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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Challenges of Creating Black Female Superheroes

I’m starting to understand why there aren’t many Black female superheroes or comic book characters. The obstacles a creator has to face in presenting a Black woman in a solo book can be frustrating and even overwhelming at times.  

As a creator of Black female superheroines like Isis and E’steem, I’ve run into so a lot of resistance. And sadly, most of it comes from Black people.

One of the big challenges I run into is when some Black people try to turn things regarding Black female superheroines into a lightskin/darkskin debate. Instead of judging characters like Isis by the content of their character they only look at the color of their skin. And they use skintone as an excuse to not read any of the material I’m presenting to them. For them a character like Isis or E’steem just isn’t “Black” even though they’re created by a Black man and are rooted in African-American history and culture.

However, a Black character like Storm and Black Panther created by Jewish and White men are considered “Black” by those same Black masses.

Latest Isis book! 
After telling me that Isis  isn’t “Black” these same people launch into shaming tactics and ad-hominem attacks telling me that I’m colorstruck. Some will even go on to say I prefer light-skinned women in real life. A few will tell me I even hate Black women.

Even though the White haired blue-eyed Storm doesn’t look anything like any of the Sistas on the block. Nor does she act like them.

Because many never give Isis a chance they never get past the surface to learn about the substance of the character. If they stayed to read the stories, they’d come to understand that Isis’ golden skintone is supposed to symbolize or reflect on her Heliopolitan heritage. In Ancient Egypt and Nubia statues of the gods were made of gold and adorned with precious stones to show how much they valued their relationship with the gods.

Moreover, Isis’ golden skintone is to add a little diversity to the ranks of Black heroines. In comics and fantasy Black comes in more than one shade and that’s not really reflected in genre fiction and comics. Almost every Black character is the same shade of brown. And when it comes to the genre someone needs to make the statement that we all don’t look alike. 

And if they stayed to read the stories they’d find that the goddess next door is a lot like them and has their experience in her adventures. I make every effort to incorporate not just Heliopolitan mythology into the Isis series but African-American history and Black culture into the stories. Much of what’s unique about being a Black woman is featured in every Isis series story, and many miss out on some great stories because they judge the character based on a skintone instead of judging the content on its merits.

A few Black people I’ve encountered who don’t “get” fantasy try to project their reality into the life of the character. Many Black people just can’t allow themselves to suspend their disbelief about a Black female heroine existing. Instead of just reading the story and enjoying it as is, they start trying to pick apart the concept. Saying this wouldn’t happen. Or that wouldn’t happen. Some even start getting angry and start talking about what they’d do in a particular situation.

Some will tell me that Isis can’t be the daughter of Osiris. However, these same Black people will go out and buy Monster High Dolls for their kids and have no problem believing it’s actually biologically possible for undead creatures like vampires and dead beings like mummies can have daughters like Draculaura and Cleo De Nile. Again, because Monster High comes from a White Corporation, Black people have no problem accepting the concepts as believable in the realm of reality.

However, these same Black people will have a problem accepting a concept of Osiris having a daughter. Or that Osiris’ daughter would identify as a Black woman. A few would even dare to call her a White woman based on an image.

Even though in the first Isis story she clearly says that the people with skin her color and hair her texture were Negroes. Even though she says in Chapter 15 of the first Isis story that she experienced racism and White Supremacy first hand in the 1800s’ during her travels in the North, had her home in the South burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan and even witnessed her husband being lynched and saw her son murdered before her very eyes before these same urban terrorists before they tried to rape her.

If that’s not Black enough for some of these Negroes I don’t know what would be considered “Black” for them.

What I’ve run into with Isis with some Black people regarding Isis and E’steem are the clearest cases of cognitive distortion I’ve ever seen. Because the concepts are coming from a Black man they have a hard time believing it.

Because Isis is a Black heroine not sanctioned by the White liberal mainstream media many Black people just have a problem dealing with the ideas presented to them. For many Black folks, unless a White liberal in mainstream media approves of a Black concept it’s not safe for some “Black” people to embrace.

Another challenge I run into is Black people trying to project their values on the characters. With the E’steem series some will complain about E’steem still having a demonic visage.

However, these same people will have no problem embracing a White demonic character such as a Ghost Rider, the Demon Etrigan, or Chaos! Comics Purgatori. And most people of all races will embrace Todd McFarlane’s Spawn without thinking twice about it.

On E’steem some will say I’m trying to promote Satanism. Others will say that I’m trying to promote devil worship.

When it’s not any of those things. E’steem was inspired by my love of Salli Richardson Whitfield’s acting. Back in 1995 when I was watching Gargoyles, I learned she was the first Black woman to land a lead in a Disney project. Inspired, I wanted to create a character that I believed would show her acting range. With bad guys being more memorable than heroes in Disney movies, I thought E’steem could be on the same level as the Ursulas and Malefecents. Besides, what better villain to take on a Heliopolitan goddess than a she-demon?

As the character evolved, she became her own person. And as she changed I tried to give readers a more balanced picture of the character to make her a bit more multidimensional than your standard Disney villain. That was one of the reasons I brought the character into The Temptation of John Haynes and put her through her own character transformation arc. 

What’s even sadder is that many of these same people will get upset about E’steem becoming a Christian at the end of The Temptation of John Haynes and grouse about her still having her demon powers a the conclusion of the story. Not understanding that I’m crafting a second character transformation arc, where the character changes and grows over time, they insist that the character turn into some Maude Flanders type character who bullies and shames people into seeing the same light she’s discovered.

What’s even stranger is that these same Black people will look at a White character such as a John Constantine who deals in occult, magic, demons and religion like E’steem does and praises him as a complex multidimensional character. And they’ll have no problem embracing a White woman like Zatanna who also uses magic and deals with the same issues E’steem faces in her adventures.

When it comes to Black male heroes I don’t see half the obstacles I’ve run into with trying to create Black female superheroines. With a Black male character, readers will embrace them without question. However, when it comes to creating a Black female heroines, I’m finding there’s a huge wall that I’ve had to climb to try to reach readers of color to show them what the sistas have to offer them.

Black women are strong and courageous. And we rarely see that strength of character and courage depicted in the pages of comic books and fantasy fiction. Over the past few years I’ve been trying to balance that picture out by presenting those stories of strength and courage in the Isis and E’steem series.

I’d like to think Black women could do better than being a supporting character like Storm, Rocket or Misty Knight or an ancillary character like Bumblebee or Vixen. I’d like to believe that a Black heroine had the richness and complexity to carry her own book the way Isis and E’steem do and tell their own stories about being a Black heroine the way Isis and E’steem do right now. I’d like to believe that little girls can imagine themselves as goddesses and see themselves as taking the lead in their own world than being in the background of someone elses’. That’s how I imagined the world over 15 years ago when I created Isis and E’steem, but I don’t know if any other Black people share my vision for the future.

I believe there is an audience for a Black heroine in comic books and the fantasy genres. And that’s why I’ll keep persevering in the face of all the obstacles in front of me. The more I struggle, the more progress I believe I’ll make.

To get readers into the adventures of Black heroines, I’m offering the Isis/E’steem crossover on Kindle Unlimited and in paperback this summer. In both stories readers will see what makes Black heroines great and what makes their stories distinct. And I’m planning a major story in the Isis series that will be completely immersive in Black culture and the Black experience. Something I think will get readers to think about what’s truly distinct about the experiences of Black women in genre fiction and comics.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Challenges of Selling African American Fantasy

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Isis/E’steem Crossover is now available on Kindle Unlimited and Paperback!

The long awaited Isis/E’steem Crossover is HERE! Featuring a pair of AWESOME covers by Hero Busine$$ artist Bill Walko, this unique cross-over features the goddess next door and the devilish diva in a pair of action packed fantasy adventures!

Vampires! When E’steem is given a project that takes her out of the office, Isis fills in for her on the job at the Morris Phillips. While she’s escorting CEO John Haynes to a charity event the demon D’lilah and a brood of disgruntled Vampires crash the party looking to take a meeting with him. Can the goddess next door help her boss take care of business dealing with the undead?

Bad Girl Gone Good! Good Girl goes undercover! When E’steem and John find stolen boxes of Marshmallow cookies in a Bronx Bodega, she goes undercover at the Nabiskit factory in Philadelphia to find the employee responsible for the thefts. Can the Devilish Diva stop the cookie crook and put an end to their confectionary caper?

I want to take a moment to thank Bill Walko for designing the AWESOME covers for both paperbacks. Both look AMAZING and I absolutely LOVE them!

And I want to take another moment to thank all the Kickstarter donors again for making this project possible! If you paid for a Reward you will be getting your paperbacks in June. All the donors will be a mentioned on the inside of the Acknowledgements section of both paperbacks and the eBook. Without your support I wouldn’t have been able to get this project off the ground!

Both Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover will be FREE Memorial Day Weekend on Kindle! And if you have Kindle Unlimited after that, you can BORROW both books for FREE!

And if you don’t have Kindle Unlimited, you can buy both books for just 99 cents on your kindle and $10 in paperback! Get your copy of the paperback and eBook starting this Friday!

And in other SJS DIRECT news:

Lawrence Cherry has informed me that the long awaited sequel to Commencement will be coming this June! So everyone will finally find out what happened to Tim! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

STOP SIMPIN Second Edition Now on Smashwords, Kindle

The Summer reading season starts at SJS DIRECT this weekend! And it launches with the much anticipated second edition of Stop Simipin.

This edition is bigger longer and goes more in depth explaining about What a Simp is, and how the Simp life paradigm is a complete failure for every man who applies it.

Because I want men to learn what they need to improve their lives and take themselves to the next level I’m offering up the n Second Edition of Stop Simpin FREE on Smashwords. However, if you go to Kindle, it’s going to cost $2.99 But what’s $2.99 when you can learn things that will change your life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Friend of a Friend: Why American Business is FUBAR

How do people get jobs these days? Friend of a friend. And that’s a bad thing.

In today’s job market managers and business owners see a friend of a friend as an instant reference and a reliable professional person they think they can trust on the job. Unfortunately, most managers and business owners just don’t understand how having friends in the workplace can be detrimental to their business long-term.

While having a friend of a fiend working on the job can help make for an amicable work environment for insiders, it can be stressful and downright frustrating for those working in the business outside of the inner circle. People who work in the office can become demoralized when they see a manager and their friends getting too social on the job. From their vantage point, they don’t see themselves as being valued by management or feel that their ideas will be valued when they contribute them in a professional setting. And because they feel like they don’t belong in the organization they lose their passion in the workplace.

When people see friends of friends on the job getting too chummy it often leads to absenteeism, turnover and job dissatisfaction from those outside of the social circle. These issues can slow down a businesses’ productivity and even put a business at risk of going out of business.

When it comes to having a friend of a friend on the job, it not only sucks the life out of a workplace by destroying worker morale, but it also destroys productivity as well. Friends of friends oftentimes abuse work rules and use the close ties of their personal relationship with a manager to abuse their professional relationship. The friend of a friend who takes off at odd hours, shows up late, or is rude to customers can be doing damage to a business’ reputation. However, because a manager has a overly close personal relationship with that friend they won’t hold them accountable for their unprofessional behavior on the job.

Instead of holding that person accountable on the job and insisting they pull their own weight like everyone else, many friends of friends on the job will try to pick up the slack for a friend. Fixing their reports. Cleaning up their memos. Making all sorts of excuses for them when they aren’t where they’re supposed to be.

Worse, they demanding that other workers who are outside of the social circle continue to pick up their slack as well. And when they do that they insist that their co-workers meet one standard while not insisting their underperforming friends meet another. This double standard can not only demoralize a team, but it can also slow down productivity to a crawl if this friend of a friend is placed in an essential position.

The biggest problem with hiring friends of friends has to do with supervision. Plain and simple, friends just can’t supervise friends. Whenever there are workplace issues friends of friends often put halos around those they are too close to. And because they are emotionally attached to that person they can’t see their actions from an objective perspective. An employee can be participating in all sorts of unprofessional behavior and that supervisor or business owner will just give it a pass.

And that employee will feel entitled to that pass. After, all they are friends outside the office. And the perks should also be inside the office as well. In a dysfunctional workplace where a boss or business owner does not set boundaries for professional conduct is often expected to look the other way at crimes like embezzlement, fraud and even sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Giving this kind of behavior a pass can put a business at risk for civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution. It can be a disaster that puts a business right out of business.

In many cases that manager who hired the friend of a friend who gets that pass for unprofessional behavior will transfer all the anger the have at their friend onto employees outside of the social circle. And while they take the blame for all the dysfunctional friend of a friend’s screw-ups those workers become frustrated and angry. And when they leave the business suffers because oftentimes a talented person is gone and the business winds up losing because the only person remaining in the workplace is the same unprofessional individual who was making a mess from day one.

On the job a supervisor or a business owner needs to remain objective. And that’s something they can’t do with friends working in the workplace. A leader has to establish a professional standard for ALL their employees.

In a workplace there has to be a consistent standard for everyone to follow. Every man and woman has to be made to pull their weight. Every man and woman must be held accountable for their actions.

 The same standard the boss establishes for themselves must be the standard they expect all the workers to follow. Again, as the leader the owner and the managers set the tone for the workplace. In order for everyone to be on the same page, everyone must be made to follow the same set of rules.

In business there are no friends. Yes, people can be cordial. Yes, they can be kind. Yes they can be connected to each other. But there has to be a clear line of demarcation between professional and personal behavior in the workplace. The boss who sets the boundary from day one will have a workplace that remains productive no matter who sets foot into the workplace.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Good News! The Isis/E’steem Kickstarter has been funded!

Great news! The Isis/E’steem Crossover Kickstarter has been funded! And now Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover will feature professional covers! I’m so excited!

I’ve been talking to Bill Walko from The Hero Busine$$ and we’re on schedule to get both covers ready for a Memorial Day Weekend release. He’s a big Buffy fan and I have a great concept planned for Night of the Vampires in that style and a fun one for E’steem: Undercover.

Bill did the cover for Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess last year. And If you’ve bought Arizona’s Shaq-Fu Punch, you’ve seen Bill’s artwork on the label. I really love Bill’s art and I’m eager to see what story he tells with Isis and E’steem in pictures this time.

The donors of the Kickstarter who donated over $100 will be getting ALL of the Isis series books and Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover.

All the donors to the Kickstarter will be featured in the Acknowledgements section of Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem: Undercover.

And instead of the original of the first Isis book, I’ll be giving the donors to the Kickstarter a Special Edition of the first Isis. This edition is based on the eBook version of Isis released in 2011. That edition has an extra chapter that was not in the original paperback version of Isis and has been edited to fix grammar and spelling issues that I missed when I published the original 2002 version. I wanted readers to have the best reading experience and I decided to give them the best edition of the book.

I’m trying to get Isis: Night of the Vampires and E’steem Undercover will ready for launch on Memorial Day Weekend. Both books will be a part of Kindle Unlimited on Memorial Day Weekend. So if you have Amazon Prime you’ll be able to borrow them for FREE.  

Both books will be in Paperback around that time as well.

I’m hoping to get the rewards out as soon as I get the covers uploaded and the books approved by CreateSpace. There will be a video up when I unbox them, and after that they’ll be shipped.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thoughts on the 2015 Baltimore Riots

Some will say that the Baltimore riots were about racism. Others will say they were about Police brutality. A few will try to say they were about getting justice for Freddie Gray.

I see them as a damning statement about the sad state of affairs regarding the Black family.

What people saw in Baltimore is a Black community reaping the bitter harvest sowed from 40 years of supporting White Liberal policies, White Feminism, and promoting the proliferation of single mother households. From the seeds planted two generations ago we saw a generation of directionless youths using the death of a neighborhood drug dealer and convicted felon as an excuse to loot and burn their own neighborhoods.

The Baltimore riots weren’t about civil disobedience. They were anarchy pure and simple. These were teenagers wandering the streets stealing and destroying property. Getting themselves PS4s. Getting themselves alcohol. Getting themselves Air Jordan sneakers. Stealing whatever they could get their hands on and taking what they wanted. Almost a repeat performance of the mayhem that transpired in Ferguson almost a year ago after the death of Michael Brown.

What’s even more damning about the riot in Baltimore is that all of this mayhem transpired in a city that’s over 63% Black with a Black mayor, a Black police commissioner and a predominantly Black police force. A city that has followed the policies of White Liberals in the Democratic Party to the letter for decades.

Policies that have had a direct impact on the Black family for the last two generations. What we saw in Baltimore were chickens coming home to roost on two generations of Black single mothers who thought they could raise sons and daughters on their own.

These Savage Negro Children of the Corn who burned and looted their own neighborhood are the bitter harvest of two generations of Strong Independent feminist Black women who supported White Liberals and the Liberal Welfare policies that removed Black fathers from the home.

The events in Baltimore have proven that Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs of the 1960s are COMPLETE FAILURE. And thanks to those policies there is NO LEADERSHIP in the Black community at all right now. From the churches to the public schools to the home, no one man or woman is setting the standard for leadership and establishing the mission for the Black community.

This is why we have children wandering aimlessly using the death of a neighborhood drug dealer as an excuse to commit their own crimes. This is why these teenage rioters are so callous that they’d set fire to a Senior Citizens home. These feral Children of the Corn have no moral center, and no moral compass.

What does burning down a senior citizen home filled with elderly Black residents have anything to do with getting justice for Freddie Gray? How does making elderly people homeless and putting their lives at risk in a fire get justice for a case of police brutality? How does burning down a senior home stop police from brutalizing Black men? What does looting a Game Stop for PS4s and XBOX ones have to do with Civil Rights? What does burning down a CVS these kids stole from have to do with Civil Disobedience?

Again, what we saw in Baltimore is what happens when there is a complete degeneration of the family structure. Without the father there to lead the family under God’s authority the entire Black family unit fell into CHAOS. Without a solid family structure to teach the next generation they wind up wandering lost and directionless.

Yeah, the media showed us a Black single mother discipline her son in the middle of the Baltimore riots. But all of that degeneracy wouldn’t have happened if Black fathers were in the home in the first place. People called this single mother the mother of the year, but not a single person has asked: Where were the fathers of these children who were looting and burning their own neighborhood?

The Black father has been surgically removed from the home by those White Liberal welfare policies. And after two generations of dysfunction we now see the direct impact of his elimination from the Black family in the Baltimore riots. Two generations of children without fathers growing up with no direction, no focus and just running on emotions. From the misguided young people marching across the country to Washington for the umpmillionth time to get whatever “Justice” is, to the dysfunctional savages rioting in Baltimore none of these children have received the guidance and lessons on leadership only a father can give them.

If these Negro Children of the Corn were properly educated about their history they’d have understood that all the Black neighborhoods from Watts to Crown Heights South Central to Newark to Ferguson that were destroyed by riots ears never recovered from the carnage. When most businesses in those areas were burned and looted, the owners Black, White, and whatever ethnicity just packed up and left. And the few jobs that were there for Black people were GONE FOR GOOD.

In the aftermath of those riots property values declined. And because there was no economic infrastructure the tax base eroded. And the community got poorer. And in the place of the Black-owned businesses came Arabs, Koreans and other foreigners selling inferior goods at higher prices to the Negro masses. These foreigners then took Negro dollars and used them to finance their own journey to the middle class while the Negro led by the single mother financed her own poverty and the unemployment of her sons and daughters through continuing co-dependence on Welfare programs.

Because that father was NOT there to teach his son a sense of responsibility and to model leadership his children learned to be just as dysfunctional and co-dependent as their mother was. And because she has no idea on how to lead a family her children wind up being just as fucked up as she is.  

If these children were taught about their history from their fathers and grandfathers they’d have come to understand that rioting and looting is not a part of any smart Civil Rights leaders’ Civil disobedience plan. Most of the protests for Black men from Trayvon Martin to Freddie Gray don’t get justice for these men because they aren’t led by anyone with a plan or a direction. None of the Civil Rights dinosaurs, Negro Pastors, or Pro-Black AFROSIMPTRICKS have a set of goals or a plan of action to deal with the real issue which is the decline of the Black family and the FAILURE of Black leadership from top to bottom.

All these Negroes hopped up on emotions do is talk about “Justice” but just don’t have any idea on how to achieve that goal. For all their marching and protesting all they’ve got are sore throats and tired feet. The definition of insanity is doing the exact same things and expecting a different result. How many Black men have Black folks marched and protested over the last seven years? And how many got “justice” they protested over?

And what they don’t understand is that the world is tired of hearing them whine, moan and complain. People’s ears are starting to get deaf to all the noise behind the rhetoric. For all the talk the Negro never takes any ACTION that has any IMPACT. And the greatest action that could have any impact that could be had is all these Black single mothers swallowing their pride and admitting they just can’t raise a child on their own.

The issues plaguing Baltimore and most Black communities these days aren’t just about race. They’re truly about the complete collapse of the Black family. The Strong independent Black women of the 1970s listened to the White feminists and White liberal politicians who told her she didn’t need a man. Now 50 years later her grandchildren and great grandchildren are bringing a bitter harvest of mayhem and chaos to her from the seeds she sowed.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Brother’s Keeper-Keeps The Dysfunctional Status Quo In Control In The Black Community

In the aftermath of the Baltimore Riots, President Obama is taking the opportunity to promote My Brother’s Keeper, his nonprofit program to mentor young Black males and provide them with “mentoring” and “employment opportunities”. However, most in the Black community don’t see how the Negro community is being exploited by the brother in the White House and his White Liberal supporters.

My Brother’s Keeper is the typical White Liberal response to a crisis situation like the Baltimore Riots. And because most Black people can’t think critically and can’t see things from a broader perspective, they can’t see the vicious co-dependent cycle transpiring in front of them in the pattern of events:

Cops kill Black man,
Negroes protest looking for “Justice”
Negroes Riot and destroy their own commuinity,

White Liberal brings in government programs and other crumbs from his table to pacify the angry Negro masses,

Issue of race and providing true equal opportunity for all Black people gets swept under the rug for another decade or so until another Black man is killed by a White cop or a nonblack person.

And the same cabal of hustlers in the Unholy Trinity such as Nonprofits run by White and Black liberals, Pro-Black AFROSIMPTRICKS and Negro Pastors continues to profit off the misery of the Negro.

My Brother’s Keeper is not about providing “mentoring” and “opportunites” to Black boys.  It’s about providing a steady stream of grant money and government funds to the same group of buckdancing, bojangling, Negro opportunists who have exploited the Black community for the last 40 years.

Most people in the Black community have no idea that the people who will be running President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program will be the same incompetent Black leaders who have FAILED the Black community for the last 40 years. And this cabal of con men have no interest in providing real mentoring and employment opportunities for young Black males, just getting an opportunity to put tax-free dollars in their pockets from grantmakers, the government and corporations. Basically they’re pimping the Black masses.

The definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result. We’ve been through this vicious cycle of dead black man, marching, protesting, rioting and government programs for the last 40 going on 50 years. And nothing has changed. 

Funny for how the Liberal’s promises of hope and change things always remains the same for Black people.

We don’t need mentors to be our brother’s keepers. We need Black FATHERS to return to the home.

Want to help most of these Black boys right now? Change the Welfare policy that says that the father can’t be in the home in order for the Black single mother to receive benefits. That one policy change would have an IMPACT on FAMILIES IMMEDIATELY.

And if anyone in America was truly serious about helping Black boys they’d be ready to give Black men JOBS NOW.

Really want to change a Black man’s life? Give him a JOB. When a man has a sense of PURPOSE he has the MOTIVATION to do BETTER. When he has INCOME he can start building and taking his life to the next level. With INCOME he can start taking care of his family. With INCOME he can start building his hood into a community of homes and businesses.

But liberals like Barack Obama don’t want the Black man to have that sense of purpose. They don’t want him to get motivated to build up his community. Why? He and his White Liberal friends and the cabal of Pastors, Civil Rights activists and Pro-Black AFROSIMPTRICKS won’t get any of that grant money if the Negro masses can start proving they can do for themselves.

This cabal needs the Negro to remain a VICTIM so they can profit off his misery. And as long as the Black man is at the bottom of the social hierarchy they can make money off him through mentoring programs, job training programs and other nonprofit hustles meant to keep the money flowing out of the Black community and right into their pockets.

It’s not hard for an employer to just walk up to a Black man and hire him. There’s no need for a job training program to do that. You know a Black man without a job and you know what he can do, you just go and hire him. Simple as that. Instant life changer. Man learns discipline, responsibility and a work ethic. He learns valuable skills and work experience. He gets the money to start building and taking his life to the next level.

If he has children, his sons and daughters see him as a role model. A leader. The head of the family. It’s hard for a Black woman to say a N*gger ain’t Sh*t when the Black man has money in his pocket and is providing for his family on equal footing as her.

The cost of giving that Black man a job is couple of thousand dollars a year. That’s billions less than the My Brother’s Keeper program will cost over the next few years. And it’d have a direct impact on the black community immediately.

When sons see their fathers working, they work too. The model for manhood for Black men can only be taught by another Black man. And the father, the man who should have been mentoring and leading his sons hasn’t been in the home for close to 50 years thanks to the White liberal policies that created the Welfare state in the Black communities. It’s time to bring that Black man back to his home to take care of business regarding his family and his children. 

God made the Black man to be the leader over the family. And the family will NEVER work without him in place in God’s natural order. For close to 50 years the White liberal, the White feminist and the Black woman have all tried to replace him with artificial substitutes and every time they have FAILED. No stepfather, boyfriend, “uncle”, “man”, government program or other man-made artificial substitute will EVER replace the father and the role God defined for man in his home.

The Baltimore Riots were a damning statement on the Great Society programs of the 1960’s. They proved that the Welfare state established by Lyndon Johnson was a complete FAILURE. In their aftermath the Black family has collapsed into the chaos we saw on those Baltimore streets.

The Baltimore Riots have proven we don’t need any more government programs. We never needed them anyway. All the War on Poverty and the Great Society programs of the 1960’s did was keep Black people poorer.

The Democrats lost the War on Poverty. Now it’s time we tried a different strategy to provide equal opportunity to Black men.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Shawn Reviews Avengers: Age of Ultron

This weekend I got to see Avengers: Age of Ultron at the IMAX. It was a great experience and a good movie. While the film captured the spirit of an Avengers Marvel Comic and the characterizations of the heroes and the villains were spot on, it’s the little nuances when it comes to filmmaking and screenwriting that writer and director Joss Whedon missed that kept it from becoming the great film it could have been.  

Avengers: Age of Ultron is just like a comic book come to life. The opening sequence in the forest on the way to Baron Strucker’s hideout on the quest for Loki’s scepter are just like a splash page of a comic book. From the action transpiring in those opening scenes I thought I was watching George Perez’s art come to life. That inciting incident introduces us to the Avengers assembled on the quest to take down Strucker and his henchmen on the quest for Loki’s scepter. On the journey to discovering the scepter, Tony Stark (who takes off his armor for some reason) runs afoul of Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. Interestingly enough, one of Wanda’s “Hexes” leads to Tony Stark getting the vision to create a shield to protect the earth from evil. Unfortunately who will protect us from the heroes and their ideals? A question I thought should have been answered in the story, but this is never explored.

With the fall of SHEILD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Tony Stark starts getting idealistic about bringing peace to the world on his own. While he’s given Thor’s trust to analyze Loki’s scepter he starts abusing that trust to achieve his goals through ulterior means. Instead of analyzing Loki’s Scepter he works with Dr. Banner to create a technological shield to protect the earth. Together Banner and Stark create the artificial intelligence known as Ultron. And While the heroes are taking a Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans moment to hang out and party, Ultron is born and is discovering the world. After he takes down Jarvis, it lets itself be known to the Avengers by attacking them through Tony Stark’s own Iron legion robots. Ironically, the shield that Stark used to defend the world is now out to attack the very humans that created it!

With his prototype body destroyed, Ultron goes back to Strucker’s labs and creates himself a new one. There he discovers Maximoff Twins and recruits them in his master plan. The misguided orphans want revenge on Tony Stark and The Avengers for the destruction of their homeland and their family, Ultron just wants to destroy humanity. An evil version of Tony Stark, Ultron is out to replace the world’s chaos with his own order. Typical comic book story.  

The Avengers discover Ultron is on the quest for Vibranium and track him to the African coast. We get a lot of great Easter Eggs in this sequence where the Scarlet Witch’s hexes take the team down. Unfortunately a lot gets lost in this sequence story wise. And while we’re distracted by the montage of images in the characters’ pasts by a big Iron Man Vs. a mind controlled Hulk sequence that ends the first act, a lot winds up unexplained.

With the Avengers beaten, and Ultron making off with the Vibranium, the heroes have to deal with a publicity backlash after the Hulk and Iron Man demolish most of a downtown African City. The defeated heroes get in their Quinjet and head to Hawkeye’s farmhouse and spend some time resting and recuperating all while planning their next move.  There’s some great character interaction here and But when Tony Stark goes into the movie starts falling apart. The unevenness of the story starts to show once Nick Fury pops in to give Tony and the Avengers advice.

After Fury gives the heroes a pep talk we learn that Ultron isn’t out to create a new Vibrainium body for himself, but to evolve. He heads over to Dr.Cho’s with the vibraninum to find out about the synthetic flesh used to heal up Hawkeye to create a new body for himself made up of flesh and vibranium with the mind Gem. The Scarlet Witch reads Ultron’s mind (PLOTHOLE) and realizes he’s not out to protect humanity but to destroy it. Cap, Hawkeye and the Black Widow go on a quest to get the body from Ultron. They get it, but the Black Widow winds up getting captured.

With the body back at the Avengers Tower The Avengers debate whether or not to upload Jarvis into it. There’s a bit of a battle, but Thor fresh from his bath comes in and charges up the body and gives us an expository plot point about the Infinity Gems. But that plot point gets lost as the Vision is born. The android shows he’s ready to fight for good by picking up Thor’s hammer. With the Vision activated, the Avengers go to fight Ultron in the final battle in Slorenia.

There they find out that Ultron plans on using all the remaining vibranium to lift the city city up into the sky and using it as meteorite to destroy all life on earth. The Avengers fight to save lives of citizens and stop Ultron. The story really starts to unravel as Nick Fury and a Sheild Helicarrier and War Machine pop in as Deus Ex machinas to save citizens. In all the mayhem Ultron is defeated, the city is destroyed, and the heroes save the day. The Hulk, Hawkeye, and Tony Stark leave the team and the Avengers Assemble at their new compound in Upstate New York. And Shawn is left wanting more due to all the unexplained and unresolved story points.

Avengers Age of Ultron is a fun comic book movie. Yeah, it’s an entertaining movie, but not a satisfying one. There’s a lot going on the surface, but not much depth and substance. When you look at the movie from a story perspective it just comes across as a bit flat and one-dimensional. And the main reason it’s so flat and one-dimensional is because it tries to do too much onscreen. Less is more, and I wish Joss Whedon would have given us less flash and more substance.

I’ll say that Avengers: Age of Ultron is stronger in its sum than in its parts. And its strength is being just like the comics its based on. Many of the action sequences are just like comic panels come to life. Again, I saw the spirit of George Perez’s art in many of the cinematic sequences. And the characterizations of all the heroes definitely captures the spirit of their comic book counterparts. Every actor not only looks like the heroes in the comics but their “voices” sound just like the ones in our heads when we’re reading a comic book.

Another strength of the movie is that it does have a fun energy about it. What I liked most about it is that and that in spite of all the destruction that transpired Earth’s Mightiest  acted like Heroes. They fought to stop the bad guys. They made every effort to protect and preserve human life. In spite of their personal issues and their flaws they all remained heroes to the end.

There was a great sequence where Hawkeye talks to the Scarlet Witch about being the guy with only a bow and arrow in incredibly dangerous situations. That one scene OWNS everything the CW tried to do with its pathetic Arrow Show over the last three seasons. THAT is the spirit of who Green Arrow is and what he’s about. Fighting for the little guy because he is the little guy. And making a big impact with small actions. The scene where he goes to save the boy who was left behind in the city was one of the most powerful statements in the movie about being a hero. We needed more scenes like this. Now if Quicksilver had lived to understand the motivations for Hawkeye’s heroics the scene would have been absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, Whedon had to kill him the same way he killed Anya in the series finale of Buffy, an ancillary death that was just there and had no real emotional impact on the story.  

Unfortunately being just like a comic book has its fair share of disadvantages as well. Cinematically being just like a comic book is actually one of the things that holds Avengers: Age of Ultron back from being the great film it could have possibly been. I believe the first plot point was telegraphed to the audience in that Hulkbuster Iron Man Vs. Hulk battle scene. Yeah, the fight was exciting, but like the end of the first issue of a three issue comic arc, but from a screenwriting perspective I saw it coming a mile away. And all the unexplained story points and unexplored concepts led to a very uneven story that remained very rough in quite a few places. There wasn’t much craft when it came to the screenplay for Avengers: Age of Ultron and it showed onscreen in the pacing and story points. It’s these little nuances that make a screenplay a tight, well-crafted story and I didn’t see much of that rock-solid screenwriting he used on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer applied when adapting the story for this sequel. Yeah, Whedon captured the spirit of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in his script, but he violated the letter of too many basic screenwriting rules to get there.

The other big issue I have with Avengers: Age of Ultron were the special effects. There were JUST TOO MANY OF THEM. There was so much going on in some of the fight scenes it was like the movie had Michael Bay level ADHD. Some scenes were Michael Bay Transformers level crazy in terms of business. It was impossible to keep up with everything that went on in some cases. A special effect enhances the story and shows us something about the actions that define the character or moves the story forward. Unfortunately when there’s too many things going it gives you a headache. Advice for Mr. Whedon next time: LESS IS MORE.

The third issue I have with Avengers: Age of Ultron is that it just tried to cram too much story into one movie. Avengers: Age of Ultron feels like over 200 issues of Avengers Comic books crammed into one three-hour film. We go from the creation of Ultron, the introduction of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, the creation of the Vision and the introduction of the Avengers Academy all in one movie. It was like having ten movies worth of story in one film and in some cases it was a bit overwhelming to take in all these little details. Again, LESS IS MORE.

Joss Whedon says he was under a lot of pressure to top the first Avengers film. Well, here’s some advice from Shawn James the writer: Don’t try to top yourself. All that’s going to do is make you crazy and anxious. Don’t try to meet or exceed someone elses’ expectations, just tell your story and the audience will appreciate it.

What I’ve learned from my two decades of experience writing serialized stores like the Isis series and The Temptation of John Haynes is to take each story as its own. Yes each story connects with previous ones, but each story is its own entity with its own beginning, middle and end. Once a writer applies this approach their lives will be a whole lot easier. Continuity doesn’t have to be drum tight, but easy enough for a child to follow the basic details.

And another thing I’ve learned is that less is more. Smaller and simpler often has a bigger impact on the audience than big and elaborate It’s the little things a writer puts in a story that stays with them and allow them to connect with the characters. Stories are about people. Unfortunately it was very hard to connect with any of the characters in Avengers: Age of Ultron on a human level because so much was going on and so many characters in a single frame. People were there, but it was hard to care about any of them.

Again, I’ll say go out and go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s a fun entertaining film with a fast pace and lots of action. I wasn’t going in expecting anything but an action movie and that’s what I got to see, a good, not great action film. When it comes to these Marvel Studios movies I’d just like to see a little more craft on the screen. For the big budget movie I didn’t expect to see so many rookie mistakes in the screenplay and the special effects. I’m hoping for Avengers 3 or the rest of the Phase 2 and 3 Marvel Studios films everyone starts to understands that less is more and focuses more on making the plots tighter and better developing the characters. People go to the movies to see people and I’d like to see a bit more humanity in these Marvel Super hero movies.