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Monday, August 25, 2014

Isis Series Checklist

I’ve recently uploaded all-new revised editions of the modern Isis series books in paperback and eBook. I’ve made every effort to eliminate typos, and fix sentence structure and grammar issues. So these editions of the Isis series are the best quality that they can be.  

The Isis series is easy to follow action packed African-American fantasy fiction featuring a positive Black female heroine. I designed the series to be easy to follow so new readers can buy a book in any point in the series and get involved in the adventures of the goddess next door. Every story is told in a single volume and has its own beginning, middle, and end. Isis series stories are great reading for tweens, teens and readers of all ages!

I want readers to take a moment get up to date on the Isis series and discover all the titles in the series. So listed below are the titles and covers of all the Isis series so far from the first book to the last:

Crime and Punishment in the realm of the Egyptian Gods.
For the first time since the trial of the evil god Seth, The Court of the Elders is brought to order. Ra, Chief Justice of the Elders has issued a warrant for the arrest of Isis, the long-lost daughter of Osiris. Teleported from the remains of her North Carolina home, she’s brought to justice for allowing hatred in her heart and forsaking her heritage to worship another God, crimes punishable by death.
Grieving the tragic loss of her family and dealing with the shocking revelation that she’s a goddess, Isis has no idea how to defend herself in the Court of the Elders. Born of a mortal woman and raised in human culture, Isis is about to be taken advantage of by Ra when Queen Isis intervenes. Acting as her counsel, the Queen helps the young goddess adjust to the culture of New Heliopolis and plan a defense for court in the realm of the gods. Will the gods offer her a second chance to be redeemed? Or will she be judged to suffer the same fate as Seth?

A lost goddess.
A heritage Found.
A greater destiny to be achieved.
In the aftermath of a horrible tragedy, Isis the long-lost daughter of Osiris, has committed a heinous crime. Because she didn't receive guidance from her father, the elder gods show mercy on the young goddess by stripping her of her powers and imprisoning her on an uncharted island in the South Pacific.
Osiris and Queen Isis reunite with his long-lost child to begin the difficult process of establishing a familial relationship. Hoping to guide Isis towards the greater destiny she's supposed to fulfill, her parents begin teaching her the ways of the gods. However, Seth's herald E'steem lurks in the shadows offering the young goddess freedom for a price. Caught in the middle of a never-ending war between the gods, Isis must choose to either return to the troubled world she knows all too well, or take a journey down an unknown path where faith is her only guide.

Art Attack! Isis comes face-to-face with danger when a statue of Queen Amari comes to life on the floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Returned to life through a magic spell, Amari seeks revenge on the woman she believes stole the heart of her Prince and her kingdom two thousand years ago.

As Isis works with her estranged sister E’steem, she seeks to extend an olive branch to the bitter Queen. Will she forgive and forget? Or will she continue to hold onto her two thousand year old grudge and finally mete out her vengeance on the goddess of retribution?

Girlfight! Nemesis, the undisputed Queen of the Octagon is hungry for competition. After defeating twenty-four of the world’s best MMA fighters, she’s out to prove to both man and god that she’s the best in the world. Traveling to the Island of Solitude she issues a challenge to the goddess Isis to fight her in the eight-sided chain-link roofed steel cage where the only way to win is to knock your opponent out. It’s a war of the gods as New Heliopolis’ Sword of Nubia takes on the Greek goddess of Retribution in a no holds barred brawl for it all.

Glamorous! Raheema Sanders, 85-year-old CEO of Sepia Cosmetics seeks to find a way to reverse the effects of aging on herself. Learning that Isis is more than human, she has the goddess kidnapped and taken to her secret lab so she can learn the beauty secrets of the gods. However, when she comes face-to-face with the goddess she soon learns Isis’ beauty is more than skin deep.

Isis: Death of a Theta (Kindle Exclusive)
Requiem. In this flashback story set in 1973, Isis is called to the Theta House by her sorority sisters who want her to step down from her leadership role the Senior Grand Mother. With her mortal alias Andrea Robinson being 98-years-old, and Isis being immortal, they fear that if she continues on with the organization her secret may be revealed, and their mission compromised in the Black community.

Coming to terms with her aging secret identity, Isis realizes that she has to start making plans to get her human affairs in order. As she lays down the life of her alias in the mortal world for her friends, Isis comes to realize that she has to have faith in the women she taught to build on the foundation she established and pass it on to the next generation of Theta sisters.

Frenemies! Things come to a head as Isis tells her estranged sister E’steem she still doesn't trust her. But when E’steem is kidnapped by the demon D’lilah, Isis realizes that she has to move their relationship past the frenemy zone to save her former arch-enemy from a fate worse than death.

Isis: All About The Goddess
Action! After someone makes a threat on the life of current college student and former child star Marilyn Marie, Isis goes undercover as an Art Model at the Next School. While the goddess exposes herself to the student body in class, the she tries to sketch out the details that will allow her to solve the mystery behind the threatening messages.

Danger! Three months after her encounter with Isis, Dr. Raheema Sanders transforms herself into the Cybergoddess, a creature with powers far greater than Isis’. Determined to replace the order of gods with an order of science, she plans to kill the goddess and remake the world in her own image. Can Isis stop this Digital Diva before she implements her mad plan? 

And I highly recommend readers also read The Temptation of John Haynes because it’s the book that lays the foundation and continuity for the modern Isis series!

Death Kills the Flesh.
Compromise kills the soul.

The Devil doesn’t like John Haynes.
To take his soul, Lucifer recruits E’steem a beautiful black she-demon to seduce him. If she can get John to compromise his beliefs and values, he’ll allow her to join his Elect, a cadre of powerful demons in his inner circle.
To balance the playing field in E’steem’s favor, Lucifer isolates John by having him fired from his job and forces his fiancĂ©e Colleen to leave him. Unemployed and emotionally vulnerable, John eagerly takes what he thinks is the job opportunity of a lifetime as CEO of Morris Phillips. Distracted by his new high-powered job and its many duties, he has no idea that Lucifer secretly controls the multinational corporation or that his beautiful live-in assistant is a she-demon placed there to corrupt him. However as E’steem becomes romantically involved with John, she’s torn between achieving her theocratic aspirations and saving the man she loves from eternal damnation.

Catch up on the Isis series in paperback or in eBook at your favorite online bookseller!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thoughts on Michael Brown

Last week, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a cop and left dead in the street And in response frustrated Black people in Ferguson Missouri took to the streets.

However, the Police response to the riots and protesting was downright disturbing. Police in Ferguson Missouri looked like they were ready for war. Officers responded with military style body armor, tear gas and rubber bullets. They drove MRAPS and carried submachine guns and established a no-fly zone over the city

I thought this was America, not Palestine. But here it was broadcast on TV An American police department using the tactics and weapons Israelis use to counter terrorists like HAMAS in Palestine.

These were angry frustrated brothers and sistas, tired of racial profiling, being denied jobs, and being harassed by police for being Black. It looked like Brown’ death was the straw that broke the camel’s back for most Black folks in that neighborhood. Brothers and sisters who had heard about Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride and Eric Garner here in New York City. Brothers and sisters who were seeing the same pattern of police brutality perpetrated in their own neighborhood by them by law enforcement.

But the police acted like they were Israeli soldiers fighting HAMAS. I didn’t know Black people protesting injustice were terrorists.

America the Democracy showing its true colors as a Hypocritic Republic. From the deaths of Michael Brown, Renisha McBride Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, it’s clear that there are clearly still two worlds in AmeriKKKa, One Black and One White.

In spite of everyone’s efforts nothing has changed since 1964.

Jim Crow has returned to AmeriKKKA. Right under the auspices of our first Black President.

What we saw on the screens of our televisions in Ferguson with that military style response was the equivalent of watching dogs and fire hoses used on our grandparents and great-grandparents who marched in the Civil Rights Movement.

I thought our first Black president was supposed to bring change to AmeriKKKa. But here we are with a situation that parallels the early days of the Civil Rights movement. It’s a powerful statement about how much things have deteriorated under his ineffective leadership.

Ferguson is to Obama what Katrina was to George W. Bush. A defining statement about how incompetent he is as a leader.

Barack Obama’s response to the violence in Ferguson is to deflect and delegate, not take responsibility for what’s transpiring on his watch. First with a terse, vague statement about the situation. Then when the violence escalated, he sent Eric Holder to Ferguson. He didn’t take action of a LEADER.

Ferguson needs a visit from the President. Why? To show people the President is in charge. To show the country he is a leader.To Unite the people.  To reassure the public that he is aware of the situation and is going to take control of it.

Barack Obama Like George W. Bush he’s lost touch with the people who he serves. His vacation seems more of a priority than a chaotic situation transpiring right in front of the eyes of Americans both Black and White.

The Michael Brown situation shows how bad things have deteriorated in Black communities over the last 20 years. Even with a Black president, there is no Black leadership in Black communities across the country. Black folks are clearly still looking for Barack Obama to be a Great Savior like Dr. Martin Luther King.

Instead of getting up off their asses and doing for themselves.

The definition of Insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result. And what I’m seeing transpiring in Missouri clearly shows me the vicious cycle regarding race and race relations in AmeriKKKA.

Unfortunately, the response from our old Civil rights leaders is to keep marching and protesting in the quest for justice. Doing the exact same thing and expecting a different result.

The rest of the world calls this insanity, but Black people call this Civil Rights.

Shawn says Black people, it’s time for a new approach.

We took a step forward with the election of our first Black President. But over the past seven years, the country has taken twenty steps back to Jim Crow under his incompetent leadership. When local law enforcement uses a military response to escalate violence against protesters in a country where Freedom of Assembly is guaranteed under the Constitution, things are falling apart in America.

No other minority community has to deal with brutal police officers. Do we hear of police officers beating up Hispanics? No. Do we hear of police officers shooting Asians in the Street in Chinatowns and Koreatowns? No. Why?

Hispanics control a lot of manufacturing and importing of fruit and food products to America. One story of a White Cop killing and beating a Hispanic and they shut down and slow down the import of fruit and food products to White America.

Asians control most of the Manufacturing of imported goods from hair weaves to iPhones. If White cops beat up on a Chinese American or a Korean American the way they did Eric Garner, the Chinese government would shut or slow down the production of goods imported to America.

Even at the height of 9/11 and the Iraq war, Arabs in America weren’t brutalized the way Blacks continue to be. Not a single police officer put them in choke holds as they sold loose cigarettes in their stores like they do right now. Why?

Because the response from Arab countries would be SWIFT. Don’t think OPEC countries like Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries such as Quatar and Yemen would quickly impose an oil embargo on the U.S. again if White cops started applying a military response like the one in Missouri to Arab business owners in America.

Each of these responses would cripple the American economy. So big business lets police departments all over the country know not to FUCK with certain communities. Because the flow of dollars that pays their salaries will be CUT OFF LIKE THAT.

The economic pressure these countries would use would force a change in political policy in America. Black people have that kind of power, but are too divided to use it.

It’s time for Black people to realize we are behind enemy lines. And it’s time we started pooling our resources. Using the $3.3 trillion dollars in spending power we use to buy Air Jordans, 40 ounces, Playstation and XBOX games to build the economic base needed to create the political power needed to build a strong Black community.

The only way to stop brutal police from racially profiling and killing Black people is Group Economics. When Black dollars are spent with Black-owned businesses such as mine, they can be pooled together to get the political power to create laws that protect Black communities.

Every other community pays itself FIRST. By shopping with their own businesses and buying their own supplies to make their products from their own people. Keeping the flow of money in their community. Building wealth and political power.

Every other community uses group economics to apply political pressure on local politicians. People all over the world don’t value Black people because Black people don’t value themselves. The Black dollar is seen all over the world as “liquid money”, the easiest to make in the world.

I say it’s time for us to cut the faucet off.

If Black people can’t be safe from racial profiling and police brutality then it’s not safe for us to go shopping at stores during busy holiday seasons such as Back-to-school, Black Friday, and Christmas. Maybe if nonblack businesses from corner owned stores to big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Target see how many Black dollars they lose in retail, travel and tourism during a season, maybe they’ll start learning to value Black people.

And maybe once they LOSE enough money during a season, Black people will actually start to see a change in the policies regarding how communities of color are policed. Nonblack Businesses need to see the value of the Black dollar. They need to see the impact Black customers have when they’re kept from shopping in their stores due to the racist and brutal policies of law enforcement.

But most Black people lack the backbone, tenacity, discipline and commitment to make that kind of statement. The character and resolve of Black people is so WEAK these days they couldn’t participate in that type of protest.

Hell, most Black people don’t the backbone and discipline to shop at their own stores. If we shopped at our own businesses a lot of these problems would be solved. If we patrolled our own communities like Jews, a lot of the crime would be solved. But we’d rather march and protest, praying to White Jesus to change everything for us.

Black folks I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the time for protesting and marching are OVER. It’s time for a new approach to Civil Rights. One where we apply economic power and economic pressure to get political change.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No Good Deed- Return of the Black Brute to Cinema

I saw the trailer for a new movie called No Good Deed, a film starring Taraji P Henson and Idris Elba. In the first few seconds of this trailer for this film a Black man is shown brutalizing and assaulting a White Woman before he’s sent to jail.

Further along in the trailer, viewers are shown him at the door asking for help then the camera cuts to a phone with the line cut. And no one is at the door. Then the Black male predator springing into violent action.

No good deed goes unpunished in this film. Unfortunately, this so-called thriller punishes the Black community by promoting and perpetuating a destructive stereotype about Black men: The Black Brute.

After watching the trailer I went to IMDB to learn more about this abomination calling itself a film …film The synopsis for this film says an escaped Black male convict terrorizes a Black female homeowner who offers him help.

14 years after Denzel Washington won an Oscar for Best Actor in Training Day, the Black Brute has returned to AmeriKKKan movie screens. And Black folks have no idea how destructive this stereotype is to all our young brothers out here.

Who is the Black Brute? Back in Jim Crow, the Black Brute was the caricatured image a big muscular, violent Black man who terrorized everyone who came into his path. A savage who lived for violence, especially against White women. A violent predator who was a menace to society. Someone we don’t need to see right now on movie screens across the country.

In the aftermath of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown the last thing the Black community needs is a movie featuring a Black Brute terrorizing people on movie screens across the country. Further perpetuating the idea in people’s minds that Black Brutes are out and about.

And that the world needs to protect itself from them.

Black men have it hard. And movies like No Good Deed make it even harder for Black men and Black boys to go about their lives in American society. With racial tensions at an all-time high the release of this kind of movie presenting a Big Black predator is the last thing we need.

The first clips of the trailer show this Black Brute assaulting a white woman. An attempt to get an emotional response out of White men and White women. An attempt to polarize the audience on a racial level.

The later clips show him terrorizing a Black woman at her home. An attempt to put fear in Black women about their perceptions regarding Black men.

The only thing missing from this film are a noose and a tree.

This movie isn’t entertainment. It’s social engineering. It’s social propaganda meant to put the idea in audiences’ heads that Black men are violent sociopaths who are a danger to all those around them. Like Training Day, Monster’s Ball, Precious, The Help, and The Butler, No Good Deed breathes new life into old stereotypes. Bringing the Black Brute back to the minds of a new generation of Blacks and Whites.

Reinforcing the idea in the minds of sociopaths like George Zimmerman and his enablers that this kind of Black menace exists. And the only way to protect oneself from them is with concealed carried handguns and use them to terrorize Black communities and eliminate their menace from society.

What most Black folks don’t understand is that usually the only way White folks thought they could stop a Black brute was to kill him. And in old pulp novels where the Black Brute was featured the only way to kill the Brute was for a White mob to hang him or to burn him alive. I have a feeling this will be the conclusion of this movie.

The Black man will be put in his place: Six feet under.

Brothers and sisters, you have to be careful about the media you imbibe. These racist stereotypes from Jim Crow and the Antebellum South have been repackaged in brand new boxes for a new generation of viewers. And if you watch too much of this media, you’ll start believing it to be the standard for the behavior of Black people.

Moreover, Black folks have to be careful about controlling the media that’s promoted in their communities. Images of Black Brutes are detrimental to Black men because it shows the world Black men are violent savages and not intelligent responsible and conscientious fathers, husbands, sons and brothers. The images in these kinds of films devalues the life of Black men by saying they’re not human.

Films like No Good Deed promote the idea that a Black man’s life has no value. And the only solution for any nonblack person dealing with any Black man is to execute them like an animal with depraved indifference and extreme prejudice.

The only way to stop this kind of dysfunctional media from being made and promoted is to vote with your wallet. And I’m urging Black people across the United States to not go see No Good Deed when it’s released. Buying a ticket for this movie is just like buying a White man a bullet to kill your brother, husband, son or father. The more we go see movies like this, the more Hollywood will produce. And the more they’ll perpetuate old racist stereotypes about Black people into society.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Isis Series and The Lightskin/Darkskin Issue, and Dysfunctional Color Struck Negroes

Sometimes the ignorance of people is an opportunity to teach. A couple of weeks ago, On seeing the cover for Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess paperback, family members told me that the characters on the cover weren’t “Black” and began to go into the old lightskin/darkskin argument instead of looking at the content of the story.

 Now every other African-American fantasy group, Black book group, nonblack book group and comic book group on Facebook I’m on has told me they clearly see how Isis is Black. Many more have praised the cover by Bill Walko and it’s gotten dozens of likes on social media. Not a single person has gone into a lightskin/darksin argument when I present any Isis Series cover to them. They simply enjoy the stories.

I don’t want this lightskin/darkskin issue to take away from readers’ enjoyment of Isis character or the Isis series stories.  Nor do I want it to poison the perceptions of brothers and sisters regarding the character. So I’m going to take the time to clarify things about the Isis series and the character of Isis.

Everything I do with the Isis series is based on years of research. I took a year of trips to the library to research Osirian legend and Egyptian mythology before writing a single word of the first Isis story back in 1999. And I did two more years of research on Egyptian mythology, Egyptian History, Nubian history, and Black history before I typed out the first draft of the manuscript back in 2001. And I did even more research on those subjects and even the old Filmation Isis TV series before publishing the first book in 2002.

Isis is the daughter of Osiris because I wanted to make a statement about the relationship between Egypt and Nubia. Isis is Horus’ sister to symbolize how she came from Nubia, Egypt’s sister nation. At one time Egypt and Nubia were like the United States and Canada, they shared a trade border, shared the same culture and even worshipped the same gods. There were numerous temples to Ra, Isis, Horus and Osiris in Nubia just like there were in Egypt.

Isis’ character design was based on the Egyptian and Nubian myths themselves, and pictures and statues I saw depicting the goddess. Isis’ golden skin tone is based on Egyptian/Nubian Mythology. In ancient times statues of the gods were made of gold. Gold was a precious metal and esteemed the high value of the gods Egyptians and Nubians worshipped.

The brown color I use for Isis is meant to symbolize her golden skin tone and distinguish her as a goddess. I was trying to get as close to the hieroglyphs I studied as possible.

Isis’ Auburn/Chestnut brown hair is based on what I read about the Egyptian god Seth. Seth is depicted in numerous versions of the Osirian legend as having red hair. The way I saw it the red hair gene would have to be within the Heliopolitan bloodline. Plus it was a way to make the character stand out and look distinct.

I also gave Isis the chestnut/Auburn Hair color because many Ancient Egyptians in ancient times dyed their hair and wigs red with henna. During ancient times women would color their hair and wigs this color during holidays and other celebrations. I even believe it was a fashion trend in one era.

In addition, Isis was also given Chestnut/Auburn hair to make her look distinct from the brunette Queen Isis and her brunette sister E’steem.  At the time I was planning Isis it was meant to be a comic book. And if one looks at the Golden and Silver Age Wonder Woman and her Mother Queen Hippolotiya they’ll notice Princess Diana is a brunette while her mother Queen Hippolyotia is a blonde. This was done so that the characters would be easy to distinguish when they were drawn together in a comic panel.

In real life, I’ve seen many Black women with the same hair color Isis has in my drawings. And when one looks at a color photo of Malcolm X they’ll see he has reddish/auburn hair. That’s the same hair color Isis would have in real life.  And NO ONE was BLACKER than Malcolm X.

I want everyone to know Isis is a BLACK woman. In my eyes the Egyptians were BLACK. The Nubians were BLACK. And I designed the character so BLACK people could trace their history and heritage back to Ancient Egypt and Ancient Nubia.

When Isis talks about emigrating to America in the first Isis book, she says that the people who had skin her color and hair her texture were Negroes. Black people come in a variety of shades of brown and have various hair textures. And I make a point of showing a variety of skintones and hair textures in all my stories.

Isis’ backstory is rooted heavily in Black history. When Isis recounts her past in Isis: Death of a Theta, and Edna Flowers talks about Isis’ previous alias Andrea Thomas Robinson in The Thetas, she talks about a Black woman who taught her how to overcome Jim Crow racism.

Isis’ experiences with racism in the 19th and 20th century in the first Isis book were based on real Black women like Sojurner Truth and Harriet Tubman. She is a teacher because I was inspired by the historical contributions of Great Black female American educators such as Ida B. Wells and Mary Mcleod Bethune. She is the Matriarch of the Theta Sorority to show the roots of Black history in our Black fraternal organizations and the direct impact the Black woman has as the teacher of culture to women in those social organizations.

 With Isis I wanted to show the richness of Black culture Black women have and what’s beautiful about being a Black woman inside and out. I didn’t just want her to be a superhero. I wanted her to be a social crusader to showcase the role Black women had in Black society throughout history.

Being raised in traditional Nubian, Egyptian and Black culture Isis practices concepts such as group economics, and has a clear understanding of what her Black female identity is. In designing Isis personality and “voice” I studied great Black women such as the late Corretta Scott King, Betty Shabazz, Lena Horne, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Dee in her conceptualization, and contemporary sistas such as Tia Mowry, and Salli-Richardson Whitfield.

Isis is a supporter of Civil Rights and a social crusader who teaches her Theta Sisters the importance of keeping Black wealth in Black hands. Again, the character was created as a hero who understands of how the Black woman is the teacher of culture to Black women and children. These were social concepts that were taught in Black communities before the encroachment of White feminism on the Black community, and the establishment of the Matriarchal welfare state in the 1970s.

And when Isis lived in America in the early 19th Century, She was married to a college educated Black man, Joe Robinson. She and her husband gave up a comfortable life in Boston to help teach the newly freed slaves in the South the skills they’d need to have a better life during Reconstruction. And in 1883 she watched her husband get lynched and saw her son murdered in front of her by Klansmen.

In the first Isis book I clearly make the point that In AmeriKKKA no one cared that Isis was a goddess. For all her golden skin and chestnut hair, all those White racists saw was a nigger bitch. Someone to rape after they killed her family. 

And in Isis: Trial of the Goddess I make the point that her mind was so corrupted by the hatred of White Supremacy and Racism she experienced that Ra and the elder gods had no choice but to imprison her on the Island of Solitude. It’s only when she gets her mind right that she’s allowed to return to the world in 1900.

I make every effort to make almost every Isis series story feature some reference to Black culture or Black history. For example when I write books like Isis: The Beauty Myth I make every effort to include Black-owned institutions such as Ebony Fashion Fair, and present fictional Black-owned businesses such as Sepia Cosmetics, which are based on real-world Black owned-businesses like Ebony Fashion Fair.

When I created Isis back in 1998-1999, I wanted to give little Black girls their own heroine. Someone who looked like them, had their struggles, and dealt with their issues. Whenever I watched TV shows like Jem and movies like Clueless, the Black female character was always the furthest in the background. Or in shows like She-Ra and GIJOE she was nonexistent. And I wrote this series of books so she could stand up front and be featured as the main character. With Isis I wanted little Black girls to understand what’s great about being a Black woman.

Doing further research into Black superheroines I was deeply disappointed by the few Black female superheroes and even more disappointed by their lack of depth and backstory. Storm was powerful but just a chocolate fantasy for White men. Vixen just…drifted. Bumblebee was a footnote in Titans history. Monica Rambeau was here then…forgotten. Rocket had all her promise destroyed by single motherhood in the second issue of Icon. Most Black females in comics were never given their own series, their own archenemies, their own storylines or a chance to shine. 

I sought to rectify that with Isis. I wanted to put a Black woman up front show what made a sista had in the Black community. Isis is a hero not because she’s a princess and a goddess, she’s a hero because she’s a friend to Black people who seeks to teach them life lessons as she overcomes the challenges put in front of her.   

My original plan was for Isis to be a comic book. Unfortunately, the comic book industry collapsed six years before her creation. So I went the YA fiction route. However, my love for comic books is deeply rooted in Isis and the Isis series. 

As a comic fan, I make a quiet homage to Filmation and DC Comics a by giving her second alias the name Andrea Thomas Robinson in Isis: Death of a Theta, a reference to the comic book and TV version of Isis played by White actress Joanna Cameron. Ironically, Andrea Thomas Robinson dies in December 1973, a few years BEFORE the Joanna Cameron Isis TV series goes to air.

Unfortunately, all of those concepts and ideas are lost on some shallow dysfunctional color-struck Negroes who judge my books by their covers. For them Isis is just light-skinned. And a few not “Black” enough to be considered “Black”.

What many of these dysfunctional color-struck Negroes don’t understand is that Black is Black whether you are light-skinned or dark-skinned. And Black is who you are on the inside. It’s the content of your character that makes you Black, not the color of your skin.  

Again, I don’t want my work poisoned by the dysfunctional lightskin/darksin issues some Black people have. My mission as a writer and a publisher is to create positive fiction that inspires and uplifts Black people. My ultimate goal with the Isis series is to give Black girls their heroine, someone they can relate to and identify with. Someone who makes them proud of their culture, their history and their heritage. Someone who makes them proud of their skintone and hair texture. Someone who deals with their issues in her adventures.

In a world filled with hypersexualized images of Black women such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and shows like Scandal, racist movies like Monster’s Ball and Precious, disgusting Twerk videos, fight videos broadcast on World Star Hip Hop, street lit and erotica where Black women call themselves bitches and whores, the images of Black women in media being presented to Black girls is one that is increasingly negative, and incredibly self-destructive. My goal with the Isis character and the Isis series was to create a heroine who was rooted in Egyptian mythology and Black history for Black girls and Black women see as a role model.

Writing and publishing the Isis series books means a lot to me. When publishing houses wouldn’t consider my work, I published the first Isis book in 2002 with $200 of the last $600 in my personal savings at the time.  And even though I’ve been out of work for so long, I’ve been investing my own dwindling savings in writing and publishing these books for the last five years.

Because the protecting and uplifting the image of Black people means that much to me.

That cover for Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess my own family members said wasn’t black enough for them? I paid for that with my own money. I spent the last 60 days selling action figures, toy catalogs and collectibles from my own personal collection on eBay when my Kickstarter failed. I make those sacrifices because I want to make sure that Black people have an alternative to the minstrels and Jezebels currently bombarding Black people and Black children in the media.

I make every effort to improve the quality of SJS DIRECT publications because I want Brothers and sistas to have the very best. I want everyone to know I’m making every effort to respond to customer complaints such as the covers. For me it’s not about the color of the character’s skin. It’s about the quality of the content and the content of the character. I’d rather publish a book featuring a golden skinned goddess with her own chestunut hair than one featuring a weave wearing brown skinned baby mama, a caramel skinned side piece, or a dark-skinned hood rat.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

What’s Wrong With Wonder Woman And How to FIX IT

Wonder Woman is the first female superheroine in comics. And over the last 75 years Princess Diana has become an American icon. Unfortunately, the third most popular character at DC Comics has had an identity crisis over the past 40 years. And it’s that identity crisis that makes it hard for anyone to write comics for her or adapt her for other media such as the silver screen.

Working with Wonder Woman has become a challenge for most writers. Yeah, she’s an icon. And externally she’s got these amazing powers and an fascinating backstory. But internally there’s nothing tangible for readers to relate to. Unlike Superman or Batman no one has given us much of a reason to CARE about Princess Diana or her supporting cast in decades.

If one looks at modern interpretations of Diana such as the New 52 she’s an afterthought in her own comic book. In TV shows like Justice League, Hawkgirl stole the show right out from under her because she had a stronger “voice” and personality. Hawkgirl was rough and tumble; one of the guys. But Diana…Well….She was just there in the background not saying or doing anything to make us see what’s special about her.

And every Wonder Woman centered episode was just BORING. Even with top talents like Dwayne McDuffie, Bruce Timm, and Paul Dini working with her, there was no way to make Wonder Woman really stand out like Flash or John Stewart or even the Martian Manhunter. Her villains and her supporting cast were background fodder at best. Sure she had chemistry with Batman in Justice League Unlimited but I believe people were more interested in the build of the implied romance, not because they liked her character as a person.

I believe the big problem with Wonder Woman is that she hasn’t been defined for the 21st Century. Back when Wonder Woman was created in the 1940s she was special. In a world where men did all the heavy lifting in society, she was the only woman with super powers. One of a few women doing incredible things.

But today in a postfeminist America she’s struggled to stand out in a world filled with superheroines with powers like hers. In comic book world filled with Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Rogue, Storm, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk and the Invisible Woman, a TV world filled with Xena and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a movie world with Ripley, Lara Croft, Selene, and Black Widow, what’s so special about Wonder Woman?

Over the last 75 years we can still define who Superman and Batman are by their missions. Superman is a friend who helps everyone. Batman is The Dark Knight who watches over Gotham. But who is Wonder Woman? What’s her mission? And why should we care? These are the questions that haven’t been answered in four decades by any comic book writer since Gloria Steinem demanded she be brought back to comics.

Being the first superheroine has cemented Wonder Woman as an American icon. Unfortunately over the last 40 years she’s gotten lost in a larger crowd of powerful women. And the challenge for any comic book or screenwriter today is to find a way to make her stand out in a crowded 21st Century World filled with equally powerful superwomen and real women such as Hilary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Carly Fiorina, and Gina Carano.

I believe in order for a Wonder Woman to remain relevant in a postfeminist world she has to show the public how she’s our friend. She has to have those feet of clay that show her humanity to a new generation of fans.

The way I see it the whole Ambassador of peace and goodwill concept George Perez came up with back in the 1986 is outdated, too complicated and hard for regular people to follow today. It’s a great concept but it needs to be simplified to make it accessible to new readers.

When I began the  Isis series back in 2012, the slogan I used to sell her books to readers was “The goddess next door”. It’s a way to tell to everyone how she’s a friend to those she serves. Someone who is always there when you need her. Like Superman, a friend.

In my proposed Wonder Woman run, I wanted to turn Diana into “The Princess next door”. Someone who is there for the world. A friend just like Superman.

The girl next door is a part of American Pop Culture. An integral part of American culture just like Wonder Woman. She’s someone we all can count on. A best friend to women and someone every guy wants to date and marry. Someone who we know will help out in a time of trouble. Again, A friend.

While the girl next door is someone we all can relate to and touch, Diana today is always shown mostly as a super warrior who is often on these missions to faraway and exotic places. Someone most people can’t see as being part of their lives. When it comes to Wonder Woman, I believe in any form of media, whether it be comic book or movie, there needs to be a focus on showing how she’s available and accessible to the community she serves. How there’s a possibility for her to connect with real people. Readers need to see her being a friend. Someone like Superman they can count on to help them out in time of need.

Someone who is possibly a phone call away or a knock on the door like Isis was in Isis: All About the Goddess. In that story, Isis poses nude in a college art studio to help catch a campus stalker harassing one of the students. While I know the idea of Diana posing nude in an art studio is kind of crazy to some comic fans, I believe it’d make a strong statement about her character. It’d show readers how like Batman, what length Wonder Woman would go to put herself on the line to protect others from danger.

I think this overfocus on the superwoman and almost masculinization of the character is why so many people today can’t relate to Wonder Woman. Today’s comic fans need to get to know the Diana the woman and learn what she believes in, what stands for, and why she’s willing to fight for it. It’s Clark Kent and Bruce Waynes’ personal values that make Superman and Batman the heroes they are. But there hasn’t been much effort to define Diana’s personal values over the last 40 years. What motivates her internally to do fight that good fight. And that’s what makes making movies and other media so hard for writers and screenwriters like myself.

The way I see it Diana being made from clay that symbolizes how she’s not perfect. Even though she lives in paradise and has been given powers by the gods, it’s being made from that soft clay that comes from the earth that I believe makes her imperfect. It’s what connects her to the world. In some ways it’s a great contrast to the hardness of all the amazon warriors around her.

If one looks at a sculpture closely it’s not entirely perfect, it’s those small imperfections and rough edges that makes it stand out, just like those personality imperfections and flaws make characters interesting. When it comes to Wonder Woman, there needs to be more of a focus on those soft feet of clay and how they connect her to the people in her life.

When I write the Isis series I put all of Isis flaws up front for readers to see. I show how she struggles with her feelings of awkwardness and inadequacy in the presence of goddesses like her stepmother Queen Isis and her sister E’steem and even other women. How she struggles with her role as a goddess and a princess in New Heliopolis and how she tries to balance it with her life as a human being. And how she has reservations and fears regarding her life. Isis is a skinny little woman who screws up fails, but what makes her a heroine is the fact that she always perseveres and fights to stands up for what she believes in and makes every effort to help those in need.

The way I see it, Wonder Woman’s origin needs to be updated to show how no one on Paradise Island believes in her. Her peers like Artemis should see her as a runt, and a screwup not fit for their military. Intellectuals like Nubia should see her as not smart enough to grasp science and Amazon tech. Others could believe she’s a spoiled princess coddled by her mother. A few like Aresia should think she has no direction and is not fit to be the future Queen of the Amazons. She doesn’t fit in the Amazon world, and struggles there and sees Man’s world as a way out of her misery in paradise. Before she becomes Themiscyra’s Wonder Woman she’s just a regular woman.

And over the course of the story it’s shown how she works to become the Island’s greatest champion BEFORE she gets her powers from the gods. How it’s her internal character that shows us why she was given those powers by the gods over the other Amazons.

And Paradise Island needs to be re-defined to fit in a 21st Century world. I believe the whole Amazon warrior concept has been taken WAY too seriously by too many writers over the last 30 years. Back when William Moulton Marston created Paradise Island, it was a peaceful place with a focus on advanced technology and science. Yeah, they had a military, but aren’t these women supposed to be the best of the best? Where are the Amazon scientists, engineers, chemists, and IT people on par with today’s men?

In a world filled with iPads and smartphones, Themiscyran women spend most of their time fighting with swords and spears and arrows. And they spend every day doing military drills. That always sounded like sloppy writing to me. What happened to the Amazon tech such as the Purple Ray and the Invisible Jet? Why don’t they have armor, energy shields, and cloaks?

Iron Man has all that stuff for close to 30 years. So does Batman. Black Panther out in the plains of Wakanda has had all sorts of high-tech stuff since his creation. Steel and Mr. Terrific have all sorts of kickass tech at their disposal. Even a fish-talking LAME like Aquaman has had all sorts of tech in Atlantis. But Amazons who live in an advanced society filled with BOTH SCIENCE and MAGIC that’s supposed to be on par with Atlantis are still fighting with arrows and spears. WTF?

The way I see it we need to get to know the Amazons on the island. We need to see how they have a distinct culture all their own. Build a true supporting cast. Showcase Amazon tech. Showcase Amazon magic. If I were writing Wonder Woman, there’d be room for Artemis, Nubia, and Aresia. (Yeah, I know she sucks, but I know from experience writing both E’steem and Nemesis there’s a way to write a female rogue and make her interesting.) We need to see the world of Paradise Island and how it stands out like Aquaman’s Atlantis.

On the rogues gallery front Diana has a lot of strong villains, but there’s never been that big defining feud to showcase Wonder Woman’s internal character strengths. Her villains challenge her physically, but never make that challenge to who she is and what she stands for. Barbara Minerva’s Cheetah has a great look but her motivations for feuding with Diana aren’t strong. She wants her lasso? Meh. Circe has great powers, but again no serious motivation that grabs me. Giganta? What’s her beef with Diana? And why should I care that a 50-foot woman wants to kick her ass? Ares? What’s he done in the last 30 years to make me pay attention to him? Aresia? Everyone hates her. But not because of her track record, it’s because she’s LAME.

And when I read Diana Prince: Wonder Woman trades last year I saw Dr. Cyber’s potential absolutely WASTED. This narcissistic over-the-top diva could have been cemented on DC’s A-list with Lex Luthor and the Joker by now if writers back in the 1970’s built her up into an egotistical BITCH we love to hate instead of copping out and making her a lame female Dr. Doom Knock-off. From what I saw she could have been that bitch, the iconic Wonder Woman baddie we all associate with her. But due to poor execution, she got lost and forgotten in the shuffle of DC’s catalog of villains.

Today Wonder Woman needs her Green Goblin. Her Joker. Her Lex Luthor. The one bad guy we associate with her without thinking about it. In a character driven model like comics, villains drive stories. They create the conflict the heroes have to overcome. They are who get butts into seats for movies and people buying comics.

From what I’ve read there’s never been that one Wonder Woman story that had that right mix of chemistry to make it spark. Most times in her comics there was always some element missing to keep it from becoming her definitive story. Character development is often off. Plots aren’t strong and Storylines are flat. Then there are the weak villains and the poorly defined relationship between Diana and her arch-enemies. That’s primarily what makes it so hard for screenwriters like myself to adapt her to the screen today.

I believe the only to get to a true Wonder Woman movie way is to completely rebuild her character in the comics from the ground up. It had to be done with Iron Man and the X-Men in the 1970s and with Daredevil, Teen Titans, and Superman in the 1980s; it’s the rebuilt concepts that redefined those characters and turned them from midlist characters with no direction into iconic fan favorites. Many of Wonder Woman’s concepts are obsolete in today’s post feminist world, and the savage currently slaughtering her way through the pages of DC’ Comics’ New 52 is only exacerbating the problem with the character.

To rebuild Wonder Woman’s character onscreen in a film adaptation would be too jarring a transition for comic fans and moviegoers; the heavy lifting has to be done in a run of comics before a movie can be made. From the structure established by those comics screenwriters can have something to work with and audiences can have a foundation to give them background knowledge of the character.

There are so many great concepts to be explored in Wonder Woman’s part of the DC Universe. Unfortunately, most writers and screenwriters today are so intimidated and confused by Wonder Woman’s past they can’t figure out how to make her an icon for future generations of comic fans. As a writer who has written strong intelligent heroines novels like The Thetas, A Recipe For $ucce$$ and The Temptation of John Haynes, screenplays like All About Marilyn and All About Nikki, and Young adult fiction like the Isis series, I know that there’s a way to contemporize Wonder Woman for the 21st Century and make her relatable and accessible to a new generation of fans. It’s just going to require a writer to come out of the box and show the world the character in a different light. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

What’s Wrong with Wonder Woman? Why Can't DC and Warner Brothers Get a Movie Made?

DC Comics says it’s so hard to adapt Wonder Woman. And many at DC ask What’s wrong with Wonder Woman? I think the question to ask is: What’s wrong at DC Comics and Warner Brothers?

Warner Brothers and DC Comics say a Wonder Woman movie can’t be done. But Marvel Studios just put Rocket Racoon, a Z-list character in a feature film adapting its revamped Guardians of the Galaxy concept. A Guardians of the Galaxy concept that’s barely nine years old.

But according to DC Comics and Warner Brothers, Wonder Woman a 75-year-old character who previously had a TV series is hard to adapt for the silver screen.

And to add insult to injury Marvel Studios is about to make its THIRD Thor movie. A character that’s supposedly one of the harder characters to adapt for the screen. A character who like Wonder Woman is rooted in complex ancient mythology.

 But here we are with the third Thor Movie in production in five years.

18 years ago, Xena: Warrior Princess was basically a cinematic blueprint for Wonder Woman movie. Xena was just Diana with a Chakram.

I find it funny how Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert can write Wonder Woman type adventures well in Xena: Warrior Princess but DC Comics and Warner Brothers can’t. What’s the problem? Why can’t DC and Warner Brothers make its first movie featuring its third most popular character? Why is it so hard to adapt a superheroine like Wonder Woman to the silver screen?

My theory is that DC Comics and Time Warner think too much about its properties. From the Drab Dark Knight Trilogy to the tarnished Man of Steel, Warner Brothers and DC Comics over think the execution of a concept. They try to make everything gritty and real. That may work for some characters, but it doesn’t work for others.

DC and Time Warner just don’t understand that Superman and Wonder Woman are bright, characters filled with hope. A fantasy world has to be built around them where their feats of flight and super strength can appear real. Where invisible jets are possible. And where they can show people why they are our friends.

But DC and Warner Brothers try to shoehorn all their characters fit into Batman’s real world. And Wonder Woman can’t fit into a real world. Diana comes from a world of gods, Greek mythology and magic. She lives on an island full of women. She requires a completely different story model than the one used for either Superman or Batman.

I believe a Wonder Woman movie can be made. But it takes someone with an understanding of how to engineer and design the fantasy world around real actors.

Yes, there are problems with Wonder Woman. Her origin story is going to have to be retooled and contemporized a bit the way Sam Raimi contemporized Spider-Man and Marvel Studios contemporized Iron Man and Captain America, the Incredible Hulk and Thor for modern audiences. But that’s par for the course.

In screenwriting, there’s adaptation. And change can be good if done well. Even Paul Dini, Bruce Timm and the late Dwayne McDuffie changed some things in their Wonder Woman Origin to make it work for the screen in the Justice League Pilot. But I believe a screenplay can be written that maintains the heart and spirit of Marston’s concept the way Timm, Dini and McDuffie did for Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.

And from my observations of Wonder Woman in comics, animation, and TV shows, the character may need a serious tweaking in the personality department to work on the silver screen. From the Wonder Woman comics I read and even Timm’s Justice League, Diana doesn’t have a true “voice” that speaks to people or stands out like Hawkgirl did. The way I see it Diana needs to show character traits that make her relatable to the audience the way Superman, Batman and Hawkgirl are.

Viewers need to know why Diana is a friend like Clark is. She needs to find that “Voice” Does it mean turning her into a barbarian like the wretched DC New 52 version? No. Does it mean finding ways to make her appear friendly, kind and Diplomatic? Yes. And I’d like to think there’d be a way to fit some humor in there too. 

And I’ll admit Diana doesn’t have much chemistry with her villains in the comics. That’s always been the big sticking point for me. It’s never been that personal between Diana and like it was between Batman and the Joker, or Superman and Lex Luthor. She’s never had that feud where we saw the ideologies she represents challenged and presented clearly to the audience. With the way some women can look at another woman and just hate them for no reason, I’d like to think Diana can dislike at least one of them as much as they dislike her.

Yes, she’s had some good solid adversaries like Cheetah, Circe, Ares and Dr. Cyber but she’s never had that big defining feud with any of them like say Xena and Callisto. Mickie James and Trish Stratus.  Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. Captain America and the Red Skull, or Iron man and Obidiah Stane.

I can tell someone about Amazing Spider-man Vol.1 #120-121 Iron Man Vol.1# 200 and Captain AmericaVol.1# 295-300 and #332-350 and tell readers where a defining story is in their histories. I can even point to trade paperbacks and like Batman: Year One or Batman: The Killing Joke and Superman: For the Man Who Has Everything and What Happened to the Man of Tommorow? and tell them about a great Batman or Superman Story.

Heck, I can show readers Isis stories such as Isis, Isis: Amari’s Revenge, and Isis: The Beauty Myth, and Isis: Wrath of the Cybergoddess and show readers an Isis defining moment because her feuds got that personal with the members of her rogues gallery. I can even point to those same stories and show readers a story where Isis has the ideologies she represents challenged by her foes and how she fought to stand up to her enemies while standing for them.

The big challenge for a screenwriter with Wonder Woman as I see it is that they’re going to have to do some serious heavy lifting. If there ever is a Wonder Woman movie, a screenwriter is going to have to go off the comic page the way Paul Dini and Bruce Timm did with Mr. Freeze did in Heart of Ice and the way they did in creating Harley Quinn. Taking existing concepts and making them fresh again with storytelling that gives the audience a unique perspective on them.

I believe it’s possible to adapt Wonder Woman for the silver screen. But I know it’s going to mean some changes to the internal character. It’s going to mean some contemporization of the origin. And it’s going to require some coming out of the box. Unfortunately, DC Comics and Warner Brothers spends so much time focusing on costumes and making things “real” that they don’t focus on maintaining the heart and spirit of their characters.

 I think DC Comics and Warner Brothers fears coming out of the box may alienate Wonder Woman fans. But I believe if they stayed true to the spirit of the character and the original concepts it’s possible to adapt Wonder Woman in a way that’s fresh, creative and makes her accessible to a new generation of fans.

I’ve been writing female characters for over 20 years. And looking at Wonder Woman she’s a fairly easy character to adapt. She’s a fairly easy character to write for. From what I see, the elements for great stories are there and the supporting cast is there. All it takes is for someone at DC Comics and Time Warner to have the skill and creativity to execute those ideas.