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, 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.
In part one of this article, I asked what happened to that fun-loving silly bastard who lost his mind when he met Mickey Mouse at Disneyland?
Sadness killed that pain in the ass lovable (YEAH LOVABLE) bastard. The grief felt over the loss of my mother, the end of my marriage, and friendship with Denys Cowan. Sadness over my inability to shield people I care about from my (then) undiagnosed bipolar behavior. Sadness helped along by my (then) undiagnosed severe depression.
Anger over the constant ridicule from the friends of my ex-wife who’s elitist posture pissed me off to no end. Yet, for the most part, I let it go, which made me angrier. The insult from Milestone.
The criminal (YES criminal) treatment from DC Comics. The two false racist arrests by LAPD. The seemingly purposeful attempts to distance me from my contributions as the lead creator of Static Shock.
“If you think Michael is the creator of Static just because his mom’s name is Jean. You should meet Dwayne’s cousin.”
“Matt, if you think Dwayne is the sole creator of Static, you should meet my mother, Jean, my sister, Sharon, my father Robert, my childhood friends Wade and Richie, my cousin (yep cousin) Dee Dee…I could go on and on and on….”
OR you could just peek at the creative bible Dwayne edited, BUT I WROTE.
Wait, I misspoke.
You can’t meet any of those people I named as characters I created.
They are all dead.
In the case of Sharon and Dee Dee murdered.
So I’m a wee bit ticked when people talk shit about the family who was the real-life models for those characters. I did that so my family would live on in some way.
NO ONE gets to rewrite that history.
Anger at a boldface horrible lie put on social media. A woman claiming I threatened her and felt she had to be escorted out of Comic-Con by her friends. She was preparing to write an in-depth ‘tell-all’ expose of my crimes against Gays and Black women, aka Me Too. She then recruited others to tell their ‘truth to power’ story.
There might be more, but all you need are two for a criminal conspiracy.
The unfortunate thing for those involved is you don’t have to commit the crime to be convicted of it. All you have to do is plan it and be stupid enough to put it on Twitter.
Here’s a tip for those who try to set me up. It can’t be done. I ALWAYS HAVE PROOF of where I am and what I’m doing and, most importantly, who I happen to be with.
Usually, I’d spend a few paragraphs examining the juicy piece of bullshit like this. Not this time. The rest of the article has a declaration that will NOT include those damning claims.
I’ll just say this: the claims made by that woman is laughable although not funny. I have proof she’s lying so strong that the VIDEO proof is the weakest of the evidence.
Sadness and anger, I brought on myself.
Yeah-I did. Even the failed attempts by DC’s former boss to discredit me sabotage my business. The stupid plot to cast me in the role of sexual predator hater of Gays and Black women, even those lies I’m responsible for.
I could have sought help earlier. I make no excuses, but I’m from a generation of Black men unless bleeding from a severe injury (sometimes not even then) don’t go to the doctor. I wrote article after article describing some of my I now know as systems and never gave it thought there was an issue.
Why am I responsible for those who hate my swagger so much they feel they have the right to try and destroy me? Lacking that, they hack my Facebook and tell the world I committed suicide. Why is that my responsibility?
My mother is why.
My mother was a remarkable woman. I’m sure most sons would say that about their mom, so I’ll tell you a bit about mine so you know I’m not whistling Dixie.
She took a horrible beating as punishment for me drawing (with a permanent black magic marker) all over the only TV set at the boarding house we were staying in.
I was 6 or 7, my sister, and I witnessed the entire thing. I knew it was my fault. We moved out of the boarding house, packing nothing going back to my grandmother’s house. We lived there when my mom broke up with my step-father. My step-father came over under the guise of reconciling. That subject was tabled when my mother was choked.
My step-father had beaten my mother there and promised to do it again. Putting herself back in harm’s way so her kids would be safe is standard procedure for any mother.
What makes my mom remarkable is what she did the day after the beating. I was a wreck, crying uncontrollably each time I thought about my mother trying to shield herself from her attacker. My mother came home after work, smiling through a swollen jaw, and presented me with an art set.
She knew. She knew the pain and anguish from the guilt I suffered. She knew how high the cost would be to my life if she didn’t act. But most of all, this remarkable soul knew her big mouth silly child found something he loved.
She knew I loved to draw. She gave me back my love with that art set because I’m sure I never would have drawn again.
That and about a zillion other reasons is why my mom is remarkable.
“Don’t back down when right do not let people dim your glow, Mike. Be yourself above all.”
My mother told me that in fourth grade, when bullied again in ninth grade when rejected by the High School of Art and Design and on what turned out to be her death bed.
Each time she said that to me, she was wiping tears from my eyes.
I am who I am. I don’t back down when I am right, and I’m always right.
That’s not bravado its truth. Every wrong done to me is retaliation against me, justly standing firm speaking truth to power. I can and have proved it.
No one cares.
Thus the anger bitterness and constant bitching.
Now, I see Micky Mouse as a guy in a suit when once I saw Mickey as another opportunity for a bit of fun.
I have to stop.
I gotta let it all go, or it will destroy me. It already consumes me at times my anger driving my blood pressure to deadly numbers
So I am letting it go after I state for the record a few things.
DC Comics TWICE under the leadership of Paul…nope.
That would defeat the entire purpose. Everything I would write here I’ve written before. My fans (both of them) have seen that narrative from me many times.
I wish DC well, yes that includes Paul. No, there is no joke coming. I respect what he’s done in comics. How could I not? I defended him when he was called a racist. Paul’s not a racist. No Paul, no Milestone, PERIOD. I did something that soured him against me personally, and he reacted. That’s not racism that’s good old unethical American resentment.
He has little or no respect for me.
That’s ok. I am no longer losing any sleep over him.
He’s welcome to think anything he wants.
Everyone can conceive whatever hated view of me they want. However, if it comes to my attention, I’m being slandered, and my business is affected to paraphrase Bruno Mars; “I’m a dangerous man with some lawyers in my pocket.”
I’ve already let the Milestone slight go. A few months ago, I had an hour-long conversation with Reggie Hudlin, who offered me the lead in his next movie. It’s called ‘Missing.’
JOKE! I did have an hour plus call with Reggie and still consider him a friend. Hung out with Mr. Denys Tesla Cowan over Thanksgiving. The only person I haven’t reconnected with is Derek Dingle. That’s on him.
Like the old south, I am officially letting all the pain, and righteous anger go.
Also, like the old south, I will occasionally react badly. Unlike the old south, I’m only human.
JOKE!I’m told there are many humans in the south!
Everyone gets a pass, EXCEPT those who with malice and forethought tried to harm me in some way. That’s out of my hands. They will hear from me through legal channels. They get no more of my time on-line.
For better or worse, as long as my new meds and outlook are working for me, I’m back to being a lovable bastard.
It’s hard letting pain and anger go. I can now because I realize that it will kill me. I’ll be dead soon enough; I don’t need any more help. I miss the person I once was. I owe it to my beloved Jean and all those who love me to bring that guy back.
Besides, comics need the true Master Of The Universe. He-Man? Close but no. I’m talking about me, man. Damn! I’m so witty!
NEXT WEEK: I dismantle an Entertainment Weekly opinion piece claim of what the greatest Romantic Comedy is and school them on their comics ‘coverage.’
TO: Randall L. Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer, AT&T CC: John Stankey, Chief Executive Officer, Warner Media
Dear Mr. Stephenson,
My name is Michael Davis. I’m sure you know me as I have been a loyal AT&T phone customer for many years.
I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m a bit off my rocker. How ON EARTH could you know me just because I’m an AT&T phone customer?
That’s just silly.
You know me because I have my home, cell phone as well as my Internet and cable with AT&T.
I’m told you have a sense of humor and I hope my opening gave you a chuckle. What the remainder of this letter holds is far from funny.
I’m sure you’re aware when AT&T purchased Time Warner, it became the owner of DC Comics. DC Comics holds some media rights to Static a.k.a. Static Shock through an arrangement with the copyright owner and content creator Milestone Media a company I co-founded.
Full disclosure: DC Comics and I have history. Once I was a welcomed creator; however, the last two decades have seen me banned, literally blacklisted. Long story short; I said the right thing to the wrong person. Please don’t take my word for any of this— the paperwork is readily available at DC. However, this narrative isn’t about me. This article is about property now under your control— the aforementioned Static Shock.
I am no longer a part of Milestone, and they have nothing to do with this letter. I am representing myself and the millions of fans of Static Shock waiting for his return.
Simply Googling Static Shock will enlighten you to the sheer power and reach of the much-beloved character. There are thousands of fan clubs and fan films. Static is a favorite choice of new and seasoned cosplayers from child to adult.
Here’s the kicker—the vast majority of the fans of Static were born after the series had run its course both on television and the comics. In other words, its sheer word of mouth behind the enormous appeal of Virgil Hawkins, aka Static.
AT&T is the nation’s second-largest advertiser— imagine spending no advertising dollars but seeing the demand for your product grow year after year.
That, in a nutshell, is the essence of Static Shock.
“AT&T gives you more for your thing, More entertainment, Internet, and unlimited plans. More for your thing. Yeah, that’s our thing.”
The Your Thing national campaign from AT&T and BBDO focused on the uniqueness of its customers’ request for things that mattered not just words spoken in support of a product. How significant AT&T’s support of the Black community is evident to me by your doings with Believe Chicago.
I don’t point out AT&T’s investment in the African American community, both financial and social, to suck up. I’m not that guy— if I was, I believe I’d still have a home at DC. No, I point out your involvement because I feel there’s a chance, albeit a slim one my plea and the pleas of millions of fans will not be lost in the abundance of requests received by a corporation the size and scope of yours.
Put bluntly, Static is a national treasure among millions of fans, both black and white. However, among black kids, he’s more much much more. As a black man who grew up with so little black representation in media and almost none in the superhero space, so few I had to create my own— it saddens me beyond measure that today is just as bleak as yesterday.
Ignoring the impact of Static makes little sense financially. However, ignoring Static‘s prominence in the black community is corporate callousness at its highest level, in my opinion.
History aside, I nevertheless consider DC’s universe the best in the industry, and the vast majority of those employed there are among the elite in comics.
Dan Didio and Jim Lee are remarkable people who are real fans of the medium. Before they joined DC, I was in business with Dan at ABC-TV and Jim at Image Comics. Nothing but good came from those creative arrangements.
There are companies on the net as I write this selling Static Shock merchandise as if they had licensed them legally from DC and Milestone and they have not. They do so openly with no worry of being caught, let alone punished by one of the world’s most powerful corporations.
If that doesn’t underscore the banking power of Static, then nothing will.
Static Shock generates millions of bootleg dollars while black kids continue to make their own Static Shock content because Warner Bros. and DC Comics will not.
Sir, I’m thoroughly and painfully aware of legal agreements that supposedly make impossible resolutions to what seems a simple fix.
My response is— so what?
Static‘s impact can do wonders with boys and girls of color who see little to strengthen identity put much to weaken it. A president who often speaks of the first black president as unintelligent and lazy. A country returning to a time when if black merely waiting for a friend at Starbucks can get you arrested.
An America where a black man simply saying ‘lower Alabama’ can get you thrown out of a Hilton Hotel and threatened with arrest. Protesting to the police the Hilton’s prejudicial actions can get you killed. So, the thing to do was leave the hotel humiliated rather than face that possibility.
Static is more important than a contract, and more significant than any agreement meant for commerce and revenue. A beloved black character not just kept alive by word of mouth but flourishing alone is a goldmine for AT&T if it makes a billion dollars or not a dime.
Agreements are vital; I’m just saying exceptions made for the greater good I would argue keep us dare I say civilized. I’m currently breaking an agreement preventing me from discussing the very matters this article covers, doing so for the greater good.
That “agreement” is a damning smoking gun evidence of a decision made with malice. What did I do to justify a sustained policy of exclusion?
My contributions to the company were never in question; they are stellar. So stellar are my doings at DC it begs the question: is Static Shock being held back because of a personal dislike of Michael Davis?
I’ve been labeled troublemaker, among other things. That’s true—I’m trouble when approached like I’m a child talked to like I’m stupid.
I’m far from stupid. Can’t say the same for the person who sent a fraudulent letter with false information in a bid to stop me from becoming President & CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks.
Having two employees lie to try and frame you?
I said Milestone is capable of exploiting Static with or without DC’s involvement, but I hope it is with DC that the next stage of Static happens. DC does the best books in the industry, and the power of AT&T and Time Warner’s reach is awe-inspiring.
The knock, on black content, is diversity doesn’t sell. That usually comes from those who don’t sell diversity because they can’t.
Milestone’s Reggie Hudlin Derek Dingle and Milestone’s inventor Denys Cowan can sell diversity. They have done so all their professional lives.
Static has a worldwide following ignored by DC and Warner Bros. With help from AT&T Warner Bros. and DC Comics I believe Static will do the kind of numbers as a movie to rival or even surpass Black Panther.
Lastly, I leave you with this.
I have history with AT&T also. Your company are sponsors of my forum the Black Panel. I’ve also been invited to participate in various AT&T art shows at AT&T corporate in New Jersey.
Speaking of art, AT&T has one of the most celebrated art collections in the world.
Among the acquisitions are paintings by William T. Williams, underscoring AT&T’s dedication to Black America. Mr. Williams was the first Black artist inducted into Janson’s History of Art.
When that moment happened, he refused. He refused because he felt Janson should acknowledge other black artists that came before him.
Janson did just that; they included other notable African American artists.
The Janson History of Art did that regardless of the time and money it took to accomplish this. Janson is the world leader in art history publications, and to do so was a massive undertaking.
However, it was the right thing to do.
There’s a DC Comics connection to Mr. Williams. The painting used to represent his work is called Batman. Just so happens, Batman is my favorite superhero, I was obsessed with the 60’s TV show.
So much so it drove me to love drawing Batman, which kept me inside and helped keep me alive. My sister and grandmother both died violent deaths that could have easily been me and almost was.
My love of drawing Batman turned into loving art that led to working at Mr. Williams studio. I was working in the studio of a world-renowned artist at a very young age.
I was ten.
He had me ‘work’ in his studio to keep me safe.
William T. Williams is my mentor, my hero, and my cousin. Batman was named with me in mind. So, a DC Comics character is featured in the most influential art history book in the world because of me.
I needed heroes to help me stay alive and when real ones were not available, I found them in comics. I’d like to work with DC again but if it will help get Static to the next level, I’ll sign an agreement stating I won’t use the letters D or C for the rest of my life.
That’s ridiculous, I know.
Not as ridiculous as ignoring the almost 800,000 views David Kirkman’s Static Fan Film has in only weeks on YouTube fueled by just word of mouth. Now think about that number with the power of AT&T Warner Bros. DC Comics and Milestone all operating in concert.
Please consider taking a moment and examine what may be possible.
“AT&T gives you more for your thing, More entertainment, Internet, and unlimited plans. More for your thing. Yeah, that’s our thing.”
All the millions of Static Shock fans ask is for you to do your thing.
Fair warning: little in this article has a thing to do with pop culture. So, if your intention is to bitch about that after reading this let me do it for you:
Clueless Cow writes: Why is this in Bleeding Cool? Rich, can’t you get a writer to write what matters? He surely does not.
Live with parents at 50 writes: Davis writes an opinion column. Has anyone noticed all the views are his? Who is this guy anyway? I’d like to see my point of view expressed on ComicMix and so would my mom.
Do yourself a favor: stop reading now.
I’m writing this solely for my fans. I may joke I only have two, but I’ve got thousands all over the world. Spare me the “I’ve never heard of you” bullshit. Really? I’m the guy writing this. And you are..?
So, if you’re not a fan and are just going to bitch save your bandwidth, I’m sure you can find a Spiderman: Red or Black debate on the net somewhere.
Dear Fans Of The MOTU, I thank you for soooo many wonderful birthday wishes! I’m all at once overjoyed humbled and as always sexy! It’s hard to believe that I’m just 25.
25! Yeah, that’s a two and a five, as in 25!!!
Were you there? Are you my daddy? Well, if you are, where you been for 25 years? Oh, wait you’re black.
As you know – if you don’t pretend you do – people who suffer from severe depression are more likely to experience melancholy around the holidays birthdays any event where family and friends gather to celebrate.
Me? I’m only susceptible to bouts of sadness on days ending in y.
Often a small event, irrelevant to most people, triggers my downward spiral. The occurrence may not even have anything to do with me directly.
Let’s say that a racist, homophobic, women-hating straight up evil man becomes the President of the United States. That would make me crazy. What? All right damn it – that would make me crazier.
But let’s say the anniversary of his one-hundredth day in office is the focus all over the world and hard as I try I can’t turn the world off with a smirk like Mary Richards could with a smile.
But wait there’s more…
It’s also the anniversary of the beat down of Rodney King which triggers a “niggermoment.” A niggermoment is memories of times in my life regardless of what I’ve accomplished schools attended, or accolades heaped on me to some I’m seen as just a nigger.
Unfortunately, a great many of the “some” include the criminal justice system. Such memories like when the Anaheim Hilton threatened me with arrest because I dared utter the words “lower Alabama” and LAPD falsely arresting me twice come soaring back.
One arrest was for chasing my drunk former girlfriend out of her mind to stop her from driving. She was loaded but seeing LAPD jump out of a passing cruiser with guns leveled at my head sobered her up enough to tell them I’d done nothing but try and get the car keys. As I laid on the ground with a shotgun pointed at the back of my head all I could think was “they don’t care” and the last sound I would hear was KAPOW!
The second time I was treated to a ride in a police car two people ran across a crowded bar and attacked me while I was walking out the door. All captured on video. Every moment proving my innocent caught on tape. While I sat in jail waiting for my lawyer, all I could think was even with video cell phones, and a high-priced lawyer don’t go to trail.
I’m black, people who attacked me and white ex-girlfriend. Find an Asian person and have them do the math.
Sooooooo I’m off to see my maker, the wonderful maker of me.
But wait there’s more!
The Trump and King anniversary could easily be more than enough to trigger a trip to the laptop to begin a new article with the title Goodbye Cruel World.
But wait, there’s more.
Both events trigger happened on the same day. Yep, the 100 days of Trump’s reign and the 25 anniversary of the L.A. riots came to a head-on April 29th 2017.
If I was in a bad mental state that, a perfect shit storm could do some significant damage.
But wait there’s more. It was also my birthday. Remember people who suffer from severe depression are more likely to experience melancholy around the holidays birthdays etc.
I’m not whole but at no time over my birthday weekend did let my heart sink my resolve fade or my hope leave.
But I did cry. Crying now, but not for me.
I cry for the young bullied gay teenager about to hang himself. The sweet Muslim girl preparing to down a bottle of sleeping pills also bullied. The talented Latina model who sits by her husband’s hospital bed every day holding his hand. Alone in a room filled with his family who continues to pull rank on her. Her family?
They had other shit to do so they did not even show up.
I cry for Malcolm Jones. Retrieving a memory of that magic Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt’s house a thousand years ago. Denys Cowan, Malcolm, my BFF Lee Speller my mentor and cousin William T, Williams all together in a place so filled with love and happiness I’d swear Al Green was hiding in the corner so he could steal a song title.
I cry for Paige who survived a brutal gang-rape, and like those, above choose me to confide in and then she did the bravest thing I’ve ever witness, she went public.
I cry for my cousin who could not be any closer to my heart if she was my daughter. Once she was as close to leaving this earth as I was. Another cousin who came home one day went out to buy milk and has not been seen since. That was over 20 years ago.
She would never have left her kids. I know she’s dead. Everyone knows she’s dead.
There may have been a chance to find and save her. But back then lost black women did not appear on milk cartons. There was no 20/20 or Dateline episode on them. Has it changed today?
Oh sure, if 20 or so black women go missing that gets a mention, and no, that is not a joke. So, I cry for Deedee.
Regina, Doris I tried to write about her a million times, but a million times I couldn’t get through it. However, she’s about to be celebrated by a character inspired by her as are you both on something wonderful you will see very soon.
Lastly, I weep for my sister Sharon.
The inspiration for Static’s sister Sharon Hawkins was my sister Sharon Davis. Left for dead in a vacant lot while people walked pass all night concerned more with the shortcut the lot provided than the girl laying there slowly bleeding out.
I didn’t know the teenagers who were bullied. They both read my Middleman column and reached out to me too – get this – tell me I wasn’t alone. My Latina friend kept me up all night with words of support on a day I was feeling sorry for myself.
Years before I did the same for her when she was fighting her demons. But, she did what she did while her husband was fighting for his life. That is gangster I talk a lot of shit, but I don’t know if I could have done that.
I saved nobody. Those above in a very real way helped to save me.
Depression doesn’t change you. It reveals you and those around you.
Suicide may not mean you want to die. It may mean you just don’t want to live.
Believe me – there’s a difference.
Thank you, my friends, for a wonderful birthday.
Next: Milestone is still dead.
The first person who gets what I just did with the above teaser I’ll give a prize, seriously.
This was written for Bleeding Cool and a version of it will appear there. I decided a while ago not to run the same article on both Bleeding Cool and ComicMix. Two different audiences is not the reason I write individual articles for each website. My voice remains the same regardless.
I write a different column for each because it’s an honor to write for each and both deserve an original effort from me. That is unless I happen upon a subject that I think is important enough to share on both.
Like… this one.
When I’m absent for lengthy periods of time, I feel it’s my responsibly to give you an explanation. I try to write what my readers will have a response to and not just what gets my goat. That doesn’t always work, but I do attempt to step back and breath a bit before committing words to iMac. So to that end; I have not written any articles in well over a month. Almost two. At times I wish I could, but I just can’t phone it in.
Writing a quick and dirty article using a trending subject the journalistic equivalent of the easy out isn’t my cup of coffee, tea or me. Although I held the standing high jump record in high school (in 1973 I set the high school standing high jump record at Beach Channel High School until another kid broke it about a minute and a half after I did), I don’t jump through hoops or on bandwagons.
Did I go too far? Was my use of language over the line? Fuck no sir, I didn’t and it wasn’t. No one has a right to rewrite my words then pass it off as something serving their double-dealing purpose… a.k.a. Mrs. Donald Trump.
Also, just how upset I should be is not up for discussion.
Just when I thought it was safe to go back, another brick from the why me wall fell on my head when asked to comment on a Milestone story – specifically on a business item.
What appears to be a smoking gun regarding Milestone’s treatment of me has landed on Rich Johnston’s lap over at Bleeding Cool. How smoking? Jack Ruby’s smoldering .38 comes to mind, and when I saw it, I was beyond pissed. In comparison, what I told Mr. Khosla was how to get to Sesame Street. I set out to compose a tour of Elm Street with enough nightmares to keep my former friends and partners awake for decades.
Over & Done: Part 1, published on June 28th, then Over & Done: Part 2Dr. Phil Brings Me Breakfast ran on July 6th here at ComicMix. The last segment (this one) complete with a massive Cilo Green fuck you and fuck him too would run in Bleeding Cool July 16. I’d also make it a topic for the Black Panel (TBP) at the San Diego Comic-Con that morning. Friday, July 16. was when I would settle all family business.
Another call and then some thoughts changed things. And just like that, it wasn’t a big deal at all. I’ll tell you why in a bit.
The document Rich has is the 2013 Milestone 2.0 overview/presentation package. I told Rich I’d seen that material. Nope, turns out I didn’t see the one Rich saw. I’m not included as part of Milestone 2.0, in this version of the package, but the three people with whom I started Milestone are. In other words, it appears my former partners decided back in 2013 I would not be involved.
By itself, that’s bad enough. But for years I continued to work toward a goal only to learn via the Washington Post I was not required to do any work because I was out. Did they set out to do something so despicable by design? That would be vile done to anyone but a friend? An unforgivable act of cruelty if ever there was one.
I’ve been called a fool for refusing to declare they used me almost four years on purpose. They still refuse to talk to me, which I think is both good and bad for them. It’s good because I cannot say with absolute certainty they planned this with malice and forethought. It’s bad because it’s a real dick move.
I hold out hope this may have been a series of unfortunate events. Perhaps a perfect storm of circumstances preventing each partner from telling me I was not going to make the team I’ve been working towards, most times alone for 15 years.
In a 2000 meeting with Bob Johnson at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. During that meeting, I was asked if I could “Create another Milestone.” Mr. Johnson was at the time head of Black Entertainment Television (BET). Although I had no obligation to bring anyone in that deal I ended up refusing to pull the trigger on a Milestone publishing imprint at BET because all the partners were not involved. I said to the partners at the time; “If not all of us, none of us.”
When I left Milestone in 1994, there was bad blood caused by an outright bullshit of a lie memo sent to Clarence Avant Chairman of Motown Records. Sent during my negotiations with Motown the memo (which I still have) and Mr. Avant still remembers stated I was forbidden to talk to Motown because I was exclusive to DC and Milestone.
Undoubtedly the memo could have derailed my negotiations, and that’s precisely what it was supposed to do. It didn’t only because I was smart enough to keep detailed records or everything sent me by DC and Milestone. Among those records were my creative release from both companies which by the way they wanted.
Man, was I pissed. But I got over it.
In my first official act as CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks, I gave Milestone a Nintendo video game deal. Like I said: I got over it.
I spent thousands of hours and dollars on the rebirth of Milestone 2.0. I never thought about the money I could have spent elsewhere nor about the time I will never get back; the betrayal is what fucked me up. After what I’ve done for Milestone and the way they have been proven wrong during the 1994 fiasco as well as other events no doubt they hope I don’t recall, you would think they would embrace me.
Betraying a friend for any reason is an alien concept to me. Being able to sleep without guilt worth far more than dollars. A lifelong friend pointed out Judas couldn’t buy peace with his 30 pieces of silver. I added his chances of getting into heaven pretty slim as well, but he had a chance if he braced himself. “If you brace yourself…” Don’t get it? Ask a black person. Then brace yourself…
This made us both crack up with laughter. A laugh I needed more than I’ve ever needed any laugh.
Until that exchange, I’d spent months in agony, but thinking of Judas brought me some comfort. While I was dwelling on that, feeling a bit better, I realized with a start the signage I granted M2.0 on a major gallery exhibit would become part of their legacy, not mine. So much for Judas.
Bad Boys: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture, and Beyond was to be a retrospective show of my Bad Boy Studios and mentor program held at the world famous Geppi Entertainment Museum. I shifted the public narrative away from my studio to Milestone so we could announce our return at the opening. When interviewed while promoting the show I underscored Milestone was featured prominently but other creators and their influences were still the emphases. Hence Milestones is plural, not singular.
Nonetheless, so many of my students have done remarkable groundbreaking work with Milestone it was both a tribute to Milestone and Bad Boy Studios with one big exception I decided Bad Boys would not be part of the title.
I did this because Milestone failed to announce its return at our 20th-anniversary panel at SDCC. Although that decision made me angry, all was forgotten when surprised with an Inkpot Award at the panel.
The Milestone party I threw that evening celebrating our two decade birthday was pregnant with the promise of our high-minded possibilities. I decided right then my day in the sun could wait. Milestones was born from that pregnancy. It was a painless birth, a beautiful child. The pain would come four years later when the little bastard grew up and stabbed me in the back.
I did a massive amount of work for the venture, and everyone knew it/ Yet still, no one said I should stop. Many will find it surprising that I find it reasonable to assume this simply got away from my former boyz.
Doubtful but reasonable.
But why no word since? Because of this word… Lawsuit.
Why are they worried about that? Suing at this level is by no means cheap. It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I have no doubt the partners at M2.0 have the bank. No way I could contend with the combined resources of those guys. That’s also been the rumor as to why I haven’t sued.
Nope, as we say in the hood, that ain’t it.
I’m no lawyer, but I have a cousin who is at one of the most influential and powerful law firms in the world. Not a distant cousin; she couldn’t be closer to me if she were my daughter. She’s been a character in novels I’ve written, a television show I created, a radio show I produced and every single comic book universe I’ve imagined. Even the Static Universe.
I call my cousin Captain Picard because if I wanted to sue she would make it so.
That’s funny, but it’s no joke.
Her fee? I’ve already paid it. When she was twelve, I sat through the film Betsy’s Wedding with her at the W. 4th St, theater in Greenwich Village. She owes me.
So why not battle this in court? Why won’t I sue? The same reason I didn’t sue the Hilton when thrown out of their hotel for uttering the words “lower Alabama.” There was no reason in the world good enough for the actions of a front desk manager and what they did to me is on tape.
I didn’t sue the Hilton because I’d much rather affect real change than just benefit myself. I was promised real change, and I take them at their word. I can’t talk to young kids of color and say money isn’t everything if I don’t have the strength of my convictions.
Yes, I’ll settle for the change. Let others take the cash.
I’m not suing the men who in a very real sense may hold the key to finally creating a dominant and sustainable black superhero impression for black kids from black creators. Besides it’s not in my nature to discount all good from those who do me bad. I still hold love for a former best friend and artist, past friend and director and once friend and partner.
Suing a former best friend saddens me beyond belief. The last thing any disheartened person needs is any additional misery. Unfortunately, I’m way beyond disheartened. I’ve been diagnosed with severe depression.
I was there the moment of creation. I, Michael Davis, co-signed one of the greatest moments in black pop culture and the biggest event in black comics history.
Michael Davis sues his former partners at Milestone will not be my legacy. I will not be another black man at odds with other black men. What was done to me fuels the “Nigger Business” argument, I don’t run on that gas so I won’t go there.
My mother said to me quite often “Just because your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” I would proudly say no I would not. So, no lawsuit. Someone has to set an example.
Somebody tell those boys not talking to me will stop a lawsuit like wishing on a star will make your dick bigger. On the other hand, some say because of what they did to me there are no bigger dicks in comics.
So why write any of this? I’m not suing, so why?
I need some closure.
You would think since I’ve danced around this in articles and forums for nearly two years Milestone would have talked to me and I’d have my closure. No. The last contact I had with Milestone, I was told a press release would be forthcoming to explain to the world I had decided to pursue other projects.
I asked them to do such because I did not want to deal with what I knew would follow: speculation, gossip and rumors which if left unchecked would become fact. I’ve fought that for years on Milestone’s behalf. I was the only one fighting that fight. No other partner ever addressed any rumor, bullshit or straight-up lie.
Because of me, fewer people think Milestone is owned by DC comics. Dwayne McDuffie created Milestone and hired Denys Cowan, Derek Dingle, Christopher Priest and myself. The argument I made (make) consistently is that you can’t let stuff like this stand. If let alone it will become fact in the minds of many and affect your ability to get something done. The more important that something is the more damage done.
You don’t think so? Still wondering how a Muslim born in Kenya who hates America and wants to kill your grandma is still President?
I rest my case.
I try and inject humor when I can, but depression is no fucking joke. I need peace from this, I need closure. These kinds of emotional blows (especially from those I thought cared for me) can be very dangerous to my health.
Before some asshole tweets something dumb let me be clear: no one at Milestone is responsible for my depression and would not be even remotely at fault in the event I make the news one day for taking a walk off a bridge.
The fault would be the election of Donald Trump.
The fault would be mine and mine alone.
Since they won’t deal with me, I’ll deal with this by myself
To disregard totally any thought of what something like this could do to somebody would be an act of severe cruelty, and frankly, I don’t think these are cruel men. Putting aside the four years as a series of unfortunate bullshit, why did they do this?
Maybe it’s just business bullshit.
If twenty plus years of friendship and an undeniable record of professional support I’m then terminated without a word as to why I’d rather not be involved in that kind of company. Faced with standing by a friend or taking a check, I’ll take the friend every time not doing so was never an option.
Although I’ve written critically of M2.0 over almost two years since they discarded me on purpose or not the overwhelming things I’ve penned, have been positive because I still believe in Milestone 2.0.
Apparently, despite my accomplishments, they don’t believe in me. That’s their loss.
Some will say I should have known better. I did. I foresaw this coming.
From February 2011 to January 2015 different dates were chosen for the Milestone 2.0 announcement. Each date was canceled at the last minute. Each time I objected. It made no sense to set times then cancel always at the last moment unless there was another play at hand.
As my suspicions grew from time to time, I’d put something in writing and publish it. See for yourself the following were all posted well before Milestone’s announcement in January 2015:
The Milestone Contract was a tongue in cheek look at admittedly what I thought was a far-fetched plan to exclude me. Written as silly satire it details what happened to me months before it happened. Static Comes to The Big Screen also written as satire foretold the WB live action Static Shock announcement which was to follow weeks later.
No one at M2.0 or Warner Bros. said a word to me about Static becoming a show. I found out when the rest of the world found out. Again I saw this coming. Not buying that?
I unofficially voiced my suspicions to Jim Chadwick at DC Comics, Marge Dean at Mattel, Mike Gold, editor at ComicMix, Steve Geppi, CEO Diamond, Jeffery Wright CEO Urban Ministries and some other media heavyweights. Except for Mike Gold, most thought it far fetched and frankly so did I. Mike told me what I tell those who seek my advice: trust but verify.
Why did I tell these power brokers anything and why unofficially? If I were right, anyone who casts doubts on my narrative would not dare challenge those folk listed above. If I were wrong I could just nod and wave it away.
I saw this coming. Whether or not I believed it fully didn’t matter I was prepared. Playing me is almost impossible, as I told a partner in a heated phone call and a follow-up email. I insisted Milestone let me know if there were any issues with my partnership because any other role at Milestone wasn’t something I was interested in.
Not a word was said, but somehow I was excluded from meetings and updates which I found out about anyhow so ousting me was a reasonable expectation and I voiced as much. I was ready with a strategy to get them to commit or not because this stupid game of “Don’t tell when asked” was a waste of my time. Unfortunately, horrible events in my life created yet another perfect storm that put me way off my game.
My diagnoses left me broken, my mother’s death destroyed me, people who loved me left me I don’t blame them anymore. Depression takes a lot out of you and those around you. Add about a dozen other incidents in a run of bad luck that Job would lose his faith over.
When Milestone dropped their bomb, the timing couldn’t have been worse for me or better for them. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, a case could be made the timing was precise to take advantage of my damaged mental state. They knew just how bad a shape I was in.
One early Sunday morning I was visited by a partner who along with another read something I wrote and wanted to make sure I didn’t try and kill myself. So, yes, that case could be made moreover If made by a persuasive lawyer from a gigantically influential law firm…
Never. Never in a zillion hundred billion years would that be true. The timing had nothing to do with me or my depression. I just wasn’t able to cope. Evident by my total breakdown at my annual SDCC Dinner. In front of 52 of the most powerful people in the entertainment arena, I just lost it.
I said I was off my game but in truth, I’d already quit the game, almost for good. Say for the help of a once loved confidant I’d be as dead as some WB executives if Wonder Woman tanks.
Anger, resentment, and despair will kill me as sure as a bullet, so I have to get back to the brilliant Dick I once was. Nothing but anguish is gained obsessing about M2.0, and I can’t go there anymore.
So, this brings me here. Milestone is a remarkable achievement. Those books deserve your support and yes they have mine. There needs to be an Icon movie, a Static television show a Hardware novel and a Blood Syndicate musical or any combination of such. Yes, a Blood Syndicate musical.
I mentioned earlier a call then some thoughts stopped me from venting my anger. The call was with a friend and after talking to him I couldn’t publish a “fuck you pay me” article or announce a major deal at SDCC. That energy would devour me. Bad energy leads to more bad energy enough of that would kill me.
My friend’s in a fight, and I’ll need all my strength and power to assist him with his conflict. Ya, hear that MFDJ? We’re going to do great things together; we’re going to make history, help a lot of people and have a lot of fun. I then started to think about a buddy who’s mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s. He drives her back and forth from Queens to Connecticut three, sometimes four times a week. When in his home in Connecticut he will look for signs she has become disoriented. When this occurs, he will drive her back to Queens to be in a familiar setting. He could put her in a home. Yeah, he could he’s got more than enough money.
Sometimes money isn’t everything.
This wonderful man finds time in his day to call me and say, “What’s up, Michael, you OK?” That’s the kind of black man I aspire to be.
Funny. Milestone took my name off the presentation package then ultimately removed my name and me from the company. They haven’t said a word as to why. There’s also an effort to reduce my role as creator of the Static Universe to “one of five guys in the room.” As if “Static was Michael’s baby” was not a quote from a Milestone partner frequently until it wasn’t. I keep everything, and that’s on videotape.
I removed my name from the Gallery show. Ultimately, this removed acknowledgment for what was my doing. This as well to benefit Milestone. I told people why I did so; it was out of love. Milestones: African Americans in Comics, Pop Culture, and Beyond is the most successful show in the history of the Geppi Entertainment Museum.
Static is the most successful property Milestone has and the most successful African American character ever created by African-Americans.
I had another piece all ready to go, but I’m just too anal to let stuff run if it bugs me. What I usually do when faced with a decision to let something I don’t feel like running just has a blown deadline.
I’m suffering from severe depression and not giving a hoot is easy when you actually don’t give a hoot. The truth is I don’t give a hoot if I meet a fucking deadline or finish an article, design a poster, fix a painting, edit a chapter, respond to Comic Con or meet with anybody.
I have no motivation to do anything for myself. Especially when faced with days like this.
Today is the 21st of June, but I’m writing this the night before.
Two years ago in the early hours before most people go to work I’d just returned from the hospital where I had spent the night at my mother’s bedside. I still have a residence in NYC maybe 10-15 minutes from New York Hospital but was staying at Martha Thomases home which was even closer.
Yes, I loved my mother so much I elected to stay with Martha to be five minutes closer to my mom. The bonus was Martha, who took care of me by staying up watching movies, drinking tequila and talking comics. Not an easy feat as I suffer from chronic insomnia.
Depression and insomnia is a hell of a burden to have to endure, and that’s no way to live I will admit. However, let’s get real. The hardship is sometimes worse on those who are around you. Now throw in migraines and imagine the songs you can come up with.
Depression, insomnia, and migraines, oh my!
Is it any wonder that after enduring six days of sleepless nights with each of those afflictions operating in concert I put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger?
I did, but I missed the deadline.
After a shower that June 21st morning I listened to a message left for me by my mother. She told me she no longer wanted to live, and she didn’t blame me for anything. I must have gotten back to the hospital in less than five minutes.
My mother did not talk like this. Nope. My mom did not give up. This was Jean Harlow Davis, the inspiration for Static’s mom Jean Hawkins. When her mother was killed, she didn’t give up. When her daughter Sharon, the inspiration for Static’s sister, Sharon Hawkins, died she didn’t give up.
Hearing that message, it sounded like she had given up. I knew what I had to do.
This was a job for Superman.
When I was 10-years old, my mother threw out seven golden age comic books that meant everything to me. Sometime later while watching a news report about Superman #1 selling for six figures she asked me why didn’t I have a comic worth that kind of money.
I told her I did, in fact, I had that issue of Superman #1.
I didn’t. She did throw away Superman#2, but that didn’t carry the amount of weight seeing something on TV did.
I was saving the actual story for a moment when I needed her to laugh when I didn’t think anything else would do the trick.
I was saving it for the one and only gotcha I would ever have on my mother.
I returned to the hospital where my mom looked so peaceful in her sleep. I figured I’d go back to Martha’s grab some sleep myself and bring Superman with me upon my return. What great laugh this would be!
I found out later, the joke was on me. She wasn’t sleeping, she was dead.
Sunday was Father’s day.
I have no idea who my real father was or is. Never met him, never wanted to (unless he was Bill Gates) and couldn’t care what happened to him. My stepfather’s name was Robert Lawrence. I loved that man so much that I changed my name to Lawrence for the Shado series I did with Mike Grell.
Robert was the inspiration for (you guessed it) Robert Hawkins Static’s father.
I loved that man until one day I didn’t. I remembered something so horrible he had done to my mother I cut him out of my life. He died not knowing why I refused to see or talk to him for ten years.
My mother forgave him. I should have forgiven him. I do now, but that will ease none of the pain he must have endured wondering why I had cut him out of my life.
My thoughts of him are no longer dark. Instead, I think about the time he braved a rainstorm to get me a copy of Spider-Man #101. Man, I just had to have that book.
I forgave him the day I realized some people who betrayed me 20 plus years ago were forgiven and in that 20 years, I have done my best to be both a good friend and colleague.
That effort didn’t matter; they betrayed me again.
Earlier I said no motivation was within me to do anything, especially when faced with days like this. That’s very true, but that’s when it comes to me. When it comes to others who have been there for me, that’s another story entirely.
My thanks and love go out to those who pretend it’s easy to deal with the sort of mess I can be. I’m getting better I assure you. There are days that test you, this was one with any luck tomorrow won’t be.
Paul Smith asked one question last week that would have been answered an entirely different way if not for a call where it was made clear that the only way Milestone will get any damn respect is the way I’ve gotten respect all my damn life.
What I’m about to say is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of Denys Cowan and Derek Dingle both of which told me to calm down and ‘not do anything stupid.’
Paul, you my friend are about to become a very real part of Milestone history. It’s doubtful that after this that history will include me but just think what a story you will have to tell.
Paul, you wanted to know if I thought Milestone would be better off away from DC?
Yesterday morning the answer was no.
Yesterday late morning the answer was oh, HELL YEAH.
There’s a new editor at DC. She’s a woman and a person of color she has been given an editorial position which includes overseeing future Milestone projects.
How is that anything but great for Milestone?
I’ll tell you why: because she’s about as knowledgeable of the Dakota Universe as the Pope is about who killed Tupac and Biggie.
From the very little I could understand she headed up a pretty successful comic book company in India and was been hand picked by Jim Lee to head DC’s new diversity push.
The new head of diversity at DC had no idea Static was Black.
But wait—there’s more!
The new head of diversity and DC’s new Milestone point person is spearheading the Milestone Audio Books being announced at this year’s Comic Con.
Did I let that tightly guarded little secret slip?
I’m overreacting right? So what if she did not know anything about the Milestone universe? Who cares if she didn’t know Static was Black? She could learn all those things right?
She could and very well will. However there’s another and bigger reason I’m FURIOUS!
It’s impossible to understand her!
She has the thickest accent known to man; of this I’m positive. She sounds like a freakin’ customer service rep from the lowest bidding company in the history of India an American company ever outsourced to.
That was the extent of most of the Milestone side of the conversation. I swear at any moment I just knew she was going to ask me for an account number—and who knows, she may have.
I’m sure this is a knee jerk response to Marvel’s recent success with diversity. Marvel’s timing on the Black Avengers, Black Spiderman and Muslim Ms. Marvel seemed perfect. Perhaps DC thought they were running out of time to make a big diversity splash and couldn’t wait until Comic Con when the series will be announced.
Sometime timing isn’t everything. I wrote an entire damn article apologizing for missing my ComicMix Tuesday deadlines and yes I’m well aware its freakin’ Wednesday but you can still understand what you’re reading, can you not?
The head of diversity at DC Comics should not have to be told Static is Black. Anyone charged with a product where SOUND is the single most important element MUST be heard loudly and clearly.
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.
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?
Last year Marvel made big news with the Black Avengers book they are doing or have done or will be doing.
Truth is I don’t know if it’s been done or not because these days I rarely read comics that get massive press. Unless I know the creator I’d rather pass on hype – especially if that hype has to with new black characters.
I’m sick to death of some making a big deal out of the black character they are bringing to comics.
Two reasons. The first is because two seconds (if that long) after the story appears in the press or the book goes on sale I’m asked to comment.
“DC is doing a book where two black people are in a street scene. What are your thoughts?”
“Well I think that anytime a major publisher puts two black people in a scene it’s another step towards Dr. King’s dream.”
That’s what I’d say. Sure I would.
If ever some asswipe asked me such an asinine question I’d be doing hard time for putting my foot up their ass. Not the 300 bullshit hours of community service I’m doing now. I don’t think anyone’s stupid enough to be that stupid but trust me some have come close.
Because of my so-called status as an African American creator I’m subject to many a question about Negro progress in the industry, so the easiest way for me to avoid going to jail is to tell the truth which is “I have not seen it so I can’t comment but I hope it’s good and if so it succeeds.”
Or, maybe my status has nothing to do with it maybe they know I’m good for a rant or two because I’m either fearless, careless or always high thus I will tell the bare truth no matter what. I’m not fearless, I’ve been careless won’t comment on being high but stupid I am not
Imagine the co-creator of Static saying, “What the fuck is Static doing fighting a fucking giant fucking fish? Fuck fuck fuckidy-fuck!!!!!
I waited to comment on the recent new 52 Static book from the DC well after they killed the book, which, by the way, should have been killed. I’ve heard all the “DC should have given it a chance” bullshit on the net, but let’s get real. The book had issues and was not getting the support from the fans so what is DC to do? Continue to take a loss?
Wake the fuck up world. This is reality this is not some chat room where some pussy deprived little fan boy thinks he knows better than Diane Nelson, Jim Lee or Dan Dildio.
News flash: they don’t.
Truth is I don’t comment on any black book unless I love it. I refuse to say anything negative about black comic book content, not because it’s all-great because let’s face it a lot of is horrible. I won’t comment because I’m not that guy. Never in my life have I publicly stated any bad, adverse or harmful remarks against any black comic, creator or publisher…
Unless said creator or publisher invites a response by putting out straight up imaginary bullshit about Milestone. Then it’s on.
I won’t even comment publicly when a black creator says there are simply no black women characters created by black creators that have reached a mainstream audience.
Milestone’s teenage girl superhero Rocket reached and was an overwhelming success in the mainstream market – before she got pregnant. Then she was mainstream news. You can’t get more mainstream than the Washington Post and CNN, to name but two.
I did send the guy who was saying that in interviews an email saying “really?”
Dark Horse has a new book coming out called Skyman. Everything I’ve read about Skyman mentions he’s black.
The Black Age Of Comics Convention (yep, I stole the name of this article from them) promotes black creators, publishers, comics and black pop culture in general. The goal of the convention is to reach black people and black kids in particular because there are so few black heroes for young kids of color to relate too.
That’s a wonderful thing and they do great work.
99.9% of everything I’ve ever done in comics, television, radio and mainstream publishing the main characters are black because that’s what I do. I’ve always tried to reach a mainstream audience and I’m well aware that black anything is a difficult sell in the first place.
So the second reason (this is so long you forgot I said two reasons eh?) is that I am sick of media news that spotlights the African American aspect of some projects because never, and I mean never, do any of these news stories even attempt to acknowledge what has gone before and most publishers co-sign that bullshit.
So that young black mother or father who sees that TV news report on Marvel’s Black Avengers will think this is the first time ever for a black character in comics and run out to get it for their kid.
To put it another way, it’s like saying Elvis never listened to or was influenced by black music. Eminem is a great rapper and I’m sure if FOX News had a music channel they would have you believe he started Rap and discovered Dre.
Milestone is the most successful African American line of comics in history. We were not the first to publish black superheroes. Not even close. And we said as much and still say as much in public.
You can bet when black kids attend the Black Age Of Comics Convention they are told repeatedly about the vast history of black characters in comics and all media.
My dear friend (to me more like family) Lana Walker is one of the very few people I won’t question if she wants me to meet someone. If she called and said “Michael, I want you to meet with this axe murderer who will try to kill you” I’d take that meeting. No question.
I hate Hollywood parties. Hate them. Lana asked me to come to a Hollywood party and meet some people. That’s like asking Superman to come to a party at Kryptonite mountain – it kills me. I went to the party, no questions asked.
I’m pretty damn sure Lana did not tell those people, “You should meet Michael Davis, he’s black. When I showed up it was pretty damn obvious I’m black. When a new black character shows up and the media covers it, the publisher promotes it as if it’s the first black character ever it is not only, in my opinion, fucked up lazy journalism. it feels to those who know it’s bullshit like yet another total disregard of African American history.
I’d just like publishers to at least give a nod to what has come before when promoting black content.
Or do like Dark Horse and make it about the character.
If you feel the as a journalist the black angle is a good one, do some fucking research and at least write something about what has come before even if it’s something like this:
Black Dick, the story of an African American private eye is a new comic from Poon Tang Publishing. It’s the very first black comic ever… I think.
If people like the character and the idea behind it color will matter not. Blade and Spawn are perfect examples. Yeah, Spawn is black. If you can’t tell because of his mask ask yourself what’s up with that third leg.
BTW, “Black Dick” is trademark & copyright Michael Davis 2014 All Rights Reserved and is not the first black character.