Showing posts with label Sean E. Ali. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sean E. Ali. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From The "A Nigger Moment" File


If you’ve been reading BLOOD & INK on a regular basis (and if not, then whyain’tcha?) The you’ll have noticed that from time to time I’ll post something here that has been written by one of the most extraordinarily talented artists it’s been my pleasure to work with; Sean E. Ali.

Sean has a habit of writing these amazingly perceptive and on point essays on his Facebook wall that should be read by a wider audience. But Sean is truly a modest man and resists all my suggestions that he should start a blog or something where these thoughts can saved and savored and not lost in the blur of Facebooks posts.  Sean’s a deep thinker who truly has something worth saying about some very important societal topics affecting all of us today.

Fortunately he has a friend like me who has no shame at all in reposting his insightful words on his own blog.

Okay, I’ve run my mouth far too much already. I now turn the floor over to Mr. Ali…


So let me get this straight...

The people upset most that the President used the word "nigger" in an interview...

...are the very people who have been calling him that in one form or another since '08...

...or wasn't Cornell West using it to describe the President's avoidance of the subject he was confronting when he used the word...

...or are people of color who use it as a part of their daily speech when referring to themselves or people they know who think that tossing a bunch of different vowels and consonants on at the end somehow makes the word something other than what it was?

Uh huh...

If that ain't a "nigger moment", I don't know what is...

For the record, I'm going for the Queen's English version of that word which denotes an "ignorant person"...
The word long before it was a racial slur was used to describe a lack of intelligence, an ignorance of things that were obvious.

In short, there is no positive spin for the word.

Sorry, Chris Rock, I know you want to resurrect it after the NAACP did that whole symbolic burial thing, but really it's not the kind of word that meant "Freedom" in Swahili, it's still ignorant even when it's not racial.

For the youngsters and the hip hop community and those folks who think they are down when they use it as a greeting or expression of friendship.
It isn't. It never was no matter how many times you add "az", "uh", "a", "ruh", or whatever else you come up with, you're still calling someone ignorant, you're still insulting someone's intelligence even when race isn't a factor...

But when you do it to one another and then lose your minds because someone who isn't you or yours uses the term...

...then it's racial and stupid, and you're a hypocrite.

If the word is wrong, it's wrong all the way around. You can't pick and choose the moments it's okay to speak a slur or insult, because it's a slur and an insult all the time. You can dress it up if you like, but it is what it is all the time...

At least the President used it as a proper example of the ingrained nature of racism in American culture and the difficulty of erasing nearly six hundred years (if you take in the total time of Africans sending their own to the Europeans who then bound them over into slavery overseas to well, now) of racial inequality in a weekend when it's got that large a head start, is an accurate assessment and summary of what he said.

And FOX Newsertainment wants to act like what he said was somehow the most horrible thing ever uttered by a president...

....despite their long track record of profiling people of certain ethnic groups and hiding behind the new "nigger" trigger word of "thug"...

All of you need to take a breath and listen to yourselves before you start jumping on someone else for using the EXACT SAME WORD YOU USE AND REFUSE TO LET GO OF in a context that offends you...

...probably because what was said is true.
And how Black people can sit around demanding the removal of the Confederate battle flag and not abandon the use of a word which is linked to that flag and that era like a guy with a burning cross and a white hood on his head is one of those things I'm not understanding...

Maybe the Johnny Reb isn't the only thing that needs to be left in the past...


Something to consider, friends.





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From The "In Wonder I Wander" File...

If you've been reading BLOOD & INK on a regular basis (and if not, they whyain'tcha?) Then you'll have noticed that from time to time I'll post something here that has been written by one of the most extraordinary and talented artists it's been my pleasure to work with, Sean E. Ali. 

He designed and created the cover of the 10th Anniversary Edition of "Dillon and The Voice of Odin" and he's become acclaimed in the New Pulp community for his outstanding cover design work for Pro Se Productions.

Recently I asked Sean to create a promotional piece for my upcoming "The Return of Fortune McCall" and I loved it so much I wanted it to be the cover. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. But the piece he did is so evocative and so much captures the spirit of Fortune McCall that I just could not let it be shown.

And I also felt that Sean's story behind the creation of the illustration should be re-posted here. He's already posted it on Facebook but it hopefully will be seen by a wider audience here.

And since I've run my mouth far too much already, I now turn the floor over to Mr. Ali...


                                          #


Yesterday, I showed a piece of art to a writer who asked me to do a promo piece for his upcoming book.

The piece was something I started over a year ago, and it was, remarkably the last thing I got done before becoming seriously ill...

Yeah, you folks missed that episode, but only because I didn't tell you.

It was the kind of ill where you start wondering if maybe you should've done the things you said you were going to do, because you may not be here to do them in another week situations...

I lost my voice, was flat on my back, had a lingering cough that sent me to a doctor for answers and as I sat there listening to how I would weather this storm, I also heard about how if I didn't take better care of myself, this could be the beginning of one really long series of storms...

Since I'm not a complete idiot (in theory), I took his advice, dropped everything I was doing and started making changes, exercising and all that good stuff...

And, so far, those changes seem to be moving me in a positive direction. Which is why finding this piece is a little ironic. It was the last thing I started on the tail end of what had to be the mother of overextending myself to well past the point of burnout into the happy land of I just don't give a damn anymore.

Mostly because when a doctor says you're overdoing it, you get to choose if it's going to be you surviving or everything else taking you out for good...

And if that's the case, I'll be damned if I let go of life because I can't let go of other stuff...

But I finished this piece at long last, sent it off to the author, he went over the moon and wanted it for a cover...

...and it got shot down.

I forget the specifics, once a job is dead, it's dead, and you put it in the rearview. But I was actually kind of glad it went down that way. It was something I hadn't let go of from the last time around, and I felt compelled to finish it.

Now, here's the funny thing, I went back to the piece, which I fully intended to delete, and said, "Now that it's not a job, how would you fix this on a second pass?"

And it became something I did to wind down and start getting my chops back instead of me looking at a clock or a calendar. I had fun doing the work again, which is something I hadn't been able to say in a really long time.

Since the character, Fortune McCall, belongs to Derrick Ferguson and is published by Pro Se, this is in no way an official promo piece, it's just me doing a before and after for the fun of it...

And really, wasn't that the whole reason we got in the game to begin with?

This image is where I started, 



And this image is where I ended up...


I'm kind of glad it got shot down because I'd have never looked at it again...

...and I would've missed unexplored possibilities...

In fact, outside of the author, who'll probably want a copy, this piece is pretty much off the table in any way shape or form as far as I know, so don't ask me when it's coming who's on it or anything else, because I honestly don't know...

...which, isn't nearly as nail biting a situation as it once was for me...

I've let it go.

I may not be where I once was, but I'm glad I've gotten where I need to be...

...and from here, it only gets better.

Be good to yourselves and each other...





Friday, August 1, 2014

Courtesy of Mr. Sean E. Ali....


Since the management is running this elsewhere, I get to embellish a bit on the image I posted earlier...

Coming soon in print (though it is already available as an ebook) PulpWork Press proudly presents the final entry in the HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD anthology series with, HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD, VOLUME III (naturally)!

Featuring 12 stories, including tales by talented folks like Derrick Ferguson, Joel Jenkins, Thomas Deja, and Dale Glaser among others, it takes the western, mashes it up with genres like horror, science fiction and fantasy, mixes liberally, then conservatively (that way no one's offended), and BOOM! you have some fine reading...

Edited by Russ Anderson, it's bound to make the world a cleaner, brighter place, change your life as you know it, it'll pick up your dry cleaning and bring world peace...

...or whirled peas, I really didn't read the box that closely...
And if it doesn't do a single one of those things that I never really promised it would do in the first place...

...wait for it...

...you STILL have some fine reading ahead...!

BOOM goes the dynamite!

So buy a dozen (they make great gifts for Yom Kippur or Columbus Day), and share the love!

Now get out there and pick up a case and inhale that new book smell...

...unless you're doing the ebook thing, then I guess you have to just sort of wing it...

But I digress, buy it already!

You did? Well buy it again...!

These guys are trying to support a lifestyle they'd like to become accustomed to...

...and I'm out.

(insert mic drop here)

Monday, April 15, 2013

From the "Victory Lap - The End of the Big Project" File...


Since this is my blog you’re used to me running off at the mouth in this space here that I’ve carved out for my thoughts and updates and news on my projects. But this time I’m turning it over to Sean E. Ali. He’s the extraordinarily talented cover designer for Pro Se Press and the genius behind so many of their covers that readers and fans of Pro Se have salivated over. He also did the artwork and designed the cover for “Dillon And The Pirates of Xonira.” He’s wonderful at his job and his latest project is yet another important milestone in his career.

But it’s also important to Sean in a very personal way and I thought it was only fitting that he be allowed space here to express how important this project is to him. He originally posted it on his Facebook page but it’s so heartfelt and so touching I felt compelled to re-post it here along with the front and back cover of BLACK PULP so that it will hopefully be seen by a wider audience and not lost in an avalanche of FB posts that come after it.

And I think I’ve spoken quite enough. Mr. Ali, the floor is yours…






Now that it's done, I can talk about the latest project I've done for Pro Se, BLACK PULP.

In advance this is more of an op ed thing that's just for me. You're not obligated to read it.

To give you the highlights BLACK PULP is a volume of fiction being published by Pro Se Press which features stories with an African American focus and features stories by : Joe R. Lansdale, Gary Phillips, Charles R. Saunders, Derrick Ferguson, D. Alan Lewis, Christopher Chambers, Mel Odom, Kimberly Richardson, Ron Fortier, Michael A. Gonzales, Gar Anthony Haywood, Tommy Hancock and features an introduction by WALTER MOSLEY!

Yeah "Devil In A Blue Dress - Denzel was in the movie version" Walter Mosley…

Which made this the biggest damn deal name wise this side of Barry Reese's Rook as our first major licensed property. So that's the short version, you want to slog through the longer part below, think of it as the unofficial afterword for BLACK PULP from my point of view…

Here endth the disclaimer.

Some time ago, long before the vast majority of us were born, the public entertained itself with cheaply produced fiction magazines called pulps, that pretty much took them from the Great Depression and the prospect of a second World War into hidden civilizations, steamy underworlds where masked vigilantes dealt out two-fisted justice and literally hundreds of other variations on genres that explored fantastic situations populated by extraordinary people.

It was an amazing time in popular culture. Literally, people were on the verge of the first real wave of mass produced popular media. It was entertainment and escape packaged behind luridly illustrated covers that beckoned to its potential audience with a promise of a story that you'd lose yourself in and, while it wouldn't solve your immediate problems, you'd be satisfied knowing that your heroes came through for you and made their corner of the fictional universe safe for all until your next visit. The best part? You had heroes who were usually from the people, they were special, but for the most part, they were just like you...

Or at least that's how it was for the vast majority of the population.

In most of the minority communities, the representation of race in those early days of the 1930s, 40s and into the 1950s was less than flattering. Given the times and the publisher, African Americans, or (for the sake of accuracy) let's go with the more diplomatic terminology of the day using either Negros or Colored People, found themselves represented in most media of the day as slow witted or under educated clowns and buffoons - caricatures which were holdovers from the old minstrel shows where bugged out eyes, incredibly huge lips and flaring nostrils were pretty much the standard and actually kinder than the bone through the nose, grass skirt wearing variation or the stooped over monkey/ape variant (that still enjoys a certain amount of favor among some classes of the ignorant, bigots and racists today). The surge of graphic entertainment with the emergence of comic books in general and superheroes in particular turned those stereotypes into standard fare for readers, projecting perhaps some of the views of the creators involved as well as reflecting society's view of race at that time.

The one major possible exception may have been in the pages of a particular pulp that clamored for attention on the newsstands.

One of the best examples of diversity from that time in pulp fiction was an organization called Justice, Incorporated. The group was fronted by a swashbuckling adventurer in the form of Richard Benson, known to the public-at-large as the Avenger. He formed a group of like minded individuals in a war against crime which included a Negro couple, Josh and Rosabelle Newton, who were both accomplished academics with college degrees (from Tuskegee Institute, now University) who actually used the stereotypes of their race to infiltrate the underworld and relay information and assistance to their chief as the story needed them. If Benson hadn't shown up in their lives, they probably would've continued on with their lives after their initial appearance in "The Sky Walker", but thankfully someone in the editing department didn't have an issue with the Newtons coming on board as a part of the team. 

Justice, Incorporated was unique even among the pulp hero set, with the possible exception of Diamondstone the Magician who had a Negro sidekick, in giving these two not only equal status, but one that ran counter to the current perception of race at that time. The Shadow had a guy in the ranks of his agents, and while Doc Savage didn't have a Negro cast member, he was generally respectful of the ones he encountered along the way. Josh and Rosabelle were about as close as I got to an African American version of Nick and Nora Charles in detective fiction, or Jonathan and Jennifer Hart from TV's Hart to Hart.

Which is around where I came in.

As a kid I literally went on safari every weekend in used book stores. In downtown Oakland near 14th and Harrison there was this huge used bookstore, which has long since gone away (to this day one of the biggest losses from my childhood), where I had my first encounter with the like of Conan, Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger and Justice, Inc. All of these heroes were caught in a distilled reprinted form and repackaged as paperbacks. I would fill my weekends with these guys who were an extension of the comics I read then and the old time radio shows that I would encounter in the near future and had a fondness for the Avenger in particular because of the diversity of the group and the respect they showed one another despite their different backgrounds.

For the time that the stories were originally written, the Avenger was pretty progressive stuff. In the context of a child growing up in the near post Civil Rights era, it was a good thing to see heroes who looked like me even if they were supporting characters, contributing to the solution of the crisis and serving in a capacity that spoke of their intelligence and their ability to take the limitations tossed upon them based on their race and turn that to an advantage. They basically were a preview of the world to come, in a series that was ahead of its time. So, I went in search of other characters from that time because there had to be a "Negro Pulp Adventurer" series where people who looked like me were actually the lead characters and not just assistants or comedy relief, right?

Wrong.

Okay, maybe more of a "not really".

The closest thing to an African American, Negro pulp magazine at that time was probably more like a version of Reader's Digest called the Negro Digest. Created by John Harold Johnson, founder of the Johnson Publishing Company (who publishes the magazines Ebony and Jet, among others), put together a magazine with a focus on information, opinion editorials, and artistic content relevent to the Negro community but solicited from a diverse number of contributors regardless of race. In fact a column called "If I Were A Negro", where prominent non Negro guest writers were invited to offer opinions and solutions to racial issues of the day led to the magazine's high note with a piece from then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt which doubled the magazine's circulation overnight. But for me as a kid reading adventure fiction it wasn't quite the same thing as locating a "Black Doc Savage". There wasn't a hero to call my own from that era of pulp adventure outside of glorified sidekicks.

Granted, away from pulps, I came up during a time of great fictional Black heroes. A byproduct of the militant era, mixed with a healthy (or unhealthy) dash of Blaxploitation media, I had heroes in my day by the score, Shaft, Luke Cage Power Man, Black Panther, Storm of the X-Men, Cyborg, Green Lantern - John Stewart, and my personal favorite: Black Lightning. I also saw a surge of multiethnic characters that culminated in a whole comic book universe as the one bright shining moment in comics that I called "The Milestone Era".

Milestone, with the late great Dwayne McDuffie leading the charge, walked the walk on the page and behind the scenes. Their characters were bold brilliant and multi-everything. I had Black heroes, Latino heroes, Asian heroes and even some White heroes. It was everything I wanted to see in fiction in graphic form, in the media content I digested, in examples to my nephews and nieces of four color warriors who leapt tall buildings and saved the day and were accepted for the content of their character more than anything else. 

It was also an era that came to an end pretty quickly with the usual excuses of not having the readership or using the fact that a book where a minority lead was the title character just wouldn't sell. Which killed brilliant titles like Icon, Static, Hardware, Xombi, The Shadow Cabinet and the Blood Syndicate in Milestone and books outside of Milestone like Black Lightning or El Diablo (the series about a Latino City Councilman who wears a mask to fight crime but also deals with racial identity, political intrigue and illegal immigration that ran just under a year and a half) at DC or the brilliant, but barely seen in the mainstream, independent series, Brotherman. All of these being series that I recommend highly if you ever decide to go on an excursion to a comics shop and dive into a quarter bin or seek online at sites like Mile High Comics.

"Hey that's great, Ali," you say, "but what does this have to do with this BLACK PULP book?"

The answer is everything and nothing.

BLACK PULP is the fulfillment of personal dreams and goals that I set out to do "as a young designer more years than I want to remember" ago, which was to make a positive contribution at some point to the body of work displayed by creators that created what I playfully refer to as "content of color". In this book are a lot of creators whose work I've admired over the years: Walter Mosley, Ron Fortier, Joe Lansdale, Gary PhillipsCharles Saunders and Derrick Ferguson, and they are in this volume doing pieces that are not necessarily racial in content, but they have African American leads carrying the action and plot of these short stories. They're retroactively giving nine and ten year old me what I had been looking for then:positive examples of people who look like me, making their neck of their fictional worlds a better place by being who they are.



Granted this book is not going to change society at large in any noticeable way, shape or form. We won't read BLACK PULP today and wake up tomorrow joining hands singing "We Are The World", but I'm hoping you'll read it for the stories and enjoy it enough that you won't opposed to a Black Pulp 2 or a volume with an Asian focus, or a Latino focus, or a Female focus, or an LBGT focus, or a volume where all diversity in our culture is the focus, there's such a wide field of themes and subjects to be explored. It's my hope that this book will take you off your beaten track and make you curious about the possibilities we have yet to tap into, the richness of the larger diversity creative individuals can bring to you. 

In a very real way, this diverse group of writers are providing an example of that with characters of color, yes, but they're also characters with content, complexity with compelling stories to tell. The efforts of this group of authors, and the personal weight of being a kid who didn't have those kind of heroes readily available to him, fueled my own efforts in the design of the book to make sure that a person looking for a hero in the mirror would find one.

It's my hope that reading BLACK PULP will make you hungry for heroes that look like you and more importantly that you find the imagination and will to create those heroes if none exist. And that in doing so, you not only give yourself something to look up to, but by sharing that perspective, you contribute to the greater appreciation of our greater diversity by everyone. Yeah it's a little "We Are The World"-ish, but at least it has the virtue of being a sincere hope.

I appreciate what Tommy Hancock has brought to the table here. I'm thrilled that Gary Phillips put the concept together and I'm impressed that such a wonderful array of talent came together in response to it all. And more importantly, I'm lucky to have been a part of bringing it to you. It's on my short list of works I'm really proud of. I hope it shows in the package we've put together.

And a shout out in particular to Derrick Ferguson who was my silent co-pilot on this one. his input during the creative process on this one was invaluable and appreciated.

BLACK PULP is here.  Be sure to check it out.

And more importantly, enjoy it.



Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Heart of Fortune #3


By now, thanks to the relentless huckstering of myself and Tommy Hancock you should know all about THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE McCALL.  It’s a special book in a lot of ways.  I’ve written other stuff for Pro Se previous to this but this one here is a major deal. 

For one, it’s my contribution to The Sovereign City Project which so far has been represented by Barry Reese and Lazarus Gray.  And represented quite well, if I may say so.  Tommy’s Doc Daye is waiting in the wings for his turn in the spotlight and if plans go the way they’re supposed to, there will be an epic crossover featuring all three characters in one dynamite story.  When that will happen I can’t say as yet but rest assured that when I know, you’ll know.

So what stories are between the covers of THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE McCALL?  I thought you’d never ask.  Attend:

“The Scarlet Courtesan of Sovereign City” introduces Fortune McCall and his cohorts to Sovereign City and vice versa as Fortune searches the city, hunting for a beautiful friend of his who is working for the British government.  This friend has run afoul of some unsavory characters who are up to some decidedly dangerous business.

“The Day of The Silent Death” has Fortune trying to track down a killer who possesses a method of killing hundreds, possibly thousands within seconds without a sound or warning.

“The Magic of Madness” involves a husband and wife team of magicians who have incurred the wrath of a secret society and only Fortune McCall has a chance of saving them.

“The Gold of Box 850” has Fortune McCall once again getting caught up in British espionage.  But this time he’s got a reason; five million dollars’ worth of gold is up for grabs.  Unfortunately, he’s not the only one looking for it.

And I have to bring your attention to the simply stunning design work done by Sean E. Ali, Pro Se’s Art Director.  So far I’ve been blessed with truly amazing artwork on the covers of my books but the cover of THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE McCALL is on another level altogether.  He designed it and the actual cover was done by David L. Russell based on an illustration done by Peter Cooper.  Here, take a look for yourself:



THE ADVENTURES OF FORTUNE MCCALL is available at www.amazon.com or through Pro Se’s site-www.prosepulp.com  It's also available in various E-book formats from Smashwords.
            Paperback: 158 pages
            Publisher: Pro Se Press
            ISBN-10: 1468112562
            ISBN-13: 978-1468112566

So that’s enough of my beating you over the head about the book.  I consider your arm to have been sufficiently twisted and I return it to you with my blessings.  






Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BERTRAM GIBBS

DF: Who is Bertram Gibbs? Bertram Gibbs: Husband, father, film, comic book, television, Broadway collector and enthusiast. Researcher of ...