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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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Genius Won!

September 18th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

TOP COW ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF 2008 PILOT SEASON
2008 PILOT SEASON WINNERS

Fans vote for TWILIGHT GUARDIAN and GENIUS to get their own series
LOS ANGELES, Calif., September 18, 2008 – Top Cow Productions, Inc. announced today that the winners of the 2008 Pilot Season campaign are Twilight Guardian by writer Troy Hickman and artist Reza and Genius by writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and artist Afua Richardson.

For over a month, fans went to the Top Cow website, the Pilot Season website or other sites once per day, every day, to vote for their favorite 2008 Pilot Season one-shots. Pilot Season is an annual initiative Top Cow began in 2007 that borrows its concept from the television industry: Six “pilots” are submitted for consideration to be “picked up for a season,” except instead of TV executives deciding their fates, it’s the fans! 2007’s top two vote getters, Cyblade and Velocity, will debut with new series later this year. 2008’s winners will debut with new series in 2009.

Twilight Guardian and Genius beat out Urban Myths by Jay Faerber and Jorge Molina, The Core by Jonathan Hickman and Kenneth Rocafort, Alibi by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Jeremy Haun and Lady Pendragon by Matt Hawkins and Eru.

Twilight Guardian is about an average woman with a particular kind of OCD that drives her to patrol a nine-block area in her neighborhood every night, and about the other “night people” and situations she encounters because of it. Genius asks the question, “Alexander, Hannibal, Napoleon, Patton. What if the greatest military mind of OUR generation was a 17-year-old girl who grew up on the tough streets of an urban war zone?” Both books resonated with a majority of the voters and their creators are ecstatic, excited and even surprised.

“Holey crullers! I really don’t know WHAT to say,” said Troy Hickman. “I feel like I did once at a convention years ago when I somehow wound up on an elevator with Mr. Curt Swan, and I remember thinking, ‘Something’s gone terribly wrong. They’ve accidentally let me on the IMPORTANT elevator!’ The creative teams on the other Pilot Season comics are just terrific, some of the most talented people working in this, or any, medium, and I feel so proud to even be included in this competition. And big congrats to Genius for winning the other spot!”

“I’m shocked, really,” said Adam Freeman. “Genius is not a traditional comic and I suppose that is one of its greatest assets as well as its biggest obstacle. We weren’t sure how readers would react but we knew it was a story we were passionate about. Kudos to Top Cow for being the only publisher willing to take that risk with us. Someone wiser than me once said, ‘Never underestimate your audience’ and, truth be told, we did a little on this one. We didn’t think people would ‘get it’ but apparently they did.”

“Hell, I’m just thrilled to have won something,” added Marc Bernardin. “Seriously though, it’s like Adam said: We knew Genius was an uphill battle, but every now and then, those uphill battles get WON.”

“I blew my voice squealing like a happy pig for a half hour and came up with at least five victory dances,” exclaimed Afua Richardson when she found out Genius was one of the winning titles. “I feel like I won one for all the oddballs out there—all the artists left of center, for the chicks who fight stigmas in comics, all of them!”

Now that the winners have been declared, the creative teams will work with Top Cow’s editorial department to start planning out their series, which will debut in 2009.

“Issue #1 of Genius sparked a few pretty heated debates in some circles but that was only the first act to a much larger story,” explained Freeman. “There is a lot more to tell. I am very curious how the future issues will be received because, trust me, this book is not going where you think it is.

“We’re going to dip a bit into Destiny’s back-story and the forces that combined to make her the woman she is today,” teased Bernardin. “And we’re going to show just how bloody revolution can be.”

“I look forward to a) seeing what happens next; b) getting the chance to work with Marc and Adam again; and c) really getting a chance to show my stuff,” asserted Richardson. “I just really want put my best foot forward on this.”

“Well, now comes the fun part: making comic books,” conveyed Hickman. “Let’s see if we can take Twilight Guardian where comics haven’t gone before. I don’t want to give anything away, but I promise you there will be comedy, and drama, and plenty of the unexpected. Maybe she’s a Skrull…”

“Everyone here at Top Cow wants to wish a hearty congratulations to the teams on Twilight Guardian and Genius for a hard-won victory in this year’s Pilot Season,” proclaimed Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik. “It was an incredibly close race across the board and these two teams campaigned hard for the fans’ votes. The fans have spoken and we’ve already got the wheels in motion to give them more of what they want!”

:)

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Last Call for Genius

September 8th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Marc Bernardin, Adam Freeman, and Afua Richardson created Genius.

In thanks for them making it, you should take advantage of this being the last day to vote and Vote for it in Top Cow’s Pilot Season 2008 contest.

Also, Adam Freeman wrote this.

Go, vote.

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Elect a Genius this Fall

September 3rd, 2008 Posted by david brothers

I’m not kidding, vote for Genius. Do it once a day from here on out. It’s down to the final stretch for voting, and Genius has a chance to take the top spot.

Voting for Genius means a vote for a book starring a young and intelligent black girl who is not afraid to both take no prisoners and do what has to be done because it has to be done. There are no capes, no powers, no shenanigans– just someone who has been born into a role that shows up time and time again. It’s exciting, it’s interesting, and most of all, it’s new. It isn’t Starship Troopers Meets Jaws (“we’re gonna need a bigger spaceship”) or some other dumb high concept book. It’s new and it’s a comic book.

If I absolutely have to sell it to you through a superheroic lens, consider it “What if the spirit of Oracle from DC Comics, Batman from DC Comics, Malcolm X from X-Men, and Huey P Newton from Fantastic Four had a baby and that baby grew up in South Central?”

or

“What If Hannibal (not from the A-Team) was reincarnated into the body of a young girl from LA in the modern day?” if you’re a history buff

or

“What if this was the best new comic idea in years and it didn’t get any traction because you didn’t vote for it

For serious, do you know a teen who’s curious about comics? Male, female, whatever? You can slide her this book. It’s got the right mix of “Fight the power” and “Knowledge is power” to both educate and entertain. It’s got all the fixings for a good comic and one that can pull someone in. You know how many comics I can give to my cousins? Not very many.

This is one of them. I asked for this comic over a year and a half ago and these people came through. Let’s support this book.

You can read the full issue here if you’re undecided. It’s the kind of idea that’s so awesome that everyone else is like “Ugh, I had that idea ages ago I just didn’t want to do it because it was too much awesome.”

I feel terrible that I didn’t write about it here more, because it’s exactly what I want out of comics. I got to meet the writing team at San Diego, and they were super excited about the book. I didn’t get a chance to chop it up with them, since they were signing at Larry Young’s table and I’d already spent half the con harassing Larry & co, but they’re good people. The artist is an Ormes member, and that makes her good people, too.

Go, vote.

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Vote 4 Genius

August 21st, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Click here, scroll to the bottom, and vote for Genius.

Thanks.

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Downcounting to None

August 13th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

My peoples over at Funnybook Babylon have a pretty great series of articles up. Downcounting: A Guide for the Perplexed is a series of articles by one Chris Eckert. They’re bitingly funny, they’re incredibly mean, and they’re also extremely on point. Honestly, some of the best stuff I’ve read online in ages. Now that the other guy who was blogging Countdown quit out of disgust, this is pretty much it, too.

I mean, I realize that these are kind of long, but they’re worth it and are, in fact, better than reading Countdown itself. Just look at this:


thankyoumonitor.jpg

And tell me that it isn’t genius.

Go check it out.

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We Understand– They Are Not Grateful (Casanova)

June 11th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

The last comic I read, there was a lot of rape and crying. Kinda harshed my boner for fun, you know?
–Casanova Quinn, Casanova #2

Casanova (words by Matt Fraction, art by Gabriel Ba) can be explained in two lines from a Wu-Tang song:
Yo, too many songs, weak rhymes that’s mad long
Make it brief son, half short and twice strong

–The GZA (Genius), “As High As Wu-Tang Get”

That’s on Wu-Tang Forever, by the way.

Those two lines describe Casanova perfectly. Casanova has, save for the first issue, 16 pages per issue. The average comic has 22 pages. The missing pages are given up to behind the scenes-type text pieces and art showcases. In addition, the series so far is seven issues long, and each issue is a complete story unto itself. One complete mission for Casanova Quinn. The seven issues connect in an overarching way to form the first arc, Luxuria.

Casanova is one of the greatest comics of all time.

I’m trying to review this without ruining it for you, but I think the first issue may end up being a casualty of war. You see, Casanova Quinn is a thief. He’s suave, sophisticated, he’s like Han Solo but more honest with himself. He’s having fun living the life, but everything goes wrong.

Cass has a sister, Zephyr. She dies on a mission, which causes Cass to reconnect with his father Cornelius, the head of EMPIRE. Zephyr was the good twin, so to speak, and the jewel in her father’s eye. Where Cass went left, she went right. Both Cass and his father loved her… because she was not Cass.

After that, Cass’s world goes upside down. He ends up in a parallel universe, one where he died on a mission and his sister, Zephyr, is still alive. Only– things are different. Here, Zephyr is the evil twin. She works for Newman Xeno, noted criminal and head of WASTE. Newman Xeno wants an inside man in EMPIRE, and who better than the evil alternate universe twin of the son of EMPIRE’s top dog?

That’s right. Evil Twin and Evil Twin versus Daddy. What’s the word for that? Ultraoedipal?

Casanova’s dialogue is sharp and pop culture infused, but not in that kind of annoying too cute for it’s own good way that Joss Whedon does it. The characters have real motivations, and these are motivations are ones we can relate to. Cass doesn’t want to save the world, he just wants to do right by someone important to him. Zephyr loves thrills. Cornelius? He gets a good moment where he reconnects with his son.

Casanova has assassin pop stars, hyper-advanced cultures, robots, sex, a dude who creates robots to have sex with, and tons of other mad ideas– but it’s all about the character moments. The ending is real- everything that’s been building up throughout the series comes to bear and zigzags at the last moment, but in a way that feels right. The relationship between Cass and Zephyr alone is a complicated one, and veers from simple sibling rivalry to outright malice, but in this weirdly familial way.

Gabriel Ba’s art works, too. There’s a few panels that are just pitch perfect. The scene where Cass attempts to kidnap a certain man who may or may not be a god is poetry in motion, from eye-opening to “I don’t believe in you.” There’s a panel of someone crying really late in the book that yanks your heartstrings something fierce.

This, along with David Aja’s work in Iron Fist, is some fine, fine work that really brings things to a newer or more experimental level. There are a lot of scenes that really could’ve come off like crap under a less skilled pen. The god scene, yeah, and there’s also a scene where Cass is pretty much reduced to a two-dimensional being and the art totally sells it. He turns into non-toned black lines with no shading at all, and you instantly get the point. Writing-wise, there’s an issue where each page is one of three moments in time and they cycle throughout the issue. Easily could’ve fallen flat– but it works. The art sells it and it ends up working.

Casanova is a brave comic, dense, and better for it. Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba took a chance and poured distilled quality into sixteen pages. It never stops being interesting, because each issue is like an infodump of fictional and real information. The “savages” from one issue of Casanova are loosely based on a real people, the last living vestige of neolithic society in the modern day. An island of the past sitting in the present.

Casanova is half short, almost, and twice strong. It’s a strong work, and the recently released hardcover is definitely worth your purchase. It’s got more stuff in it than Marvel’s Civil War megahitblockbusterpieceofcrap. Even better– it’s fun.

edit, the next day: I screwed up and forgot to talk about the text pieces from Fraction and art showcase from Ba. Anyway, in exchange, Fraction love from back in the day: Perfection in Slices and A Few Good Comics, wherein I do talk about the backmatter a little.

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She Got That Good Hair: Top 5 3 Black Women!

January 12th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

(edit: T’Shan was not BP’s sister. Shuri is.)

To our readers from When Fangirls Attack!– welcome! Check out the post and don’t be afraid to leave a comment, okay? Onward.

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you,
Without a strong rhyme to step to.
Think of how many weak shows you slept through,
Time’s up! I’m sorry I kept you!

–Rakim

Man, this article is crazy late, isn’t it? Just, uh, six months or so.

It’s late for a number of reasons. I’ve been trying to ramp up my writing career, which means more time writing about games, less about comics. Did it work? Well, I’m no longer living paycheck to paycheck, but talk to me in another six months.

The number one reason why it’s late, other than business and laziness, is that it is hard as crap to find good black female characters in recent comics. I mean, Monica Rambeau had a bit part in Black Panther and I’m not much for Nextwave’s portrayal of her, so she doesn’t really count. There was the great-granddaughter (grandniece?) of Jim Harper in Robinson’s Batman: Face-the-Face, but, uh, she had maybe nine panels of dialogue total, and that’s probably being generous. I’m not as familiar as I should be with Milestone’s work (beyond Static), so I wouldn’t feel comfortable putting any of those characters on this list. Bishop’s daughter in X-Men: The End has three strikes against her. 1) She’s Bishop’s daughter. 2) She’s in X-Men: The End. and 3) She’s Bishop’s daughter and is in X-Men: The End. Onyx is kind of cool, but I know exactly nothing about her and she got punked by Jason Todd so she’s out. Pantha, according to Wikipedia, is black, but, again, I know nothing about her. Thunder, from Outsiders? No thanks, hoss.

So… this is going to be a little different. It’s a top three because, frankly, there aren’t enough good black female characters out there. I’d include Glory Grant, ’cause she’s pretty awesome, but when’s the last time you saw her in a comic that wasn’t Civil War Frontline #10? (Nice guest spot, even if it was only a panel.) A better question– how many of you even remember who Glory Grant is? Monica Lynne is in the same situation. Charlotte Jones? Same deal.

I entertained the possibility of putting Monet St Croix on her, at least partially because I really enjoy her character. But, that’d make this a top 4 and these lists are traditionally either top three, top five, or top multiple of five. Four is right out.

So, a top three. But, I’m telling you, I better see some awesome black females over the next year or I’m going to do something reprehensible! I mean, black females in comics are like black head coaches in the NCAA!

zing!
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Reign of the Supernovas: A Real Mystery in Real Time

December 15th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

That’s a damned good question, Michael. First appearing in the pages of 52 Week 8, Supernova’s since been a mystery. Where does he come from? What exactly are his powers? What is his role in the grand scheme of things? And just who is this guy?

First, let’s take a look at Supernova’s various appearances up to this point:

Week 8: Over the course of several days, we see the first appearances of this red, white and blue stranger. On Day 3, he appears before an old woman and her grandchild, glows real bright and brings them across the street before they can be crushed by a falling monorail. The next day, he appears among firemen who are about to get crushed by falling debris. Glowing brightly once more, the new hero makes the debris vanish. The next day we get reports of him cleanly shearing a gunman’s rifle in half, as well as saving one woman’s daughter from a riptide. Booster Gold, whose image has just been destroyed a week earlier, rants about this new character in front of one Clark Kent.

Week 10: Clark Kent, having just been fired at the Daily Planet, sees Supernova flying around the city. With sudden inspiration, he hops out the window and freefalls. Supernova swiftly catches him, assures him of his safety and asks if he’s okay. Clark pulls out a tape recorder and asks for an interview. As Clark later explains to Lois, they didn’t get too far before seeing Bahdnesian terrorists stealing a military all-terrain vehicle. Supernova puts down Clark and uses his glowing power (which Clark describes as “peculiar eyebeams”) to take away the pavement under the vehicle, locking it into the ground. Supernova poses and answers a couple questions from Clark, trying hard to conceal himself. He sees a child almost walk into the hole in the ground, teleports in a bright light and appears in front of the child. The way he responds to the boy shows that he has some semblance of a personality under the mask. Clark tells Lois that he believes that Supernova’s on the level and that he has an air of experience about him. Elsewhere, Booster is growing more and more frustrated, while Skeets admits that even he doesn’t know who Supernova is from his historical files.

Week 15: The big one. Booster takes on a giant sea monster in the middle of Metropolis. He fails pretty badly, including a bit where he causes a massive power outage. Supernova flies in, soars to the monster and with a bright blast, zaps him away. Supernova offers his hand to Booster and makes a comment about Booster not caring about the people he saves. Noticeable frown under the mask. Booster snaps and tackles Supernova. The two brawl, showing that Supernova is at least strong enough to trade fists with Booster. Supernova’s only use of powers are to momentarily blind Booster. Supernova highly disapproves of Booster, saying he’s too pathetic to be considered a joke. Skeets mentions a radiation leakage. Supernova wants to stop it, but Booster sucker-punches him and tries to stop it himself. Beaming at his return to greatness, Booster saves everyone, but is engulfed in an explosion. Supernova, shocked, flies upwards and catches Booster’s body. To the horror of Clark and the noticeable surprise of Skeets, Booster Gold is just a skeleton in futuristic tights.

It’s worth noting that there were two alternate endings to this issue. In one ending, Booster turns to dust upon landing in Supernova’s arms. In the other, there is no radiation leakage. Supernova tries to teleport Booster back a few feet. At the same time, Booster turns on his force field. The result causes Booster to be cut in half. A horrified Supernova swears he didn’t mean for it to happen and Clark Kent believes him. Supernova covers one half of Booster with his cape while Clark uses his jacket on the other half.

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