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Topics - The Griot

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Writing / La Rosa de Matanzas
« on: May 11, 2017, 07:23:24 pm »
Hey y'all! For those of you who read my movie-in-a-book From Here to Timbuktu, the sequel, La Rosa de Matanzas (The Rose of Matanzas)  will be available in two weeks. Here's the cover art and description...
For ten years Pauline Rose has lived a new life in Freedonia. As her relationship with bounty hunter Zeke Culpepper begins to grow, her past comes back to haunt her. She finds herself in the custody of General Phillipe Gonzales on her way back to Cuba to stand trial for crimes a revolutionary fighter!
When Pauline turns up missing, Zeke swings into action, seeking his woman and the reason she was taken. The result is an adventure bursting with intrigue and revelation as Zeke learns the secret of La Rosa de Matanzas! Coming n two weeks from MVmedia!

Writing / Nyumbani Tales by Charles Saunders
« on: April 10, 2017, 07:16:43 pm »
Hey Charles Saunders fans! I'm releasing a collection of short stories written by Charles R. Saunders based in his world of Nyumbani, the world of Imaro. Charles originally published these stories in the late '70s and early '80s. This is the first time they've been available since then. Expect the book to drop June 2017.

Other Comics / Ngolo Graphic Novel
« on: January 12, 2017, 06:34:13 pm »
Remember our award winning script Ngolo? Well we've decided to do a novel, graphic novel and independent film based on it this year. We teamed up with Pedastudio, Ltd. a Lagos Nigeria company to do the illustrations. Our plan is to launch a Kickstarter to finance the graphic novel. Here's  a taste.

Producing / The State of Black Science Fiction Convention 2016
« on: June 26, 2016, 11:03:20 am »
Well, we held our first convention at the Southwest Arts Center and the consensus is that it was a success! We had 508 total attendees including 38 vendors. We had a videographer on site and produced a 4 hour video with highlights of the con. Great fellowship, fun and knowledge was shared. I hope to see y'all at the next one!

Writing / The History of Black Science Fiction
« on: March 14, 2016, 05:48:42 am »
A list of significant moments in Black Science Fiction History. And I'm on the list!  ;D

Writing / Dark Universe: An Afrocentric Space Opera
« on: January 06, 2016, 04:37:17 am »
So a few years ago I came up with this idea of a 1000 year old galactic empire controlled by the descendants of an African American family. I simply got tired of stories that either totally left us out of the future or presented us in the future, in space and still in the hood, prison or dealing with the same issues. So I gathered a few of my writing friends and we created this. It serves as the foundation of additional stories, novels and anthologies based on this universe. We released the first anthology in December and the first novel based on this world has been released as well. Check it out when you get a chance. I think you'll like it.

The Dark Universe Anthology tells the origin story of the Cassad  Empire, from its ambitious beginning as a refuge and new home for a persecuted people to its evolution to the first great human Galactic Empire. Milton Davis, Gene Peterson, Balogun Ojetade, Penelope Flynn, Ronald Jones, Malon Edwards, K. Ceres Wright and DaVaun Sanders  stories lay the foundation of this amazing empire. Dark Universe is space opera like you've never seen. The time has come; Dark Universe is here!

Writing / The City: A Cyberfunk Anthology
« on: September 22, 2015, 08:05:02 am »
On September 25th (Friday) I'm releasing The City: A CyberFunk Anthology. It's a collection of short stories by 18 writers based on a concept I presented a year ago on The State of Black Science Fiction. I think you'll find it interesting and there are some real gems in there. We also have art and music that coincide with the project. My goal is to create future concepts with black people that don't have us still in the hood despite all the progress surrounding us. Although the stories in The City still contain that gritty feel, it's a precursor to Dark Universe, which imagines an Afrocentric Galactic Empire.

Writing / We won!
« on: November 09, 2014, 03:40:18 am »
The Urban Action Showcase Award for Best Screenplay for 2014 goes to Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis (yours truly) for the African martial arts screenplay Ngolo!!!!!

Writing / Steamfunk gets a shout out in The Steampunk User's Manual!
« on: October 17, 2014, 06:51:12 pm »
Hey y'all! Last year Balogun Ojetade and I were interviewed by Desirina Boskovich, co-editor of the then upcoming Steampunk User's Manual by Jeff VanderMeer. Well I'm happy to say our words made the book! We're on pages 164-165. I got my copy today in the mail. It would have been great to have the Steamfunk cover art included as well but that was not to be. Still, it's great to see your efforts recognized. Check it out if you get the chance!

Writing / Nandi
« on: September 12, 2014, 04:50:00 am »
A few years ago I commissioned Shakira Rivers to do an image for me. I thought her style was unique and fit the image I had in mind. Recently I revisited her work and was impressed with her improvement. One particular character she illustrated caught my eye: Nandi. There seemed to be a story behind the images, a tale of a strong woman warrior. When I asked Shakira about this she said there wasn't one. So I asked her if I could develop a story based on the character. I would run everything that I wrote by her for approval. So far she's been pleased. I hope she'll like it enough to develop a graphic novel. I know she's been inspired to at least created a couple of illustrations. Tell me what you think.

Khem – The Forever Empire, the Endless Monarchy. Ruled for five hundred years by those who have given the empire its name, the Khem Empire encompasses every culture, nation and tribe. Its army is legendary and its technology unparalleled. The empire has existed so long very few can comprehend the past before its existence. It has homogenized the world into a single culture, diminishing any other culture, history or religion. And although the citizens of Khem retain their physical differences, all consider themselves ‘da-Khem’..of Khem.. except for a very few that hide in distant hovels and monasteries maintaining a fragile link to the past with little hope that the despotic rule of the true Khem will end.

That is until the violent Mawa Sea was crossed and the Ur Mountains breached. The Bondatu, the First Ones, were found to be real. They are the only people who fight against Forever, and their defiance has sparked a glimmer of hope among some da-Khem. Could the old stories be true? Was there really a time before Khem, a time when the world was diverse…and free? Which is why the Bondatu must be crushed, swiftly and completely. A plan was put in place, a plan that seemed destined to success until the da-Khem encountered a clan called Chiuku and a hunter named Nandi. 

Nandi, Siza and Abasi observed the Bindamu as they forded the river separating Chuikuland from mBuyukuland. Nandi counted twenty of them, twelve Bindamu men and six women. The breach of their territory angered her, but what angered her most was the Bondatu leading the foreigners. The claw tattoos on their shoulders revealed them as Taiku, one of the first clans to fall to the Bindamu.
“What do we do?” Abasi asked.
“We kill them all,” Siza answered.
“No,” Nandi said. “Only seven of them carry weapons, nine including the Taiku.”
“We have a treaty with the Taiku,” Abasi said.
“They have brought Bindamu into our land,” Nandi said. “The treaty is void.”
The three nodded.
“Siza, stay here and cover us with your bow. Abasi and I will deal with this.”
Siza nodded then loaded her bow.
Nandi looked at her brother then grinned.
“Come Abasi. Let us hunt.”
Sister and brother ran down the steep slope, weaving through the dense foliage with speed and stealth. As they neared the caravan they separated, Abasi working his way to the center of the group while Nandi continued to the road ahead. The Taiku became aware of her presence before the others, raising their heads then looking about with concern. Nandi burst from the bush before the Taiku could warn the others. She threw her spear into the chest of the first Tiaku before he could draw his sword; she ducked the swing of the other Taiku as she jerked her spear from his dead cohort’s body. She spun about, slamming the blunt end of her spear into the Taiku’s ribs then chopped into his head with the knife-like spear head.
She glimpsed Abasi attacking the Bindamu warriors in the midst of the wagons as the others ran toward her. Three Bidamu lay dead with arrows protruding from their necks.  Nandi dealt with the other Bindamu quickly but the last one possessed skill. They sparred, spear against swords, Nandi grinning with respect of the foreigner’s talent. She saw Abasi creeping up from behind then shook her head; this was her kill.
The Bindamu faltered, his endurance far short of his skill. Nandi swept him off his feet with her spear then planted her foot on his chest as she placed her spearhead against his throat.
“Ask for quarter and I will give it for you were a worthy opponent,” she said.
The man spat at her instead.
“You get no begging from me, crut!” he said.
Nandi pushed the spear into his throat. She kept her foot on his chest until he stopped trashing.
She looked up into the angry face of a short, round Bindamu draped in a dingy robe and jangling with jewels.
“What is the meaning of this? We are not an army! We are merely traders seeking barter.”
Nandi cracked the man across the mouth with her spear butt. He fell on his haunches as he covered his bleeding mouth.
“No one asked you to come, nor were you invited. Leave now before we kill the rest of you.”
The others needed no prompting; they scurried to turn the wagons about. The pompous one stood on his feet then lowered his hands, blood running down his chin then dripping onto his robe.
“I will remember you,” he said.
“And I will remember you,” Nandi answered. “If I see you here again, I will kill you.”

Writing / The Comic Industry is on Fire
« on: September 05, 2014, 04:42:35 am »
From Business Insider:

Domestic sales of comics and graphic novels have been rising for years, reaching $870 million last year, up from $265 million in 2000, according to estimates by Comichron’s John Jackson Miller and ICv2’s Milton Griepp. This year could be even hotter, with July breaking all kinds of records for sales since 1997. Astonishingly, even the number of comic shops in America has been stable or growing in recent years.

Rising revenue can be attributed partly to growth in graphic novels and digital comics, as well as higher prices, but it's also clear that readership is expanding.

Last year's 85 million print unit sales for the top 300 comic books was the highest number since 2007, and that does not count increasingly significant graphic novel and digital sales nor a growing number of sales beyond the top 300. Even though total unit sales remain lower than during peaks in the 1950s or early 1990s, according to Miller, the comic book business is booming.

One obvious reason for comic book gains is spillover interest from the movies adaptations that have dominated the box office in the past decade. In 2014 alone, there will be at least 12 comic book movies on the big screen. These adaptations have brought in not only new readers but also new types of readers.
"The movies have helped expand the audience beyond the core young adult male demographic to include females of similar ages, as well as older and younger readers," Griepp writes by email. "That’s based on what comic retailers and publishers tell us and on observing the mix of fans at comic conventions, rather than on survey or other research data, but I believe it to be true."

Looking at comic book conventions, it's easy to see what a mix of people are into comics these days, and it's no surprise that many conventions are getting bought out or otherwise going corporate.

Digital technology has also increased readership by making it easier to buy and enjoy comics. No wonder Amazon bought ComiXology in April.

As much as the movies and technology are helping the industry, however, even more credit should go to comic book creators. Most comics are simply better these days — and that's my personal opinion, but it's also a popular one. Comics books have become far more sophisticated since their debut last century. Contemporary mainstream comics can be excellent, while creative alternative comics are more plentiful than ever.

Comics are often better than movies about the same characters, which makes sense when you think about it. Hundred-million-dollar movies are designed to reach the widest possible audience while also setting up sequels and spinoffs, which can result in something bland. Comics can meet the vision of a writer and a small team of artists with far fewer limits and nothing more at risk than cancellation.

So what comic books are worth reading? There are the classics like Alan Moore's "Watchmen" and Frank Miller's "Dark Knight Returns," not to mention other Miller masterpieces "Sin City," "300," and the less-known-but-amazing "Daredevil: Born Again." "The Walking Dead" by Robert Kirkman is excellent and in many ways better than its live-action adaptation, and the same can be said for "Kick-Ass" by Mark Millar and "Scott Pilgrim" by Bryan Lee O'Malley.
For Marvel fans wanting to stick with characters they know, I can recommend several series that are on shelves now with back issues on ComiXology. DC fans will have to look elsewhere for advice.

[Back-issue spoilers ahead.]

Let's start with "Avengers" by Jonathan Hickman, a cerebral epic launched in 2012 as the primary title about Earth's mightiest heroes. In the frame at the top of the page taken from "Avengers 29," Steve Rogers has a flashback to a moment when he used the Infinity Gauntlet to prevent a collision of two universes. He goes on to remember how the Infinity Gauntlet was destroyed, how the Illuminati — a secret group of powerful men including Tony Stark — planned to build a new weapon that could be used to destroy an alternate universe, and how they wiped Roger's mind when he opposed them.

For something similarly ambitious but more fun, try "Uncanny Avengers" by Rick Remender, an Avengers and X-Men crossover the likes of which you won't see in the theater as long as Avengers belong to Disney and X-Men are licensed to Fox. Just check out the cool team assembled on the cover of "Uncanny Avengers 20" drawn by Daniel Acuña:

For something alternative, check out Matt Fraction's critically acclaimed "Hawkeye," which has already inspired a wave of superhero comics in indie style. Although featuring an Avenger, this clever series follows the mostly civilian adventures of Clint Barton in Bedford-Stuyvesant, including a Hurricane Sandy story last year and experimental narration devices such as the use of sign language and a story from the perspective of a dog.

Read more:

Writing / Abengoni: First Calling
« on: September 03, 2014, 04:40:04 pm »
For those of you who missed it, in December I'm releasing the first book in Charles Saunders long awaited new series, Abengoni. Charles wrote this series over twenty years ago partially as a response to editors that were reluctant to publish his Imaro novels for obvious reasons. This is a multicultural fantasy story with a black female main character and an excellent piece of writing. Although Abengoni proved ahead of its time in the '90s, it's perfect for today's demand for multicultural fantasy fiction. I had the privilege to read the first two books two years ago and immediately asked Charles if I could publish them. He said yes and the rest is history.

And for icing on the cake Julie Dillon agreed to do the cover art. Julie is an award winning fantasy artist and just won this year's Hugo award for best fantasy artist. Her latest artwork has emphasized multiculturalism, which is why she agreed to do the cover. And she's a nice person, too.

Long story short, I think I have a winner on this one. Here's a sneak peak of the cover art:

Stay tuned. More to come!

Other Comics / Amber Manga
« on: November 25, 2013, 05:10:26 am »
Since so many of our young black children, teenagers and young adults are into manga I've decided to do a manga version of my upcoming novel, Amber and the Hidden city. Sarah Macklin is the artist; Balogun Ojetade is the script writer. Here's the inked image for the cover:

Writing / 1000!
« on: November 07, 2013, 10:13:03 am »
A little chest thumping here. This month I reached 1000 books sold this year! It's a milestone of sorts because the average small publisher sell 1000 books a year. Also, my sales have doubled each year since 2010. With a couple months left in the year I'll probably reach 1200.

It also means a little more to me. It means that the ideas I started out with five years ago are working out. It means that Sword and Soul and Steamfunk have a definite audience. It also means that ALL people will buy books with black people prominently displayed on the cover, despite what I was adamantly told.

I probably won't be around much over the next few months or so. Plans must be implemented to keep the momentum going. A giant thank you to all of you who have supported me over the years. It means everything. Time to get back to work.  ;D

Producing / Changa's Safari Animation
« on: September 10, 2013, 06:06:02 am »

After 3 years of trying it looks like we're getting this project off the ground. We're partnering with the Westwood College Design department to produce a 3 minute animated trailer for Changa's Safari: The Jade Obelisk. The design department will take on the trailer as a class project next month. In exchange for their help I have agreed to become a member of their curriculum advisory committee. I understand that the quality of the animation will be dependent on the skills of the students, but I also have access to a few talented animation folks that have agreed to act as consultants on the project. The plan is to use the resulting animation trailer as part of a fundraiser to do a complete episode. I'll keep you updated. Wish us luck!

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