Smash Pages Q&A: John Jennings

The writer, artist and professor discusses his role as director of Megascope, the new publishing imprint at Abrams Books dedicated to publishing comics by and about people of color.

It’s hard to sum up John Jennings’ career. He’s a writer and artist who’s made comics like Blue Hand Mojo and collaborated on books like the recent graphic novel adaptations of Kindred and Parable of the Sower. He’s a fine artist and part of the art collective known as Black Kirby. He’s a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He’s co-editor of The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Blackness in Comics and Sequential Art, curated exhibitions across the country, and co-founded the Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, and SOL-CON. Jennings also edits the back matter of the Eisner Award-winning comic series Bitter Root.

As if straddling academia and public scholarship, fine arts and comics making wasn’t enough, Jennings is also the director of Megascope. The new publishing imprint at Abrams Books launched this year with After the Rain, an adaptation of a short story by the great Nnedi Okorafor from Jennings and David Brame.

We spoke recently about his work, the imprint and what it means. He also dropped some news and announced another Megascope title in our conversation, an adaptation of Charles Johnson’s National Book Award-winning novel The Middle Passage.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Ayize Jama-Everett

The author of ‘The Liminal People’ discusses the Kickstarter campaign for ‘Box of Bones.’

Ayize Jama-Everett made a splash a few years go with the publication of his novel The Liminal People. Since then he’s published two more novels, The Entropy of Bones and The Liminal War, but his new project is the graphic novel Box of Bones. Currently being kickstarted, the book is the result of a conversations with Jama-Everett and his friend John Jennings, the writer-artist-editor-publisher-scholar-festival organizer, who Jama-Everett interviewed recently for The Believer.

Box of Bones is described as “Tales from the Crypt meets Black History” and involves an anthropologist searching for evidence of a box which has appeared throughout history in the Africa diaspora. It is that rare project that manages to be both a deeply researched historical work, and an entertaining horror ride. We spoke recently about writing comics, working with multiple artists and a winning formula for horror.

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Fund Me Monday: ‘The Hated,’ ‘Box of Bones’ and more

Check out and support comics projects from David F. Walker, Allan Amato, Rosarium Publishing and more.

As crowdfunding continues to serve as a viable method for creators to fund their creative endeavors, comic-related projects flourish on sites like Kickstarter, Patreon and IndieGoGo. The internet also allows creators to sell their projects direct to fans, through sites like Gumroad, Etsy and of course their own websites. If you’re looking to buy something from or support a creator directly, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a look at a few recent projects that fall into those buckets that caught my eye. Send any suggestions of your own to jkparkin@yahoo.com.

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Comics Lowdown: Outhungering ‘Hunger Games’

Brian Fies reflects on going through the California fires a second time, Jamal Igle shows how he draws a cover, J. Caleb Mozzocco explains War Bears.

Passings: Coila Davis, longtime editorial cartoonist for the Rockford (Illinois) Register Star, has died at the age of 72.

Freedom of Expression: The nonfiction comics blog Cartoon Movement notes that they are currently blocked in China, Iran, Russia, and Turkey.

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Comics Lowdown: Chinese authorities crack down on Rage Comics

Censorship: The Chinese government has banned rage comics (Baozou Manhua, or Baoman) channels from a number of online platforms, claiming violations of the recently enacted Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs. In addition to the censorship, the article discusses how rage comics migrated from 4Chan to Chinese youth culture and why this is important: They are now a big-money business.

Besides the shutdown of the various social media channels, the closure of the baozoumanhua.com media empire is a huge blow to its fans and creators. The website’s founder Wang Nima’s net worth is estimated to be around 4 billion yuan (±US$628 million), according to Daily Economic News (每日经济新闻).

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