My interview with Hannibal Tabu


Mr. Hannibal Tabu
Q: You’re a man who has his hand in a few things with in the sphere of the comic book medium. You write for Comic book Resources, what are the challenges and constraints of the job? Was journalism your first choice of vocation as it relates to the comic book industry?
A: The job now has almost no constraints.  I write pretty much whatever I want. I don’t overdo the hyping of my own stuff. I review what I want. That was part of my agreement when I brought the column over from UGO.com
Challenges are mostly time related — flying twenty miles from my day gig, standing up for three or four hours in the shop as I read and trade bon mots with the usual suspects, reading until almost 1AM sometimes, and then writing reviews until almost sunrise. Wednesday my family gets less of me, so that’s a challenge.
I’d been working professionally as a journalist since 1993, so comics were just another entertainment medium to cover, despite the fact I’d been reading them since first grade or so.  
Q: What can you tell us about the Good Man Project and your role in it?
A: It’s a website. It has an audience. My business associate Thaddeus Howze Introduced me to the head honcho just as my Komplicated deal with Geekweek.comwas coming to a natural and amicable conclusion. Bing bam boom, I’ve got a Black geek channel on the Good Men Project where I can, again, do pretty much whatever I want.  
Q: You also have a piece in MV Media’s Steam Funk Anthology, which is a black perspective on the steam punk genre. Did the company approach you or did you approach them about putting a short story in the book? Was steampunk a genre you’ve always wanted to work in?
A:  As I noted in my blog on the subject…
… I didn’t get the appeal of steampunk. I kind of get it now, but it’s not my main area of focus. 
 Also as noted there, I saw a request-for-submissions on Facebook, I remembered my old creed as an emcee — be able to rhyme on any beat — and followed that as I go with my writing. Website blurbs, steamfunk stories, poetry, songs — it’s all writing, and I’m a writer, so I took on the challenge and I think it went fairly well. 
Q: Recently you won the Top Cow talent hunt for a story about Michael “Finn” Finnegan the Winter King, are you a fan of the character? Do you read Top Cow comics? What did you feel you could bring to the character of Finn that the character needed?
A: As part of my decade-long reviews column at CBR, I read fifty to seventy comics a week, so yes, there’s Top Cow books in there. I wasn’t a fan of Finn, but I quickly became one. He’s a scoundrel in the Han Solo tradition, a reluctant hero and a hedonistic anti-hero. That’s fun to read and fun to write. I looked at what was happening and thought I could tell a scoundrel story that would entertain, that would engage, and — spirit willing — would win. 
Tabu’s first novel, The Crown: Ascension
Q: Tell us a little about your experience as a journalist, have you worked in other journalistic outlets that didn’t have to deal with “nerd culture?” How was it different from what you’re doing now?
A: Heh. Well, as noted, I’ve worked as a professional journalist since 1993. Interviews, hard news, reviews of many stripes, columns, I’ve done it all. I have edited two national magazines. I ran a community newspaper in LA for six years. I have been a part of a staff that won two Eisners. Black Enterprise, MTV, AOL, Vibe (the original) … I try to stay in circulation.  There’s no real difference. The fundamentals of journalism — fact checking, not using first person perspectives, clarity, et cetera — don’t change based on what the story is about. Rare cases call for variances — playing chess with the GZA from Wu-Tang for a story leaps to mind — but it’s mostly basic stuff from journalism school and most writing programs.
Q: Have you experienced any racism with in the industry whether intentional or accidental? How do you view the industry’s treatment of underrepresented characters? How do you think this can be addressed?
A: Ha! Well … I said a lot of what needed to be said on the topic of racism in the arena of writing for mainstream comics here…
… In that, the raw statistics are pretty racist. I can’t name a single openly racist individual I’ve ever met in comics, but stuff has happened. The disasters in Wakanda. The tedium of Batwing. The fact that only 20 Black people have ever written more than one issue for, essentially, 70% of the audience, with Dwayne McDuffie and Christopher Priest accounting for most of those issues. DC hasn’t had a Black writer since early 2011. Marvel hasn’t had a Black writer since 2009. Racist facts and a possibly racist system, despite my not having any empirical evidence of identifiably racist people.  
I can’t say how Massa should run his house. I can build the best house I can with the materials on hand, in the traditions of hip hop, jazz and our diasporic forebears, making a way out of no way. I have two comics due before 2014 that will reach some of the remaining 30% of the audience, as will geniuses like Geoffrey Thorne or Dani Dixon or Marc Bernardin. I do the best work I can while never forgetting how the facts lay down. Raised a southerner, I grew up knowing I had to work three times as hard for half the credit. As reality is currently configured, that’s just the way it is. 
Tabu’s second novel Faraway
Q: What are your goals a writer and do you have any advice for budding journalists or comic creators of color?
 
A: Goals? Well, ideally I’d like to grow an empire so vast that calling me the Black George   Lucas would be fair, but realistically, if I end up as the Black John Scalzi, I’d say I beat the bank. I still aim my wars at the stars.
As for advice…
– Shut up and write
– Seriously, shut up and write
– Doing the work and selling the work are two wholly different jobs — deal with it
– Nobody owes you anything
– Nobody cares about your story until you make them care
– Follow the words of Yasiin Bey, “… burn through your arguments with action.”
– Did I say shut up and write?
– It’s better to choose than be chosen
– Learn as much as you can about as much as you can, it makes your writing better
– Brevity is the sister of talent
– There’s always somebody better, faster, hired more often, paid more, et cetera. They don’t matter. As Dilated People said, “pace yourself so you can face yourself/run hard, you really only race yourself.”
– Future you thinks present day you was incompetent. Prove them right. Improve the craft.
-In all seriousness, shut up and write 
Q: Do you have any new projects other than the Top Cow story in the works? If so tell people where they might be able to find them and find you?
A: Yep.
For Stranger Comics, I’m writing the fantasy prose serial Waso: Will To Power about a shattered tribe of wild elves fighting to have a place in an unforgiving world. That’s out in July, strangercomics.com
On Saturday, it was announced I’m writing an issue of Watson & Holmes, an urban take on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic detective, alongside Steven Grant (2 Guns). Also slated to write issues: Larry Hama, Brandon Easton and Chuck Dixon. They’re doing this via their fully funded Kickstarter, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/newparadigmstudios/watson-and-holmes-print-kickstarter/posts/459438. I think that’s out this fall.
My third novel, the sci-fi political thriller Rogue Nation should be out … maybe this fall (just got it back from editors), following my first two, The Crown: Ascension and Faraway (both available digitally pretty much everywhere). I also believe Komplicated will have A. Darryl Moton’s brilliant book of music essays, tentatively called The Perfect Chord, out by Malcolm X’s birthday (I’m editing that). That data will be on goodmenproject.com/komplicated.
Oh, I am writing the Egyptian superhero story Menthu: The Anger of Angels with art by Robert Roach and some others, but that street date isn’t concrete. 
Of course, there are weekly reviews at Comic Book Resources and whatever may come at Komplicated on the Good Men Project. 
The Top Cow issue, I think, should be December or January, maybe in time for my birthday. 
I think that’s all I can talk about in public right now. I tweet all my news @hannibaltabu & update my website (www.operative.net) whenever I can. I just try to keep in circulation as best as I can.

           

Vescell # 8 Review


 

 

 “We are the adopted children of a land that wants us to prove our worth.”

Before I start , I want to say I’ve been waiting for this issue to come out for a year. I am a huge fan of this series, its characters, and world. Written and created by Enrique Carrion It’s almost as if the Blade Runner universe collided with Middle Earth and added a black 007 for good measure. I love the positive portrayal of people of color in this book as well as the use of lyricism as dialogue. That being said I was excited to get my hands on this book, which continued a story started in issue two. We open with our hero Maurico “Moo” Barrino who is called up by the finest assassin in comics Artaya, who bares a striking resemblance to Amber rose, to assist her in completing a job. What follows is the story of a man who discovers that just because you want to save someone doesn’t mean they want to be saved.

Carrion continues to spin a great tale laden with intrigue, insight and sensuality that uses hip-hop’s lyrical verse to convey character inner thoughts. Maurcio continues to be compelling and relatable despite being a gun toting, magic wielding bad ass, constantly surrounded by gorgeous women. This issue resonated personally with me in that attempting to turn a harlot into a nun tends to go very poorly and eventually you just end up looking foolish. The supporting ladies in Maurico’s life play their roles very well Artaya providing sharp-tongued comedy. L.t. Vanessa Vega continues to be the hard ass foil whose sexual tension with Moo is almost palpable and Avery his constant reason for risking his life. The interactions between Moo and his fairy guardian Machi are especially interesting as she continues to be his moral compass, physical companion and support system. This issue illustrates the weight of their physical intimacy and even though Moo is searching for his lost love Avery it’s becoming more obvious that what he needs is right under his nose.

John “Roc” Upchurch does a phenomenal job giving characters definition and a subdued color that fits this sci-fi epic like a glove. All of his designs are what help make the world what it is, which is why I was a bit upset after page twenty. Lorenzo Nuti’s art style on the transition pages of 21 and 22 work well with the events taking place however the switch to Dave Acosta’s pencils and Chris Pyrate’s colors are jarring. Pages 23-48 are a bit of a downgrade from Upchurch’s style and the artist’s ability to convey story is very hit or miss while the last page seems rushed and confusing. The last issue I had is the comic ending with “ To be continued in trade paperback.” which worries me about the future of this great title. Vecesll is available in digital format on Comixology or in paper format at your local comic shop. If you’re not reading it already go get it, now.
Rating 4 out of 5.

Virgin Wolf Issue #1 Review

“This is usually how my evenings begin…”

        This week I took a look at an indie title called Virgin Wolf a comic written by Alverne Ball, penciled by Max Bartomucci and colored by Adriana De Los Santos. This is a tale set in medieval France and follows a young lady only known as Virgin as she begins to carve a violent path through the province, hunting down a Werewolf (Known here as Wolfen). By her side is her companion Hania, a wise Native American who seems to know a lot about this young lady even though we don’t. 
        There is plenty of adult content in this a sex scene, sword fight a beheading and some impaling and I loved every moment of it. Bartomucci’s art and De Los Santos’ color are some the best examples of what all indie creators should shoot for, this is high-grade work reminiscent of what is out on shelves now and it is surprising to me that they didn’t pitch this to Image, IDW or one of the other indie labels. The story is a straightforward tale of revenge and though the main character is a bad ass I feel like I don’t really know her or her background so I can’t really become as invested in her as I’d like to be. That being said I do have a favorite character and that is Nicolas the son of the main antagonist Duke Ferdinand, who serves as a noble foil for his corrupt father. The dynamic between these two is interesting especially as it pertains to the death of a particular character in the beginning of he story. There are moments between them which cause us to wonder why the latter behave the way he does toward his son who seems to only want his father’s approval while still being defiant in some ways. Besides those two the other characters dispatched by the Duke find who’d killed his confidante are not as prevalent especially where Virgin is concerned and in the future I almost see them as a non-threat to her revenge crusade. Though this is the first issue and characters always evolve or show that they are more impressive than they were once thought to be, the potential is definitely here so I’ll wait as the mystery unfolds. If you’re into beautiful artwork, swordplay and action then this book is definitely for you. You can pick it up at ariondmg.com
 Rating 4/5 

One Nation Review #1

“ Be all you can be. That’s what the commercial said.” 
I can say a lot about One Nation, that the art is top notch, that the main character Deacon is compelling, that the story began as one thing and then made a quick left and started to become something extremely more interesting.  What I will say is that this comic is f**ing fantastic. The tone, story, artwork is what not just an indie but also a mainstream comic should be. Written by Jason Reeves and Alverne Ball  (Virgin Wolf) Reeves also handles pencil duties while Luis Guerrero works on colors. I’d describe the story as a fusion of Captain America and Superman, however it doesn’t come off feeling at all like a cheap copy of either of those stories.  What it does is take the best parts of both characters; their humble beginnings and their inherent need to do the right thing.
We open up in 1991 during the Gulf war where we meet our main character Deacon who is a solider fighting to help free Kuwait from the grip of Sadam Hussien. We get a brief flashback that doesn’t feel at all forced showing an origin analogous to superman and shows us his motivations for wanting to be a hero. After his friend is killed by insurgents he decides to let his abilities loose, all while wearing the American flag wrapped around his head like a burnoose hood. With violet energy enveloping his head like a halo he goes to work and single handedly ends the war then something miraculous in my opinion happens America loves him and the military supports him giving him the code name Paragon he is made into the worlds first known superhero and is property of the U.S. government. This may sound like I’m spoiling the story but I’m not because all the important and interesting things come later.
The story is very well written I cannot say this enough, the pacing is excellent and the transitions are smooth. The dialogue is real and believable and the narration though heavy finds a way to be interesting and entertaining without feeling like exposition. The art is beautiful professional level work with the pencils defining the characters facial structures perfectly while the art brings everything together from the sandy landscape of Kuwait to the vibrant halo of energy our hero sports around his head while using his abilities. This is yet another book I am surprised isn’t in Image right now and reminds me a lot of Rising Stars in tone. If you’re looking to get out of the mainstream and break into indie comics reading please do yourself a favor and pick this book up I cannot stress this enough. It is better in my opinion than a number of the books both Marvel and DC are churning out right now.

Rating 5/5

The Hiatus,definitely?

So I have returned home to Brooklyn, New York and it is great to be back. I have been taking a break from writing articles, reviews and nerd up news reports to look for a job and re-acclimate to the city. The pod cast seems to be on pause right now as well and if that wasn’t enough my anticipated comic Extra/Ordinary is on hold for editing an reworking. I do however have something new coming down the pipeline so keep an eye out.  I shall return.

Lime Rind the Rouge Samurai # 1

           
“ The sheep continued to reek havoc.”
Let me start by saying that I have no idea what Lime Rind is about. Yes I’ve read the issue front to back but none of it makes sense to me. It’s as if Deadpool and Fooly Cooly had a baby named Lime Rind. The story starts out narrated by a disembodied voice that has a cactus that was originally a woman named Daisy Shandelear that was turned into a cactus by extra-terrestrial sheep who are again attacking the earth. The sheep’s Body odor then transforms a normal house cat into our hero Lime Rind: Rouge Samurai (yes that’s her whole name).  The character seems to be inspired by a certain magical schoolgirl and is able to cough up magical hair balls to ensnare her opponents decides that the invasion of earth isn’t quite as important as defeating the evil door to door salesmen who comes out to here desert dojo. The story ends off with her Daisy and her(Lime’s) sister who speaks in endless Haiku eating tofu with wasabi sauce on it.  The art was inconsistent but the colors worked very well especially vivid green of Lime Rind’s hair coupled with the red and blue of her costume. It would have been nice to see other things in the book were as vividly colored.
Again, the story was all over the place and that was clearly for comedy’s sake however the jokes fell flat on me. You can pick this one up at J1.studios.com
Rating 1/5