Officially, I’ve worked in comics since 1983. In all that time I think I’ve only met one black woman who was involved in comics in a decision-making capacity. I’ve known black woman receptionists and assistants but I can only think of one who had a job in which she was part of the comic book hierarchy.
Before I set the wrong tone, this is not a piece on how comics have discriminated against women of color. It just may be that African-American women don’t want to work in comic books, for whatever reason. I have no idea why there are not a lot of black women in comics and I’m not about to speculate. There may be dozens of black woman in the industry that I just haven’t met.
I doubt that, because as you know, all black people know each other. At least that’s what more than a few white people have said to me over my lifetime.
The following conversation from a woman I met at a club last week. A real pretty, but short white girl at the bar was having trouble getting the bartenders attention. I caught his eye and asked her what she wanted to drink.
“That’s so nice of you, thank you very much.”
“Do you know Leroy Washington?”
Really? I swear I almost asked her if she knew Bilbo Baggins. She was that short.
The one black woman I know who has worked in comics on the corporate level is Tammy Brown. I met Tammy sometime in the 80s (yes I was working in comics when I was in grade school, Jean) I don’t remember how we met or where we met. Most likely at DC where she worked.
I do remember that Tammy hated me. Tammy did not like me at all. I mean if looks could kill I’d be dead and random members of my family and my pets would be dead also.
It was not just her looks that clued me in to Tammy’s loathing of me. It was also how she spoke to me. Tammy would talk to me in short and to the point sentences like “I hate you Michael Davis.”
I never heard her say those exact words, but no matter what she said that’s what I heard.
She may not have really hated me but it sure felt that way.
I’m sure Tammy thought of me as a loud mouth, in your face, guy and she had no time for loud mouth in your face people. Tammy was all business and ultra professional.
I was a loud mouth, in your face, guy.
I know that…now.
I’ve mellowed out considerably since my loud mouth, in your face, days. You may not think so from some of the rants I write on my www.MichaelDavisWorld.com or some of my old ComicMix stuff but I’m so much calmer now.
I’ve always been up front with my readers when it comes to my considerable shortcomings, I admit freely I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career.
That said, when it comes to business I’ve learned not to take anything personally. I categorically live by two set of rules the first is: “It’s not personal, it’s business;” the second is “Nothing too good to do for my friends, nothing to bad to do to my enemies.”
It was with that first rule in mine that Tammy’s name came up when I was looking for someone to run the day to day operations at Motown Film & Television where I was President and Chief Executive Officer.
She was on a very short list, and I had my Chief Operating Officer contact her. I thought she would be perfect for the gig and even if she still hated me Tammy was a no-joke professional so she would put any issues with me aside if she were interested in the position. After talking to Tammy my COO, told me she would not be a good fit. I never followed up or even called Tammy.
I realized just the other day that was a mistake.
Motown Records is the most famous record company in the world. Most music superstars are bigger brands than their record company. Motown had (has) some of the biggest superstar artists the world has ever known and they are still identified as Motown artists.
Don’t think so? Without Google tell me what record label Sting is on. Now, without Goggle tell me what record label Stevie Wonder is on.
Hell, name a record label besides Motown.
Motown was one of the greatest African-American business success stories. The company has a wonderful history of hiring African-Americans and has (yes, white people have always worked at Motown and still do) become the model for many companies of color even today.
I should have called Tammy.
There may have been something I could have said or found out what my COO’s issue with her was. Maybe there was a way around it. Maybe my COO was threatened by her. That may sound to you like paranoia but I assure you dear reader, paranoia runs wild in Hollywood and I’m not joking.
I’m convinced now; if we could have gotten Tammy to Motown I’m sure she would have been great.
A few days ago Tammy, who is always positive, posted on Facebook that she was having a bad day.
The moment I read that, it hit me like a brick what a terrible mistake I’d made more than a decade ago that I did not call Tammy. Over the last few years Tammy and I have become close. I have not seen her in, I don’t know how many years, but we reconnected on Facebook and I really value her friendship.
I have not thought about Tammy coming to Motown since it happened. Tammy and I have never even spoken about it but for some reason when I read she was having a bad day my mind went right there.
My mind went there and to the realization that there exist very few women of color in the comics industry.
Why I thought about Tammy and Motown now I have no idea. Why that led me to the lack of black women in the industry, again, no idea.
This I do know, having Tammy Brown run anything is a good idea. Having more black women in the industry is a good idea. If I ever get the chance to work with Tammy again I won’t make the same mistake twice.
As far as black women in the industry, I’m working on that. Why I haven’t been working on it before?
Like I said, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career but seldom do I make the same mistake twice.
Tammy, I’m sorry you were having a bad day. I’m sorry someone caused that for you. I leave you with these words of wisdom:
I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
– Noel Coward
You are the best Tammy. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Goes Nuts Again