Smash Pages Q&A: Kwanza Osajyefo

The team that brought ‘Black’ to life returns with the next chapter in the story of a world where only black people have superpowers.

Kwanza Osajyefo worked in comics for years at Marvel and DC Comics, including on Zuda, DC’s webcomics imprint. But in 2016 when he crowdfunded the miniseries Black, he made a lot of people sit up. The book, which was released from Black Mask Studios, asked the provocative question, “What if only black people in America had superpowers?” The resulting book was one of the year’s best comics – featuring some of the best artwork in Jamal Igle’s long career – but readers were left hanging at the end of the miniseries about what X, formerly known as Kareem Jenkins, will do next.

In the years since, Osajyefo and others have been telling stories in this universe in the Black AF books, but now Osajyefo is back with a new Kickstarter for the miniseries White. The direct sequel to Black and the middle chapter of the trilogy that is the story he always intended to tell, this book gets the band back together, including Igle, Khary Randolph on covers, co-creator and designer Tim Smith 3, and editor Sarah Litt. The Kickstarter is live now and without offering any spoilers, Osajyefo answered a few questions about White, the Black universe and what comes next.

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Comics Lowdown: Satire comic gets Warsaw Comics Festival in trouble

Plus: profiles on ‘Black’ creator Kwanza Osajyefo and ‘Top Ten’ artist Gene Ha, the Ledger Awards shortlist, and Montreal’s AstroBooks turns to crowdfunding to pay its tax bills.

The Warsaw (Poland) Comics Festival will lose three years’ worth of city subsidies, totaling $44,500, because a comic ridiculing Polish nationalists was distributed at this year’s event. Tomasz Lesniak and Rafal Skarzycki’s Poland: The Champion of Poland, lampooned nationalists, racists and anti-Semites, and that didn’t sit well with the local nationalists, who complained to the city council. The council released a statement saying, “After reviewing the comic we explicitly declare that we do not accept its content,” and announced it would sanction the festival.

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New graphic novel answers the question, ‘What if only Black people had superpowers?’

Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Sarah Litt and Khary Randolph launch a Kickstarter to bring ‘Black’ to life.

Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3, Jamal Igle, Sarah Litt and Khary Randolph have teamed up to create a new graphic novel called Black: “In a world that already fears and hates them – what if only Black people had superpowers?” They’re looking to raise a little under $30,000 via Kickstarter to bring it to life.

Here’s a description of the story:

After miraculously surviving being gunned down by police, a young man learns that he is part of the biggest lie in history. Now he must decide whether it’s safer to keep it a secret or if the truth will set him free.

“With Black, we’re looking to tell a great story, but we’re also purposefully challenging the pop culture status quo, which is dominated by a White male aesthetic,” Osajyefo said in a press release. “Black tackles the very real and palpable issue of race, which is at the forefront in America and around the world. We are trying to confront the issue of race head-on by creating a world in which only Black people are superheroes — and the Black superhero trope isn’t subtly cast under a label of mutant, inhuman, or meta-whatever. It is also both thrilling and liberating to create the superheroes we’ve always wanted to see — and, frankly, be — outside of the entrenched publishing system.”

If funded through the Kickstarter campaign, Black will be available digitally to backers as DRM-free PDFs in monthly installments, starting in mid-2016. The limited edition print run of the six-chapter Black graphic novel is due out late in 2016. The campaign runs through Feb. 29. For more information, check out the Kickstarter page, their web site or this Washington Post article.

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