Tagged: Milestone Media

Michael Davis: Of Dreams & Relations
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Michael Davis: Of Dreams & Relations

Michael Davis: Of Dreams & Relations

John Paul Leon. Photo by Luigi Novi.

John Paul Leon was part of an elite group, the Bad Boy Studio Mentor program. That program’s goal is to help people of color gain entry into comic books and related businesses.

It does not stop there—the main goal is to pay it forward.

Each member of Bad Boy Studios is charged with advancing the next generation and living up to the program motto: EACH ONE TEACHES ONE.

When John came into the program, it was evident he was a star in the making. He began at Bad Boy during the period I was at Milestone Media.

Milestone’s business structure was just as innovative as Denys Cowan’s idea to create the company. The creative partners at Milestone took no salary; we were to be paid for our comic book work.

As an example, I wore many hats at Milestone, owner, founder, head of publicity, talent, and conventions. Nevertheless, I was only paid for writing and drawing Static known to the world as Static Shock.

I created the Static Shock Universe; the model for that creation was my Family. The real focus of that universe wasn’t Static; his sister Sharon Hawkins was.

The book Icon, Milestone’s Black Superman, was really about his sidekick, Rocket. That’s a genius idea from Dwayne McDuffie, so I followed suit.

The driving force behind the Static Universe was my mother, Jean. She was a remarkable woman, but her life was anything but easy. She was a victim of abuse from many sources but never complained.

Her mother, Lenore, my grandmother, and her daughter, Sharon, my sister, both died horrible deaths. That pain weighed on her, although she sought to conceal it.

I wanted to ease some of her pain, even if just a little. To that end, our family became the Hawkins family.

Jean, Robert, and Sharon were the names of my mom, dad, and sister. Hawkins was my cousin’s last name. Initially, Alan Hawkins was Static’s alter ego’s name. Dwayne changed it to Vigil after the civil rights pioneer.

My mother told me, seeing her daughter live on in Static was the greatest gift she ever received from me. The day after saying that, she passed away.

When John Paul Leon came into my Mentor Program, it wasn’t long before I decided his style was better suited for Static than my frequent photo referenced technique.

I mentioned I was only to be paid for writing and drawing Static. I was, except DC Comics never paid me for the entire time I was at Milestone. They refused to honor my contract.  (This was twenty-plus years ago and is in no way a reflection of the current DC Comics.)

My wife overheard a conversation where I was told that if I was so hard up for money, take the book back from John, I refused. She started screaming in Spanish.

A few days before this, she found out; we were broke—two years of no income erasing my significant savings. I, like a fool, honored my exclusive contract and looked for no other work. She was livid when I finally told her what I’d been dealing with and insisted we leave the loft where we lived.

My wife was the first generation of her family born in America.  Her Family risked death to come here from Cuba. They are hard-working, good people who value family above all.

Josephine was a wonderful woman with a smile that could light up a street. Nothing fazed her except bills. Like her mother, Jo saw bills priority number ONE.

The bill had to be paid the moment she opened the envelope. It did not matter if the bill was due in a week, month or decade. She paid bills immediately.

She never felt we could afford our place, and now, hearing her anger, I knew any chance I had of talking her into staying disappeared with my bank account.

I told her we were only a couple of months behind, the way she shouted you would have thought I spent the mortgage money on crack and the sheriff was at the door.

But I understood why it upset her so, what I couldn’t understand was Spanish.

“CÓMO TE ATREVES, CÓMO ATREVERTE, A QUITARTE EL SUEÑO DE ALGUIEN!”

I had no idea how I would tell this woman that I wouldn’t take the book back. It turns out I didn’t have to.  I found out later; she was furious but at the person on the phone.

“How dare you take away someone’s dream” she wasn’t talking about my dream but about John Paul’s dream to draw comics.

Josephine had a bond with John. They were both Cuban Americans, both kind and respectful, and both about Family.

I gave John my Family to take care of when I gave him Static to draw. Because of him and Robert Washington, Static is loved by millions all over the world. Yeah, the TV show was the medium— but no John Paul Leon, no Robert Washington, no TV Show.

In truth, Static may have been just another comic among thousands if not for them. John did a better job with my family than I would have each time I look at his work on the book reinforces that. Because of John if I ever do a Static project, his work will be first among the inspirations I’d pull from.

Each one teaches one is the John Paul Leon story in a nutshell; John’s work is so influential he will be teaching long after he is laid to rest.

Bernard, stay strong; your friend is still within your heart. 

Bad Boy Alumni, you’re all very much part of why John became one of the greatest ever put pencil to paper.

To Jo, Tenías razón el chico se hizo famoso, y se quedó como un buen tipo. Espero que tú y los tuyos estén bien.  (Yeah, my Spanish still sucks.)

Lastly, to the family, it was an honor and privilege to know your son; the world will remember him as one of the greatest to ever work in an industry full of great creators.

His light will shine for as long as comics exist perhaps even longer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021
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John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon: 1972-2021

John Paul Leon, groundbreaking artist on Static and Earth X, died Saturday after an 14-year battle with cancer at the age of 49.

He majored in illustration at New York’s School of Visual Arts, studying under artists such as Will Eisner, Walter Simonson, and Jack Potter. It was during this time that he received his first professional comics job, illustrating the Dark Horse Comics miniseries RoboCop: Prime Suspect (October 1992). By his junior year he was given the job as the inaugural artist on the DC Comics/Milestone ongoing series Static (June 1993), his first breakout work, which Simonson agreed would serve as Leon’s course work for that semester.

Michael Davis, Milestone Media co-founder and co-creator of Static, posted his thoughts in a video on Instragram: “I can’t breathe. I’m a writer who can’t write about John now it’s too painful.”

Collaborators and studio-mates Tommy Lee Edwards and Bernard Chang have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a trust for his daughter’s future education. Go there to read more about John and his legacy.

Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

An Open Letter To DC Comics and the comic book industry

An Open Letter to DC Comics and the comic book industry

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.

Martha Thomases: TV or Not TV?

As I was watching the 2017 Emmy Awards last Sunday, I thought about how much the television industry has changed. It’s a cliché to say that this is the Golden Age of Television, but, in many ways, that is true.

However, that is not what I want to talk about.

Women and people of color won an unusually high percentage of awards. I mean, women always win in the “Best Actress” categories, but there were women (and people of color) (and queer people) winning in the writing and directing categories as well. This didn’t go unnoticed. To quote from Master of None writer Lena Waithe’s acceptance speech “And last, but certainly not least, my L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. family. I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day, when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world — because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.

Those words describe my favorite thing about superhero comics.

Winning awards, especially in the entertainment industry, is not necessarily a matter of quality. A lot of awards get won by people who are good at marketing, or who are owed the most favors. This year seemed to me to represent a real sea change.

There are so many ways to watch “television” these days that sometimes I wonder if we should find a different noun. If I’m watching on my phone (which I never do, because I am old and my eyes are as well) or my computer, is that TV? Maybe, but websites aren’t referred to as “magazines” even when the content is the same. Is it fair to make broadcast television, which is subject to restrictions from government licensing and advertisers, compete with cable and streaming companies? Is it fair to ask me to judge which awards are appropriate when I haven’t seen everything, and I’m already paying for four premium services? Am I made out of money here?

This abundance is, to my mind, a good thing. There are so many different kinds of things to watch. I’m not into reality television but, if you are, there are all sorts of non-fiction programs. Some are good and some aren’t. I very much want to like the Emmy-winning Atlanta, but I can’t figure it out, and I’m fine with that. It’s okay that everything good is not for me. It’s great that there is something good for everybody.


Instead of fighting over pieces of the pie, creative people (including, in this instance, producers) have made more pie.

More than 25 years ago, when Milestone Media started publishing, this was their attitude. Instead of complaining that the Big Two comics publishers were run by white men, with heroes who were white men, aimed at an audience of white men, Milestone created new characters to appeal to new audiences. Those comics sold like crazy until DC, for whatever reasons, screwed up the marketing. Even now, if you go to a comics convention, you’ll see cosplayers in Milestone-inspired costumes.

Not everyone is happy about this. Insufferable preppie Tucker Carlson who looks and sounds like a lot of the guys who were popular in my high school, and now think high school is the way the entire world is supposed to work, used the Emmy Awards as an excuse to lambaste Ta-Nahiei Coates. Not that Coates needs any advice from me, but he should be fairly pleased that he is such a good writer that he’s getting under Carlson’s skin. If I was Marvel, I would promote Black Panther with Carlson’s clip.

I think it is because there are so many ways to watch “television” these days that we have so much good TV. I think we can apply the same lessons to comics and graphic storytelling. I love my local comic book store but, if I was a new customer, I would be lost trying to find something to read. Bookstores, with a longer history of appealing to different tastes, would work better for my introduction to the medium. And, if I wasn’t ready to invest in printed paper, I’d appreciate a way to sample things online.

Online comics are no more my thing than Survivor (not that they are similar in any other way), but both attract millions of eyeballs every year. Both provide a way for creative people to earn some money and express themselves.

Time and the marketplace will determine what’s good and/or what people want.

Michael Davis: Over and Done

back copy

I’m done.

I’m SO done trying to help anyone do anything.

I’m done with the Black Panel, the Bad Boy Studio mentor program, and Dream City my free management company.

Don’t know any of my work? Here.

My disdain started when a rumor damn near became fact. The rumor spreading like a Donald Trump lie was that Milestone stole their business plan from Brotherman. It damn near broke my heart.

But then, the show of support for Milestone was overwhelming!

I could hardly contain my tears of joy so much was the love I felt from the thousands of fans who stood by us. So with all the love shown us why was this the beginning of the end for me?

Because there was no love, the above paragraph was an invention just like the rumor.

Instead of love many, some thought to be friends, jumped on the fairytale co-signing the notion the Milestone partners were thieves. This not too long after Dwayne McDuffie passed away.

One moment the Black comic book community universally saddened over the death of one of the greatest comic book writers there ever was showed the kind of love that inspires books and movies.

The next moment there was universal hatred of Dwayne.

YES, Dwayne!

Didn’t those motherfuckers realize that if you call Milestone thieves you’re saying that of Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, Christopher Priest, myself AND Dwayne McDuffie?

Yeah, they knew. They didn’t care. Shit, why the fuck should they have? Except for me no one and I mean no one fought those kind of battles. With not one exception no other Milestone partner old or new continually fought the rumors surrounding the company.

I kept Milestone alive in a culture where some are so dense they forget what day we celebrate the Fourth of July. Some may be OK leaving rumor alone to become fact not me. Branding Milestone liars and thieves are NOT the same as some bullshit gerbil stuck in an actor’s ass story.

No one is going deny a big time player a role even if that gerbil story is true, unprovable if it is. If promoting a movie at Comic-Con, no will stand up and ask; “What about the accusations made by three hamsters, a gerbil and Stacy Dash?” Unless said, actor decides to write a tell-all book entitled; It’s My Ass, She’s My Gerbil & I Love Her Up There, it’s safe to bet that won’t define a spectacular career.

But stealing the idea for the greatest African American comic book company? You don’t address that type of shit, and it sticks. Then when Dreamworks is looking for great African-American superhero content they are not looking at Milestone.

Yeah, it’s like that in Hollywood.

So, I made sure any and all bullshit surrounding Milestone was addressed LOUDLY.

Those who doubt that I don’t blame you. But click the link below and scroll down a bit. What are you looking for? Believe me; you will know it when you see it.

FUN FACT: The Brotherman crew got some bad information and some dates wrong. That shit happens to everyone and that includes me. They admitted as such and we’re MORE than cool.

So cool in fact a meeting is planned in the near future. Funny, we talked, we worked it out. Nobody ignored the other. They have treated me with a TON more respect and love than M2.0.

Like I said, funny.

Back to the rant, I’ve gotten no encouragement or support from the community I’ve spent more time creating opportunities for others than myself. Nobody writes me a check for my Bad Boy Studio mentor program or the Black Panel or Dream City, my management company. All of those are set up to provide access to young people of color. I charge nothing; it’s called giving back.

I write the checks to make sure young people of color get the encouragement and support they need. No support from that community was horrible slight and the spark which began this decent.

Being treated by Milestone 2.0 like I had not contributed most of the now superstar talent, oversaw the massive press and groundbreaking convention presence and created the universe of its most successful character, Static, lit the fire.

Being used and then rejected at the lowest point IN MY LIFE without a word as to why beforehand, without a word afterward or (GET THIS) without a fucking word in the almost two years since. Oh, while you’re getting THAT, get THIS, “We’re family. You’re family. We’re going to do great things.” That was said to me in front of my mother’s casket from a member of my “family.”

Then days ago delivered to Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnson from an unnamed source, (THANK YOU MASKED MAN!) was what some would call the smoking gun.

It’s pretty fucked up.

I’d call it the big bang rather than a smoking gun. So to paraphrase Dr. Dre, FUCK COMICS YOU CAN HAVE IT BACK.

The above (all of it) was an excerpt from the article I was going to run called Michael Davis has left the building.

Then some people showed me a better way so I’m not going to do that.

I’m going to do this…

 

To Be Continued…

Michael Davis: “Hudlin, We Have A Problem”

Reggie Hudlin

I have a serious problem with Reggie Hudlin. I’ve known Reggie for over 25 years and although we’ve never been the best of friends, I liked Reggie and considered him a friend. Denys Cowan introduced me to Reggie when he took me to a party at Reggie’s downtown New York loft all those years ago. The loft was badass but when asked by this incredible looking woman “Isn’t this the nicest living space you’ve ever been in?” I said, “Nope, my cousin has a nicer loft, but this is cool also.” “Yeah, sure he does. Where in the projects?” was her reply.

She assumed my cousin was named Ray Ray and lived in the hood, in reality my cousin is William T. Williams, one of the most important artists in the 20th and now 21st Century. Don’t take my word for it that’s according to the Janson History of Art the definitive art history reference book and acknowledged authority on the subject.

In looking over my journal entry from that night I wrote the woman (now a fairly well known actress) was rather chilly towards me the rest of the evening. Maybe what I said got back to Reggie and when you’re riding high as a new hotshot director in your 20s that sort of shit brothers you. Perhaps that’s what’s prevented me from ever becoming real tight with Reggie, he heard his loft wasn’t the nicest living space I’ve ever been in.

Reggie was riding high after the massive success of his first movie, House Party. I couldn’t wait to tell him how much I was enjoying his house party two, get it? I thought I would get my chance when the circle of worshipers around him cleared for a moment and I said:

“Hi, thanks for having me. I’m really enjoying this House Party tw…”

“Excuse me. This isn’t the nicest living space you’ve ever been in?” Reggie interrupted.

“Well, no. But it’s very nic…

“EXCUSE ME, I’M TALKING! You said your cousin Ray Ray has a nicer living space?”

“I never said his name was Ray R…”

“EXCUSE ME, I’M STILL TALKING! How dare you not agree, this is the nicest living space you’ve ever been in!” Reggie then withdrew a small caliber gun and shot me.

Or more likely that’s my over imaginative imagination running a way with me. Except for the woman becoming a bit cold towards me because of my answer, none of that happened.

At the same party I met Reggie’s producer-brother Warrington. Warrington and I got alone well.

So well in fact when I purchased my first loft Warrington was one of my first guests.

Nowadays I seldom see Warrington but my relationship with Reggie has been constant. I’ve arranged events at San Diego Comic Con International (SDCC) the New York Comic Con as well as introduced opportunities and people to Reggie all with the goal of supporting whatever he was doing.

Reggie Hudlin is an important Playa within black arts culture. His contributions on the film side are legendary both as a producer and director. His comic book work although respectable was not on the same level as his film and television work.

But it’s about to be.

On January 21 2015 Reggie Hudlin, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle changed the world of comics when Milestone 2.0 was announced. Reggie is now at the head of the most recognized African American name in comics, Milestone Media. Flanked by Milestone’s creator Denys Cowan and Milestone’s keeper for the last 20 plus years Derek Dingle it’s hard to see how this could be anything other than ground shaking. The addition of Jim Owlsey on any level makes Milestone’s potential almost scary.

Reggie is also producing The Academy Awards. The very same Academy Awards being boycotted by some serious people and the boycott has gained worldwide support. Reggie and host Chris Rock are under real pressure to quit.

It would be so easy to join that chorus. Reggie and Milestone, as Desi would say, still got some ‘plaining’ to do. It’s been a solid year since I was ignored and still not a word as to why. I’ve got more reasons to hope Reggie and Milestone fail than Trump has hoping his supporters never learn to read or write.

A dear friend of mind sent the following text:

Your boy is in the middle of some real serious 1965 shit. What did you do? Payback’s a motherfucking Bitch! LOL!

What did I do? I sat down to write what will surly get me some more haters.

The Academy Awards is 95% plus white, that’s the running narrative in the press. The insinuation is the academy is racist because of that. Is it? The part missing from those reports is the Academy is made up of mostly people working in the industry. You would think that’s general knowledge it’s not, far from it.

Many people think The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are like the Guardians of the Universe.

That’s the universe, not the galaxy.

From Wikipedia: The Guardians (of the Universe) evolved on the planet Maltus, and were among the first intelligent life forms in the universe. At this time they were tall greyish blue humanoids with black hair, who roughly resembled humans except for their skin color. They became scientists and thinkers, experimenting on the worlds around them.

Many think the Academy spawned from such a (albeit not so comic book) myth. No, the members of the Academy are mostly working professionals in Hollywood. That’s important and here’s why-If you’re an Academy member and you’re worked on a nominated film would that not be the film you vote for? If your film wins you now have an Oscar winning film on your resume. Put another way, how do you not vote for your film?

That alone seems like a screwed up way to conduct a fair vote.

The following is from the Producers requirements for membership into the Academy:

From Academy Bylaws:

Article III, Section 1. Membership shall be by invitation of the Board of Governors. Invitations to active membership shall be limited to those persons active in the motion picture arts and sciences, or credited with screen achievements, or who have otherwise achieved distinction in the motion picture arts and sciences and who, in the opinion of the Board, are qualified for membership.

Minority representation and respect in Hollywood is laughable. It’s very much like the representation and respect comic creators get in Hollywood with one blaring exception. Hollywood isn’t stupid enough to shun black creators of film and TV without trying to appease that segment of the industry when that segment becomes pissed.

That segment of the industry has a voice that carries beyond any award ceremony. You’re hearing that voice now. If you listen carefully you’ll also hear the voice of comics demanding respect from Hollywood for all we’ve done for them…nah, you won’t but that’s another story.

Is the exclusion of people of color racist or self-serving? The answer most likely lays somewhere in the middle. I’d say; having run some entertainment divisions its more the latter than the former but clearly each exists. Regardless if it’s one, the other or both it’s unfair and something drastic has to be done.

The Academy and Hollywood needs to be taught a lesson. That lesson must be loud and clear. That lesson must be bold and take no prisoners. It’s for that reason I support both Chris Rock and Reggie Hudlin.

Yeah, like Chris Rock says, I said it. A billion-person audience is exactly what the world needs to see just how people of color roll. African American culture is the world’s culture. There is no bigger influence in pop culture than us.

Period.

Reggie and Chris are well equipped to carry that message. That message can’t be subtle, understated, indirect, or delicate. That message must be brash and filled with swagger. Our intelligence and confidence must be painfully obvious as is our talent. A billion people and then some should have no doubt that we are indeed all that a bag of chips.

To that end, once successful in conveying that message we must then turn inward and tend to our own house. Even if for the boycott don’t throw insult at those who are opposed.

If opposed don’t belittle those who disagree. A disagreement is no reason to treat someone badly. An opinion is no reason to dismiss someone’s contribution. Telling yourself there are no common ground then acting on a decision without talking to the other party is one of the ways African Americans have been marginalized in America.

We should know better than to do this to ourselves. But there’s always a few or as Forrest Gump says, “Stupid is what stupid does.” I’ve said before, I support Milestone and I now support Reggie’s and Chris’s decision to stay the course with the Oscars.

Yes, it would be easy and some would say warranted to go the other way. But I’m not now nor have I ever been that guy. I can’t disregard everything someone does because I disagree with some things. That’s the current state of our two political parties.

How’s that working out for us?

Mindy Newell: Politically Incorrect

Strange FruitSaturday, I met a very nice young man named Moses in my local comic books shop. We got into a conversation about *duh!* comics and he was very frank in stating that he was not buying many DC comics because – and I’m paraphrasing here, since I didn’t happen to have a tape recorder on me – everybody in the office is white so it’s impossible for them to understand the black experience. I told him that I didn’t agree with any part of that, but that is Moses’ perception, and perception is everything. Isn’t it?

Yesterday, I read Marc Alan Fishman’s latest column here at ComicMix, Affirmatively Actionable Comic Equality, in which he referenced J.A. Micheline’s August 4th piece over at Comics Alliance titled Why I’m Boycotting Marvel Comics, which I linked to and read. In her own words:

Marvel, you and I are taking a break. It’s not me; it’s you – and you made the decision really easy. In the past two to three weeks, I have watched you disrespect and disregard marginalized voices and I’ve had enough.”

Then I Googled “diversity of comics creators” and found an article by Laura Hudson published over at Wired on July 25th of this year: “It’s Time To Get Real About Racial Diversity In Comics.” She writes:

July in particular has been an interesting month to ponder that question, thanks to a series of recent events that offered a prismatic lens on the complex friction between race and representation in the field. Not only did the Marvel variants spark discussion, but this month, DC Comics announced that Milestone Media – an imprint created by black creators and focusing on black superheroes – would be returning to the larger DC Comics fold, along with most of the black artists and writers who had created it. Meanwhile, Boom! Studios released Strange Fruit, a comic made by a white creative team that dealt with racism in the American South, prompting discussions about when works by white creators are erasing the voices of the people they’re writing about.”

Jon Stewart asked us to do something on his last show: “If you smell something, say something.”

Okay, Jon, I will.

It’s about fucking time that people stopped creating these stupid fucking artificial lines.

To be brutally forthright – and quite politically incorrect – I don’t give a damn what color, what religion, what ethnicity, what nationality, or what sex a creator is.

The only thing I care about when I’m reading a story, the only reason I’m reading it, the only reason I continue to read it, be it comics or prose, is that I’m enjoying it, that I’m sucked in, that I can’t put the goddamn thing down, whether that means reading it at work while on a break, or at home while eating dinner, or reading it on the toilet wherever that toilet may be.

So Strange Fruit, a series about racism in the South, was written and drawn by Mark Waid and J.G. Jones, two white guys. So what? I think they should be applauded for writing about it. I think the premise, about a super-powered alien who looks like a black man in 1927 Mississippi, is great, and I’m putting it on my list to buy. And by the way, Quantum Leap did an episode in the very first season in which Sam jumped into the body of an elderly black man in the pre-Civil Rights South (“The Color of Truth”). Nobody objected that it was produced by a white man and starred two more white men.  

And if a story about racism was so important to you, African-American creators, why didn’t you go out and create it?

Oh, wait. You did.

Maya Angelou. James Baldwin. Octavia Butler. Amiri Baraka. Toni Morrison. Ralph Ellison. Zora Neale Hurston. Lorraine Hansbury. Langston Hughes. Richard Wright. Alice Walker. Alan Paton.

Oh, you mean comics?

Christopher Priest. Michael Davis. Damion Knight. Matt Baker. Reginald Hudlin. Darryl Banks. Denys Cowan. ChrisCross. Kyle Baker. Jamal Igle, Malcom Jones III, Mark (M.D.) Bright. Billy Graham. Keith Pollard. Brian Stelfreeze. Ron Wilson. Larry Stroman.

Dwayne McDuffie.

Okay, what’s wrong with this list?

No women.

But they do exist.

Charlie “Spike” Trotman. Carol Burrell. Barbara Brandon-Croft. Afua (Lakota Sioux) Richardson. Alitha Martinez. Cheryl Lynn Eaton.

Yes, I admit, these women were a little harder to find. And that’s bullshit, too.

Still, obviously, I managed.

You could, too, if you wanted to.

I could write a whole column about that. But then I might be accused of being a white Jewish woman who has no business writing about the black woman comics creator, because, you know, that’s not politically correct.

But if any of these women would like to have a dialogue with me on these pages, you’re very welcome to get in touch with me. In fact, I’ll ask Editor Mike to be our liaison (mike@comicmix.com).

See, I think making it in a profession that is your passion takes talent, sweat, blood, tears, aggravation, patience, aggressiveness, stick-to-it-iveness, and luck.

A whole lot of luck.

The truth is that luck is the goddamnest wild card.

And that’s a truth that is politically incorrect to say out loud.

 

Michael Davis: I Am Static

Twenty-one years ago, five friends, Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Priest, and I partner to form Milestone Media. The Dakota Universe was born soon afterwards. There was one goal above all: to create a universe of good stories, well told, featuring characters of color.

We did, and when we did, comics changed.

Milestone was international news on a grand scale. That news rarely, if ever, just showcased one of us. We all had a hand in the creation of what may be the most influential, certainly the most successful, superhero universe featuring characters of color ever.

What we thought was a pretty good idea to create heroes of color became a cultural phenomenon and movement. Needless to say at the core of any real pop culture movement are its fans, and Milestone’s fans take their Milestone seriously.

I was counting on that when two weeks ago I wrote a satirical piece called Static Shock Comes To The Big Screen. I “revealed” a big screen version of Static Shock was in the works. The big screen debut was actually the animated series playing on a newly purchased 80-inch television.

The response ranged from disappointment and anger that it wasn’t real to joy and excitement from some who thought it real to the haters, who wouldn’t know satire if it bit them on their hairy palms, who (what else) thought it was trash.

As you’ve no have doubt heard by now, Static Shock is indeed being made into a live action series, announced this week by Warner Bros.

That announcement came just two weeks after my article. The project has been in the works for a while and my article was a restrained way of venting my frustration at the studio progress and process. Neither of which I have anything to do with by the way. To be sure, the timing of my article was just a happy coincidence. Also, to be sure, I’d rather cuddle than have a threesome.

Regardless of what lit a fire under WB, this is a huge thing for the Milestone Universe. This will carry the Dakota Universe to mainstream audiences and give young Black kids, as well as other kids of color, a new hero that looks like him or her.

The massive love on social media the announcement is getting is fantastic and, bittersweet for me. For years I’ve fought to have Milestone’s true history represented and the bigger the project, unless stopped, the bigger the myth.

Milestone’s creators changed history and history is changing Milestone’s creators.

It started as soon as Milestone was announced. Back then the big lie was DC Comics owned Milestone. That still prevails as the official account of our publishing and distribution deal.

DC does not and has never owned Milestone.

When we ceased publishing monthly, many thought that Milestone Media ended as a company.

Milestone has operated on some level since 1992.

The false history of Milestone Media is so entrenched as fact that people doubt the words of the founders when we say otherwise. Without a doubt, the biggest fan-fueled invention is that Dwayne McDuffie – and Dwayne McDuffie alone – created Milestone.

Denys Cowan came up with the idea and the plan that created Milestone.

The latest in a long line of Milestone fabrications is this: Milestone stole our business plan from Big City Publishing. Big City published the truly wonderful Brother-Man comic.

Our books were on the stands nine months before the plan was alleged to have been stolen.

Denys Cowan, the architect of Milestone Media and its first creative director, today is mostly known as a Milestone artist. Few know him as a founder, and fewer credit him as the man who started it all. Milestone was named after Deny’s son, Miles, and Denys designed all the major characters, most of the minor characters, and a great deal of the City Of Dakota.

Christopher Priest, Milestone’s first Editor-in-Chief, was the driving force behind the original Dakota Universe Bible. Die-hard Milestone fans know he was Milestone’s first Editor in Chief, few others do. Priest is a very successful Hollywood screenwriter and music writer and producer.

Derek Dingle, the President of Milestone, was responsible for the groundbreaking deal Milestone received. Derek is at best a trivia question. His contributions and involvement in Milestone is almost never mentioned. Derek is still President of Milestone, and also heads up Black Enterprise, the biggest and most successful African American financial publication in history.

Dwayne McDuffie defined Milestone, and no one is more responsible for the Milestone mystique than Dwayne. The Dakota Universe that millions of fans can’t get enough of is because of Dwayne. Dwayne was more Milestone than any one of the partners, even more than Denys, and without Denys there never would have been a Milestone. Today Dwayne is widely known as the founder of Milestone and creator or co-creator of all the Milestone main characters.

I was a founder and Milestone’s Director of Talent and Special Projects. I’m mostly known as the creator of the SDCC Black Panel, and I’m rarely credited with anything corporate or creative at Milestone.

With the exception of Derek, the partners at Milestone had corporate responsibilities but also worked on the books as creators. We all choose a book that would be our baby. Denys wanted Hardware, Dwayne, Icon and my baby from day one was Static. The forth book in the universe, the Blood Syndicate was as Denys puts it, “An orphan child.”

I was not only to create the Static Creative Bible but draw the monthly series as well.

The Static Universe is based on my life. His family, his home, and his friends all come from my experiences. My mother Jean Lawrence became Jean Hawkins. Robert Lawrence, my step-dad, became Robert Hawkins. Static’s original real name was Alan, Dwayne changed it to Virgil. Hawkins was the surname of my cousin’s family on my step dad’s side and Alan was my cousin, crib mate and first best friend.

In a very real way I am Static.

My inspiration for the Static Universe was my mother and sister. In the original bible and comic book, Jean Hawkins was very much alive. The decision to have her killed in a “gang war” for the show was not Milestone’s; that bright idea came from Warner Bros.

What few people know is in real life Jean was not murdered, but Sharon was.

My sister Sharon died alone in a vacant lot people used as a short cut to get to the South Jamaica NY neighborhood we lived in. She was horribly hurt yet alive after being assaulted late that night. People walked passed her all evening and did nothing and it wasn’t until early the next morning that her boyfriend, of all people, found her.

By the time he did, Sharon Davis, the inspiration for Sharon Hawkins and the Static universe was dead.

My mom, the muse for Jean Hawkins, died June 21st of this year. She often watched old episodes of Static to see the interaction between Virgil and Sharon and never missed an opportunity to repeatedly tell me how she would never forgive me for having her killed on the show.

In my original version of the Bible both Jean and Sharon were alive. Once the notes came down from on high to change that, there was nothing I could do but voice my opposition and you see how well that worked out.

Once again, Static is about to blow up.

The live action version will take the Milestone universe to a whole other level and unless changed that false history will go right along with it and become fact.

Yes, I’m talking to you, again, Variant Comics.

This is not just a Milestone problem it’s an industry problem.

Helped along by those like Variant who profess love for our industry but forgo doing the type of real due diligence that will elevate comics. No, instead they and others continue to allow Hollywood to treat us like un-professional, stupid stepchildren when it’s clear no effort is made to speak with one unformed voice.

I have no idea what role if any I will play in the live action series. I may write it or just watch it on TV. That’s the future and I can’t say. I can say Denys Cowan created Milestone. Derek Dingle, Dwayne McDuffie, Christopher Priest, Denys and I created the Dakota Universe and within that universe I created the Static Shock bible.

I can say these things because unlike what you see at Variant’s website, that’s the truth.

 

Michael Davis: Milestone Raising 2.1

static_cv2-291x450A couple of weeks ago Paul Smith asked rather or not Milestone would be better off away from DC.

Last week I addressed his question—but must now admit I did so in a drugged out haze. The drugs (some legal) affected my thought process and I’m afraid what I wrote was a result of such.

Or, it was an April Fool’s gag.

Either way here’s the non-drugged (much) and/or non-gag answer.

Paul, every partner in any partnership be it personal or professional will at some time or from time to time ask if they would be better off with someone else. Its human nature at it’s most pure.

I’ve asked that question, many times.

Regardless if business or personal relationship after I ask that, I ask the following, what’s my goal?

What would the goal be in leaving DC?

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Michael Davis: Milestone Rising

I don’t get it.

I just don’t get it.

Last week I wrote to both my audiences at ComicMix  & Bleeding Cool that I’d answer any and all Milestone questions. (Well, that’s any and all questions except the ones I won’t answer.)

Over at Bleeding Cool I got a TON of questions. So many in fact I’m missing my weekly deadline so I can better organize my responses.

And what about ComicMix?

ONE guy supplied ALL the Milestone questions.

WTF?

Translation…WHAT THE FUCK?

I just erased a few hundred words of righteous WTF wisdom. Why? What’s the point? I’ll just answer Doctor R-Man questions and spend the rest of the week pouting.

Does DC have to pay Milestone any amount of money to either publish Milestone titles or have Milestone characters appear in their books? i.e. in teams or in guest appearances? Hence, no Icon in the Justice League or no Static in Teen Titans?

Sorry doctor-that’s a business question best left alone.

Going from the previous question, is the reason DC isn’t publishing Milestone     titles or having Milestone characters make appearances in DC books because there’s not enough people purchasing them or enough demand to justify publishing them, as a result of those fees DC has to pay? Hence, little return on their investment?

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