Reggie Hudlin: The Next Byrne?

I hadn’t realized that Reginald Hudlin‘s run on Black Panther was so divisive. I knew that some people criticized him for not handling Storm as an equal character; others didn’t like the way Priest’s definitive run was ignored or contradicted; and some simply didn’t agree with his plot or character choices. And I knew that he could wind up responding to the commenter instead of the comment, sometimes calling those who questioned him either obsessive fanboys or racists for disagreeing. But that it had gotten as bad as this!

Comic Book Resources has banned all Black Panther discussion from their Marvel Universe boards:

We’ve reached the point where every thread even remotely related to Black Panther turns into a fight about Reggie Hudlin. It’s less about the comic and more about everyone’s personal reaction to the writer’s persona and writing style.

So, to steal an idea from the fellows over on the Rumbles board, we’re taking a break. No BP threads, no BP-related thread drift, no nothin’.

No Black Panther discussion for, oh, let’s say a month. Then we’ll see what happens.

Wow. That seems a bit of an overreaction.

Update: So does this message from a poster at Dwayne McDuffie’s board, who blames it all on “the overwhelming number of nasty threads that’s been posted by White fanboys” who have “issues” with “representations of Black Love and T’Challa’s marital bliss with Ororo.” He continues

it seems to really speak volumes in regards to the fearful mindset that some folks have when it comes to having to deal with positive expressions of the beauty and strength of our culture.

That would be the beautiful warriors-with-spears throwback originally envisioned by that noted Black philosopher Stan Lee?

Update 2: They changed their mind at CBR. I appreciate someone who’s willing to reconsider and change their mind if necessary.

2011 Glyph Comic Award Winners — Updated With Full List

The 2011 Glyph Comic Awards were held last night at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC). These awards are intended to recognize the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color.

No official list of winners have yet been announced, but the Comic Book Diner group congratulated Jamar Nicholas, one of their members, for winning Story of the Year, Male Character of the Year, and Rising Star. I will update this post when more information becomes available on winners in the other categories. Other winners have now been announced.

Glyph Comics Awards logo

Jamar was also this year’s host of the Awards, which likely made for a busy night. The award nominees were as follows:

Story of the Year
Afrodisiac; Jim Rugg, co-writer and artist; Brian Maruca, co-writer
BB Wolf and the 3 LPs; JD Arnold, writer, Richard Koslowski, artist
WINNER: Fist Stick Knife Gun; Geoffrey Canada, writer, Jamar Nicholas, artist
Unknown Soldier: Dry Season; Joshua Dysart, writer, Alberto Ponticello, artist
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty; G. Neri, writer, Randy DuBurke, artist

Best Writer
JD Arnold, BB Wolf and the 3 LPs
Geoffrey Canada, Fist Stick Knife Gun
WINNER: Joshua Dysart, Unknown Soldier
Mat Johnson, Dark Rain
Jim Rugg & Brian Maruca, Afrodisiac

Best Artist
Denys Cowan, Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers
Christian Dibari, Pale Horse
Simon Gane, Dark Rain
WINNER: Richard Koslowski, BB Wolf and the 3 LPs
Jim Rugg, Afrodisiac

Best Male Character
Afrodisiac, Afrodisiac; created by Jim Rugg, co-writer and artist, & Brian Maruca, co-writer
BB Wolf, BB Wolf and the 3 LPs; created by JD Arnold, writer, Richard Koslowski, artist
Cole, Pale Horse; created by Andrew Cosby & Michael Alan Nelson, writers, Christian Dibari, artist
WINNER: Geoff, Fist Stick Knife Gun; Geoffrey Canada, writer, Jamar Nicholas, artist; based on the life of Geoffrey Canada
Moses Lwanga, Unknown Soldier; Joshua Dysart, writer, Alberto Ponticello, artist; inspired by the character created by Robert Kanigher & Joe Kubert

Best Female Character
Aloya Rose, Unknown Soldier; created by Joshua Dysart, writer, Alberto Ponticello, artist
Nola Thomas, NOLA; created by Chris Gorak & Pierluigi Cothran, writers; Damian Couceiro, artist
Sarah, Dark Rain; created by Mat Johnson, writer, Simone Gane, artist
Scout Montana, Shadoweyes; created by Ross Campbell, writer and artist
WINNER: Selena, 28 Days Later; Michael Alan Nelson, writer; Declan Shalvey & Marek Oleksicki, artists; based on the character created by Alex Garland for the motion picture 28 Days Later

Rising Star Award
Nicholas DaSilva, Dread & Alive
Carl Herring Jr. & Tod Smith, The Enforcers
Brandon Howard & Sean Mack, The Revolutionary Times
WINNER: Jamar Nicholas, Fist Stick Knife Gun
Geoffrey Thorne & Todd Harris, Prodigal: Egg of First Light

Best Reprint Publication
Cold Space TP, BOOM! Studios
WINNER: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Deluxe HC, DC Comics
Unknown Soldier: Dry Season TP, DC/Vertigo

Best Cover
28 Days Later #6; Tim Bradstreet, illustrator
Afrodisiac; Jim Rugg, illustrator
Cold Space #1; Jeffrey Spokes, artist, Juan Maruel Tumburus, colorist
WINNER: Unknown Soldier #15; Dave Johnson, illustrator
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty; Randy Duburke, illustrator

Best Comic Strip or Webcomic
WINNER: The K Chronicles; Keith Knight, writer and artist
Marty’s Diner; Dmitri Jackson, writer and artist
The Revolutionary Times; Brandon Howard, writer, Sean Mack, artist
Solomon Azua; Jake Ekiss, writer and artist
World of Hurt; Jay Potts, writer and artist

Fan Award for Best Comic
Azrael: Angel in the Dark; Fabian Nicieza, writer, Ramon Bachs & John Stanisci, artists
WINNER: Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers; Reginald Hudlin, writer, Denys Cowan, artist
Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural; Rick Remender, writer; Jefte Palo, Gabriel Hardman &Alessandro Vitti, artists
New Avengers: Heroic Age – Possession; Brian Michael Bendis, writer, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger & Art Adams, artists
New Avengers: Luke Cage – Town Without Pity; John Arcudi, writer; Eric Canete, artist

Chairman’s Award
Black Comix: African American Independent Comics Art and Culture, by Damian Duffy & John Jennings

With the exception of the fan category, the winners were selected by this year’s judges: Jennifer Contino, Martha Cornog, Joseph Phillip Illidge, J. Caleb Mozzocco, and Chad Nevett. For comparison, here are last year’s winners.

Update: I’ve added in all the rest of the winners. Congratulations to Keith Knight for his fifth win for The K Chronicles. I’m a bit disappointed that the best female character was deemed to be someone created for the movies, not original to this medium, but I haven’t read that comic, so I can’t say how strong that portrayal there was compared to the others. I also don’t know what the Chairman’s Award was, since that wasn’t previously mentioned in any PR — I’ll try to find out.

Update 2: Per award founder Rich Watson, the Chairman’s Award is for “special recognition of a work in any media outside of comics, including but not limited to books, television, film, or the internet, that illuminates the black comics experience in an exceptional manner, and also broadens and deepens the growing body of knowledge about black comics worldwide.” In short, a work that doesn’t fit any of the award categories but the group still wants to recognize.

Iron Man: Extremis

Following up the first Marvel Knights Animation/Shout! Factory release, Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, comes another movie tie-in: Iron Man: Extremis. This disc contains six motion comic episodes, each from 10-14 minutes. (The first is 20 minutes long.)

Iron Man: Extremis cover
Iron Man: Extremis
Buy this DVD

The storyline is based on the comic of the same name by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov, a revamp of the Armored Avenger for the modern technological age, where computer chips replace the original transistors and hardware. (It also reportedly influenced the movie, as Granov worked as a visual designer on the film.)

You don’t need to know anything about Iron Man, since this is meant to be a kind of fresh start, and the story downplays any Marvel universe connections or previous tales of the character. It’s very talky, but that works well for the limited animation found in a motion comic. Early on we see Tony Stark being interviewed, which allows for lots of information to be conveyed about his past and backstory, as rewritten here. (He was injured in Afghanistan instead of Korea, for example. He also tends to talk to himself a lot, translating the narration box to the screen.)

He’s challenged about being an arms dealer, a part of the background that’s needed revision in the modern era. The story goes on to explore what happened with a scientist’s suicide and his project involving bioelectronics and nanotechnology, resulting in major changes to Stark’s armor. The art is gorgeous, as expected, movie-style and near-realistic with a painterly influence.

I guess it’s nifty if you want to listen to a comic, but it’s nowhere near as compelling as the “real” movie. I liked the X-Men one better, because there were more characters to follow and more action. (The studio provided a review copy.)

Special Features

As previously noted, there are several bonus features on this disc:

  • A Conversation With Adi Granov — 17 minutes of him explaining the “reboot” and updates to the character.
  • Behind the Scenes — Three parts, one each for Edge Studios (3 minutes, talking with the guy who voices Stark), Magnetic Dreams (6 minutes, producing the motion comic from the original), and (4 minutes, more on the voices for some reason).
  • A music video for the theme. As with the other disc, I was already really tired of the music, since it plays over all the credits and menus.
  • A slideshow of character art, showing the Iron Man armor over the ages — but without artist credit — and another artist gallery with Granov’s work on Iron Man (covers and pinups).
  • An Iron Man What The–?! segment, using an action figure for a comedy sketch about a game show. Guest stars Brian Michael Bendis.
  • The trailer for this disc, plus trailers for the X-Men, Black Panther (see below), and Spider-Woman motion comics.

Coming Next: Black Panther

Marvel Knights: Black Panther cover
Marvel Knights: Black Panther
Buy this DVD

The next release in the Marvel Knights Animation line will be Black Panther, due out January 18. Billed as “Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.’s Black Panther”, since it’s based on their graphic novel, this collection of six episodes features guest appearances by the X-Men and Captain America.

It’s the show originally developed with BET but instead released on iTunes and video game networks. The voice cast includes Djimon Hounsou as Black Panther; music artist and actress Jill Scott as Storm; Kerry Washington as Princess Shuri; Alfre Woodard as both Dondi Reese and Queen Mother; Carl Lumbly as Uncle S’Yan; and the legendary Stan Lee as General Wallace.

The plot features T’Challa, the young warrior-king of Wakanda, facing off with Klaw and super-powered mercenaries. It’s the same list price as the other two volumes, $14.97, but includes fewer announced bonus features:

  • Looking Back at Black Panther with Reginald Hudlin
  • Exclusive music video
  • Trailers

Spinner Rack: Black Panther #1, Mighty Avengers #21, Hercules #125, X-Men First Class Finals #1

Black Panther #1

Black Panther #1

I bought this issue because it has the new female Black Panther on the cover. So I expected to see a new female Black Panther inside. I was misled. This is a Marvel comic, written for a 4- or 6-issue arc, I’m guessing, so of course, this issue, even though it’s labeled #1, is all prologue.

Writer Reginald Hudlin alternates between A) scenes of former Black Panther T’Challa’s wife and mother standing around watching him in a coma after his spaceship crashes and B) flashback scenes that apparently tie into this latest Dark Reign event, with Namor trying to recruit T’Challa into some cabal. They’re repetitive, and I don’t care. I just want what I thought I was promised by the cover: a kick-butt female action hero. I was disappointed. (Especially after Storm fails to stop the crash. I thought, after Superman’s rewritten debut, every superhero worth the name could save a plane from crashing.)

I’m also concerned about how well he can handle a lead female character. We’ve already got the exoticism of the techno-paradise of the African natives; I hope this new Panther, whoever she is, is someone who seems like someone I can relate to in some fashion.

X-Men: First Class: Finals #1

X-Men: First Class: Finals #1

Disappointing. Knowing that this is a limited series, ending the stories I enjoyed about the original X-Men as a young school team, means it’s bittersweet to start with. But this issue seems more interested in dropping in villains and references from other stories than in focusing on what drew me to it in the first place: the character interplay.

The boys wind up in Jean’s dream, which they figure out soon enough, but with too much literalism and explaining things to the audience. The second half is too much fighting, not enough fun, and the surprise revelation is completely unknown to me.

Thankfully, there’s a one-page Jeff Parker/Colleen Coover backup strip in which Scott and Jean go on a date. It’s not enough to make up for the let-down of the main piece, but it’s a sweet after-dinner mint.

The Mighty Avengers #21

The Mighty Avengers #21

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this more. It’s a gathering-of-the-troops issue, where Young Avengers Vision and Stature start following the Scarlet Witch around, while Biblical-style disasters strike the earth.

One of the reasons it works for me is that it doesn’t assume I follow all of this stuff. I’m given everything I need to know, and I don’t feel like I’m losing a trivia game because I don’t recognize character X. Writer Dan Slott also has an advantage because the Avengers are pretty well-known.

The conversation is entertaining and funny and touching when it should be. I liked seeing Jarvis’ importance acknowledged, and Hercules and Amadeus Cho seemed in character. With so many big-deal heroes making appearances, not much actually happens, but plenty is hinted at.

I don’t think I agree with Hank Pym calling himself Wasp after his dead ex-wife, and I didn’t need so much space given to him, since he’s never seemed that interesting a character, but perhaps this is an attempt at redeeming him. I’d read more of the group that results … if they have adventures that make sense without having to read any other comics.

The Incredible Hercules #125

The Incredible Hercules #125

They’re still in the alternate world where women run the show, meaning all the major heroes are female. It’s a shame that we only see such setups in a context where they’re presented as WRONG and something to be reversed to get things back to normal. While we’re all of course rooting for the evil power-hungry Amazon queen to get what’s coming to her, I liked seeing the variety of other characters and the twists on the male-centric Marvel world we normally see.

The problem with magical beings is that, sooner or later, someone undoes the spell or makes the right wish and poof! it’s all back to normal. Makes for some predictable endings. In this case, the two male leads are just spinning time until a Gorgon (whom we unfortunately will probably never see again, since she was brave and daring) fixes it all back up.

Birth of a Nation

With the United States about to inaugurate its first African-American President, what better time to check out a political satire from three leading African-American creators? Birth of a Nation is written by Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks) and Reginald Hudlin (Black Panther) with art by Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn).

Birth of a Nation cover
Birth of a Nation
Buy this book

When black voters in East St. Louis go to the polls, they discover that they’ve all been tagged felons and aren’t allowed to vote. The shenanigans result in an idiot Texas governor illegitimately becoming President. Although the Supreme Court says injustice was done, they refuse to correct it, leading the Mayor to secede his city from the union. The government has failed them, whether on the huge scale of disenfranchisement or with small things, like not picking up the garbage.

Starting a new nation comes with all kind of questions, big and tiny. There’s funding to be figured out, plus things like a country name, a flag, and an anthem. People love the idea of a scrappy underdog, but when it comes to day-to-day living, they still have to eat. Looking at how decisions get made shows the reader why we have the kind of bread-and-circus political system we do. Along the way, other targets of satire include consumerism, cultural appropriation, and ultimately, whether to do what’s right or what’s comfortable.

As events escalate — the baby nation risks actually becoming a threat to the US because of electronic money transfers, and a native East St. Louis Air Force officer, tired of military racism, steals a fighter jet and defects — battles are fought both in the media and literally, with a planned invasion. Unfortunately, the blockbuster special effects ending doesn’t really address all the questions raised by the premise, but it certainly ends things with a bang.

Hudlin’s introduction, about growing up in East St. Louis, provides important context. His list of events that are outrageous but true in the city’s history put this comic about political corruption in a new light. Baker’s caricature-like illustrations, heavy on character closeups in vibrant colors, are accompanied by dialogue underneath the rectangular panels. The storyboard-like presentation both speaks to the project’s original gestation as a movie script and makes for easy reading for those put off by word balloons. It’s not very good comics, but the thought-provoking comedy speaks to some of our biggest hopes and fears.

Creator/Fan Interaction

Ah, the topic of whether it’s a good idea for creators and fans to directly interact has once again been raised.

First, Loren at One Diverse Comic Book Nation sets an excellent example. He had some concerns about dialogue that could be interpreted as racist in a Batman comic written by John Ostrander. After spirited discussion on blogs, Loren asked Ostrander directly at his site, which led to greater understanding for all. (Link no longer available.)

I suspect, aside from the direct interaction and Loren’s very polite approach, another important factor was the location. Many creators are more comfortable in venues they own or control, because they know there’s only so much they have to put up with. I don’t blame them — there’s a lot of overreaction in the unregulated net. It’s easier to discuss potentially touchy issues in a space where you feel comfortable. Of course, that depends on the creator and the kind of environment they’ve built, too. Some won’t tolerate alternate viewpoints on inflammatory issues, while others just want to have a place for fun, light-hearted goofing off.

In contrast, at Tangled up in Blue, the poster tackles Chuck Dixon’s hypocrisy. He thinks superhero comics should be suitable for children, and thus they shouldn’t include gay characters or other sexual subjects. This is hard to reconcile with his work, whether it involves unwed teen pregnancy or his odd views on how to prove Connor Hawke is not gay.

I present these rants because they’re funny, but also because they’re a very different kind of communication. They’re not intended to open discussion with the writer or change his mind — they instead want to show others why he’s wrong. They’re entertainment (sometimes along the lines of “I laugh because I dare not cry”), not convincing debate.

Last, there are those cases where everyone, fan or pro alike, would be better served if creators would shut their mouth and get off the net. This time around, it’s Reggie Hudlin (scroll down to comment #4 and following). I know, those of you who’ve been following his history aren’t surprised that he reacts so badly when his writing is criticized, especially his treatment of Storm.

Ragnell does a terrific job responding to his defensiveness.

More on Black Panel Sexism

In a followup to the controversy over the San Diego Black Panel, Pam Noles elaborates on the sexism demonstrated.

What clouds that panel is the ignominious treatment of a female audience member by certain of the panelists. For me, the secondary stunner was the message delivered by the level of gender-based creator cluelessness on display by another panelist’s wearying myopia. And the continued attacks against her and anyone else who has expressed doubts? Not helped the cause much.

She analyzes how the panel was created and how its panelists were chosen:

A panel with blurbage claiming to be “the definitive panel for what’s up in black content” but does not have powerhouses such as Kyle Baker or Keith Knight as participants for example, or dip into the alt world to snag David Walker, maybe, is not “the definitive panel for what’s up in black content.” Nicely played hype, though. There’s nothing wrong with hype.

This was a panel with a specific, corporate focus and mainstream (read: superhero) leanings. Compared to last year’s track of black programming, this was not a panel diverse in content; a majority of its participants have spent the bulk of their career in comics working on the capes for DC, Marvel and Milestone.

Noles actually talked to the woman who was belittled by the panel (one of whose representatives, Reginald Hudlin, has continued insulting and dismissing her in his online comments about the event):

One thing she told me was it’s not that she doesn’t want to read superhero books, it’s more those books routinely do not provide her with the type of content or storytelling she wants. She hung on for a while before finally giving up and turning to Vertigo….

Hudlin’s ignorance of the content of works in the realm beyond capes and his lack of perception is absolutely no excuse for his later calumniation of this woman. She was no more a “nutcase” than any other fan who stepped up to the mic during the panel. Just because Hudlin didn’t know what she was talking about and was unable to clue in to where she was coming from doesn’t mean her question lacked validity. Just because she asked her question without first letting the love gush does not mean she was out to bring everybody down.

She ends with advice that all male creators should take more note of.

It is a coward’s approach to say men can’t write women [as Hudlin did]. It is a lazy approach to say only women can write women. It is ridiculous to imply we have to wait a generation or nine before we get a woman in a position to write a woman. It is wrong when the white folks say can’t deal with the coloreds. It is wrong when a black comics ProBoy says to a black comics FanGirl he can’t do women and that’s just the way it is for now.

Rich Watson and Black Comic LinkBlogging

While looking back over some favorite minicomics for my new feature, I stumbled across some of Rich Watson’s work. I found myself wondering why he doesn’t seem to do comics much anymore (instead concentrating on journalism).

What an interesting coincidence that his recent column answers that question. The short answer is “obsession over a failed relationship”, but it’s more complicated than that. At first blush, my response to his explanation was “you need help moving on”, but at the same time, I admire his willingness to share the story. Any cartoonist who’s used autobiographical elements in his work knows how rewarding and yet painful it can be to make yourself part of the work — because then reactions to your art can feel like judgments on you.

If I only had one piece of advice to share, though, it would be “keep your work in print!” I loved Rich’s Rat, but I don’t recommend it because there’s nowhere for people to find it. I also enjoyed his The Path minicomic series, but I don’t know if it ever concluded.

Speaking of Rich’s journalism, I found his post on the San Diego Black Panel quite interesting. Reportedly, the men on the panel (there were no women) responded to an older woman’s questions by being dismissive towards her concerns, commenting on her appearance, and saying something that was taken by some as “let the guys get there first and then the women will get their turn.”

The fights against sexism and racism have many similarities, but they can also wind up working against each other. Sadly, the comments at that thread show that Reginald Hudlin, for one, doesn’t get it, insulting and blaming the woman who pointed out the issue. Given that he wrote the recent Black Panther comic that minimized Storm, I find his reaction sad but unsurprising.

Moving to more positive news, The Guardian Line has been announced as launching in September.

UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.), the largest independent African American media firm providing positive content for the urban market, announces one of the biggest launches in comics history for the young multicultural audience-The Guardian Line. This series is the superbly styled result of the combined resources of UMI and creator of The Guardian Line Michael Davis [one of the founders of Milestone].

“This series of comics will invite young readers to become part of a universe filled with memorable and inspiring characters who look just like them. Teenagers and kids in America face daily choices between good and evil. As The Guardian Line keeps them highly entertained and coming back for more, it will nudge them toward the good,” states president of UMI, Carl Jeffrey Wright.

For over 35 years UMI has been the trusted source for teaching materials and inspirational book titles in the African American church market They are poised to reach a network of 40,000 churches and 1,500 bookstores with The Guardian Line-a larger audience than that of even Michael’s own Milestone Media. The Guardian Line will be available to the general market through Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., the world’s largest distributor of English-language comics and related merchandise.

They’re scheduled to be the Chicago convention, so I’m hoping to stop by there and check them out. I admire those who want to create morally positive comics, but I hope that they’re more interesting than Serenity.

It is a great lesson that they’re not primarily focusing on the direct market, which has shown an unfriendliness in the past to more diverse projects. Instead, they’re going where their customers are — in this case, churches.

I’m a little concerned that there’s no information on creators beyond Davis. He clearly can’t do all four books, and I’d like to know who else will be writing and/or drawing.




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