An open letter to DC Comics and the comic book industry:
The Black Panel has been a leading voice for creators of color for over 20 years. The Bad Boy Studio Mentor Program has outstanding alumni, some world-famous. Millions of Black people purchased the Guardian comic books. Milestone Comics was a groundbreaking achievement.
The link that ties them together is Michael Davis.
But for Milestone Comics, all are the creation of Michael Davis alone.
DC Comics is embracing Black Lives Matters as are many Black creators. They are leading with The Other History of DC Comics. From what I’ve read, Michael Davis created that and is not involved although he wants to be. This is just another in a long line of injustices DC Comics has done to Mr. Davis, who has written that a former DC Comics editor accused him of causing a “loud scene” at a meeting, and because of that, he was removed from a six-figure project.
When it was proven to be a lie, the company refused to reinstate the project. That’s just plain evil. Presenting him with an agreement that prevents him from ever working at DC Comics was much more corrupt.
The comics industry ignores this- it seems Black comic creators do as well. His partners used him then excluded him. He still supports them. I can find no support for this man even from people he has helped. That is truly shameful. Outside of the comic book world, it is quite a different story.
For goodness sake, there is a Michael Davis Auditorium at the Gordon Parks Academy in Kansas City. I have left out a great many things from his resume. His name next to one of the most celebrated thinkers of our time says it all.
WE CAN’T BREATHE, a film produced by Mr. Davis and Wayne Brady, the comedian about the killings of unarmed Black men and women, is a powerful message.
Mr. Davis and Mr. Brady did the short video as a promotion for LevelNext comic books. I saw the video at The Black Panel and was moved to tears as were others. This was three years ago when no comic book company was thinking about these topics. I hear he is disliked because he’s loud and demanding. I believe it’s because he won’t play anyone’s game.
It is nothing short of despicable that those who have claimed to be friends and allies stand by and do nothing to support this man. Some ridicule his depression and claim he faked his own death. God, I have no words for that kind of malice. No one stepped up to defend him, but he’s always there defending those who need it, even those who have betrayed him.
Shame on DC Comics, shame on Milestone Media, and shame on all he has helped who remain silent.
UPDATE: Michael was hacked badly, with messages sent out to family and friends. He’s alive and well.
We are incredibly sad to report that Michael Davis, longtime columnist for ComicMix, committed suicide one day before his birthday.
We can list all his accomplishments in the comics field and go through his history and impact in the field, from his mentoring of numerous up and comers in the industry to his co-founding of Milestone Media and Motown Animation & Filmworks AND The Guardian Line AND The Black Panel at San Diego Comic-Con AND… but the best way to hope to understand and know Michael is through his words and his works.
There will be more to say later about him, but right now we’re too shocked to be coherent. Please, if you or someone you care about are considering self-harm or suicide, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline.
We’re sorry we couldn’t have helped you more, Michael. Rest easy.
Michael Davis wrote this election day columnfor ComicMix, which we published on election day, which was yesterday. It’s a very powerful piece, one of the more important we’ve run in the past 10 years. After I read it, I put aside my plans to wax poetic about the Doctor Strange movie. There’s always time to do that. If you have yet to read Michael’s column, I urge you to do so.
I will say this: I’ve known Michael for the better part of 30 years. We have talked a lot. He had never shared that story with me.
And some people say nothing good came out of Donald Trump’s campaign.
What he was talking about, if I might be allowed to define it, is the strategic concept of “divide and conquer.” Often attributed to Philip II of Macedon, it means exactly what it says. Instead of a long-winded explanation of the time-honored concept, I’ll offer an example that is in keeping with Michael’s column.
Back in the early days of America’s ongoing civil rights movement, a lot of Jewish American students from the north went to the southeastern states to stand and march side-by-side with Black Americans in that critical struggle. Many stuck around to help organize. Some got killed. Check out U. S. vs Cecil Price et al., or watch the movie Mississippi Burning.
This could not be tolerated by some. Blacks could not be tolerated, Jews could not be tolerated and together they constituted a genuine Justice League of America that had to be stopped in order to protect state’s rights and, therefore, the American Way. And it was very successful: by rumor, by innuendo, by subterfuge, blacks were frightened by stories about Jews and Jews were frightened by blacks. Jewish doctors injected black children with the HIV virus. Black thugs burnt down Jewish stores. Jewish bankers kept black citizens poor. Blacks singled out Jews for violent attacks. Blah blah blah blah blah.
Since hatred of Black Americans is as American as hatred of Jewish Americans and vice versa, it wasn’t hard to sell these concepts. After all, we are all Americans.
As the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan (et al) took major positions in support of Donald Trump’s campaign, blacks and Jews felt our collective Spidey-Sense tingling. The polite analysis was “Oh, shit, not again.” And then “Oh, shit, this isn’t good at all.”
It’s ironic that Trump campaigned on the anti-PC platform. It is the concept of political correctness that has prevented a generation of discriminated Americans from seeing the snipers in the trees. I’d much rather a hater called me a kike to my face than be surprised that the same person was a closet hater. I’d rather see them coming.
Divide and conquer works best from the shadows. Or, to be more specific, from under a rock. Remove that rock and expose the haters to the light of truth. While stumping for office, Donald Trump and his supporters never used words like nigger or kike, at least not in public. But Donald Trump ran the most discriminatory race in the past half century.
Let’s light the light of truth.
As Michael’s editor, I say “great column, Michael.”
Greetings, ComicMixers! Did everyone have a good weekend? I hope so! But I know, I know, there was probably one thing missing from your hopefully glorious and relaxing weekend – my SDCC coverage! Yes, that’s right – Along with Part I(the con floor!); Part II(the Her Universe Fashion Show!); and Part III (The party round-up!), here comes Part IV – the panels!
Contrary to what folks who see me at cons might think, I can actually sit still for at least an hour at a time, and sometimes I even want to. In particular, I do like to try and see a few panels whenever I’m at a con; and going into SDCC, I definitely had some on my agenda. This year, unlike many, I actually even managed to see most of them, and I’m glad I did, because they were awesome and I want to share them with you. So here we go!
Look, the day they have voice actor panels at a con and I don’t make it to at least one is the day you’ll know I’ve lost my joy in life (the same goes for any panel featuring the delightful Rob Paulsen – and since I couldn’t make the TMNT panel (and see the awesome TMNT SDCC mini scene in person!) due to a scheduling conflict, this panel was definitely a must). The panel featured Susan Eisenberg, Rob Paulsen, Caitlin Glass, Anthony Bowling, Tara Platt, Yuri Lowenthal, and Genese Davis, and was primarily a Q&A, with the usual fun (and funny voices) that goes on at a VO panel.
Genese Davis was a fantastic moderator, and you could just feel the love these VO folks have for their work and the fans. It was also neat to hear, e.g., Eisenberg discuss what voicing Wonder Woman has meant to her, and other great and inspiring stories from the panelists. My favorite funny bit of the panel was Lowenthal’s explanation for why he has a mohawk, which basically varies depending on the moment and his mood. “You know, a fan will ask me, ‘Did you get a mohawk because your character has one?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, what a good idea – of course that’s why I got it!'” Hah!
The Black Panel
For those who don’t know, The Black Panel is an SDCC staple that’s been happening since 1997. It primarily features black creators in and connected with the genre entertainment industry (although often there is also a “token white person” on the panel) and discusses their impact on and experiences within the industry. While the panel is known for the irreverent humor and moderating style of organizer Michael Davis , it’s also known for the impressive list of top-tier creators it’s featured over the years, and the valuable advice they have shared for young creators and others in the audience.
This year, the panel featured Joe Illidge, Eric Dean Seaton, Don McGregor, Tatiana EL-Khouri, and of course, moderator Davis. Although distilled wisdom and good advice were shared with the audience by all of the panelists, as usual, this panel was also bittersweet and truly the end of an era, as we learned that this was going to be the last SDCC Black Panel. It then featured a scrolling list of all of the luminaries who have been on the panel, as well as at least two fans whose Q&A questions consisted of talking about how valuable the Black Panel has been to them over the years in raising awareness of black talent (one woman in particular, a librarian, discussed how the panel had helped her to find black-created comics to include in her library stock). It was truly an inspiring panel, both in hearing what the panelists shared, and in hearing what the panel has meant to people; although of course, the trademark humor of the panel was still present. In classic Black Panel style, Davis closed the final Black Panel with, “Oh yeah: white people, get out!”
Dark Horse: An Afternoon with Joss Whedon
This panel was an absolute delight (and can be watched in its entirety here, thanks to others who actually filmed it). Whedon started with a nice thanks to Dark Horse and a funny Oz joke: ” I want to talk about how ridiculously grateful I am to everybody at Dark Horse for doing what is honestly one of the hardest jobs in the world. When you take a licensed product, something that already exists, and you have to continue those stories, you have to be so faithful and yet so inventive to make the stories come to life. And that is a tightrope act. It is really difficult for someone; for anyone, to carry on something that is so beloved, and take it to another level, while still being true to all the voices and the characters and what we were trying to do way back when. Thank you to Scott, who’s been my editor forever, and Sierra, who is working on the books; Mike Richardson, who built the house we’re all in, and particularly the writers and artists – Christos Gage has been killing it, Rebekah Isaacs, and Georges Jeanty of course; Zack Whedon. …I feel like five years ago a tornado ripped up my house and dropped it in the land of Marvel, and it’s been a very weird time. And (pointing to the audience) you were in it, and you were there, and you were there…and all that while, all these people have been working so hard and doing such beautiful work, and it’s been so great for me to know that the things I care most about are being taken care of. So I want to give Dark Horse a shout-out for their amazing work.”
Following that was some big news from Whedon; the announcement of a new Dark Horse six issue book, The Twist, about which Whedon said, “it basically deals with the most important moral question facing us, which is why isn’t there a Victorian female Batman?” He then decided to impart some life and creative advice to all of us, which was, ” Continue to earn what you already have.” Followed quickly with more witty repartee, including discussion of the Marvel movies, about which he observed, “What’s exciting was that everyone was so perfectly pleased with how I handled Natasha.” Followed by, “Yeah, I still got it,” in response to the ensuing laughter.
The whole panel is well worth a watch, but in particular Joss’s answer to this fan question is worth paying attention to. The fan said, “I, like many of us, gain a lot of peace from your work, even though it’s about people who exist in very non-peaceful situations. My question is: what is the world, what is existence, why are we here, how can I and all of us feel more sane and purposeful in our own lives, and how do you represent that philosophy in your writings?”
Whedon replied with, “You think I’m not going to…but I’m going to answer that! The world is a random and meaningless terrifying place, and we all, spoiler alert, die. Most critters are designed not to know that. We are designed uniquely to transcend that. To understand that…Ooh, I can quote myself, this is fun! ‘A thing isn’t beautiful because it lasts.’ That what we have right now, right here, has as much meaning as anything we’re afraid of. And the way we’re designed to do this is that the main function of the human brain, the primary instant function, is storytelling. Memory is storytelling. If we all remembered everything, we would be Rain Man, and we would not be socially active at all. We learn to forget and we learn to also distort, and from the very beginning, we’re learning to tell a story about ourselves.
I keep hoping to be the hero of my story; I’m kind of like the annoying sidekick. I’m like Rosie O’Donnell in the Tarzan movie that Disney did. I’m that annoying. I was like, “But I’m Tarzan, right?’ And they were like, “No. You’re that weird ape that we don’t know if it’s a girl.” But, it is still a narrative. And since we’re doing that from the moment we’re alive, living stories that we then hear and see and internalize and wear hats from and come to conventions about; we all come here to celebrate only exactly that: storytelling. And the shared experience of what that gives us. And it may give us strength; it may distract us. It can do almost anything. And that, for me, is how we live peacefully, and how we live with ourselves, and each other. We understand our story, everybody else’s story, that we’re all part of that; and that story is going to be with us, and can be controlled by us, and can be surprising and delightful and horrifying and all those things, but it’s something we can survive because, unlike me, you all are the hero of the story. That is my answer.”
Wow. And after that profoundness, I’ll end my summary of this panel with this quote from Whedon, which clearly needs no context: “This is very simple, and I think everyone can relate to where I am on this. I love bees. I just want to put bees in my clothes. And have bee-time.”
Thanks for that, Joss. And for being awesome.
20th Century Fox
Ohhhhh, you guys know where this is going, right? Okay, so the Fox panel showcased a bunch of projects, including The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, Victor Frankenstein (which featured the most hilariously homoerotic panel I have experienced in person), Fantastic Four, and X-Men: Apocalypse, several of which I’m excited about (X-Men in particular); but you all know why I sat my butt on those hard seats in the Most Depressing Room of SDCC for two hours after Joss Whedon left, right? Deadpool. (Look, I’m not the only one. The Wall Street Journalis all about the Deadpool, too. As is Nicholas Hoult, who, when asked about his character Beast on the X-Men panel, replied, “I can’t concentrate because I’m still psyched about the ‘Deadpool’ trailer.”)
In the midst of all of the other cool Fox stuff going on, moderator Chris Hardwick of Nerdist started the Deadpool ball rolling with, “I believe we have a special announcement before the next panel…?” That was the cue to roll an SDCC Hall H exclusive video which showed Ryan Reynolds in his full Deadpool regalia, seated in a Masterpiece Theatre-style chair, complete with pipe in hand, as he intoned, “In a world divided by fear, one man must save the world… From the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time, comes five-time Academy Award-winner Ryan Reynolds as a man on an e-Harmony date with destiny. Ladies and gentlemen of Hall H, I give you…me! Deadpool! To teach you to take these broken wings and learn to fucking fly again.” And then, of course, Deadpool tried to put the pipe in his masked mouth and dropped it.
Amidst an absolute uproar of delighted cheers and screams, Reynolds snuck onto the still-dark stage to surprise us all as the lights came up and lead off an awesome, raunchy, totally Deadpool-esque panel that also featured Tim Miller (Director), Morena Baccarin (Vanessa Carlysle), T.J. Miller (Weasel), Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead), Ed Skrein (Ajax), and Gina Carano (Angel Dust). Reynolds responded to the crowd’s cheers with, “Looks like we’re ready to make the chimi-fucking-changas already. It’s only been eleven years in the waiting.” When Hardwick asked him how it felt for the movie to finally be coming out, Reynolds replied, clearly delighted, “One year ago, almost today, some asshole leaked that footage, and that’s why we’re standing here… You guys – the internet, fans, you made the studio do this.” Reynolds, Miller, and cast also gave credit to the excellent script of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.
Miller said about the movie finally being made that, “I would have made this fucking movie anytime, but it had to come at the right time, and the studio was ready to make it now. And I think it’s because as Ryan said, it’s the fans. He is the perfect character for our time, I think.” Reynolds added, “I think this character inhabits a space in the comic universe that no other person can or will ever inhabit. It’s got everything you’d ever want. …For one I just think it’s an absolute miracle that a studio let us make Deadpool, let alone an R-rated Deadpool.” He added, “…No matter what the rating is, though, babies will love this.”
All of the actors discussed their characters, and were clearly excited about their roles in the film. When asked about her character Vanessa, Baccarin said, “She’s a badass. It was really awesome to read the script. You don’t get to read many superhero movies that have a badass romantic lead. She gives him lip right back, and not necessarily the talking kind. …She’s the perfect match to his crassness.”
After the Q&A they showed some exclusive footage, which was amazing and appears very loyal to Deadpool’s origins. Expanding on the earlier leaked footage, it showed more characters and backstory (including that Negasonic Teenage Warhead starts out in training with Colossus), included more great comedic moments, and highlighted Deadpool’s fighting prowess when he shot three people in the head with one bullet. It was also rife with fourth-wall breakage, and featured a Liefeld joke, a dig at Green Lantern, and an appearance by Blind Al (w00t!). It was such a hit that at the finish, Hall H exploded into chants of, “One more time!” and Hardwick obliged by running the footage again, to more cheers.
In summary, this panel was hilarious and the movie looks like it is going to be awesome and, and, and you guys. I can’t even. I almost died of happiness during the panel. Deadpool. Is finally coming to theaters. And it looks fantastic. Y’all are lucky I didn’t expire right there in Hall H and am still here to write this.
And that I was still vaguely coherent for the next Fox panel, X-Men: Apocalypse. I feel like no matter what, I’ll do this write-up a disservice, because I was still buzzing so much from Deadpool that I could hardly concentrate; but I will say that the footage looked amazing, the cast is huge but it seems to work, there was a moment where Hugh Jackman sat on Jennifer Lawrence’s lap, and I am really looking forward to the film. If Deadpool hadn’t been on the panel agenda, this would have been the Fox movie I’m most looking forward to.
The last panel-like thing I did while at SDCC was actually a screening – of X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut. Essentially, a Rogue storyline got cut out of the movie for running time, and it’s been added back by Bryan Singer, who introduced the screening for the new DVD. The screening was cool – it was fun to see the film again on the big screen, and while the movie does work without the Rogue storyline, I did feel it added to the overall story to include it. Certainly for a movie on DVD (where you can pause anytime for snack and bathroom breaks!) I’d advocate getting the longer cut.
And that’s it for me and the panels! Check out my panel photo album here or my whole SDCC collection of photos here.
Excuse me while I talk about world affairs for a bit. I promise this will come back to comics.
One of the talking points about ISIL, the crazy people in the Middle East beheading hostages and slaughtering hundreds (thousands?) of others is that they are successful because they are so savvy with social media.
Now, I confess that my Twitter skills aren’t great. However, I hadn’t been able to figure out how one could assemble 140 characters (or a video, or a Facebook page) to make a person want to become a suicide bomber or cut off heads. Sure, maybe there are psychopaths who would respond, but that’s a tough crowd to get together for a focus group.
On Saturday, this story ran in my local paper, with both an explanation (at least, one I could understand) and a potential solution.
The ISIL propaganda works, not because people are inherently suicidal or sadistic, but because we are, each of us, desperate to be the lead character in our own stories. If you’re a Muslim kid in a place with a depressed economy, no job prospects, and nothing to do, it can be very appealing to think of yourself as representative of The Prophet on Earth, dedicated to avenging the wrongs done to your people.
Of course, it’s not that simple, but it offered me a way to understand. And it offered Suleiman Bakhit a way to save the lives (and, in my opinion, the souls) of those most susceptible to ISIL’s propaganda. Mr. Bakhit created a comic book that offered other, better ways for a kid in ISIL’s target market to be a hero.
This made me think about the reasons those kids (in this case, in Jordan) didn’t have the kind of pop-culture heroes we take for granted in this country. And then, it made me think of how we hold up different kinds of heroes to different segments of the American audience. Straight white people get Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Arrow and more.
Quite often, it’s not enough.
When a publisher of super-hero comics, or a director of super-hero movies, etc., chooses to change the race or gender of an established hero, there is a predictable outcry. White fans insist the change was made to be “PC,” and not possibly because the comic creators or director had a story he/she wanted to tell.
Even creating a character who isn’t straight and white can be denounced by fans. I remember very well at the launch of Milestone that we got a lot of flack from comic book fans because DC was distributing comics that starred hardly any white people. Again, they insisted that DC must be doing this out of some kind of PC pose, not because the stories were good. As DC’s Publicity Manager, I saw a lot of those complaints, and I can assure you, they were real and they were nasty. If there are any doubts, you can ask our own, beloved Michael Davis.
I don’t know why it’s news that we each want to be the hero in our own story, the lead in our own movie. One of the ways I can tell if a comic or film (or novel or television show) is good is how difficult it is to imagine a story starring a minor character.
A good story is a good story. That is enough justification for it to exist. If, in addition, a good story offers its audience a way to consider a world without terrorism, that’s even better. And if a good story inspires its readers to heroically change this world without joining ISIL or other terrorist groups, that’s fabulous.
If that story requires an African-American Batman, I’m cool with that. We all know they’ll just change it back in a few months, anyway.
Aaaaaand, we’re back. Everyone have time to get up off the floor? Yes? Excellent. And don’t be ashamed of fainting. I’m that excited, too! Now, we just have to hope that they don’t screw it up.
And now on with the column. The convention season has been just flying by, it seems. Barely did I return from SDCC before it was time to start finalizing my costumes and setting my meet-up plans for Dragon Con; and of course after Dragon Con, Baltimore Comic Con was literally right around the corner, being the next weekend. And with all of the cool things going on at every single con, I feel like I’m weeks behind on everything I still have to share with you all out there in reader-land.
So this week, let’s have a little whirlwind catch-up/retrospective of the highlights.
No, I’m not even kidding, there’s still cool stuff that happened at SDCC that I haven’t shared yet. In particular, I didn’t really get to write about the panels yet, and man, there were some cool panels. For one thing, there was our very own Michael Davis’s The Black Panel, which focuses on black entertainment and creators who are doing notable work in the various entertainment industries. This year, the panel featured Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow, MAD TV), Ne-Yo (actor, artist, writer, singer, etc.), J. August Richards (Angel, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Kevin Grevioux (I, Frankenstein; Underworld), Cree Summer (Batman Beyond, Rugrats, A Different World), and Erika Alexander (Living Single, “Concrete Park”). After the panel I got to catch up with J. August Richards (who, by the way, had a hilarious mic-drop moment), and he had this to say: “Michael Davis is a legend and a pioneer in the field. It was an honor to be a part of The Black Panel and hilarious to watch him do his thing in person. Clearly, he’s the star of the panel every year!”
I also checked in with my friend Sarah Goodwin, a scientist in the field of cell biology. She shared that, “this was my first Comic-Con and so my first time attending The Black Panel. First of all, this was one of the few panels I saw that featured women (yay!!!!). Secondly, all of the panelists were very open and honest about their experiences and how they see themselves positioned within the various cultures of their crafts. Throughout this panel came lessons in putting yourself out there, taking risks, and most importantly, persistence. I found the panel very informative and could relate to a lot of what they were saying since I am a woman in a male-dominated field (in science the field is male-dominated at the ’star’ level, at least). I left the panel with a sense of optimism that diversity in all aspects of Hollywood will continue to grow, and that Comic-Con can be a place where this is discussed and celebrated and/or criticized amongst a supportive and welcoming community. Also Kevin Grevioux has an incredible voice, and I think it is super cool that he used to be a scientist at the NIH!” Clearly, The Black Panel is not to be missed.
If you log onto your tumblr dashboard today, you might notice what looks like a bit of a problem. All the graphics on the page are replaced by those “please wait” spinny things, giving the impression you’re stuck with a slow connection. But it’s just the latest in a series of events, pranks and publicity stunts designed to make people aware of the looming threat to what’s known as Net Neutrality.
Right now, all Internet data are transmitted at the same speed. You get articles and graphics for this site at the same speed you’d get them for Time.com, Amazon, or ElbowsDeepInAsianGirls.tv (Calm down, Michael Davis, I made that one up… I hope) But if Net Neutrality is shot down, ISPs will gain the ability to offer data “fast lanes” on the information superhighway to companies, on which their data will sail at great speed to the user, while sites who do not pay such premium will see their sites lag at slower “normal” speeds.
The problem is, we won’t actually see the “fast lane” be any faster, it’ll be more a case of the “normal” lane being throttled. just as, oh, let’s say “certain companies” doing that to sites like Netflix.
The tumblr site offers a link to BattleForTheNet.com, which offers users the option to either have an email sent in their name to their congressperson, or will automatically connect you via phone to your representative’s office. The response on this issue has been strong, but millions people shouting is not always as loud as the sound of wallets opening.
The verbiage on this issue has gotten quite dramatic, and yr. obt. svt. tries to refrain from hyperbole unless I’m sure I can a laugh out of it. But it is very fair to say that if ISPs gain the right to charge companies for the right to get their data delivered, it will absolutely make it harder to get a new website into the eyes of new viewers, and make creating a new site so much more expensive. Part of the wonder of the Web is it makes everybody equally capable of building a site that can reach the world, at the same speed as any other. The loss of Net Neutrality will take that away.
The police are using tear gas and billy clubs to control a group of peaceful protestors. All that’s missing is German Shepards and fire hoses but hey, rubber bullets more than make up for that.
I often wonder seriously, once so seriously, someone asked me to “Please stay here,” if I should take a gun and just end me before LAPD does.
The ‘here’ she was referring to was Earth.
Bet that fucked you up.
A bit over a year ago, in a restaurant two drunken white people thought they could use me as a punching bag.
They attacked me.
They hit me.
They were two, I was one.
I defended myself, they punked out.
I was the one arrested.
There is videotape evidence of my innocence.
I took a plea deal on the criminal charge.
W H Y?
Why would The Master Of The Universe take a plea deal when he has the resources and media reach to clearly win this bullshit case in court? Because, as Master Of The Universe I’m invincible as a Black man in Los Angeles I’m a fucking nigger, a less than human target waiting to be shot down like a dog in the fucking street.
My case should have NEVER had gotten ANYWHERE near a court. It should have been dismissed the moment the tape and the 20 or so eyewitness backed my story. It wasn’t. So what’s MOTU to do? Get the FUCK out, as quickly and quietly as possible, that’s what.
White America, when a big mouth, well connected, uppity motherfucker who’s CLEARLY IN THE RIGHT AND IT’S ALL ON TAPE, won’t even chance a day in court because he thinks the system is racist, THE SYSTEM IS FUCKING RACIST.
Everyone has value.
Nice sermon, bumper sticker and uplifting message just not for Black men. In the eyes of some law enforcement my value is nothing. I can be taken out at anytime in anyplace, if I don’t ‘act right.’
So, as to avoid living my life in fear, having to stay inside battling bouts of horrible insomnia debilitating migraines fueled by thoughts that she’s not here (she’s gone hell, they’re all gone) why not simply pull the trigger of the gun I’ve held to my head many times?
What happens if I simply cannot deal with my inner demons inside my home anymore? I know full well if I go outside and don’t ‘act right’ there’s a chance a real chance I could be shot in the back.
So, why not cut out the middleman and shot myself?
What happens when I don’t take my meds and voicing my ire on Facebook is not enough? What happens when I’ve had enough of seeing UNARMED Black men choked because THEY WERE BLACK? What happens when I realize that I don’t eat skittles anymore because it just reminds me of an unarmed BLACK CHILD KILLED BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK?
What happens when another unarmed Black man is shot down like a dog in the street in Los Angeles and that event underscores the horrible place my life over the last 12 months has become?
What happens when she’s not there to tell me, to stay here?
I’ll tell you what happens.
I leave my home in the upscale white neighborhood I live in. It’s 3am in the morning and because I STILL cannot sleep I drive to Ralph’s supermarket to shop. I’m stopped by the police often and this night I’ll be stopped again.
But this time, I’m depressed.
This time I’m not kissing the ass of the motherfuckering racist cop who’s stopped me before. This time I say the absolute wrong thing.
“I did nothing. I’m not showing you any ID. I’d like you to call your supervisor when he arrives I’ll show him.”
This will not stand. I know this. He repeats his command to show my license and I repeat what I said. He orders me to get out of the car. I make no move, my hands are on the steering wheel, and my interior lights are on. “I’ve done nothing.”
He screams for me to exit the vehicle.
For, what I know is the last time, I say ‘no.’
He grabs me through the windshield I refuse to let go of the steering wheel. Instead I close my eyes and say goodbye to all my friends.
Then, like every lazy comic book writer will someday write, my life flashes in front of my eyes.
And I wonder.
I wonder what Comicmix will write about me. I wonder if Bleeding Cool will do a tribute. I wonder if I’m big enough to have my obituary in the New York Times like Dwayne. I wonder if Denys will ever forgive me for the lie I told him when he asked was I okay. I hope he’s okay. If Denys couldn’t save me, no one could. I wonder if James knows he’s going to rule the comic world; Danielle, the entertainment world; Jasmine the music world and Tatiana?
Tatiana the entire world.
I wonder if Stradford knows just how much his friendship means to me.
I wonder if the ‘Mikes’ Gold, Grell, Baron and Raub know the same. I wonder if Maggie will cry a lot, if Missy and Kai will also. I wonder if Steve and Josh will both wear a Yankee hat to an Orioles game in my honor.
Then I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I said hurtful things to Darlene.
I’m sorry I didn’t try harder to reach Brett. Brett, once my son in every way but blood, who still wants nothing to do with me. I’m sorry I let Sheila’s call go to voicemail right before I left my home and hope she will forgive me. I’m sorry I could not get my hands on those animals who hurt Paige.
I’m sorry couldn’t find the words to say to my Kitty.
I’m aware of a loud ‘bang’ then…
Then I’m happy.
I’m happy I saw my brother Lee again. I’m happy Lucy came back into my life I think of her little girls and I’m even happier. I’m happy because my Amber will find a way to make me smile no matter where I am, alive or dead. I’m happy that with any luck I’ll see my family again.
I’m lucky. God let’s me in…just barely.
My mother, my sister, my grandmother and great grandmother wait for me. Some of my other family is there also. Joy joins my happiness as I see Kim Yale, Linda Gold, Carol Kalish and the man I wished was my real father, Don Thompson.
My A& D brothers, Chris Cumberbatch and Freddy Jones give me a smile.
I realize at the end, I don’t hate my haters. They helped make me. At least that’s what Dwayne McDuffie says when he, Robert Washington, Malcolm Jones III and I sit down to create a comic book…
So I ask again, here, today during yet another bout with my depression why not spare my friends, the pain of a trial where the outcome will most likely be not guilty and put a bullet in my head?
My life is not my own. It belongs to any cop having a bad day. Any D.A. wanting to get a uppity nigger, regardless and spite of proof. My life belongs to any white racist punk ass bitch drunk in a bar or any racist coward with a gun who hates hoodies.
Like I said, why not cut out the middleman out and kill myself?
Today, it’s because I promised my beloved Jean I wouldn’t.
My name is Marc Alan Fishman. For eight years now, I have been an active comic book writer, artist, letterer, and publisher. For six years, my company Unshaven Comics has peddled our wares in the artist alleys at dozens of conventions. From the small, such as Kokomo, Indiana, and Orland Park, Illinois, to the large, like C2E2 in Chicago, and the New York Comic Con, we’ve put thousands of miles on our cars in an attempt to break-in to the industry we love nearly as much as our kin. But in all our travels, the furthest west we’ve sauntered was Minneapolis this past spring.
We’ve never been financially viable enough to venture to the Valhalla (or perhaps Ragnarok) of comic book conventions. The San Diego Comic Con is a nearly week-long mecca of geekery. For a small operation such as ours, it stands to dream that selling in the same fabled halls that stars and nerds alike flock to, could lead a sale of The Samurnauts to future fame and glory. Oh, how the mind races at the thought! But with each passing summer, those daydreams dissipate as the deluge of news coats my social media feeds. And here I sit, in the wake of yet another SDCC, ruminating on what it feels like to not be a part of the central hub from which our industry grows from. In short, it feels both amazing and frustrating.
It feels amazing because I’ve little doubt that amidst the choked-with-nerd floor-space there’s a frantic energy that isn’t conducive to how Unshaven Comics does business. We’ve parlayed busy cons, but I have a sneaking suspicion as fans fight for line position to see the Avengers assemble, or catch a sneak peak ten-second look at a movie not debuting for another calendar year there’s little desire to open one’s mind to a brand-new not-known comic, and even less among those few of the 130,000 attendees that are old school fans who are there (gasp!) for the actual comic books the show was originally built around. So I ask rhetorically: how easy is it to grab the attention of them when the entire show is one massive press-conference after another?
When every news outlet, blog spot, and nerd-based industry member is there first and foremost to get the scoop – and leak footage for click-baiting articles – on the stuff that gets them click-throughs, link-backs, and ad impressions… where does that leave artists in the alley? And when the alley itself is studded with industry veterans with well-known names and pedigrees… I say once more with bearded fervor: what chance do three Chicago kids with no known fans west of the Mississippi going to do to garner attention short of faking a medical emergency? Hmm, maybe that’d be a great hook. But I digress.
Simply put, it feels amazing to miss the SDCC because it means I can sit peacefully at home with the Unshaven till in tact. I can sift through all the news releases, teasers, and interviews at my leisure. I can do all of this and smell fresh as the morning dew. Those people in line waiting for a chance to get Chris Hemsworth to wink at them? Maybe not so much.
Which of course leads to why it’s so frustrating that I’m not there, nor have I ever been. The other side to the sword I wield cuts hardest when I realize I am only a spectator and not a shareholder. And to mock the size of the crowds is only to hide the desire to be in front of them. Even if the tides draw fans from the alley away to the exhibitors, there’s simply too many opportunities amidst the show-goers to not catch a few on our hook. And while the economics of it all likely falls no where near profitable when one considers the price of the table, transportation, shipping of merchandise, not to mention meals and other sundry expenditures… a sale to someone new is a sale to someone new. Unshaven Comics exists because of that conceit.
And while I’d lament that it’s not fair to pitch when you’re sitting next to a convention colossus like Katie Cook, much could be gained through smart networking and the camaraderie earned by being table neighbors. Simply by existing alongside those whose work we covet, creates a recognizability to those in power who work their way around the alley. Over the course of our businesses life, we’ve pushed issues on Dan DiDio, Ross Ritchie, and even Mike Gold. Of course, none of them said anything to us after purchasing the issue, but we figure it’s because they’re still in awe. In short: missing the con means missing the sale. And when that sale is the most likely to reach those within the industry we want to sell to? It’s a missed opportunity.
And what lamentation about San Diego would it be if I didn’t mention having to miss out on the Black Panel, and all of the sundry Michael Davis-related ventures. Having only known the Master of the Universe via e-mails and shared column space, I’m at a loss having never shaken his hand in person. And I say this not in jest. In every instance that I’ve been able to break bread with a fellow ComicMixer, it has been a memory saved for the archives. To miss out on San Diego, is to miss out on seeing people I’m honored to call friends.
And with that, so ends this little aside. Another year passes, and San Diego reverts to the whale’s vagina it’s known to be (don’t flame me, Ron Burgandy said it himself). Will Unshaven Comics ever make the journey out yonder to be amongst the gilded nerditry? As loyal Cubs fans utter, the motto remains:
It’s easy to define the best part of making it into your geriatric years: you are still alive. The worst part of making it into your geriatric years is also easy to define: people are dying all around you. That sucks, but you’re still alive so maybe when its time to get past your mourning you shouldn’t think the world has taken a crap on you in particular.
But… you know… it really has.
More than thirty years ago, Mike Nesmith, of Monkees fame, said “growing old is a bitch, and our generation is totally not prepared for it.” That’s true; the baby boomers are indeed the first generation to be raised in the luxury of Peter Pan’s shadow. Death has a habit of shouting “It’s time to grow up.”
I don’t believe I ever met Michael Davis’ mother, and that’s a shame. I think the most difficult part of motherhood isn’t childbirth, although that’s hardly a walk in the part. It is taking on and fulfilling the responsibility of raising your child to be a decent human being. After doing just that, Michael’s mom, Jean Harlow Davis Lawrence (and that’s a cool name), passed away Saturday morning.
I owe her… big time.
She raised a great kid – clever, intelligent, funny, and a person who genuinely understands the holiness of friendship. I put that all on Jean. Michael was too young to do it himself. He’s written lovingly about her so much that I feel I really know her. But I think I really know Michael, and that’s about the closest thing.
Michael, you are surrounded by the love of your many, many friends. Your loss makes you feel lonely, and that is fair and proper. But, my friend, you are not alone.