Hudlin Entertainment

Milestone Media is on a mission to add young creators of color to the comic book universe 

Jevon Phillips | LA Times
Participants in the Milestone Initiative program outside of the Burbank headquarters of DC Comics.

When a number of young, aspiring comic book writers and artists of color crowded a conference room at the Burbank offices of DC Entertainment for a chat with Milestone Media executives Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan, some general and generational concerns came up.

How much should we be getting paid? General. How can we stay true to our authentic selves? Generational. How can we work for a company but protect our IP? Both general and generational. The same queries would be raised by anyone entering a creative career, but getting answers from two of the people behind the industry’s best known and successful Black comic book company is probably priceless for this group.

The participants in the Milestone Initiative, a program designed to bring more people of color into the business of comic books, attended multiple seminars at a summit during their orientation recently. The young creators were in the midst of a 10-week program offered through Milestone Media and sponsored by DC and Ally, a financial services company that also prides itself on community involvement.

Announced during DC FanDome 2021, the initiative is giving 24 writers and artists both in-person mentoring from working comic book professionals and a virtual education through the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. The initiative wraps up next week, and the participants will be paired with comic book veterans to create new, original stories for the Milestone Universe.

“Creating content that is inclusive of diverse stories and characters is an important mission for DC,” says Nancy Spears, DC’s vice president of sales and marketing. “With the Milestone Initiative we’re making a concerted effort to focus on building a pipeline of talent that will contribute to those stories and characters from perspectives uniquely their own.”

Hudlin and Cowan understand that creators of color are still a vast minority in the industry. When it was brought up that there are many, the notion was “challenged.”

“Many? Let’s think about that,” says Cowan. He and Hudlin then proceed to name a few fingers’ worth, but their point is made. The Milestone Initiative will help, but even among the people of color who are working, the pool of talent is so diverse in their goals and beliefs that there needs to be a home for the many.

Co-founder and Milestone Media executive and artist Denys Cowan.

“Not everyone has the same agenda,” Cowan says. “Everyone’s supportive of Milestone, but not everyone is going to work with us for whatever reasons. They’re more interested in mainstream comics, or they want to [do other things]. My idea is to create a space for all of it. You don’t have to be down with what we do specifically, but if you’re a writer of color or an artist of color, you’re going to have an opportunity in comics. We want to elevate everybody.” 

Hudlin believes that what Milestone Comics provides may also be something that the initiative’s participants can understand as people of color.

“Right now, the comic book buying audience is a very narrow group of fans,” Hudlin says. “There is diversity — whenever I walk into a comic book store, I see people of color — but there’s more people not buying the books than are buying them. But they’ll turn around and watch the movies and TV shows, so how do we get more of those people into shops? That’s the kind of success we’re having with Milestone.”

“We’re trying to immunize our kids and have them feel strong by giving them their own mythology.”

Reginald Hudlin

It’s part of the reason that a financial services company, one that prides itself on being an ally to the community, is investing in the program

“For us, stories that represent diverse communities are so important to culture,” said Erica Hughes, director of multicultural marketing for Ally. “So one of the things that we talked about with Milestone is how can we make sure that we’re advancing culture forward.” The company backs up its community-first ideals with programs like the initiative and Moguls in the Making. Not only do they fund the event, they also offer the participants their financial expertise for their future success.

“Some of our new cohorts will be coming into a financial windfall,” Hughes says. “We curated a curriculum that is going to help them learn about investing, saving and budgeting based on responses they gave [in an earlier survey].”

With the participants being new to the industry, and to DC, they were not “cleared” to speak on the program’s behalf. They also haven’t finished yet, but their enthusiasm was palpable. Cowan and Hudlin would “love it” if all of the attendees worked for Milestone, but they understand that’s not realistic. So with the Milestone Initiative offering creative, career and financial guidance, what is the post-program plan?

“Some may be called upon to develop the creative for our media buys and campaign activations. Others may develop customized comics for promotional partners. And even more still may be called upon to mentor future talent we identify to help drive storytelling at DC,” says Spears.

“The Milestone heroes of the Dakotaverse are part of DC’s Multiverse. This affords us a great opportunity to look forward for ways to tell stories where these heroes meet each other, maybe even written or drawn by some of the talented people that are here.”

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‘Blood Syndicate’, the ‘bastard child of comics’, is reborn

By Jevon Phillips | LA Times

“Blood Syndicate” is back, and Milestone Comics’ most hardcore and at times controversial series is pulling no punches in its updated revival of a group of gang-affiliated people who gain various superpowers and form a rough-edged alliance in order to protect their neighborhood from criminals.

“‘Blood Syndicate’ has always been the bastard child of comics. People were always afraid to touch that book,” said ChrisCross, artist on “Blood Syndicate” and one of the company’s originators during Milestone’s ’90s heyday.

“People like Static and Icon, but Blood Syndicate is its own thing — you cannot sidestep it. It’s basically like looking at some black hip-hop artists that people try to get away from, but they keep showing up with even better hits. It’s like, ‘I want to deal with this guy, but he’s just so rough. Just the tone of his voice.’”

Cross and writer Geoffrey Thorne have taken on the task of writing a book that was born amid the gang culture of the ’90s. It was a gritty storyline set in a gritty neighborhood of Dakota, and the original cover proudly exclaimed, “America eats its young.” The characters were steeped in violence, and there was often more internal strife than there were villains to fight. Blood Syndicate are no Justice League or Avengers, and their turf is Paris Island. Though they often don’t get along, they protect it ruthlessly against invaders and troublemakers.

“Paris Island. It’s the ‘f—-around-and-find-out’ island. Whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy, you don’t want any of this. That’s the one warning you get,” said Thorne. “We solve problems permanently on Paris Island. We’re not trying to take the Joker to jail.”

Both Cross and Thorne weren’t sure that the book would ever come back. Even as Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan talked for years about relaunching the Milestone brand, the current “Blood Syndicate” team did not know if, in this new superhero-heavy society, the group would be embraced.

“Remember back in the day when they had the Comics Code Authority? They had to constantly take it off of that book. It was just not working. They kept trying to do a PG version of ‘Blood Syndicate.’ There is no PG version of ‘Blood Syndicate.’ Come on. I drew Wise Son peeing on somebody. Tastefully. And people were dying like crazy in that book.”

Fade, from left, Wise Son and Tech-9 of the Blood Syndicate as drawn by ChrisCross.

The gang culture in the original book may have also changed since Blood Syndicate’s initial debut, but Thorne, who says he was deeply influenced by the book and told anyone he came across about it (“I was John the Baptist of the freaking Blood Syndicate!”), understands that it’s always been more “complex than just making everybody a bloodthirsty, drug-dealing, murderous thug.”

“Of course that is a component of that sort of criminality, and I’m not here to shy away from that. But I’m not promoting gang culture as a legit response to oppression because it’s not. This is a story about several powerful people figuring out what their response will be and if maintaining their affiliations is actually the best way to go.”

The second issue of “Blood Syndicate” hits stands next week. It’s early, but the creative team doesn’t plan on taking it easy in the new pages. Backed and distributed by DC Comics, the Milestone book could be a darker look at urban life than most products on the stands that are put out by more mainstream publishers. But Thorne is ready for the tough stories to come.

“Walking a straight line in this world isn’t anything close to easy. These are superpeople, for sure. But not everyone is or needs to be a hero. Life is way more complicated than black and white.”

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Milestones in History shines a light on historic Black figures – and some superheroes

by Samantha Puc | Games Radar
This anthology from DC and Milestone Media is packed with great information and great heroes
Prince rocks a Superman shirt in DC’s Milestones in History (Image credit: DC)

DC and Milestone Media will publish the one-shot anthology Milestones in History on June 21, and DC has finally revealed details about the creators involved and the stories they’re telling. 

For this collection, Milestone Media is steering away from superhero stories and instead focusing on real-life moments in Black history throughout the world. Milestone partner Reggie Hudlin says this is very intentional.

“In developing Milestones In History with DC, it was important that this not be another book about the commonly known names in American Black history, as important as they are,” Hudlin says in a statement. “Our goal with this anthology has always been to identify great storytellers from different backgrounds to celebrate Black history beyond the borders of America, and beyond the confines of slavery and oppression. While Black History is certainly all of that, it really is so much more.” 

However, Milestone heroes Rocket, Static, Icon, Hardware, and more will narrate each tale. The 96-page Milestones in History will feature the following creators and stories, among others.

  • Writer Alice Randall will team up with artist Eric Battle for ‘Born in Africa – Mother of the World,’ which chronicles the historic discovery of ‘Lucy,’ a collection of fossilized bones discovered in Ethiopia. Milestone’s Rocket will narrate this story.
  • Randall will also team up with artists Don Hudson and Jose Marzan Jr. for ‘The Brilliant Black Russians: Pushkin and His Family of Genius.’ As implied by the title, this story follows the life of Russian novelist and poet Alexandra Pushkin.
  • Static and Rocket discuss the competing origins of the Queen of Sheba in ‘The Many Queens of Sheba,’ written by Amy Chu and illustrated by Maria Laura Sanapo.
  • Steven Barnes, Ron Wilson, and Mike Gustovich team up for ‘You Will Follow a Great Man,’ which chronicles the history of military commander and statesman Hannibal Barca.
  • ‘The Dumas Legacy,’ narrated by Icon and Rocket, follows the family history of The Three Musketeers writer Alexandre Dumas. This short will be written by Tananarive Due and illustrated by Jamal Yaseem Igle and Chris Sotomayor.
  • Eugene Bullard was the first Black American to fly in combat and the only Black American pilot in World War I. Writer Pat Charles and artist Arvell Jones tell his story in ‘Ace.’
  • Writer Karyn Parsons and artist Franceso Francavilla explore the life of dancer, activist, and anthropologist Katharine Dunham in ‘Spirit  Step.’
  • ‘Controversy,’ by writer and activist Touré and artist Ray-Anthony Height, looks at the life and career of musical icon Prince.
  • In ‘The Sky’s the Limit,’ writer Melody Cooper and artist Domo Stanton follow the life of stunt pilot Bessie Coleman, who was the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license, and also former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison – the first Black woman to travel to space.

The heroes of the Dakotaverse will introduce DC and Milestone Media’s Milestones in History anthology, in a short comic by Reggie Hudlin and artist Janhoy Lindsay. And in ‘Things to Come,’ by Reggie Hudlin and Leon Chills, with art by Milestone co-founder Denys Cowan, readers will be treated to a teaser for what’s to come for the Milestone superheroes.

Milestones in History will be available June 21.

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DC’s Milestones in History: Tananarive Due Details Her Alexandre Dumas Story


The mission statement of DC Comics imprint Milestone Comics has always been centered around bringing diversity to the world of comics and representation for people who have been traditionally marginalized in the genre. Although the company was first founded in the ’90s, Milestone is staying true to its mission with the one-shot anthology Milestones In History, which tells the stories of several affluent people of color throughout history. Included in the eighty-page special are stories of social activist Katherine Dunham (written by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-star Karyn Parsons), the legendary musical genius Prince, and the French author Alexandre Dumas, who was responsible for literary classics such as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Award-winning author and teacher Tananarive Due tells the story of Dumas and his family in the volume, enlisting the artistic talents of Jamal Igle (Green LanternSupermanTeen Titans) to illustrate the tale. Due took time to answer a few questions from CBR about how she was personally inspired by the life of Dumas and why it is important to tell his incredible story.

CBR: Why was it important for you personally to tell the story of Alexandre Dumas in Milestones In History?

Tananarive Due: When Reginald Hudlin reached out to me to invite me to work on this project, I said I would love to do it, but to be honest, I originally assumed that I would write a story about a Black woman. Then he mentioned Alexandre Dumas, and it was like being struck by lightning.

My fascination with Alexandre Dumas goes back to childhood for me. My late mother, a civil rights activist named Patricia Stephens Due, got us Golden Legacy history comics when my sisters and I were children, and one of them was about the Dumas Family. Oddly enough, I didn’t remember reading anything about his courageous father or his son until I started working on this project. I only remembered my shock at learning that the author of The Three Musketeers was Black! (His grandmother was enslaved.)

It felt like this was a huge secret since no one had ever mentioned it to me before. When you’re attending public schools that only seem to mention Black people when they’re talking about slavery and everything else is about the accomplishments of people who do not look like you — trust me, that experience stayed with me. It reminded me of learning that a Black person, Crispus Attucks, was the first person who died in the American Revolution.

Knowing more about Alexandre Dumas helped me navigate other kinds of constant erasure to insert myself in places I otherwise might have assumed I did not belong. It made me wonder where else Blackness had been overlooked or ignored, which broadened my view of my own future possibilities. So I was already intrigued… but then Hudlin told me how Dumas’ father had been a general under Napoleon, and I was hooked. That was it for me.

Years ago, I wrote a book series about African immortals that started with a novel called My Soul to Keep, and General Dumas reminded me of one of the characters in my book. Although this writing opportunity came close to the holidays, and I was crushed with other work, I fell into the research on General Dumas and his son (and grandson, who was a playwright), reading two thick biographies and hanging on to every word. I learned so much!

Again, knowing this history inserts Blackness where it has been erased, often intentionally, which happened even during General Dumas’s lifetime… This kind of erasure is exactly what helped inspire me to write my African Immortals series in the first place, the ability to create eyewitnesses in history who can say, “Yes, I was there!” That’s so important for everyone to know, but especially people who are marginalized. No one should feel invisible in history or in the present.

How has the life of Alexandre Dumas inspired your career as a writer?

Knowing that there had been forebears like Alexandre Dumas from a young age helped me build the confidence to pursue my dreams to write even though I didn’t know any Black writers when I was growing up. Luckily, though, I did have parents who exposed me to Black history, including through comics! I still had to walk around a long path to find my true voice as a writer. By college, I unconsciously had begun to write white characters and was shying away from genre because of my exposure to “canon.” I had fantastic instructors, but I could hear whispers from society around me: “This isn’t for you. There is no place for you.”

Alexandre Dumas’ place as one of the great writers in history was always in the back of my mind, planted when I was young. That seed grew, giving me unconscious strength and perseverance. I still get a kick out of imagining that people who would not have considered Alexandre Dumas fully equal (or even fully human) in the 1930s were adapting films from his works. He literally might have been barred from his own set on sight in the 1930s if he had lived to see that day. Movie theaters screening his films might not have sold him a ticket on the basis of his appearance. It makes no sense! Of course, discrimination makes no sense. The life of the artist demands so much of us, especially during our formative years, that we need iconic figures like Dumas to help us steer our way.

As mentioned in the story you wrote for Milestones In History, Dumas used his father as the inspiration behind many of his most well-known works. Is there anyone in your life who influences your work in such a way?

My true-life heroes have always been my parents. My mother died in 2012, but my father, John Due, is 87 and still considers himself a “Freedom Lawyer” after being a civil rights lawyer in the 1960s and a lifetime of working for human rights. Not only did they make sure my sisters and I learned our self-worth and our history — including figures like Dumas — but they themselves were living monuments when we were kids. In college, I could find my parents’ names in my history books. They’re both in the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

Why do you feel that it is so important to tell the stories of people like Alexandre Dumas?

No one should be erased from history. Human contribution has such a wonderful breadth, and all of us deserve to have our stories told. That’s why I encourage people to talk to their grandparents or their parents and record their stories too.

What other historical figures would you like to write about?

Ethiopia had an empress named Taitu (Taytu) [whom] I wrote about in passing in my African Immortals series. She was married to Emperor Menelik II, and she was a remarkable figure as a strategist and warrior. She helped steer Ethiopia to a historic victory repelling an Italian invasion in the 1890s. Her story would be glorious in a comic or graphic novel. There are so many undervalued and under-taught Black and marginalized figures from world history and American history that it’s hard to narrow down a list.

“The Dumas Family” is written by Tananarive Due and illustrated by Jamal Igle. The story appears in the anthology one-shot Milestones In History, on sale June 14 from DC Comics.

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