want any women in the show taller or prettier than me, and they must all be illiterate.”

Hey, I know, simply unprofessional. But what could I do? I was unaware of any of this as I was waiting to hear from these three artists…

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Tweaks!

 

Michael Davis: Maybe I’m amazed…

A selection of secondhand paperback books for sale…or just fucking stupid.

My closest friends are like family to me, and family is what Whitney Farmer is in my life. I’m a pretty smart guy (if I say so myself – and I do) and I know a lot of smart people,. Whitney is one of the smartest people I know.

There are two kinds of smart: street smart and book smart. I’m both. If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick book smart.

Oh hell no I wouldn’t. Book smart can get you a job, sure but street smart can save your life.

Being able to hold my own in a conversation with a art professor from Yale on artists is a lot of fun at dinner parties but the chances of me being shot in the head because I disrespected him are small.

However, being able to hold my own in a conversation with those who grew up I the hood like I did under a different value system is preferable. Odds are that Yale professor won’t bust a cap in my ass because I argued Kenneth Noland and William T. Williams were more color field artists than they were non-objective artists.

Whitney, god bless her, thinks she’s street smart but… no.

Yes, she can handle herself in most any situation. Yes she is a fighter but rolling with the homies?

Err, nope.

Whitney assumes that everyone is as smart as she is.

No. No they aren’t.

I’ve been telling her that for years. I’ve seen her talk to a rocket scientist who couldn’t keep up. I call that a “Whitney.” A Whitney is stating something that you think is painfully obvious to everyone but it isn’t because you are above their pay grade in that particular subject, point or gray matter.

The other day I did a Whitney. I wrote an article for Bleeding Cool and assumed people were as smart or at least as satirical as me. I thought people would see a clear farce with one goal, letting one young talented artist know and by her example let all young talented artists know they are worth something and the industry needs someone like them.

Some people got it, but those who didn’t suggested I was not professional enough to write for Bleeding Cool, the piece needed to be completely rewritten and various other reasons why the article sucked.

That didn’t bother me. Really.

Hey. I’m Michael Davis. People have loved what I do or say or hated what I do or say since the moment I entered the industry. The Bleeding Cool comments telling me how non professional and down right stupid I was made me spit tequila all over my Inkpot Award and PhD from laughing so hard.

So, come on, those bullshit comments didn’t bother me at all.

What really bothered me – and I mean really – is the complete non-interest in the focus of the article: new talent.

I’m real serious, when I ask this, when it comes to comic fans caring about the soul of the industry the future of the industry which is like any other entertainment medium is talent, am I stupid?

There is no entertainment media on the planet that can survive without nurturing and supporting new talent but do those who read comics care little about anything except rather or not Ben Fucking Affleck is a good fucking Batman?

The way my piece was written it could have been seen as a rambling mess. Although, throughout the piece I kept referencing that it was thus the joke assholes – but I can see how someone who did not see the humor or appreciate the style in which it was written could object.

The last time I checked, and that was before my un-professional ass got on a plane to Japan or Hawaii (I can’t tell) to talk unprofessional business, there were a few comments from people who saw what I was doing but somehow those other comments and the lack of mention or the down right dismissal of the artist made me wonder rather or not comic fans care about future talent and that means the future of comics.

If that is the case, I can’t blame them. Not because I don’t think it’s very important to have fans care about the next generation of creators. I think it’s fucked up if most don’t, really fucked up if that’s the case.

No, I can’t blame them because when I was “just” a fan I didn’t give any thought to future creators either. I’m a lot of things but I’m not a hypocrite.

Here’s the thing. I just have this overwhelming hope that today’s comic book fan is better, smarter and more vested in the future.

I hope there are more comic fans that get the Japan / Hawaii joke than those who will have to have someone explain it to them.

Last thing, Whitney once destroyed a woman at a San Diego Comic Con panel who dared to challenge her on comics in the classroom. Much like the ending of Kill Bill 2, she hit that woman so hard and so fast with facts it killed her but allowed her to walk five steps before her heart stopped.

Just because she’s not street smart doesn’t mean she’s not gangta.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: The Top 10 Black Superheroes…

…Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson

My sincere thanks to Grace Randolph

10. Black Lightning.Davis Art 131029

Created by Tony Isabella

What can I say about Black Lightning except for the fake Afro wig (decades before Steve Harvey’s BTW… wait… y’all didn’t know that was a wig? Oops, sorry Steve, my bad) but like I was saying-except for the wig I loved this character the moment I saw him. Yeah, there were some stereotypical thing to him like his real first name, Jefferson but his last name was Pierce and Jefferson Pierce sounded so cool I can give Jefferson a pass.

9. Spawn.

Created By Todd McFarlane

Little know story: when I was the CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks I started a comic book imprint called Machineworks. We were all set to do a publishing deal with Marvel Comics which would have given Marvel its very own Milestone like imprint. Think about that for a second: Marvel’s very own Milestone with the clout of Motown Records behind it.

But… the more meetings I had with Marvel and the closer we got to a deal the less secure I felt about being in business with them. So I took a meeting with the Image guys in their hotel suite at 3:30 in the morning during San Diego Comic Con.

Understand this was not an impromptu meeting this was the time the meeting was scheduled for. My Chief Operating Officer was a major Hollywood playa at the time and he hated the Image guys, especially Todd. I mean hated Todd with a passion. I knew all the Image guys for a while by then so it didn’t bug me in the least that the meeting was at 3:30 in the morning in the Image suite… in the master bedroom.

A master bedroom where Todd McFarland, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Eric Larson, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino were all sitting or laying on a king size bed and that’s where the meeting took place.

My COO almost busted a blood vessel, he was so pissed.

I loved it and at that moment the Marvel deal was dead and we were in business with Image comics.

What does this have to do with Spawn being number 9 on my Top Ten Black Superheroes Created By White Guys and Louise Simonson?

Everything.

Todd’s Spawn is not a typical black superhero; he’s not even really a hero. He’s a spawn of Hell who when he was alive just happened to be black. Spawn’s alter ego-Al Simmons was named after Todd’s real life friend of the same name.

Just like that Image meeting all those years ago Todd has an “I don’t give a shit” attitude about what people think and he created a black superhero that transcends what you may think it should be.

8. Cyborg

Created by Marv Wolfman & George Pérez

Another little-known story. I stopped reading comics all together when I entered high school. I went (yes here it comes, again) to the greatest high school in the history of the world, the High School Of Art & Design. Yeah, yeah. I’m a broken record…

When I applied to A & D I wanted more than anything to be a cartoonist and draw comic books. After I was admitted and it was time to choose my major, my cousin who’s an artist (and before you dismiss him as a guy who just likes to draw bear in mind his work sells for upwards of seven figures and I’m not joking, he’s that kind of artist) told me if I majored in comics I would stave and die.

So I majored in illustration and stopped reading comics cold turkey. Just like that I gave up comics and as luck would have it I discovered the Society Of Illustrators and met master painter Ernie Barnes the summer before I entered A & D so by the time I was in A&D I loved the world of illustration. I went all trough undergrad and graduate school with nary a comic.

Of all places I was a an Elton John concert at Madison Square Garden and the guy sitting next to me was reading a copy of Frank Miller’s Daredevil while we waited for the show to start. One thing led to another and the next day I’m at the greatest book store on the planet called, of all things, Forbidden Planet, buying Miller’s complete run of Daredevil. While at checkout I heard these kids talking about the Teen Titans and George Pérez’s artwork. I asked to see what they were reading promptly got out of line and went to pick up all the back issues of the New Teen Titans.

I loved those books and OMG…Cyborg, at that time, was the best freaking Black character…ever.

Cyborg’s alter ego is Victor Stone, the son of Silas and Elinore Stone, a pair of scientists… a pair of scientists?

Oh no, Marv did-ant!!!!

Oh yes, Marv did.

What’s not to love about Cyborg? His parents were Black and a pair of scientists!!

Wow.

A pair of black scientists who don’t become drug dealers like Tyrone Cash…go figure.

7. Storm

Created by Len Wien and Dave Cockrum

Storm like Cyborg and Spawn were part of a new breed of black characters created by white boys (or Louise Simonson) these characters did not need “black” in their names because they worked with or without race being a major factor. Black Lightning works that way also but let’s face it, Black Lighting is a cool ass name.

Storm’s not just a black character, she’s a major playa in the power department at Marvel comics and she’s a woman. How cool is that? I read somewhere that Storm is not black; she’s made up of a bunch of different races.

OK, how can I put this diplomatically? I know…

Fuck that.

What did someone decide because she was one of the most powerful characters in comics she couldn’t be black?

Nope. Fans old and new think of Storm as a strong black woman and that means if you want to date her you best have a job.

What?

6. Miles Morales

Created By Brian Michael Bendis

A half black and half Latino Spider-Man. Just how on earth could I not love this? I give Marvel shit about some of the black characters in their universe, but man do they get well-deserved props for Miles Morales. Another little known fact: Milestone was named after (equal parts) Miles Cowan, Denys Cowan’s son, and Miles Davis. I can’t help but think (I may be wrong I was once…she sure looked like a man) that Miles Morales gives a nod to Milestone as Static gave a nod to Spider-Man.

5. Blade

Created By Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan

I went to the opening of the first Blade movie at the Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. I was there with my then-girlfriend and one of my best friends who also happened to be white. Except for those two the only other white people in the theater were in the movie.

The credits rolled and up came “Blade, created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.” I could NOT contain myself so I started clapping like a madman and yelling “yeah.

But no one else did. Everyone and their mother were staring at me.

Shit.

This huge gang banging looking dude turns in his seat and says to me, “Are they brothers?” I answered truthfully. “Marv’s my brother.” He said, “Cool” and didn’t shoot me.

I must admit when I was a kid I brought every comic book I saw a Black character in. I hated horror books but Blade was in Tomb Of Dracula so I brought it. One of the best comic book decisions I’ve ever made.

4. Mal Ducan

Created By Robert Kaniger

Who the Hell is Mal Ducan?

Mal was the first black official member of the original Teen Titans. He was an average guy with only boxing skills and I loved that character. Later on DC tried giving him a bunch of powers and that was stupid. I like good old unpowered Mal because as a kid he was me.

I saw myself as Mal, I couldn’t fly I had no utility belt no super speed but I knew I could be a hero just like Mal.

3. The Black Racer

Created By Jack Kirby

The Black Racer is was Sgt. Willie Walker, paralyzed during the Vietnam War. Walker was contacted by the Source when Darkseid first brought the war of the gods to Earth, and told it was his responsibility to take on the role and yada, yada, yada…

OK, the Black Racer was Kirby’s answer at DC to the Silver Suffer character he co-created with Stan Lee at Marvel.

There were about a zillion things wrong with the character. The first is that black people don’t ski.

Duh.

I didn’t give a shit what was wrong with that character. Jack ‘“King” Kirby had created another badass black character and all was right with the world! Truth be told, Kirby could have created the “Black Player” as a super powered black hockey player and I would have been all in. The Black Racer is still badass for my money today.

2. The Black Panther

Created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

The Black Panther was created at the height of the civil rights movement in the 60s.

The Black Panther party was a black revolutionary socialist organization active in the United States from the 60’s to the 80’s.

Now-how bad ass do you have to be to name a Black character the same as that party and make that character not only an hero but a king of a African nation that was tectonically eons ahead of the United States Of America?

Bad Ass.

Period.

1.Steel

Created by Louise Simonson & Jon Bogdanove

I could go on and on why this is number one on my list, but that’s another article in and of its self. I’ll just say this: Louise was gangsta enough, talented enough and bold enough to put the ‘S’ on a black man.

Nuff said.

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil