Help me back the Carbon Grey Kickstarter

April 4th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I like this comic Carbon Grey quite a bit. It’s created by Hoang Nguyen, Khari Evans, Paul Gardner, Mike Kennedy, and Kinsun Loh. The first four came up with the story, Gardner scripted it, and then Evans, Loh, and Nguyen are responsible for the art. It’s this fairly solid little steampunky tale, with a World War I-type setting and dirigibles and stuff. But really, it’s an art showcase. It’s very pretty.

Nguyen provides layouts for the issues, Evans does the pencils and inks, and then Loh colors everything. Evans is freakishly talented, one of those dudes who gets me to check out a comic just because his name is on it. Carbon Grey is clearly a Khari Evans joint, but it’s also unlike the rest of his work, due in large part to Loh’s colors. Loh’s doing a lot of rendering with the colors, and it makes Evans’s inks look more realistic than they usually do. There’s a synergy going on there that I like a lot.

I mention this because, unbeknownst to me, a Carbon Grey Kickstarter has been going on. They need forty grand to finish the series, and they’re a little over halfway there with just ten days to go. I kicked some money their way tonight, and if you like how this comic sounds, you should think about doing so, too.

I always make this assumption that people who make comics that I like are well off and can afford to do it forever. Part of me still thinks, “Oh, you’re doing books? You’ve made it! You’re doing great!” But that isn’t true, is it? If it was true, my bookshelf would look a lot different. It sorta sucks, really. I’d like to believe that everyone can make a living doing what they love, but that isn’t true, I guess. So when push comes to shove, if I’m able, I’m more than willing to help support the work of people whose talents I’ve enjoyed. (That sentence is awkward, but you get me.) I’m blessed enough to have a steady job that leaves me with a little bit of spending money, so I might as well pay it forward, right? Comics are hard, and I don’t mind helping out when I believe in the work.

I’ve written about Carbon Grey and Khari Evans a few different times. Here’s some further reading:
‘Carbon Grey’ Gives Khari Evans A Chance To Show His Stuff (a detailed look at the art of Carbon Grey)
Black History Month 2011: Khari Evans (a quick look at what makes his art so good)
Pretty Girls: Khari Evans (a look at how important a sneer can be when you’re drawing ladies, amongst other things)
Great Moments in Black History #11: “Leave a ring around your eye and tread marks on your back” (I like this fight scene)
All the books available digitally (the original series is two bucks each, so if you’ve got coffee cash to spare, give it a go)

Here’s the Kickstarter vid and a widget:

If this is your thing, give some thought to backing the project. I’d like to see it finish.

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Black History Month 2011: Khari Evans

February 25th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Khari Evans
Selected Works: Thor: Ages of Thunder, Daughters of the Dragon: Samurai Bullets, Shanna, the She-Devil: Survival of the Fittest, Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 3: The Book of Iron Fist

One thing I always kind of liked while growing up (and didn’t think twice about til I was older) was how black, or at least certain aspects of black culture, were automatically cool. Once you got past like, the Middle Passage and all that messiness in the 1800s, blackness (for whatever definition you subscribe or don’t subscribe to, and that’s the last disclaimer you get, killjoy) was cool, Jack. The Harlem Renaissance, negro spirituals, zoot suits, jazz, rock’n’roll, rap, dancing as close as you can get to a pretty lady without going to jail for public indecency… the United States would be an awful place without the cultural contributions of black folks, full of nerds insisting on listening to opera music and all types of wackness.

In comics, I can’t think of very many people with a cooler style than Khari Evans. Frank Quitely and Paul Pope have that ugly prettiness thing going on. Colleen Coover is tops as far as kid-friendliness and solid cartooning goes. Evans is the main man as far as cool goes. His people wear clothes that I could actually see someone wearing in real life. Girls change clothes. People accessorize. Hats aren’t just baseball caps. Sneakers have varied treads. Outfits are coordinated.

His faces, too. Sneers, scowls, smug grins… this guy can do it all, and he does it at maximum cool. I wish his style could do for cape comics what John Romita’s art did for Amazing Spider-Man: make it fresh and cool, with well-dressed pretty people doing interesting things.

He draws Pretty Girls, too.

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Pretty Girls: Khari Evans

September 9th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Khari Evans: I guess my man prefers to let his art speak for itself, because I can’t even find so much as a Deviant Art. If Evans happens to read this, though, email me, I want to interview you.
Books: Thor: Ages of Thunder, Daughters of the Dragon: Samurai Bullets, Shanna, the She-Devil: Survival of the Fittest, Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 3: The Book of Iron Fist
Why? Hmm… three reasons, no particular order.

1. He can draw believable black people. Not just default people colored brown, but like real deal, proper facial structure having, broad nosed, thick lipped colored folks. Some of the best artists in the industry can’t get that right, but Evans does it like it’s nothing.

2. There’s this word I heard used in various ways growing up. “Stank.” Sometimes it was “Put some stank on it,” like jazz it up. Sometimes it was my cousin calling some girl I like “stank.” (I eventually quit asking her opinion on girls I liked.) It’s one of those words with several uses that all derive from the same origin. “Stank” is, more or less, “attitude.” Not like a cheery attitude, or a negative attitude, but a “How about you stop giving me lip and having an attitude” attitude. Evans can draw some stank girls and he puts some stank on it when he draws them. My granddad might say that “He draws some mean girls, boy!”

Nobody in comics draws a sneer like Khari Evans, man. Nobody even comes close. That top panel in ke-theorder01.jpg is killer. Misty’s face in ke-daughters04.jpg and ke-daughters06.jpg is probably the meanest ice grill you’ll see. Evans gets the lip curl, the eyebrows, he gets the whole thing right.

But that just betrays a deeper understanding of facial expressions, doesn’t it? ’cause Colleen’s dumb “Ha ha I got a surprise for you girrrrrrrrl” face in ke-daughters02.jpg is dead on, too. Or the mix of giddiness and determination in the two in ke-daughters03.jpg. Body language, too. How often do you see crossed ankles in comics? And yet, in ke-daughters01.jpg, they’re right there. That slump into the couch–let me stop.

3. You can’t really see it here because I chose scenes from one book I really like a lot, but Evans is on point with fashion, too.

(4. Thighs.)

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Fourcast! 60: Tales Designed to Thorzzle

September 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-You Made Me Read This!
Thor: Ages of Thunder vs Tales Designed to Thrizzle (Vol. 1)
-Big ups to Chris Eckert for introducing me to Thrizzle
-Big ups to Carla Hoffman for putting Esther on to BLOOD COLOSSUS
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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Black Future Month ’10: Paris/Tokyo

February 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The easiest thing to point to when someone says “What’s cultural appropriation?” (in the unlikely event that somebody actually wants to know the answer to that question) is the theft of rock and roll. ego trip’s Big Book of Racism!, in addition to being an incredible read, has a great series of lists about rock and roll and race. Long story short, of course, cultural appropriation is the act of taking something that “belongs” to one culture–be it music, arts, literature, drama, whatever–and taking it for your own.

It isn’t a focused movement, exactly. There are no malicious men sitting around a table, plotting on how they can steal bachata and make it there own. It tends to be a byproduct of what happens when racism and institutional racism work hand in hand. Taking rock and roll for an (extremely simplified) example– white America in the mid-1900s had no interest in letting black America onto their jukeboxes and into their clubs. However, white musicians performing what was often the exact same music was met with, if not acceptance, something more positive than racially-motivated revulsion. Over time, rock and roll became a “white” genre, something associated with your average run of the mill white people rather than blacks.

Blackface is another example of cultural appropriation, though much more actively racist and malicious. White actors portrayed black characters for the entertainment and edification of a white audience, donning burnt cork and shoe polish and emulating (or just making up) the ways that black people acted.

A more recent example of cultural appropriation are the dozens of kung fu movies starring white guys. Once Hong Kong action cinema proved to be popular in the ’70s, one way of making it even more popular for American audiences was to toss a white guy into the main role. A good example of this is Danny Rand, from Marvel’s Iron Fist. Danny is a rich white guy who ended up in a thinly obfuscated Shangri-La and ended up becoming its greatest warrior, even triumphing over the natives of the city.

In the fall of ’08, I took a work trip to Tokyo, Japan. I didn’t get as much time to dig in and explore as I wanted, but I did end up spending a lot of time in Shibuya and Harajuku. I saw a lot of people dressed like I dressed, or like people dressed back home. I spent some time in a streetwear shop where the two clerks didn’t know much English beyond “Biggie” and “Nas,” but they knew rap lyrics and fashion.
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