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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Legend of Mad Matilda Sample Chapter

I’ve been so busy writing The Legend of Mad Matilda I haven’t had time to write a blog. I’m hoping to get one done on Friday though. So I’m gonna post up a sample chapter of the upcoming book. Remember, the book is still in its first draft so much of this may change from the final version!


I’m filled with trepidation as we march up the stairs of our brownstone. With the trouble I’m in I’m in uncharted territory here. After the way I fucked up last night, I’m looking at getting the punishment to end all punishments.
The tension in the air rises to a crescendo after Dad unlocks the door and we step into the foyer. I catch the glower in my Dad’s eyes and start shaking. “Dad, I’m sorry-” I plead.
 “You’re sorry?” Dad snarls as his hands clench into fists. “That all you got to say!”
I start trembling see my father gesturing to take off his belt. Just as he’s about to grab at me, Mom takes his hand. “No, Jason. I got this.”
I catch the look in my Mother’s eyes and see a dark spark I haven’t seen since I was seven years old and she beat me and Shelley for having a fight over Barbie dolls. “Oh shit-” I gasp.
When I see that spark in her scowling eyes, I start scrambling to get away from her. Before I can get two feet, the back of her hand swats across my cheek. I feel it stinging as I’m sent tumbling onto the carpet. “Mom, I’m sorry-” I plead as tears well up in my eyes.
“No, you ain’t sorry.” Mom snarls. “You’re mad.”
Thanks to the six-inch platforms I have on, I stumble about in my attempt to scramble to my feet. The air is taken out of me when Mom charges at me and tackles me back down to the carpet. While she wrestles with me to get me on my back I feel my T-shirt tearing off my body. As she straddles me I catch the crazed look in her eyes. “You’re mad huh?” She yells smacking me upside the head. “Well, guess what? I’m mad too! And I’m sick of your shit!”
I’m hit with a series of slaps across upside my head that turn the living room into a blur. “Mad Matilda. Out here raving like a fool!” She rants beating me. I bust my ass to send you to school and here you out here shakin your little halfbreed ass in the street!”
“I wasn’t shaking anything Mom-” I cry.”
“Yes, you were!” Mom says slapping me again. “Lookin like a gotdamn overgrown child with your hair in pigtails!”
“I’m not a child-” I whimper.
“No, you’re mad.” Mom says unbuckling the belt off her skirt. “Well girl, let me show you crazy!”
I catch a glimpse of my mother’s folded up belt in her hands. After she gets up off me, she yanks me up by the arm. I let out a gasp seeing her raise the belt up. I let out a scream as I feel it slapping against my back. “Mad Matilda, out here raving in a warehouse.” She says beating me across the back and the side. “Go out here and get your little ass arrested. Then you bring your sorry half black ass back to me talking about you sorry. Well, I’ma give you something to be sorry for!”
I try to break out of her grip, but the hold she has on my arm is like a vise. I let out wails feeling the stings of the belt chopping into my thighs, back, and stomach. I fall to my knees and she tears into me with the belt worse than the time when Dad beat me for using the word nigger when I was eight. As I ball up into a fetal position, my crazy mother lets me know how mad she is at twenty-one year-old me by beating me like I was seven.
After giving me one last chop to the back, I feel my mother letting go of my limp arm. As she stands over me seething in anger I feel her eyes burning into my back. I’d love to say this is child abuse. But when a parent has to beat an adult child they’ve fucked up far beyond what the law allows.

The Legend of Mad Matilda will be out…Sometime soon. However, You can pick up the other two books in the Spinsterella trilogy, Spinsterella, and Spellbound today at your favorite online bookseller!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Shawn Reviews Netflix’s Iron Fist

Marvel Studios has had quite a winning streak over the last few years. Most of the projects created to establish the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Film TV, and online have been great projects that have captured the spirit of the original characters from the comics.

Unfortunately, with Iron Fist that luck just ran out. 

What’s wrong with Iron Fist? It’s not the fact that Iron fist is a White guy. Because Danny Rand in the comics was a White, blonde, blue eyed American. In his origin in Marvel Premiere #15, he winds up in a mystical land called K’un L’un when the private jet he and his parents were flying on crashed in the mountains. And when his parents died he was raised by those monks and taught the martial arts and the ability to turn his fists unto a thing of iron, or what we call the Iron Fist. All of that follows the comic to the letter.

No, the big problem with Iron Fist is that it’s just BORING. By the numbers. Predictable. Like Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. Iron Fist comes from Marvel Studios but doesn’t have that heart that makes a Marvel Studios project come to life. It feels more like a cop show, not a superhero one.

The pilot opens with Danny Rand coming to New York to reclaim his fortune. A barefoot hipster type with scruffy unkempt hair and dirty clothes he goes to the Rand Building. Only to be escorted out by security. He beats up some guards, then sneaks upstairs where he confronts a cousin who now runs Rand Enterprises. After he tries to talk to him He kicks him out and Homeless Danny is on the street.

After breaking into his former home and taming his best friend’s Rottweiler, Danny meets Colleen Wing, who works in the village as a self-defense instructor.  He begs for a job teaching martial arts. Colleen blows off bummy Danny. As the episode progresses Danny runs into people who attack him outside Colleen Wing’s Dojo. He soon finds out they’re guards from the Rand Corporation. We then find out that Danny’s cousin is being controlled by an older guy who’s the mastermind who wants Danny Rand dead.

Yeah, I saw that coming a mile away.

At the end of the first episode Danny is drugged by some tea and taken to a mental hospital. And we all know what’s going to happen over the next 12 episodes.

Danny fights bad guys. In between we see his origin. Romance. Sex scene with either his grown up childhood friend or Colleen Wing. Eventually he beats the bad guys and takes back his family’s company.

Meh. Just Meh.

There’s nothing Special about Netfix’s Iron Fist. The story isn’t so compelling that you want to binge watch it like the first six or seven episodes of Luke Cage. With Luke Cage there was a heart, a soul an energy that captured the Black community and the spirit of Harlem. All the great storytelling in every episode of Cage made you want to watch more and more until the series was done.

Unfortunately with Iron Fist a casual viewer isn’t drawn in. From what I saw in the first episode I could take the show or leave it. With Iron Fist the storytelling just isn’t there. The characters are flat, one-dimensional and BORING. The show spends too much time TELLING us who Danny Rand is supposed to be instead of SHOWING us reasons to CARE about him.

That’s the major problem with Iron Fist, it’s just hard to care about Danny Rand the way he’s written. He’s not someone you can really relate to like Luke Cage or Matt Murdock. The story told about him is so one-dimensional and by the numbers that you don’t see something special about him that allows you to identify with him and his struggles. Danny is so passive and so docile that you can’t connect with him or his struggles to get back his fortune and beat the bad guys. While he kicks ass doing martial arts, he just doesn’t have a voice that speaks to the audience.

I wanted to like Netflix’s Iron Fist. But the way he’s adapted shows there’s a lot of rust in the execution. While Marvel Studios has an excellent track record of producing quality shows based on Marvel Comics properties such as Daredevil and Luke Cage, Iron Fist just doesn’t pack the punch it needs to be compelling programming. If this is the last show leading into the Defenders, Marvel Studios is going to have to come up with a strong offense to keep viewers interested in Marvel’s street heroes.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ta-Neshi Coates Black Panther- A Major Disappointment

Ta-Neshi Coates’ Black Panther was supposed to be one of the all-time great comic book runs. One right up there with Christopher Priest. Unfortunately, it’s been one of the biggest disappointments in comic book history for many comic fans.

When you look at Ta-Neshi Coates’ background he looks like the kind of guy who meets the qualifications to write Black Panther on paper. A graduate of Howard University and writer of National Book Award winning books on the Black Diaspora such as Between the World and Me, he looked like the kind of guy who would present a fresh take on the Wakandan Avenger.

 Unfortunately that impressive resume doesn’t make him a comic book writer.

Coates been criticized by many Black Panther fans for not “getting” the character. For too much of a focus on Wakanda and existential ideas about Blackness and not enough on T’Challa. Many readers say his Black Panther reads more like a novel than a comic book. That his stories are extremely slow paced and pretty much go absolutely nowhere.

It’s clear to me Coates doesn’t understand that writing comics is not like a novel. Comics like, movies and TV are character driven. Comic fans don’t care about flowery prose and descriptive paragraphs filled with exposition and existential ideas. Readers want to see the hero kicking ass, about to kick some ass, or on the way to kick some ass.

By design superhero comics are character driven. They’re supposed to move at a FAST pace. They’re supposed to be filled with ACTION, EXCITEMENT, and ADVENTURE. They’re supposed to be larger than life. They’re supposed to grab the reader by the first page and have them anticipating the next issue before they read the last.

In addition to Coates inability to understand how the comic book medium works, he tends to put more of a Black feminist slant on the narrative of the Black Panther and Wakanda. This narrative completely contradicts the character of T’Challa and who he is. The Black Panther is a strong Alpha male who takes the lead in protecting his people, his kingdom and its assets such as Wakandan tech and Vibranium. He is respected on a world stage by rivaling countries like Latveria and Atlantis because he is a strong leader who asserts himself as an authority figure. In between Coates’ and his Black feminist friend Roxxane Gay, the Black Panther has been turned from a king of the jungles of Wakanda into one big pussy. Coates’ Black Panther is an emasculated male watching things happen in his country instead of taking the lead to protect his people. Coates just doesn’t understand that Kings LEAD, they do not follow. Kings are ACTIVE, not passive. No one wants to read a Black Panther book where the People of Wakanda turn on their King and kick him out of his kingdom. Nor do they want to read a bunch of whiny diatribes making Wakandans into Victims. 

Coates proves to me how grossly unqualified he is to write Black Panther by the ideas and concepts he presents in his stories. Black Panther is supposed to be about the King of Wakanda leading his people, protecting his people and representing his people on Marvel’s world stage in domestic and international political affairs. There should be a focus on Wakanda as a world power with stories should be focused on Wakandan Tech, Wakandan science, and of course Vibranium. Readers want to see T’Challa being a master strategist, skilled fighter, and brilliant inventor. They want to see him running an advanced African society, not read stories based on real world African countries.

Like Reginald Hudlin before him, Ta-Neshi Coates has a storied background. But a storied background doesn’t make one a comic book writer. Comics like screenwriting is a craft. And you have to know your way around the structure of the medium and its paradigm to tell a story effectively in it. By design, Coates wants to write Chinua Achibe’s Things Fall Apart, not a Black Panther comic. Like many of today’s comic writers like Goeff Johns, he’s writing a 36-issue novel, not a comic series.

The big problem with Coates’ Black Panther is that it’s too focused on reality and not enough on fantasy. It’s focused on existential ideas that appeal to Pro-Blacks and Hoteps, but not the action that gets young new readers excited about comic books. Comic fans want a new take on Klaw, Man-Ape and Black Panther’s Rogues gallery, not a focus on Wakandan rape camps and lesbian Dora Milaje guards.

Ta-Neshi Coates and Roxxane Gay’s runs on their Black Panther Books were going to be celebrated as a big step towards diversity in the comic book industry. Unfortunately both have been one big step back. Yes, Marvel’s editors need to hire more writers of color to write comics. However, they really need to make sure that the content of their work meets the standard Stan Lee established years ago and that their stories fit the characters.

Monday, March 13, 2017

I’m Not Expecting Much From FOX’s Black Lightning

Fox is supposed to be launching a New Black Lightning series.

Based on who’s involved I’m expecting a Fail beyond Epic.

The new Black Lightning show is being produced by Berlanti Productions and Mara Brock Akil. A Black Feminist and a White man are producing a show about a Black male superhero.

Yeah, this is gonna turn out well. 

Consider the track record of Mara Brock Akil, creator of misandristic Black man hating shows like The Game and Girlfriends. The examples of Black masculinity on her shows leave much to be desired. Almost every Black male character is presented negatively on her shows and the “good” Black Male Characters like William Dent on Girlfriends and are completely emasculated and have no backbone or testicles.

Then consider the track record of Greg Berlanti on Black male superheroes. Bumbling stumbling Gay Mr. Terrific. James Olson, Guardian of the Freindzone. And Asexual Firestorm.  Not to mention Chuck Clayton the Black Brute who lies gives White girls “sticky maples” on Riverdale.

And that Chuck Clayton episode was written by a Black woman.

Damn. Just Damn.  

Combine these two working on a Black superhero show and what can we expect? A complete and utter disaster.

If you thought Batman V. Superman was shit on a plate, Black Lightning will be gonna be Turd McNuggets on a platter.

One of the major rules of writing is Writing what you know. And a Black feminist and a White man know NOTHING about what it means to be a Black man in America. So any adaptation of a Black superhero from them is going to come out shallow, half-done and one-dimensional. If, Mr. Terrific can go from a badass in the comics to a bumbling stumbling idiot, and Chuck Clayton can go from a friendly artist to a Black Brute in the hands of Greg Berlanti’s writers, I shudder to think of what we’ll get in his adaptation of Black Lightning with Maya Brock Akil. 

On a Black Lightning show DC and Warner Brothers need a talented Black man like the late great Dwayne McDuffie running things. It’s only from a Black male perspective that we’re going to get a balanced picture of Black manhood and Black masculinity a show like Black Lightning would need.

Want to know why Static Shock was so well received? Because a Black man wrote and produced it. The Late great Dwayne McDuffie dealt with issues from a Black male perspective he gave us a Virgil Hawkins onscreen that was balanced picture of Black masculinity and Black manhood. It’s doubtful we’d get the episode where Virgil ran from the cops, and the episode where they had to deal with Ritchie’s racist father from a White man or a Black woman, because they wouldn’t understand what those issues were to Black boys or Black men.

Want to know why Netfilix’s Luke Cage is so great? Because a Black man produced it. Luke Cage focused on many of the little things that related to Black manhood and Black masculinity. It’s those little things that made the first season of Cage a CLASSIC and led to the show becoming Must See TV on Netflix.

Based on who’s running the show right now I’m not expecting much from Black Lightning. I’m expecting another shoddy adaptation of one of a DC Comics superhero property from Berlanti Productions and I’m expecting poorly written stories in the vein of Arrow 2.5-5. Black Lighting needs Black male writers and producers who know the source material. Neither Greg Berlanti or Mara Brock Akil know anything about creating compelling Black male superheroes, they have a proven track record of failure regarding them.