I wanted to put in a mention to a Kickstarter I recently backed. It's for an anthology of Latinx comics called Mañana, which features several different artists and writers showcasing comics featuring Latinx characters, cultures, and locations! Here's the link to the Kickstarter:
There are still 12 days to go if you're interested! I highly recommend checking it out! The publishing company, Power & Magic, also has also published a handful of books that feature Black artists and writers. Their stories tend to feature artists and writers of color, writing stories about characters of color AND characters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. You can check out their website and, if you're interested, buy physical or digital copies of their books here:
That's all for now!
I feel like I'm due for another yearly journal update. I keep saying this but I'm sorry the comics haven't been coming. I don't like talking about my personal issues on The Internet, but in a nutshell I've been dealing with some serious mental health issues, mostly anxiety and depression, that have really made it hard for me to carry on like normal. Every time I start to feel like I'm getting there, something new comes up, most recently COVID-19. Now we have protests against racism the likes of which we haven't seen since 1968... and I'd like to talk about that for a minute.
I've stayed silent on social media about this for a few reasons. First, I simply haven't known what to say, and second, I have felt there's really very little of substance that I can add to the conversation. I'm white, and right now is a time to be listening to black people and people of color in America. Saying "I support the Black Lives Matter movement and I am against racism," while true, has felt incredibly insufficient to me. Very few people online know this, but in my personal life away from comics I have spent the last 4 years doing anti-racism training in my place of employment. I not only know how to talk about racism, but I also have a pretty solid understanding of the Do's and Don't's. I also have a LOT of knowledge about the history of racism in America. Simply saying "Racism is bad" has felt underwhelming and inadequate, and I have really struggled with how to add to the conversation in a meaningful way.
My own comics for years have featured black and brown characters, but none of them has really spent much time talking about race. This is in part due to the fact the stories have focused on other things, particularly domestic abuse in I Just Work Here. But also I believe crafting a story about race needs to be done carefully and in a sensitive manner and I don't yet have a story to put out there that would feel like a genuine, heartfelt story. Oh, I've got several IDEAS, but they're not ready to be told because the characters aren't there yet, and it would be irresponsible for me to put them out there without being ready myself. Those stories will be coming in the future, not right now because we need to be paying attention to the protesters.
So, how do I, a socially awkward shut-in who likes to draw comics, add to the conversation in a constructive way or offer meaningful assistance? Most of my anxiety is social anxiety-- I've never been good with people or relationships, and the last few years my anxiety has gotten bad to the point where I actively try to avoid large crowds. This means I'd be useless in a protest; I'd be too busy trying to hide and not be noticed. I recently spent a lot of money on fabric to make masks for the Navajo Nation, so I have no more money to donate at this time and still be able to pay my bills.
This morning I was reading a post by Alex Woolfson, a great writer of the comic series The Young Protectors that I've followed for years. He suggested he would support the movement by highlighting black voices and characters in comics and graphic novels, and I think this is a truly excellent idea. I'm going to crawl out of my "I Hate Social Media" comfort zone and start posting links to black artists and creators, and comic strips that feature black characters (not secondary characters, but main characters) in a positive and meaningful way. My hope is that this will help to elevate the voices of artists of color in the world of comics, because they have so much to offer to the medium and their stories deserve to be read and shared like any other artist.
I'm trying to figure out a way to raise money for movements or organizations that support racial equality in America. One idea I've been bouncing around in my head is doing livestreams where people have to donate to view, and forwarding 100% of the money to a worthy cause. The livestreams would be drawings of black historical figures, people who made a difference but we don't hear much about because our history books in school focus so much on white history. I'm not talking about Martin Luther King or Malcolm X, I'm talking about people like Claudette Colvin, Robert Smalls, Mary Elliot Hill, Percy Lavon Julian, and so on. Part of combating (institutional) racism is learning to celebrate the accomplishments of people of color and appreciate how they've helped us get to where we are today. It could also be a positive, healthy distraction for those overwhelmed by the news and current events. I'm still considering how I'd make that work, or if there's any interest in that. Let me know if you'd be interested.
I'm also going to be updating the IJWH website with a section to include links to organizations that combat racism and racial inequality. I'm going to include more links to black artists and comics that feature black characters on both my websites.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I support the Black Lives Matter movement and I support equity and racial equality in our society. If you're out there protesting, please stay safe. Wear a mask, do what you can to maintain social distancing (there is still a pandemic out there, after all). Don't contribute to any violence or looting you may see; keep it peaceful and try to encourage those around you to be peaceful. If you're white, take a moment to listen to your neighbors and friends who are black, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. Learn about white privilege, what it is and what it means for you. Learn how to use your privilege to help those who don't have your privilege. Now is a time for us to listen and elevate the voices of those who for too long have gone ignored.
Racism in America is not a "black peoples' problem." It is a problem that belongs to all of us. It's going to take all of us working together to fix it. Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay hopeful. By working together we can do this.