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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thoughts on the Justice League Trailer

I got a chance to see the new Justice League Trailer. Good Gravy what a mess.

Just when I thought Batman V. Superman and Suicide Squad set a benchmark for an all time low for Superhero movies, Warner Brothers goes back to the drawing board and outdoes itself.

The opening scene is Batman saddling a horse. And he says…They’re coming.  We have to assemble the others. Then Wonder Woman says they’re here.

When a movie trailer starts with a cliché from 40 years ago in the first ten seconds you know that movie is going to be hot garbage on a plate.

And Justice League looks like a Landfill medley.

It’s clear to me Warner Brothers hasn’t learned anything about making superhero movies since 1997. And it shows on the screen of their Justice League trailer. Listening to the cringe worthy dialogue and cinematic sequences in Justice League took me back to WB’s disastrous Batman & Robin and even 1989’s dreadful Captain America.

But in Marvel’s defense they didn’t have the resources to make a quality film in 1989. Warner Brothers had $400 million and they came up with this.

Damn. Just Damn.  

The definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result. And the executives at Warner Brothers have lost their minds.

What’s really sad about the Justice League Trailer is that Warner Brothers spent over $400 million dollars and they put up the trailer of a film that looks like it cost $40 million. From the crappy CGI Parademons to Flash and Cyborg’s RIDICULOUS costumes Justice League looks like a desperate imitation of Marvel’s Avengers and a poor one at that.

Justice League was a desperate attempt to try to catch up with Marvel Studios and capitalize on the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the Justice League Trailer we clearly see that WB was far behind back with Man of Steel, falling further back with Batman V. Superman, faltering with Suicide Squad and has crashed to the ground out of breath. All Marvel Studios has to do is break the tape at the finish line.
This race is over.

And it’s a shame. I said that there should have been a neck-and-neck horse race between Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers with superhero movies. But because Time Warner is still stuck in the past they can’t create movies or TV shows that bring the catalog of DC Superheroes to the silver screen in the 21st Century.

Clearly Zack Snyder is clearly out of his depth. So is Chris Nolan. Four films into their DC universe and they can’t produce a single film that’s worth watching. Looking at their Justice League trailer I don’t see $400 million spent. I see a low-budget movie not fit for television.

It’s clearly time for a new vision at Warner Brothers regarding DC Superhero properties. The archaic model of the 1990’s needs to be scrapped and a new platform needs to be put in place that not only allows Warner Brothers to create quality films, but also films that will allow them to compete against Marvel Studios the horse race comic fans have been wanting.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

E'steem: Little Girl Lost Now Available in Paperback & E-readers

E'steem: Little Girl Lost 
ISBN-13: 978-1542360906 
ISBN-10: 1542360900 

Little Girl Lost! When E’steem finds Melissa, a lost little girl wandering around Times Square, she runs afoul of Brimstone Jack, a demon pimp out to get a payday at the child’s expense. Can the Devilish Diva beat back Jack and his exotic army of demon dancers and help the lost little girl get back home?

Get this devilishly funny E'steem series adventure for in paperback or e-reader today! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

10 Screenwriting Mistakes that Netflix’s Writers Made With Iron Fist

As a screenwriter I’m deeply disappointed with Netflix’s Iron Fist. There show uses scripts filled with mistakes first year screenwriters make. Most of these scrips should have never been greenlit for production, but somehow they got approved. And the result is a show that will teach aspiring screenwriter what NOT to do when they write a screenplay or a teleplay.

What’s mistakes did the screenwriters make writing Iron fist? Here they are:

1. Danny Rand is a Weak main character. As he’s written there’s not much to Danny Rand substantively. Ward Mechum is more interesting than Danny Rand. Colleen Wing is a more interesting character than Danny Rand, Heck, the homeless guy who popped in during the first two episodes is more interesting than Danny Rand.

In a superhero story, a Hero has to be ACTIVE. Since they’re the main character they have to be the CENTER of the story. Once they appear on the screen they have to DRAW us into the story and make us CARE about the goals they want to accomplish and the obstacles they have to overcome.

It’s hard to care about Danny Rand’s story because he’s so passive. In every episode everyone is doing interesting and exciting things and he’s just passing through. Ward and Joy Meachum are running Rand Enterprises. Colleen Wing is running the dojo and participating in the fight club. All the stuff Danny should be doing everyone else is doing. And that makes for BORING television.

2. Danny Rand in is TOO NICE . Danny Rand is a nice guy. Unfortunately being nice doesn’t make the audience relate to him.

In screenwriting a character needs layers, rough edges and depth in order for the audience to relate to and identify with them. Danny Rand in Netflix’s Iron Fist has no personality, no presence and no depth.

In The Temptation of John Haynes, John Haynes is a nice guy. But he’s a loner. An outsider. A misfit. A stranger. A man who has been through hard times. A man who lives on the dark side of life. And it’s all those layers and rough edges that enable readers to relate to him and identify with his struggles in the world and against the forces of Lucifer’s Legion.  

Danny Rand could have all the things John Haynes has as a character. But the writers write him in such a one-dimensional way all you see is a goofy socially awkward chump you can’t take seriously as a hero.

3. Danny Rand gives off an Asexual vibe. Danny Rand on Iron Fist just doesn’t feel like a MAN. He comes across like a child. And that prevents the audience from seeing him as someone they can care about. Men see him as a WIMP, and women don’t find him Masculine enough to be considered sexually attractive.

Heroes onscreen are supposed to be STRONG. They’re supposed to be someone we’re supposed to root for. When I watch Luke Cage I see a MAN I can get behind because he stands strong. But when I watch Iron fist I see a BOY that’s WEAK. And it’s hard to root for a guy who comes across like Peter Pan in every episode. Netflix’s Danny Rand doesn’t feel like someone raised by monks, he’s written more like someone who came from Neverland.

It’s clear to me that the writers didn’t do their research on the philosophies of Monks and Shaolins. Even though Monks apply a different approach to life they are still MEN. And I’d like to think a group of MEN would teach Danny to have some physical toughness to go along with his mental discipline.

Moreover, I’d like to think he’d try to keep some of his American swagger as an effort to hold onto the memory of his parents. With his mother and father gone, it’d be a way to have them in his heart.

When I used to read Iron Fist comics Danny used to express a bit of the cockiness Bruce Lee used to show in many of his films. A bit of an edge.  A hardness. Not only was his fist Iron, but his demeanor was as well. Yeah, he learned Eastern philosophies from the monks. But he was still a MAN. While he drank tea, he took a minute to check out the honeys or banter with an opponent in a match to throw them off guard.

4. Danny Rand TALKS TOO MUCH. Netflix’s Iron Fist features WAY too many scenes of people telling stories. This is the KISS OF DEATH in a cinematic project. The writers of Iron Fist don’t understand that an online show is a VISUAL medium.

Dialogue in a story is supposed to move a story forward. But in Iron Fist dialogue is used as exposition. That’s a first-year screenwriter mistake. The writers on Iron Fist spend more time TELLING a story instead of SHOWING the action onscreen.

And In screenwriting, no one TELLS a story. You SHOW a story in pictures. And as you SHOW your story in pictures you SHOW people some more pictures. People want to SEE ACTION onscreen, not watch Danny Rand TELL a story to Joy Meachum, Ward Meachum or whoever. I want to SEE K’un Lun. I want to SEE Danny’s training. I want to SEE him earning the Iron Fist. I want to SEE Danny using the Iron fist and KICKING ASS with it.

5. Danny Rand’s story is just not that compelling. When it comes to Iron Fist his premise is WEAK. Iron Fist’s story has been a dozen times since Oliver Twist. Orphaned boy comes back to reclaim his fortune. After he fights a handful of guards and kung-fu killers his lawyer comes in and automatically he’s running Rand Enterprises. There’s no struggle, no conflict, and nothing substantive to keep the audience interested.

Good stories have a character transformation arc. The audience wanted to see The Hero’s journey. They wanted to see how Danny Rand changes as he returns back from K’un Lun to life in New York City. How does he adjust to the different culture? How does he adjust to the different time now that fifteen years have passed? How does he adjust to current events? These were questions that weren’t answered effectively in Iron Fist. Danny just shows up and he expects the world to be the same as he left it. That’s just shit writing.

In 15 years characters become different people than when were when they were younger. That’s something I show with the Matilda Crowley Character in her 25-year journey in the Goth subculture in the Spinsterella trilogy. The 16-year-old Matilda in Spellbound is completely different than the 40-year-old Matilda in Spinsterella. And the 21-year-old Matilda in The upcoming Legend of Mad Matilda is completely different than the 16-year old Matilda in Spellbound or the 40-year old Matilda in Spinsterella.

Yes, the Matilda character has a consistent “voice” and consistent mannerisms, but as she grows and changes on her journey in each story. Unfortunately, Danny Rand or his supporting cast don’t go through that kind of character transformation arc. Everyone in Iron Fist is just about the same 15 years later as they were when they were kids. Ward is still a douche. Joy is indifferent. Danny is still an introvert. One-dimensional underdeveloped characters who are completely paper thin.

 The audience needed to see Danny becoming a MAN. Being someone who is completely different from the introverted child of the flashbacks. Someone who is ready to apply the philosophies of the monks towards taking Ward and his father HEAD on as he took his company back. Someone ready to show the world he’s ready to LEAD and move his company forward. 

6. The Bad guys don’t make us care. In superhero stories bad guys drive the conflict. Unfortunately in Iron Fist the Bad guys just aren’t there. Instead of giving us the big villains in Iron Fist’s Rogues gallery early on like Steel Serpent, Boomerang and Sabretooth, we get off the shelf bad guys like The Meachum Family, Rand guards, and Hand Ninjas. Easy opponents that can be jobbed out to Danny without much of a challenge to him. Villains that don’t give him an obstacle to overcome. 

Just like the hero has to make us CARE about their mission, the villains make us CARE about what they hope to accomplish. A good villain like Mariah or Cottonmouth can make a superhero series into Must See TV.  Good villains

7. Colleen Wing Kicks more Ass than Danny Rand. The show is called Iron Fist. But the writers should have just called it Colleen Wing or Daughter of the Dragon. As it stands now the best title for the show should be The Emasculated Iron Fist. Because Danny Rand comes across like a complete BITCH on his own show.

Colleen Wing acts more like a martial arts master than the actual martial arts master Danny Rand, the man who came from K’un Lun to New York City. She’s in the cage having the fights Danny should be having with the brusiers, She’s training students in the dojo. She’s working with Claire Temple and helping her out with her fighting skills, making the bridge between Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

8. Iron Fist doesn’t use his powers in a compelling way. In screenwritng, action defines character. Iron Fist is supposed to be a superhuman martial artist. Unfortunately I rarely ever saw him do anything superhuman. And that’s because the writing is shit on this show. Iron Fist is written like a cop show not a Karate show. And because it’s written like a cop show, the writers just weren’t creative or imaginative with the Kung-Fu the way like Quentin Tarentino used it with the Kill Bill movies or even I use it in a story like Isis: Samurai Goddess.

Martial arts fights in a superhero show like Iron Fist should be fast-paced and showing amazing moves. In Iron Fist the fights are slow and feel amateurish. Iron Fist doesn’t have any of Bruce Lee’s Finesse or sophistication, Jet Li’s Speed, Sammo Hung’s agility, or Chuck Norris’ skill. Even Jason Frank, Walter Jones, Amy Jo Johnson, Austin St. John and the late Thuy Trang showed better martial arts skills when they beat up Putties on power Rangers.  If the Power Rangers can beat up a dozen Putties with ease, I’d like to think Danny Rand could wipe the floor with 30 orderlies and bust out of a mental ward in the first five minutes of an episode of Iron Fist.

9. The Pacing of an Iron Fist Episode is WAY TOO slow. On Iron Fist It takes an hour to do something I’ve done in stories in five minutes.

When I was writing Isis: Samurai Goddess I opened the story with a martial arts fight in a sauna. And in five pages Readers saw her use only a towel, her amazing martial arts skills and a smile to beat up three kung-fu killers who were out to assassinate a Grad student. Action, Sex appeal, humor, and a compelling inciting incident that got the audience wanting more in one chapter.

In contrast on Iron Fist we get Danny Rand in a psych ward for an entire hour of the second episode. Again, this should have been the setup for an episode, not the entire episode.

A seasoned screenwriter knows that they have to establish their story in ten pages maximum. A great one can do it in five. The faster the inciting incident gets kicked off, the faster the audience can get hooked into the story.

On a martial arts show like Iron Fist, the pacing needs to be FAST. This is a superhuman martial artist, stories need to set up to him kicking ass or with him on the way to kicking somebody’s ass. People watch Karate shows to see amazing martial arts moves.

Haim Saban understood this with Power Rangers back in 1992. But Marvel Studios doesn’t 

10. The Producers forget this is a Martial Arts show. The head writer of Iron Fist comes from Dexter. And he’s applying a cop show approach to a comic book/martial arts show.

That’s not gonna work here.

When people watch Iron Fist they need to see Danny Rand doing amazing martial arts. Kicking guys through doors. Knocking out Sagat and Zangeif sized guys out with one punch. Beating the shit out of 40 guys and not breaking a sweat.

Iron Fist should be a FUN fast-paced martial arts show with the storytelling of a comic book and the action and pacing of a Power Rangers episode, Bruce Lee movies, or a movie like Quentin Tarentino’s Kill Bill movies. People should be getting excited anticipating what super cool martial arts move Danny is going to do in the next episode or what opponent he’d face in an episode as he worked towards reclaiming his fortune from the Meachums. That’s how I’d have written Season 1. And I think it’d be a much better show.

Friday, March 24, 2017

James Harris Jackson-A Btich-Made™ White Supremacist PSYCHO SIMP

A couple of days ago White Supremacist James Harris Jackson took a bus all the way from Baltimore to New York City to murder Black men. After murdering 66-year old Timothy Caughman, a homeless man collecting bottles he turned himself into police.

Funny how these White Supremacists Bitch Up after they do their dirt.

From what I’m seeing White Supremacists seem to live in their own heads. And whenever they participate in their acts of Racial violence they show the world what Bitch-Made™ Cowards they truly are.

I find it funny how Mr. Big and Bad White Supremacist James Harris Jackson had the balls to ride a bus all the way up to New York to go on a killing spree to murder Black men but while he stalked another Black man he decided not to attack him because something “spooked” him.

I’m thinking he got a look at the guy and realized that he could actually fight back. That’s when he Bitched up.

 So he picked Timothy Caughman, a homeless man because because he couldn’t fight back. Just like Dylann Roof, Jackson looked for the weakest opponent so he could score an easy kill.

Then after committing murder Jackson decided to turn himself in. Showing the world what a BITCH he truly is.

Jackson is another one of these keyboard warriors. Tough on a computer, but a Pussy in real life.

Jackson says he came to New York to kill Black men because he’d get the most attention.

Sounds just like a Female doesn’t he?

Women do things to get attention. And from his actions it’s clear to me James Jackson is a Mangina with issues regarding Black men. And when he couldn’t get people to pay attention to him he decided to

I find it funny that Jackson took that bus all the way from Baltimore, a predominantly Black city up to New York City and didn’t think to go to one of the predominantly Black areas like The South Bronx, Harlem or Bushwick Brooklyn. No, he approached a homeless elderly Black man on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan just trying to get some bottles to make enough money get something to eat.

Why? Because he knew the Black men in those areas would fight back. And in most cases if he had brought his sorry ass into one of those neighborhoods and approached some gang bangers they would have lit his ass up like a Christmas tree or beat his ass like a drum until he cried like the bitch he truly is.

Reports also say that White Supremacist Jackson also had an issue with Black men having relationships with white women.

This sounds like the roots of this Mangina’s problems. Just like Dylann Roof, Jackson seems to be another Psycho SIMP upset that the Girl of His Dreams™ expressed interest in a Black man or pursued a relationship with a Black man. And since he couldn’t get her to pay him any attention he decided to Blame Black men.

When it wasn’t Black men who were the problem. It was HIM. Jackson felt entitled to White women because he was a “superior” White man. And when those White women he was fixated on chose a Black man over him, he started getting caught up in his White supremacist delusion just like Eliot Rodger got caught up in his god complex. Angry over the fact that Black men were taking White women asked him to take his sword and play White Knight by killing the “Evil” Black men who denied him a chance to get with his Damsel in distress.

Once the investigation is over, we’ll probably find out that Jackson like Roof was fixated on some White female in Baltimore, couldn’t get her attention he lost it. I’m finding with these kinds of guys in most cases they don’t even approach women. And because they live in their own heads and not the real world they start playing the Blame N’ Shame game making themselves out to be the victim of imaginary Black men.  

When in actuality White Supremacists like Jackson lack the BACKBONE and BALLS to go out and experience this thing we call life. Instead of taking the rejections, losses and failures that go with life, they hide in a virtual world online and use Black men as scapegoats for their inability to confront the issues inside themselves they lack the courage to confront.

And when their frustrations boil over into rage they go out and participate in acts of violence like murders and mass murders.

It’s sad that Timothy Caughman lost his life because a Bitch-Made™ coward James Jackson couldn’t handle this thing we call life. And because he saw himself as a victim of he made a victim out of an innocent Black man who was just trying to pick up the pieces of his life. Perhaps if he stopped Blaming Black men and using White Supremacy as a crutch, he could take a look in the mirror and finally see who real the person was responsible for all his shortcomings in life. Perhaps he’ll be able to come to that understanding in prison.

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.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mad Matilda Concept sketches

I’ve always had a picture in my mind of what “Mad Matilda” Crowley looks like However, it’s always been tough getting her image on paper.

Usually I see Matilda from Spinsterella as a Gothed up Tia Mowry or Persia White in my imagination. And I see the 16-year old Matilda from Spellbound as a Gothed up Zendaya Coleman or Lisa Bonet during her time on The Cosby Show with Lydia Deetz’ hair from Beetlejuice.

 However, it’s tough getting any image of Matilda to paper. While I’ve done sketches of the character, they really haven’t captured her spirit. It wasn’t until one of my readers on Facebook told me he imagined Paula Patton as Matilda in Spinsterella that I was actually able to get inspired solidify an image of Mad Matilda, the Queen of the Industrial Goth Raves. I’m not the worlds biggest Paula Patton fan, but when I took a look at images of her on Google, I started getting ideas for her visual image.

Mad Matilda is the 21-year old Matilda from The Legend of Mad Matilda. This is Matilda in her Goth Prime, in the period between her baby bat years in Spellbound and her Elder Goth years in Spinsterella. Since the story is set in 1995, and industrial is a major part of the subculture at the time, I’ve changed her look to reflect that era.

“Mad Matilda’s” look is meant to be less elegant and a bit more aggressive. The character is the life of the party and is supposed to get crowds excited for the event. Inspirations for Mad Matilda include MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown and real life Goth YouTuber Rose Nocturnalia. In several videos Rose Nocturnalia wore a set of pigtails in a wig that looked JUST like the way I imagined Mad Matilda’s.  Due to the paper size I didn’t make them as big as Rose’s but they are supposed to be puffed out teased out pigtails.

Pre-Spinsterella Matilda
Mad Matilda’s outfit is a lot less elegant than the Black Widow of Spellbound. Mad Matilda’s clothes are designed to fit more in the industrial scene and allow her to work raves and clubs. The skirt is shorter so she can dance and jump off stages, and because raves and clubs are HOT she wears T-shirts. She also wears edgier Goth jewelry such as spiked collars and bracelets, darker makeup and the Nose ring she mentioned in Spinsterella. And of course the DemoniaStack platform boots. Because Demonia Stacks are AWESOME. 

These sketches aren’t perfect, but they’re just a way to get an image from my imagination to paper. Mad Matilda is one of the TOUGHEST characters to draw and I’m finally happy to have an image of her put to paper. Another thanks to my Facebook friends for jump starting my imagination!