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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Isis: Imitation of Life Chapter 1 & SJS DIRECT Cover Kickstarter Update

Well, we’re at the 30-day mark for the SJS DIRECT CoverKickstarter. And so far we’ve raised $75.00 or 2% of the money needed to pay Bill Walko to design the covers for this years’ SJS DIRECT titles. At the halfway mark with 30 days left, there’s still time to meet the goal of raising the $2800 needed to fund the project.

I’m offering lots of great rewards this year including paperbacks, eBooks, and book packages. Andnd Bill is offering ten (10) donors a chance to own a single figure art commission of a character of their choice for a $110 donation.

Over the next 30 days I’ll be giving readers a sneak peek at the four titles that are part of the SJS DIRECT 2016 catalog.  This week I’ll be offiering readers a look at the first chapter of Isis: Imitaiton of Life and the back cover blurb for the book. Set in 1937 Isis: Imitation of Life tells a tale in the Golden age of Superheroes and shows what made Isis a hero during the tense time of Jim Crow and racism in America.

Isis: Imitation of Life Back Cover Blurb:

 Life! To help Negro women in the 1930s, Isis establishes The Thetas, a sorority dedicated to teaching them the values that will allow them to live the best life possible. However, when she tries to teach Pledge Marva Connors her lessons, she soon learns her greatest challenge won’t be Jim Crow in the South or discrimination in the North, but the negative perceptions Marva has about herself. Can the goddess teach Marva to live on her feet? Or is she destined to die on her knees?

July 1937
Alma and I shuffle out of the lobby of the Carlsbad Theater with disappointed looks on our faces. I could think of a better way to spend a Friday evening. That was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in my life.
My best friend gives me an I told you so look as we push past the tall ornate doors of the theater and step out into the balmy air swirling around Oneonta County’s Main Street. She warned me about Imitation of Life. But me being the open-minded intellectual I had to see it for myself so I could form my own opinion.
“I told you that you weren’t going to like it.” Alma says.
“Yeah, but I had to see it for myself.” I sigh. “I’m sorry I wasted my time with that crap-”
“I’m sorry I wasted my money. I can think of a better way to spend ten cents-”
“Yeah, we could go watch one of those westerns where your people wind always up being portrayed as the savage.”
Alma grimaces on the jab. But I know how she feels. In between the coons, minstrels in Blackface and Indian squaws we colored people don’t have many options for seeing ourselves at the movies these days. I thought this movie was going to make a real statement about Negro people. But I should have known better than to trust anything that comes from Hollywood.
“Next time we go to the movies I’ll let you pick the feature Almie.”
“Let me drown my sorrows in a root beer float at Chester’s and we’ll call it even Andi.”
We march a few stores down Main Street towards Chester’s Drug Store. As we push past the tall wood and glass door the bell on it rings alerting Chester to our presence. When the short stocky chocolate colored man dressed in a white shirt, apron and a bow tie looks across the counter he greets us with a friendly smile. “Afternoon, Miss Andi, Miss Alma.” Chester greets. “Ya’ll awful dressed up for a Friday afternoon. Something going on in town?”
 “Nah, we have to pick up Doc and a Pledge from the bus station in an hour.” Alma replies.
“That new girl from Charleston?” Chester says. “I hear she’s a real smart one. Got herself a Master’s degree and everything-”
I’m hoping she can behave herself better than the last group of pledges we brought up here last month. That bunch of girls seemed to lose their mind when they got off the bus. Once they got up here all they wanted to do was go to the dancehall, shoot crap, and flirt with the boys in town. I had to send all but one of them home on Monday Morning. “Yeah, I’m hoping she’ll be a real asset to The Thetas.” I say.
“That’s if she can survive pledging us.” Alma says. “It’s a miracle one of those girls doesn’t wind up running out of my house in a straitjacket with all the crazy stuff we put them through.”
A Theta Challenge is nothing compared to what the rednecks put them through when they get back home. “At least they can have a laugh after going through a Theta Challenge Alma.” I say. “I can’t say that for any encounter you have with someone outside of these city limits.”
“Anything I can get for you ladies?” Chester inquires.
“Root beer float and a chocolate milkshake here for my best friend.” Alma requests.
Coming right up.” Chester says.
While Chester digs under the counter for the ingredients to prepare our beverages, we stroll over to the magazine rack and peruse the titles.  “Hey Chester, the new Doc Savage come in yet?” I inquire.
“Came on the rack yesterday.” Chester calls out. “This one’s got Pat Savage in it.”
I light up on hearing my favorite heroine will be featured in this one of this month’s Doc Savage adventures. I quickly find the magazine on the rack and eagerly take it off the shelf. As I flip through it Alma shakes her head. “I still don’t see what you see in Doc Savage Andi.”
 “All the muscles and that steely resolve.” I say. “He’s the handsomest Negro I’ve ever read about.”
Alma gives me a quizzed look as she examines the cover. “Negro? How is Doc Savage a Negro?” Alma inquires.
I peer down at the copper haired bronze skinned he-man in his tattered white shirt on the cover and smile.  “Why do you think they call him the Man of Bronze?”
“He sure doesn’t look like a Negro on that cover with that slicked back hair-”
With the way most of these Negro men fry their hair these days with conk you never know. “My skin color’s just a shade darker than Doc Savage Almie. And if I’m considered a Negro then he’s got to be Negro-”
“Yeah, you’re a Negro by way of Ancient Egypt Cleopatra-”
I may come from Nubia, but my skin’s still dark enough to be considered a Negro in this part of the world. “White folks always put stuff between the lines regarding us Colored folks Almie.” I say. They don’t want to admit the good things about us, so they try to be covert about paying us a compliment.”
“Sometimes I wish they wouldn’t be so overt sometimes.” Alma says taking one of the dimestore paperbacks off the rack next to the pulp mags. “Forbidden Squaw?”
“This one’s probably about a young Cherokee who falls in love with a White man and has to make a choice between her people and her heart.” I jab taking the pulp novel from her.
“Aren’t they all about that?” Alma laughs taking it back. “I swear, all these White people see us Indian women as is a hot piece of redskin ass-”
“But you Iroquois are far more sophisticated than that.”
“I’d kick a White man in his crackerjacks if he ever touched me-”
“This from the proud Chieftains’ daughter married to the town’s most prominent Negro citizen-”
My buffalo man can have his way with me any time.” Alma says as she puts her hand to her head and pretends to fawn.
“You think Forbidden Squaw was bad, wait’ll you get a load of this one.” I say taking another paperback off the rack. “Mark of the Beast.”
We grimace looking at the cover featuring a tall muscular Black man standing under the spotlight of a streetlight looking lecherously at a blonde haired, blue-eyed White woman felled to the pavement of a city street. “How about this one?” Alma says taking another book off the rack “Halfbreed-The Tragic Tale of a Mulatto Woman.”
I roll my eyes on seeing the light, bright, nearly white woman on the cover sitting on a bed with a worried expression on her face as she anxiously looks over at her White lover standing in the doorway. “The only thing worse than the fiction is the nonfiction these days.” I snarl picking up a copy of the Amsterdam News on the display of Negro newspapers adjacent from the magazines. My stomach turns reading the headline about the lynching of another Black boy by the Klan down in Georgia. “Is it always going to be this bad?”
Alma gives me a look. “I wish I could give you an answer Princess-”
 “Sometimes I’m wondering if I’m really making a difference this go around the world with crap like this still going on-”
Alma puts her hand on my shoulder. “Hey, you do what you can Andi. Even someone like you can only do but so much.”
I wish I could do more. But the Elders insisted I not get directly involved in the political affairs of the Negro when I returned to America. “I guess I can’t do everything-”
Before I can finish my statement, Chester lets us know our beverages are ready. “One root beer float and one chocolate milkshake for the two sophisticated Theta ladies.” He sings.
We head over to the ice cream counter, take seats at on the stools in front of it and prepare to enjoy our beverages. “I guess we’re gonna have to wait for God to change things regarding us colored people.” Alma says.
“I guess so.” I sigh. “Until then I’ll be reading Doc Savage.”

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