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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Writing 101 Part 2- Who is the Main character?

Working in a character driven model like mine, a writer quickly has to answer one question before putting fingers to keyboard. Who is the main character?

The main character is the primary protagonist in a story. They’re the first name we see in a synopsis on the back of the book. They are the person the reader is interested in reading about in the story.

The main character is who the story is about. They are the person who all the action in the story revolves around. They are the person who the reader follows on their quest to achieve their goal.

The main character is the one who faces all the challenges in the story. As the main character overcomes each of these obstacles, the story moves forward building to the climax and concluding with the accomplishment of their goal or the failure to achieve that goal.

The main character can be a hero, or they can be a villain. The focus of the story are the steps they take to achieve their goals and overcome the obstacles in their way.

I usually establish who the main character is in the first chapter of a novel. I feel the faster the reader is introduced to the main character, they’ll be drawn into the story.

Sometimes in a story like Isis I’ll delay introducing the main character until the second chapter so I can introduce supporting characters or establish the storyline, but most of these plot points will revolve around the main character. Usually these supporting characters will discuss the main character or mention them in their conversations or plans.

In character-driven fiction like revolving first-person and first-person perspective, the main character has to stand out above all the other characters. They have to have a strong “voice” which speaks to the reader. A main character’s words come alive on the page. They reveal their personality, their emotions and their heart.

Visually, I feel a main character has to be distinct, in appearance, and personality in a description. They have to stand out in a crowd. Be unforgettable. Readers have to imagine them like real people. They have to come alive to grab the reader’s interest.

A main character is a leader. They take charge. They inspire supporting characters like love interests to join them and best friends to help them in their quest. They motivate antagonists to keep throwing obstacles in their way. They find a way to beat the odds no one else can. In their quest, they compel the reader to keep following them on their journey as they make their way to the conclusion of the story.

A main character is always Active. Main characters do not sit passively by while the supporting characters do all the work. No, a main character LEADS the supporting characters and the antagonist through the story up to the climax and the conclusion. They are the strongest of all the characters pushing and persevering to achieve their goals. Supporting characters can quit, but the main character NEVER gives up.

A main character ALWAYS SHOWS and NEVER TELLS. We see a main character going to achieve their goals. SHOWING IS ACTIVE and STRONG. Telling is PASSIVE and WEAK. Main characters are always strong.

A Main character is established through their actions. Characters are mostly what they DO, not what they say. Action defines a character. A main character is the character who the supporting characters look up to, and the one the antagonist despises.

Main characters are bold and dynamic. They grab a reader’s interest. They hold their attention. They carry the story from beginning to end.

I usually establish the main character when I’m brainstorming. Before I put fingers to keyboard I imagine who the main character is first in the planning stages. Back in the day I used to draw pictures of the main character so I could visualize what they looked like so I could have an idea of who I was describing in those paragraphs. Sometimes I’ll go through catalogs to see what kinds of clothes they wear.

Once I get the main character established, I start focusing on answering the next of the three big questions I have to answer before writing a story: What do they want?

I’ll show readers how to answer that question in the next blog. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Writing 101 Shawn’s approach to Storytelling



I’ve been writing for almost thirty years, almost twenty professionally. In that time I’ve learned a few things that have helped me become a better storyteller. I’m hoping through this series I can help writers improve in their craft as well.

To write my stories I take components from comic books, literary fiction, and screenwriting to create a unique storytelling model. I feel in today’s competitive entertainment market I feel a writer can’t write novels filled with long paragraphs filled with long blocks of prose describing things in graphic detail. Today’s reader won’t sit through over fifty pages to setup a story nor will they sit through books over 100,000 words*. With books competing with faster paced media such as movies, video games, the internet and apps, I realize a writer has to adapt their storytelling to fit the needs of today’s reader.

To reach today’s readers I use a compact style of storytelling which features tight writing. Short paragraphs, and short chapters.

I use shorter paragraphs to describe scenes action going on. Screenplays often tell a story using the least amount of words. Adapting this approach to storytelling, I write short paragraphs with minimal description which allows the reader to maximize their imagination. Less is more.

Along with the short paragraphs I also utilize short chapters to quickly get the reader into the story.1970’s and 1980’s comic books used to set up their stories very quickly. Usually by about the third page the reader knew what the story was about.

Screenplays also set up very quickly. Feature-length screenplays set up very quickly. A well-written screenplay will set up the story introduce most of the characters and tell what the story is about by the tenth page.

In most of my stories, like Isis and The Temptation of John Haynes the chapters are anywhere from three to five pages. Some climax scenes may go long as ten or fifteen pages.

The short chapters and short paragraphs build a fast pace. That gets the reader involved in the story quickly. The earlier the reader is involved in a story, the more they’ll be compelled to finish the book. I find finishing chapter after chapter gives readers confidence and encourages them to keep reading.

One of the things I learned from comic books, television and screenwriting was that most of those writers understood that the readers’ time was valuable. The reason they got right to the point was because they knew time was important. Many those writers understood they were competing for the customers’ attention with other media. They understood each second longer it takes the reader to get involved in the story is a second that they may choose to put a book down.

I don’t want the reader to put the book down. I want them to keep reading my stories.

Adapting the approaches I learned from screenwriting comic books and television, I try to setup a story by the first fifteen to twenty pages. Applying a technique I learned studying screenwriting in those 15-20 pages I try to answer the following three questions:

Who is the main character?

What do they want?

Why should we care?

I find once I answer those three questions in the outline stages, the story usually falls into place. From there I can fill in the details like setting, location, supporting characters “voice” and dialogue.

I’ll break down how to answer those questions one by one the next couple of blogs.

*(Yeah, I know Harry Potter Books are over 100,ooo words but the average reader isn’t going to sit through 600 to 900 page books filled with big descriptive paragraphs, especially those with big words. Most people will just get frustrated and stop reading. )

Friday, January 27, 2012

Last weekend for Holiday eBooks for Under a Buck




The 99 cent Holiday eBook sale is winding down. On February 1st many of my eBooks  (the Novels and the full screenplay books)  will be going up to $2.99. This is your last chance to get one of my novels for your Kindle, Nook, ipad iphone, ipod touch, cell phone or other e-reader. Spend that gift card and help a struggling writer!



For your Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-James/e/B00379H1CG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
For Your Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/shawn-james
For your ipad, ipod touch and iphone: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/shawn-james/id62882638
On Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/sjsdirect

The Writing on Writing series will start Monday!



Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Parents, Take Your Child's Education into Your Own Hands


A couple of days ago I wrote a blog warning parents not to put their kids in a public middle school.

I stand by what I wrote in that piece. I know from personal experience Public Middle schools are a cesspool designed to teach Black children the values of failure. Today this is the place where Black boys join gangs and Black girls learn how to booty shake and wind up on World Star Hip Hop. If you want a future felon who will be in and out of the prison system or a baby mama on welfare, sit passively by and let your kids get sent to one of these Hellholes where they’ll get a social education that will damage them for life.

Now the main reason I wrote that piece was because I want parents to get more proactive about their involvement in their children’s education.

I had to learn the hard way at sixteen to take my education into my own hands. If I hadn’t I wouldn’t have my high school diploma today. I wouldn't have gone to college to get my degree.

And now I’m urging parents to take the same action in their children’s lives.

And I’m urging them to take that action sooner rather than later. Like Kindergarten. But if you have a child in public school right now it’s time to get actively involved in their education. It’s the only way they’ll get to college.

The earlier parents get involved in their child’s education, the better the earlier they’ll develop the study habits that will enable them to compete in High school and College. And the more they’ll value education as a part of their everyday lives.

This is more than about passing standardized tests. Standardized tests are garbage and don’t measure intelligence or mastery of material. They’re just statistics of how well a group of children are doing compared to kids in other parts of the country.

Someone can do well on a standardized test and be functionally illiterate. It doesn’t take much skill to bubble in a Scantron sheet.

Personally I believe a gorilla could pass a state standardized test. And score higher than a human being. That’s how easy they are.

Public Schools teach to tests. Black America needs to learn how to apply knowledge to their everyday lives so they can compete in the global marketplace.

Taking your child’s education into your own hands is about instilling the value of education in children when they’re young so that they’ll love to learn to learn on their own. So they’ll learn how to apply what they learn outside of the classroom in real life.

Want to know why so many inner-city kids fall apart in Middle School, High School and College? Because their parents see schools as some place to be warehoused while they go to work, not a place where they’ll learn what they need to compete later on in life. Because inner-city parents devalue education their children spend so much time on learning social rules that they turn to dust academically.

People who take their education into their own hands do not depend on the schools to do everything for them. They understand that a Public school can only do but so much. Long-term, children learn the value of education by watching us. Their parents, family members, friends and people in the neighborhood. We have to show them the value of education by reading to them, reading in front of them and applying our knowledge of things like math and science in our everyday lives.

When little ones hear adults calling education “White” and correlating it with being “stupid” it devalues it in their eyes. When we tell kids to stop reading and go play video games, it tells them reading is unimportant. When we tell a girl that she needs a man more than a High School diploma, it tells them that men are more important than their education. It’s little stuff like this that can destroy a child’s love for learning and put them on the road to self-destruction.

Education has been one of the backbones in building up the Black community. During slavery, our ancestors used education to overcome oppression. And when our slave ancestors were freed, they used education as the base to build up their own economy. They didn’t wait for anyone to give them anything like people of today do. They took their education into their own hands.

And just like our ancestors did back then, African-Americans today have to take our education into our own hands. We can’t depend on Public institutions to teach our children what they need to compete in High school and college.

In taking your education in your own hands:

Don’t depend on the school to give your kids books. Go out and get them for yourself. Go out and read them for yourself. If you can spend $200 on a pair of sneakers for your child or $100 on some jeans, you can spend $6.99 on a paperback. In fact, most literary classics are free online now if you have a computer or a cell phone. So there’s no excuse not to read.

Don’t expect the school to give your kids paper, pens or any other school supply. That’s not their job. Their job is to teach, not provide able bodied working people with free school supplies.

It always boggled my mind when I was in school how kids on had on $200 sneakers, $95 jeans and a $300 leather jacket but would ask me for paper and a pen. Almost a thousand dollars worth of clothes on and they couldn’t find $1.99 for notebook paper or $1.49 for a pack of pens. Then these same people’s parents complained that the school wasn’t helping their kids.

Now this mentality has escalated into entire schools providing everything from notebooks to winter coats for children. Seriously, when do Parents learn to take responsibility for their own children?

People who want their kids to learn will find a way to buy school supplies. Part of learning is improvising and adapting. Human beings who want something will make a way to get it. Parents and kids will sacrifice the $200 sneakers and $95 jeans for their kids if it’s paramount to them getting an education.

Don’t expect the school to know how your kids are doing in class.  Sorry, it’s not the school’s job to know how many credits your child has in High School. Or how many classes they’re passing. I learned that the hard way. You the parent and You the student have to keep on top of things. Keep a tab of your gradepoint average. Keep a tab of your credits. Keep a tab on whether you’re passing or not.

Don’t expect the school to know where your children are.  On occasion, I suggest parents drop by the school their children are attending. Unannounced. A couple of days per year. Especially in middle school and high school.p Talk to a guidance counselor. Talk to some teachers. Ask for attendance records, especially in Middle school and High school.

Why? Because some kids may leave the house, but I guarantee you they’re not going to school. These kids literally disappear. For months. Where are they? God only knows.

Kids disappearing has been going on since I was in High school. People show up on the first day of class and POOF! Gone for three months.

Or until Welfare recertification comes around. Then faces I wouldn’t see would pop up.

Most times here in New York City they’re riding around on the subway. Running the streets. Or at a friends’ house playing video games. Getting high. Joyriding in stolen cars. Shoplifting. Or having sex with adults while their parents in their homes while they’re at work.

Some may be involved in drug, gang or criminal activity.

And today, they may be filming their mischief and posting it on places like World Star Hip Hop. So I’d check that site out. And I’d check out their facebook and twitter and other social media.

Since they didn’t come in the school isn’t liable for them. Legally, they’re marked as absent. But you the parent are on the hook for their behavior. Any trouble they get in while out on these little escapades during school hours, the Parent is responsible for. So make an effort to find out if they’re going to school.

School is not a fashion show nor is it a social club.  Most kids today go to school to socialize. To show off the latest sneakers, jeans ipods, cell phones and other stuff. That stuff will suck your child down the drain.

People who take their education into their own hands realize that school is not a fashion show or a social club. It’ is a place where they’ll learn some of the skills they’ll need to get to the next level. The main priority is reaching the next level. Clothes come and go. Gadgets come and go. But the education one gets stays with them.

I learned the hard way at sixteen that school wasn’t a social club or a fashion show. At the end of the day none of that stuff mattered. When I started taking my education into my own hands I stopped looking at what was trendy and hip. I stopped looking trying to socialize. As I focused on graduating, my goal was getting the grades I needed to pass classes and get my diploma. And that’s what Black children need to be prepared to do so they can compete in today’s global economy.

The Black Community really needs to get serious about education. With 70 percent of Black males dropping out and 50 percent of Black girls dropping out, It’s time for brothers and sisters to stop looking to the government to help with educating our own kids. These are our children and it’s our job to be responsible for what they’re learning and how they’re learning it. We have to take the education of our children into our own hands and stop making excuses. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Black America Always Invests in the WRONG People

Many African-Americans wonder why their communities are always poor.

The Government, private industry and individuals have dumped billions into Black inner-city neighborhoods over the past fifty years.

Yet the poverty continues to get WORSE with each passing generation.

Want to know why Black America doesn’t It’s not racism, it’s not sexism nor any other form of discrimination.

It’s because everyone in the Black community invests in the WRONG Black people.

You can’t get a return on someone that has no value. Moreover, you can’t get a return on a person who doesn’t value themselves.

In the White, Hispanic, and Asian communities they support their best and brightest men and women above all others. They protect their gifted and talented people and give them the tools that they need to become leaders and captains of industry who can build an economic base and established an economic infrastructure that builds wealth.

Only in the Black community do we not invest in our best and brightest males and females. Instead we pour money into our worst males and females.

This primary investment into thugs, gang bangers, baby mamas ex-cons and other assorted degenerates has led to the total collapse of the economic base in the Black community  over the last twenty years.

Why? Because these individuals HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER THE COMMUNITY.

And investing in them first is the equivalent of putting money in a trash can. Investing in the highest risk individuals FIRST doesn’t yield a higher return on the dollar.

Nor is it how a community builds a strong economy.

When resources are heavily invested in “At Risk” individuals all they do is lose money because they don’t value the resources being put into them.  And the more money that’s poured into them the more money that’s lost. Eventually it reaches a point where more money is invested in the person spent more than the individual is actually worth.  A total loss of money, resources and time that could have been better spent on someone better deserving. 

In some cases, it’d be a lot cheaper to take a child from birth and raise it up outside of the ghetto to produce someone of value than to pour billions into welfare, section 8, food stamps, WIC, college financial aid, job training and a dozen other government programs taking care of a baby mama, an ex-con or a thug who will develop a co-dependent set of values they will pass on to their children.

Black America needs to realize when it comes to human beings you invest heavily in the best and brightest because they are the lowest risk. And the best chance for a return that will yield a profit. By investing and supporting the gifted and talented men and women in the community when they are young, these brothers and sisters see the value of their community and return to invest in it by establishing their businesses in the neighborhoods they grew up in and providing jobs for people in the community. Basic economics. 

But  for the past 50 years Black America has ignored its best and brightest. Worse it doesn’t spend money on them nor does it make efforts to protect them or support them. This alienates these brothers and sisters from the communities they grew up in. Because they have no emotional connection to the neighborhoods they grew up in, they move away from those places looking for support elsewhere. And because they have no connection to their neighborhoods these individuals don’t return money and capital they’d use to establish businesses and provide jobs for people in the community like the Whites, Hispanics and Asians do.

Instead Black America invests in thugs, Baby mamas and assorted hoodrats in the vein hope that one of these pitiful individuals will pay off BIG like a lotto ticket. Most black folks are so busy gambling on the next Jay-Z or a Biggie or a Tupac, Tyler Perry, Lee Daniels or some NBA superstar they don’t take the time to invest in the invisible Black boys and girls who would have become the future backbones of the community and built our economy.

This is why 99% of Black dollars wind up in White, Asian, Arab and Hispanic hands instead of remaining in the Black community.  

Black America invests in those who take our money, not make us money.

And it’s why we have no doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, computer scientists, lawyers or entrepreneurs who can build a middle class in our neighborhoods. No, those individuals take their money elsewhere because they don’t feel valued by their own communities.  

If we had only spent the past 20 years investing in our gifted and talented, our best and brightest, then maybe they wouldn’t have felt alienated and abandoned by the people in the neighborhood. Maybe they wouldn’t have moved away from the neighborhoods they grew up in. Maybe after college they would have returned to the neighborhood and built an economic base that would have provided jobs and established wealth that would have built up the Black economy. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

If you value your Children’s lives DO NOT ENROLL THEM IN A PUBLIC MIDDLE SCHOOL

If you don’t want your son to wind up in a gang or with a juvenile record, read this blog.

If you don’t want to wind up with a son or daughter who is sexually promiscuous read this blog

If you don’t want to wind up with a daughter who is a teenage mother, read this blog.

If you don’t want to wind up with a son who is a teenage father, read this blog.

If you don’t want to wind up with children with drug problems, read this blog.

If you want your children to graduate High School, read this blog.

If you want your children to go to College read this blog.

If you want to raise children who are ready to compete in college read this blog.

If you want your children to grow up to be healthy, functional adults, read this blog.

I give you some advice from personal experience in my life Parents:

DO NOT ENROLL YOUR CHILDREN IN A PUBLIC MIDDLE SCHOOL

Public middle schools are a black hole where the seeds of failure are planted in young minds. It’s a place where gifted and talented young people become troubled and disturbed. They are where potential is lost, and where children wind up on the fast track to teenage motherhood, drug abuse, and prison.

If you value your child’s life I implore you not to allow them to be enrolled in a public middle school. If you want your children to grow up to be productive individuals who will be able to function and compete in America, DO NOT ENROLL YOUR CHILDREN IN PUBLIC MIDDLE SCHOOL.

If your child is in the fifth or sixth grade it’s time to start looking at Catholic and private schools.

If you have children that are in a Public Middle school, TAKE THEM OUT and ENROLL THEM IN A CATHOLIC OR PRIVATE SCHOOL NOW. You may have a chance to reverse the damage.

And if you are having financial issues, it’s time to start looking for vouchers, scholarships, or a second job. This is no time to be stingy. The small investment in your child’s education you make now will last them a lifetime. It might even save their lives.

Public Middle school may be free but it will cost a parent years of grief, along with the thousands in legal fees and court costs in some cases. In extreme costs the time spent here it may lead up to funeral expenses.

Public Middle schools are the weak link in the American Education system. It’s a TOXIC environment where children wind up losing their direction in life. In some cases it’s where children lose their lives.

Academically Middle School is where children start going downhill in America. In grades 5, 6, 7 and 8 are where children don’t get the courses that will allow them to be prepared to need to compete in High school. Because they don’t get the classes like pre-algebra and science here they wind up lost and confused in High school in algebra and chemistry classes. Because they don’t get the comprehensive background in English literature they fall apart in High school when they’re presented with novels and term papers.

I can tell you from experience, a child who attends a public Middle school is a child who won’t be prepared for college either. Thanks to the garbage education they’ll receive in public middle school, They’ll be taking non-credit remedial courses trying to catch up. In some cases they’ll be taking these courses for years.

I can also tell you from personal experience Public Middle schools are not safe. A public Middle school is a war zone where children become filled with anxiety and fear. It’s hard for a child to concentrate on getting an education in a place where children are being terrorized on a daily basis by bullies who prowl the halls and criminals who stalk the campuses before and afterschool.

It’s a known fact gangs like the Crips and Bloods recruit boys in public middle schools. Drug dealers look for young men to be their lookouts in public Middle schools as well as couriers.

These thugs also look for girls to date and be part of their crew. Grown men as old as 20-25 look for 12-and 13 year old girls to pursue sexual relationships with. If your daughters will attend public middle school chances are she’ll be pressured into having sex by one of these pedophiles who lurk around the campus before and afterschool.

Public Middle schools are not a good social environment for adolescents. Unlike public elementary schools where there is some semblance of order and structure, a public middle school is chaos. Most of the faculty and administration there are apathetic and indifferent and will not look out for the needs and safety of your children. A public middle school is a place with no structure, no rules and no discipline. It’s the equivalent of sending your children to spend six hours a day in a prison complex unsupervised.

A Public Middle School is the equivalent of an Al-Qaeda Terrorist training camp for adolescents. The only things children learn there are violence, crime, sexual perversion or the start of a drug habit. It’s not a place where children learn the values that will help them grow into responsible young adults.

It is a place where a good responsible child will be turned into a juvenile delinquent, or start the path to becoming a hard-core criminal.

Public Middle schools are where good children become corrupted by bad values. Thanks to a failed liberal social policy where kids from multiple school districts wind up in one school good kids wind up mixed up with bad kids from severely dysfunctional homes. And because these good kids are in their exploratory phase they wind up adopting bad values from the dysfunctional kids that wind up staying with them for years. Worse, they wind up making mistakes that can impact them for the rest of their lives.

Public Middle schools are where good kids wind up turning into bad kids and the ones who struggle to remain good kids wind up invisible and forgotten. So much attention is paid to the dysfunctional children in public middle school that good kids are ignored and not encouraged to actualize their potential.

I’m urging every parent out there to start taking their child’s education into their own hands. Don’t feel compelled to keep your kids in a failing public educational institution for their academic career for any reason. The law may say kids have to go to school. But you have a right to say where. You as a parent have a right to choose the environment where your child is educated in. You have a right to make sure that the values you want promoted are part of that education. And you have a right to find an educational environment where your children will be safe from dangerous predators like gang bangers, pedophiles and drug dealers. Moreover, you as a parent have a right to a quality education that will provide an academic foundation that will allow your children to compete in high school and college.

There are alternatives to the toxic wasteland known as Public Middle school. Make every effort to find a Catholic or private institution to enroll your children in. And if that institution isn’t providing for their needs or safety, take them out until you find one that will provide for them. The seeds you plant today can grow up to yield bountiful fruit.

Or a bitter harvest.

I guarantee you the psychological trauma your child will get by spending two to four years in a Public Middle School will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Those scars will be next to impossible to heal, even with years of psychotherapy. Worse, the lessons in dysfunction they learn here could be passed on to spouses and their children.

Until the Federal Government and State and local governments pass laws that abolish the Middle schools as part of our educational system and replace them with something productive, it’s up to We The People to do what is best for our children. And that means removing our children from the American Public education system after grades 5 or 6.

Parents take your child’s education into your own hands. Don’t enroll your children in a public Middle School or Junior High School.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why I Write about The Comic Book Industry


Some of you probably wonder why I write so much about the Comic book industry. Why I’m so critical of the publishers, distribution system and the fans.

I’ll tell you why I’m so critical. I love comic books. I love this industry. And I love it so much I want it to be around for the next generation of youngsters to enjoy.

As I’ve stated numerous times before, comic books were my gateway to reading at four years old. If it weren’t for comic books showing me how much fun it was to read, I wouldn’t be a writer today. When I saw the comics in my brother’s collection I was inspired to make my own home-made comics with loose-leaf paper, construction paper, and glue at nine years old. Because I couldn’t draw the pictures, I used words to imagine the action going on.

As I grew into my teen years and adulthood I inherited my brothers’ collection of over 2,000 comics. Those comics and the new comics I bought kept me reading and kept my mind open as I focused on getting my high school diploma and my college degree in Business.

I want today’s generation of children to discover the joy of reading through comic books. I want to re-open this portal to literacy for the next generation so they can enjoy all these great characters I enjoyed growing up. In this technological age, another generation of kids are missing out on the gateway to reading and literacy.

In my South Bronx neighborhood a generation of readers was lost as comics disappeared off shelves in the mid 1990’s. And I’ve seen the damage that was done as the comic books were replaced with video games .  Reading test scores have dropped over the last twenty years and literacy is at an all-time low here.

Personally, I feel the decline in comic book sales correlates with the dismal reading scores and poor literacy. In inner-city neighborhoods like the South Bronx, comic books were the only literature many kids like myself could afford to supplement their educations. Back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when I was growing up comic books were all-ages entertainment that made reading exciting and fun. They encouraged good readers like myself to keep reading with the next issue and motivated struggling readers to push themselves to learn how to read better. Comic Books made the kids in my classes passionate about reading and learning about a variety of subjects.

Comic books weren’t much to many, but for kids like me they were an escape from the urban blight of burnt down buildings, junkies and crime that made New York City insufferable back in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. They inspired kids like me to work towards doing something better. To learn how to read. To keep reading. To get an education. And in some cases, it inspired us to pursue careers in a variety of fields.

I want this industry to survive. And the only way for it to survive in the 21st century is with the support of parents and children, women and minorities. They’re the only way this business will be able to get the volume sales of 300,000- 500,000 copies that can make it possible for a publisher to pull a profit on printing costs and overhead. These growing audiences are the only way that comic books can get the demand necessary to get retailers outside of comic shops interested in stocking them. And these large audiences are the only way comic publishers can reduce prices to print comic books at a price point where the value per entertainment dollar is competitive with other forms of entertainment like mp3s, TV shows, and games.

The only thing in the way of that growth is the industry’s adherence to archaic business model rendered obsolete in the late 1990’s, and an outdated business plan that targets a core demographic of White male customers who are currently over 35 years old. These are readers who have long outgrown comics and should have moved on to novels or at least graphic novels where the content can be packaged and tailored to their adult tastes.

Today’s old farts don’t understand how their selfishness is crippling the growth of the industry. Moreover, they don’t understand how their actions are keeping today’s youngsters from enjoying these characters, the customers who will keep the comic book business going for the next twenty to forty years until it’s time for them to pass these characters on to their sons and daughters.

I see how to right this ship. I see a way to get comics back into the hands of children. But most in the industry are resistant to change. Sadly I think it’ll take DC Comics or Marvel Comics ceasing publication of comics to get everyone in the industry to WAKE UP. Right now, many in the industry are comfortable sucking on a corporate tit of endless cash to stand up and be creative. Only when Time Warner or Disney stops subsidizing mediocre work will the surviving writers, artists, and editors change their approach and start creating product to appeal to the twenty million children of this baby boom.

I feel there’s room for both an adult and children’s market for comic books here in America just like in Japan. It’s just a matter of having a good editor who has the vision to see both audiences and who will make efforts to manage content for both.

There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing a kid reading a comic book. Because I know that child is developing a love for reading that will last them a lifetime.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brothers- Don’t be a Pullman Porter in a Relationship




A Pullman Porter carried bags on the railways when train travel was popular in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. He was easily recognizable by his distinctive uniform.

The Pullman Porter carried passengers’ bags on and off trains, he served passengers in the diner car and rode in the caboose. It was hard demeaning work where grown men had to endure being called “boy” “nigger” and other racial slurs on a daily basis. Even if he were college educated, had to demean and debase himself to keep a job serving customers who mocked him laughed at him, and didn’t appreciate his work.

Being a Pullman Porter was the only job many Black men could get in some places. In fact, it was considered one of the best jobs a Black man could have during the Jim Crow period.

Back in those days many good Black men had to settle for less because of Jim Crow and institutional racism prevented them from competing in the job market and achieving the American Dream.

Now decades after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, Black men are still being asked to settle for less. And they’re being asked to settle for less from their own Black women.

Many Black women today are telling good brothers they have to put up with their baggage of ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands, ex-cons, mental health issues, veneral diseases and children from their failed past relationships.

Basically, they’re telling Good Black men they have to be Pullman Porters. That they have to clean up a mess. That they have to carry bags. That they have to put up with second-best second-rate treatment in order to be first in a relationship with them.

I find that unacceptable. I won’t tolerate it in my life and I’m urging other brothers to not to accept it in their lives.

Brothers, don’t be a Pullman Porter.

Don’t put on the white jacket and the bow tie just to win the heart of a woman. It was bad enough when we had to degrade ourselves for White racists during Jim Crow. And It’s just as demeaning for a Black man to degrade himself it for a Black woman today. Black men have worked too hard and too long to settle for abuse and second-rate treatment from Black women. Take your respect.

A Black man has value and worth, as a human being and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Black men are capable of giving and sharing love and they deserve to be loved by women who appreciate and value them.

Brothers I implore you,

Don’t settle for carrying some woman’s emotional baggage from one station in life to the next. Life is too short to carry someone’s bags from past failed relationships. It’s too short to spend every day tortured by a Black woman who wants to project all the anger and frustration she feels about a failed relationship with an ex-boyfriend onto someone so she can vent. Leave that woman to stew in her own anger and drown in her issues.

Don’t settle for verbal abuse. Our fathers and Grandfathers sacrificed their dignity and endured being called nigger and boy by White people for decades in those jobs like Pullman Porter so we could have a better life today. A Black man today shouldn’t have to come home to be verbally abused and called all types of names by a Black woman. If a woman can’t respect a man enough to speak to him tactfully, then he should leave her and find someone else. If she can’t disagree with him without resorting to verbally hitting below the belt in an argument, move on. Brothers, you have feelings and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. You are an equal to a woman and she has no right to talk down to you like a child.

Don’t settle for a bad attitude. Pullmen Porters had to endure the surly attitudes from white racists because during Jim Crow they could lose their jobs for any reason a White person felt was an infraction on their superiority. In the face of so much cruelty he had to smile and still be courteous. Black men are asked to do this every day with surly Black women. We’re told to smile while black women can be surly and stank, roll their eyes and act like spoiled children. Sorry, but this behavior is just unacceptable and Black Men mustn’t tolerate it anymore. Sistas can act right for everyone else, but won’t give Black men respect in social interactions. No, this belligerence needs to stop.

Don’t settle for cleaning up someone else’s mess. Pullman Porters had to clean up messes in the dining car because it was their job. But Black men today have sacrificed too much to come home to pick up some Black woman’s relationship garbage and take it to the curb. She had the relationship with a gang-banger or an ex-con. She had three kids for three different men. But here she is she’s asking yet ANOTHER MAN to help solve HER problems. He’s supposed to put up his money to take care of another man’s kids’s, help ex-cons who “want to get themselves right” find a job and get the police to help rid her of gang bangers who keep prowling around her house. HELL NO!

Ignore the sad eyes victim cries, and salty tears. Don’t give into the temptations to put on the white jacket and serve her needs like that unappreciated Pullman Porter from back in the day. All she’s going to do is make a brotha ride in the big red caboose and laugh at him.

No, SHE made the mess with these fools. Let HER clean it up and deal with it the best she can. Keep on walking, and get a ticket in the first-class car with the rest of the polished travelers and enjoy your life.

Don’t settle for being treated like you don’t exist by sisters who are emotionally unavailable. Black women love to put their kids, ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands and baby daddys needs ahead of a Good Black Man’s needs and tell him to take a number until they’re interested. Brothers need to understand that these women are sufficiently obligated in their relationships and will not be able to be there for you and cannot be there for them.

Brothers, when you see a woman like this drop your number ticket in the garbage. Keep on walking until you find someone who will put your needs FIRST. You deserve the best in life. Don’t settle for riding in the caboose when there’s a first class ticket with your name on it.

Don’t settle for being a surrogate father. Black women feel entitled to tell a good brother that it’s his job to be a father figure for their children by other men. Moreover they feel this absolves the children’s father or fathers in some cases of any responsibility whatsoever for the upbringing of their children. These sistas want every man to be a father to their children, but the man who impregnated her.

No, men, in the case of Single mothers, keep on walking. Again, this woman is SUFFICIENTLY OBLIGATED in the dysfunctional relationship with the baby daddy SHE CHOSE and it’s THEIR job to take care of THEIR CHILDREN. Find a woman with NO KIDS who wants to build a healthy relationship with you. Then you can have a family where the children can share the love you have for them.
Black men who have worked hard achieve success in their lives shouldn’t have to be Pullman Porters when it comes to relationships with women. Black men must demand better when it comes to how we’re treated by Black women. Leave the garbage bags and the suitcases at the curb because it’s not a Black man’s job to clean up a Black woman’s mess anymore.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

CUNY Office Assistant- Black Men Need Not Apply



The textbook definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result.

Sometimes it takes people a while to realize what they’re doing is crazy.

I came to that revelation Tuesday about the CUNY Office Assistant Job in Civil service I’ve been pursuing for three years.

I have been going to hiring pools and interviews at local CityUniversity of New York campuses for approximately three years. I thought I was doing the right thing.

I was a fool.

I have exhausted my unemployment and wore down a lot of my savings chasing a chump change $26,714 a year job. Buying Business clothes. Paper. Toner. Dry cleaning. Internet. Subway fare. Traveling from the South Bronx to far away places like Brooklyn and Queens trying to get a job pays $350 a week or $8-$9 an hour. In some cases talking to the same HR people over and over again. Gambling on the hopes that one day, a position in one of the City University of New York’s campuses will open up and work out for me.

Seriously, That’s crazy to do that for three years. Just delusional when you think about it.

Most people would have quit after a year. But me goaded by my family I used to think that this will work out one day. I now realize it’s not. And I’m not throwing good money after bad anymore.

When it comes to the CUNY Office Assistant position I realize it is crazy to keep my name on the list for a Civil Service job I’m never going to get. Looking at the pattern of the hiring practices at the City University of New York and who is in charge of Human Resources at the City University of New York it’s clear that I am never going to get this job.

At most of the hiring pools and interviews I go to, I’m interviewed by women. Women HR managers attend the Hiring Pools. Women HR managers run the HR departments at CUNY.


Women with an Axe to grind against Black Men. 

And from my observations, The CUNY Office Assistant is a position given to women HR managers to other women.

Black Men need not apply.

I now realize that a Black Man does not stand a chance of getting a job as a CUNY Office Assistant in the City University of New York Civil Service System. EVER.

Unless he’s a Homosexual. Then a man has the full support of all the women in CUNY. Cause Women love to have Gay men work in their offices so they can get fashion and cooking tips.

Sure, Government Civil Service says it’s not supposed to discriminate. But technically according to the law, they’ve met their minority quota for the CUNY office Assistant Position in most cases. Most of the times they’re hiring Black women, Latina women, or Asian Women for these jobs. That helps them meet the EEOC standards for diversity, while the occasional Hispanic Asian, or Gay male hire helps keep it look like they’re not overtly discriminating against men.

During my trips to hiring pools and interviews, most of the Black men including myself are mostly the ones who go home empty handed and told “your name will remain on the list”. And it’ll remain there until you quit. That’s right quit. When you decide to stop showing up for the interviews they take your name off the list. That absolves CUNY of any responsibility for their racist, sexist and discriminatory hiring system.

I realize this isn’t going to change. Why? Because most of the racist and sexist White Professors and administrators who run the departments at CUNY like it that way. The White Male Professors and Department heads are only comfortable with White women and minority women in office support positions.

Enduring this ordeal to get a CUNY office Assistant job I’ve come to the understanding that racists will hire Black women and minority women in support positions regardless of their skills because they just want to feel comfortable. A fat Black Chick named Unequa with a bad attitude and a big ass mouth will always get the job over a clean-cut on point brother named Shawn who works hard because she makes a White man feel easy about his position in life.

To these pseudo intellectual White Supremacists, a Black man can only either be a criminal or a degenerate, or some stereotype thug or hoodrat they see on the 11o’clock news. They can’t stand the idea that Hardworking educated professional brothers like me exist.

Why? Because those scared White boys know that the Black Man named Shawn is ready to COMPETE with them. He has broken through their walls, sees their mediocrity and is ready to LEAD by example rather than HIDE BEHIND POLICY LIKE THEY DO.

It’s clear to me the pseudo-intellectual White Supremacists at the City University of New York wish to live in denial about who Black men are and don’t want them working in certain positions in their university system. With a support system of Black women and minorities helping them they erect ivy covered walls to their educational fortress and pretend that Brothers like me don’t exist.

Which is why the only Black Man you’ll ever see on a CUNY Campus is a janitor or a security guard. And that’s the way the White Supremacists there like it. They won’t openly say this, but just take one look around and those are primarily the only Heterosexual Black men you’ll see working on a CUNY campus or CUNY property, outside of the occasional Uncle Tom with a token position to make things look diverse and “fair”.

Since 2006, I’ve gotten a lesson in racism dealing with the City University of New York. Now I’m going to teach other Black Men about the lessons in Racism I learned at CUNY.

And the first lesson for the brothers is to save their money and not spend $30 on the Civil Service Exam for the CUNY office Assistant whenever it rolls around again. It’s the start of throwing good money after bad. From personal experience I can tell you Black Men need not Apply.

Brothers, keep your money in your pockets. There are other better job opportunities for you to pursue than the CUNY Office Assistant position or any other civil service position at CUNY.