Genius: Renegades, Never Slaves

July 11th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Way back in the bad old days of 2008, I read a comic called Genius. It was part of Top Cow’s Pilot Season program, an initiative meant to bring new blood into the industry and to the company, and it was created by Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson. Now, it’s 2014, I work at Image Comics, and Genius is on the way back this August as a weekly miniseries.

The concept of Genius struck me first. There have been several incredible military leaders throughout the years, and the latest is Destiny Ajaye, a young woman from South Central. Rather than becoming a kingpin or joining the military, she takes another route: armed insurrection. She unites the gangs and goes to war against the LAPD.

I’m an ’80s baby whose life was changed by Spike Lee’s Malcolm X and has spent a lot of time writing about the intersection of black culture and comics. The concept alone spoke to me, it reminded me of conversations and boasts that felt familiar and real. Bernardin and Freeman’s dialogue was on point and natural, authentically “black” without tipping over into parody or offensiveness. Richardson’s art was the bomb, inventive and kinetic and off-beat in all the right ways.

Genius hit me in my heart. There aren’t a lot of comics coming out of mainstream houses aimed at people like me, much less specifically me, but this one? It’s a comic that’s tailor-made for me, it feels like. The concept, the art, the focus on a majority-black and brown cast…there is something about Genius that other mainstream comics are lacking. It’s something different, something outside of the usual Direct Market experience.

It’s a familiar story, a Hero versus the enemy with an army at her back, but the twist is in the character work and the artwork. The characters feel familiar and honest, and Richardson’s artwork ranges from staging natural moments in a surreal manner to perfectly-emotive conversations. The creative team clicks for me.

A side effect of my job at Image is that I got issues 1-4 early as part of the production process. It’s work, but I read them while I was on vacation instead of waiting until I got back. I read them because I believe in Genius and Bernardin and Richardson and Freeman and I’m excited for this comic.

Final Order Cut-off for the comic is Monday. It’s shipping weekly in August, with two issues hitting on the last Wednesday of the month. If you shop at comic shops, tell them you want it. The Diamond Code for #1 is JUN140478, if you need it. Pre-ordering helps comics a lot, and for a book like this that’s sitting left-of-center with what’s prevalent, you’re going to need a little extra legwork to get what you need. You don’t have to pre-order it, it’ll presumably be available in a digital edition, but if you’re the pre-ordering type and you trust my taste, please call your shop and hook it up. I’m a fan, and I hope you will be, too.

I wrote about Afua Richardson for Black History Month 2011 and about Genius for ComicsAlliance in 2010.

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Black History Month 2011: Afua Richardson

February 18th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Afua Richardson
Selected Works: Genius, 24Seven

There’s a lot to be said for simply being dope. Being able to draw a comic that looks good, reads well, and is visually inventive is a skill that isn’t half as common as you might think, and it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised when you pick up a book. Afua Richardson is dope, precisely because she can do exactly that.

Her art is really attractive. She does pencils, inks, and color, which gives her almost total control over how the art appears in a book. There aren’t a lot of people I regularly read who are the total package like this (maybe just Frazer Irving and Brendan McCarthy?), and it’s cool to see how the various aspects of her art fits together. Her style isn’t overly realistic. It’s not like DC’s Ed Benes-by-way-of-Jim Lee house style, but it’s not full blown Joe Madureira-style manga homage, anything goes Chris Bachalism, or Humberto Ramos-style bigfoot, either. It reminds me of animation (which I realize is a hideously general and possible meaningless description but ride with me for a minute) more than anything, with bright, splashy colors, backgrounds that fade in and out as needed, and lines that wiggle on the page.

Splashy is a good word for it. If you look at her work in Genius with Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman (my main point of reference), you’ll see how there are these wide swathes of color splashed across the page, sometimes battling it out with bright lights. Dark panels often have at least one bright splash of color for contrast. It’s not neon, but she knows how to throw some bright colors down for maximum effect.

Richardson’s art is real splashy and raw. I really want to see what her finished PSDs or AIs look like and peel them back, layer by layer. I bet it’s crazy interesting to see.

“Fresh. For 2011.”

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Ha, Smarter Than The Average… [Genius #1]

October 7th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Top Cow First Look Volume 1 TP is a five dollar trade with six first issues of upcoming Top Cow series.

If you want some incentive to pick it up, here are some keywords:
-Afua Richardson
-Marc Bernardin
-Adam Freeman
Genius #1

Pick it up or word is bond Cheryl Lynn is gonna come to your house while you sleep and punch you in the stomach.

Check out this preview, courtesy of Top Cow:

I wrote it up for CA a while back.

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